Unnoticed Benefits Of Frame Stiffness You Never Knew You Can’t Live Without

Last Updated on April 7, 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol

Unnoticed Benefits Of Frame Stiffness You Never Knew You Can’t Live Without

Now I know bike stiffness has many benefits on racing bikes but have you ever wondered the benefits of bike stiffness on an ordinary bike?

Well, you’re at the right place. 

Bike stiffness not only benefits the racers out there but also has many benefits for any rider, such as efficient power transfer, keeping your frame straight, and absorbing shock. 

I’m here to break down all the confusing features about what bike frame stiffness means and the key benefits that you just can’t live without.

Let’s get into it! 

What does bike stiffness mean?

The stiffness of your bike and your bike’s suspension has a big impact on your riding experience. It contributes to the feel of your bike and allows for efficient power transfer in every pedal stroke. 

You will notice that power transfer is more efficient, and the bike is more responsive with a stiffer bottom bracket, fork, and head tube.

A stiffer suspension and frame leads to effective shock absorption while lessening fatigue and improving cornering on the limit. 

Benefits of bike stiffness:

Here are the top benefits of a stiffer bike frame:

More effective power transfer: 

Power transfer prevents you from wasting all your energy bending the frame back and forth while you stand on your pedals.

Springs in a bicycle frame are energy stores, so when you stand on your pedals, some of the energy goes into bending the frame or coming back to you, so you get power in every stroke. You will feel like your riding is more responsive and quicker.

The frame itself will retain integrity much better with a stiffer frame; the frame stiffness is so important as it makes your bike much more stable, especially at the time of maximum stress, such as racing towards that finish line.

It also helps with long commutes that feel like it takes forever; a stiffer frame will make the most out of every pedal transfer and, in some cases, may make your journey faster.

This is because less of your power is going into flexing the frame, and more is being translated into the wheels, which results in a faster bike.

Keeps your frame straight: 

Stiffness is a brilliant way to keep bicycle frames straight. Fatigue is often found in a bicycle frame that isn’t stiff enough; if the frame stiffness isn’t stiff enough, it will eventually break if you flex the metal back and forth.

It is often a factor that manufacturers don’t talk about because all metal starts to show fatigue over time. Still, if a bike isn’t stiff enough, the metal will keep springing back and ‘remember’ each bend until it eventually breaks.

Aluminum and other metals have a lifespan, such as in flying; after a certain number of hours, they are discarded. They can break very easily without showing any signs of fatigue.

Steel and titanium, however, will never fail from fatigue; if they move back and forth a little bit, they won’t fatigue, whereas aluminum will remember every bend no matter how small.

If the titanium or steel frame is designed to be never flexed beyond its fatigue, then it will last forever. In contrast, an aluminum frame must be flexed as little as possible to have the same life expectancy you’d expect out of a bicycle.

If you’re buying a race bike, I would recommend opting for the higher quality metal for more resistance to tube fatigue.

If you look at the bike market, especially in race bikes, you will notice that there’s a big change in replacing high-quality steel for cheaper aluminum frames, which are stiffer but don’t last as long.

Steel frames have a very similar stiffness to aluminum, so you’re not really getting the better quality out of the two either; they have a large diameter and tend to follow the same goals.

Shock absorption: 

Stiffer frames are brilliant for shock absorption because more of the shock is absorbed into the stiff frame rather than transferred to your body.

Manufacturers of hardtail bikes design their bikes with a stiffer frame so the frame itself can absorb some vibrations from the mountainous terrain.

This can also be said in road bikes with a stiffer frame; they work by dissipating road shocks from traveling up through the bike’s rear up to the rider.

Bike stiffness determines the bike’s excitation frequencies; we want the stiffest bike we can manage because as the bike gets stiffer, it can get more uncomfortable.

Damping is considered in stiffer frames to allow the material to dissipate energy from shocks and vibrations properly. The mechanically damped material converts shock and vibration energy into heat energy.

Although it may not be much and not enough to make too much of a temperature change, even the smallest dissipation of energy can have a significant effect on our body’s over prolonged rides.

Low tire pressure: 

Stiffer frames often need lower tire pressure in order to keep it comfortable and retain traction, especially on the trails.

Riders often benefit from a stiffer frame as you get more power transfer, but it is often less comfortable than one that is less stiff.

Having a lower tire pressure is a major benefit in stiff bikes as it makes your ride much more comfortable and adds traction to your ride.

Summary: 

All in all, if you find a good balance of stiffness and comfort, you’re guaranteed to get the best bike. 

Stiffer bikes are brilliant for keeping your bike straight, power transfer, and absorbing the shock of rough roads and mountainous terrains. 

Investing in a stiffer bike definitely has its pros and definitely worth it if you’re thinking of getting into racing or even for a more controlled ride on the trails. 

Happy biking! 

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