Steel frames are a popular choice among commuters, their innate compliance, strength and durability combining together to create a bike that is perfect for commuting. Steel is also incredibly simple to repair as any dents or bends in the frame can easily be hammered out.
Where steel falls down, slightly, is in the weight department. Steel is heavier than aluminium and titanium, which could inconvenience some people, not only if you’re planning on riding up steep hills, but also if you’re planning on lugging your bike on and off a train or up flights of stairs.
Aluminium is perhaps the most popular choice of frame material when it comes to commuter bikes; its stiff, lightweight and durable nature helping it come out on top. Thanks to its stiffness, aluminium can efficiently transfer a lot of power through the frame, making sure nearly every watt you push out is translated into forward speed.
One issue with aluminium is its shock absorption abilities. As a material, it’s not the most compliant and so a lot of the road buzz and chatter from below is translated right into the hands and arms of the rider up top. A lot of aluminium-framed bikes remedy this however with a degree of front suspension and plush, comfortable touchpoints.
Titanium is an extremely lightweight material and offers a similarly comfortable feel to that of steel. The material has an inherent flex, so it’s very good at absorbing surface vibrations, making for an incredibly smooth ride.
It’s the material of choice for bespoke, commuter bikes looking to stand out from the rest of the pack. It’s therefore, understandably, quite expensive – a real turnoff for those looking for a budget commuter.