From supposed wood frames to iron, bikes have been around for centuries. Yet they weren’t always considered comfortable or lightweight.
Seeing that the first ever used bike was made out of brass, iron and weighed in at 45 pounds, you can see why so many frames have been reconstructed.
We have previously reviewed the best titanium mountain bike frames on the market – in this article, we’re going to focus specifically on carbon fiber mountain bike frames. We’ll go over the basic types, the importance and what to look for before purchasing.
If you’re looking for a more edgy ride to fit your mojo, look no further than the IBIS MOJO 3 Frame. It’s more evolved, versatile and a bang for your buck. The best feature is the flexibility of changing from 27.5-inch tires to 27.5 plus tires. Whether you want to be light and fast or hard and solid, you can do both with this new model.
- 27.5 inch and 27.5 plus wheel switchability
- Extreme levels of linkage stiffness
- Fox Factory FLOAT DPS shock, 7.875” X 2.0”
- No headset included
- More compatible for trail use
If you enjoy riding fast or being a superstar athlete, the YETI SB100 is for you. The frame is a newly designed Switch Infinity that is specifically for 100mm travel. It is light and has an uninterrupted seat tube, for longer posts and enough room for your water bottle. Even more, it has internal molded carbon tubes, integrated two bolt ISCG-05 mounts and boost rear hub spacing.
- Cable routing is easier than ever based on its molded carbon tubes
- Switch Infinity for 100mm of travel
- Uninterrupted seat tube; for longer posts and for your water bottle
- Non-compatible front derailleur
If you are hardcore and more than ready to deal with power, get ready for the Evil The Wreckoning Frameset. Built by biker revolutionary Dave Weagle, this has a force of a 29er that is ready for anything. From its 160mm light carbon frame to its adjustable bottom bracket height, this wreckoning is ready for any rider.
- Built in sag meter to make suspension easier
- Internal routing to protect the cables from your adventures
- Internal chain guide to prevent the chain from dropping through rough trails
- No fork included
The company has been around for over 15 years, earning its respect in the mountain biking world for some amazing bikes. There’s a reason why it’s still standing. Here is the Niner RIP 9 RDO 29” Frame. This model features an RDO carbon frame to suit any kind of rider.
Its suspension design allows you to climb up and down efficiently. It’s longer, lower and slacker than its previous model; you can even get the 65-degree low setting. This bike represents durability for a good rip on the road.
- A compact, shortened rear triangle with oversized tubes for frame fitness
- Sag indicator on the rocker link pivot to smoothy dial in your ride
- Boost hub spacing on the front and back for a more stiffer ride
- Non-compatible front derailleur
Guide to Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Frames
For the most enjoyable bike ride, it’s important to pay attention to the frame size that matches your body. However, you may wonder what the real role of the frame is.
It’s all based on geometry. The purpose of the frame is to give energy from the rider to the wheels itself. It flexes vertically to relieve stress from rocky roads and sandy/bumpy trails.
However, mountain bike frames or (MTB) are focused more specifically for off-road cycling, aggressive trails and terrains.
The frame holds all other parts of the bike, whether it is accessories or necessities. It is considered the core, foundation, and the heart of the bike. The three major choices when choosing a mountain bike frame are usually aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber.
Aluminum Mountain Bike Frame
This type uses minimal material, helping with the feel and lightness of the bike.
Aluminum is naturally stiff, making for a good, strong and efficient choice. It is also considerably more affordable. These frames are found on the majority of mountain bikes under $5000.
Carbon Fiber Mountain Bike Frames
This material is also light in weight and offers stiffness and strength at low density, which is why they are perfect for frames, handle bars and wheels. It also provides 2-5 times more rigidity due to its lower density that naturally absorbs road vibrations. This makes for a comfortable ride, especially for professionals who ride for longer distances.
Basic Frame Parts
The frame is comprised of 6 basic parts, 3 tubes, 2 stays and 1 fork.
The 3 tubes are known as the top, down, and seat tubes. This forms the triangle of the frame.
The seat stay and chain stay make up the rear of the triangle on the frame, with two of each or four all together.
The Front Fork
This is the part that keeps the front wheel in place. It is the two-legged part at the front of the frame.
The Importance of Carbon Fiber
If you’re looking for a mountain bike that is durable, light in weight, and responsive in performance, then the carbon fiber frame is the best choice for your needs.
Durability and Weight
Due to the endurance and flexibility of the material (making it difficult to dent and corrode), this makes it safer and smoother in extreme terrains. The lightness in weight aids in difficult routes, which can on occasion include uphill riding and fast peddling (racing).
A carbon frame also possesses a longer life expectancy when compared to others, with most manufacturers providing a lifetime warranty.
Carbon fiber mountain bike frames have been the choice of option for decades, because of their high performance. Carbon seating, fork and carbon handlebars can help reduce road vibrations, in comparison to its sibling aluminum which is stiffer and more uncomfortable.
What To Look For When Purchasing a Carbon Fiber MTB Frame
Price is usually the deciding factor, but since the frame can dominate the ride, it is important to choose wisely according to your needs and body type. The options that you need to explore before purchasing are frames sizes for your body, aluminum vs carbon, and mail order vs bike shop.
Specific Frame for Body
People will often choose a frame that just does not fit their body or size. When not chosen correctly, it can make for a very uncomfortable ride and can take the fun out of riding altogether.
Back, neck strain, and difficulty peddling are some signs of an incompatible frame.
Aluminum vs Carbon
Aluminum, as mentioned before, has a natural stiffness. This provides stability when climbing, and sprinting. It is relatively inexpensive and can weigh less than other materials. This can be an ideal choice for riders of all abilities.
However, Carbon fiber MTB frames have reduced in price over the years. While both are considered “light in weight”, it can all come down to the bicyclist’s comfort. The way that the carbon material is processed can essentially give the best of both worlds.
With stiffness and the ability to dampen road vibrations, Carbon fiber MTB frames are considered an optimal choice for professionals.
Carbon Frames vs Aluminium
For those who enjoy mountain biking, you probably have had to come to a decision on whether to use carbon MTB frames or aluminum frames. There are many factors to consider when making your decision. The most important difference between them is their weight and ride quality.
Carbon weight and ride quality
Carbon frames are lighter than aluminum; up to one pound less for mountain frames and up to ½ pound for road frames.
Carbon road frames have a noticeable difference compared to aluminum frames, due to the carbon absorbing the vibrations better on the road. If damaged, it can usually be repaired by re-welding or patching. Aluminum frames are not as easily repairable, which gives a strong advantage to carbon frames. If you don’t mind the high cost in exchange for lighter weight and ride quality, carbon frames can be a good investment for you.
If you choose carbon, look at the bonded junctions and glued inserts. Carbon frames have been known to fail in these two areas.
Junctions: Where two tubes such as the head and seat tube join
Glued inserts: headset races, threads’ bottom brackets and rear dropouts
Aluminum weight and ride quality
Aluminum frames are heavier than carbon frames; up to one pound more for mountain frames and ½ pound more for road frames. Torsional stiffness is less in aluminum frames than carbon frames.
While it’s generally known that aluminum frames have a five-year fatigue life, there are some aluminum frames that have lasted for much longer. So, don’t look at the shelf-life as its drawback. If cost is a big factor for you, then aluminum frames could be a good fit.
Carbon Frame Tips
Regular cleaning is important with any bike. It helps you not only inspect for damage but also keep your suspension pivots and drivetrain in good condition. Do regular checkups on the down tube; it often gets rocks from the terrain. You can even apply frame protection to protect this area.
For those who choose carbon frames, there are still features to consider. Costs are usually around the same range if you’re looking for high-quality carbon mountain bike frames. Whether you enjoy riding rough terrain or are looking for more durability, there are many options for you to choose from. Here are 4 of them.
Final Verdict for Carbon MTB Frames
Whether you want to buy aluminum or carbon frames is dependent on what you are looking for in a riding experience. Aluminum is cheaper and some can have a long shelf life. If you pick carbon mountain frames, know that there are plenty of options in the market like these 4 recommendations. With your pick, you can enjoy your ride.
Image sources: Jenson USA, Yeti, ninerbikes.com, yeticycles.com