At the core of any road bike is the frame. This is what the components, wheels and all the other elements that make up a bike are attached to. Bike frames are commonly made of steel, aluminum, titanium, or carbon fibre.

We’ve put together a guide to help guide you through the world of road bike frames. Here’s what we’ll cover: 

  • What is a road bike frame
  • What to consider when buying a road bike frame
  • The different types of frame material


What does a road bike frame consist of?

Although materials may differ, the structure remains consistent and is made up of a top tube, head tube, downtube, bottom bracket shell, seat tube, seat stays, and chain stays. The frame and fork when spoken about or sold collectively is referred to as a frameset.

Road Bike Frame Elements

What to consider when buying a frameset or a complete bike?

  • Where and when do you intend to ride the bike? If you are predominantly riding in hillier areas, weight may be a significant factor. Should you wish to ride it all year round or solely in the winter, material and durability would be a key consideration.
  • Size. Whatever material, colour scheme or brand you choose you need to ensure the frame fits you first. An incorrectly sized frame can affect handling, increase the chances of injury and will compromise comfort.
  • What are your cycling goals? If you are buying the frame to race on, a more aggressive geometry, with a shorter headtube and shorter wheelbase, should be considered, whereas if comfort and long days on the saddle are more important to you a slacker headtube angle and longer wheelbase.
  • How much do you have to spend? How much you have to spend will dictate what material is best for you.
  • Brand. Although not as important as size and considering where you want to ride with it, the brand is worth looking into. Some brands specialise in certain types of bike, while some have long and illustrious histories and race pedigree that you can be a part of.

The different types of bike frame materials

Although the elements that make up a frame are the same, the material in which the tubes are made from can differ greatly depending on price, use and brand priorities. The good news is there is a frame material out there for all needs and budgets. We have taken a deeper dive into some of the most popular materials and looked at the pros and cons of each.

Aluminium Road Bike Framesets

The go to for many mainstream bike brands, aluminium balances weight with strength and is a good option for those with a slightly lower budget. Often overlooked for carbon fibre, there is a lot of merit in going for a high quality aluminium frame over a cheap carbon fibre alternative. Durability and versatility are two key attributes that aluminium possesses, with them being resistant to rust and easily manipulated to make bikes that ride exceptionally well.

Pros - Relatively lightweight, affordable, responsive

Cons -  Not as light as carbon fibre and not as strong as steel

For those looking for a high quality aluminium frame or aluminium frame bike the Specialized Allez and Cannondale CAAD13 ranges are both good options.

Shop our range of aluminium road bike framesets.

Cannondale CAAD13 Road Bike Seat Tube
Specialized Allez Sprint Road Bike Headtube
Trek Emonda ALR Top Tube

Carbon Fibre Road Framesets

The go to for many due to its lightweight credentials, strength and stiffness. Carbon fibre frames are the choice for high performance cycling, as they can be easily transformed into aerodynamic shapes.

Pros - Lightweight, stiff, available from many custom and mainstream brands, offer a more forgiving ride than aluminium

Cons -  More fragile than the other materials should it experience an impact and for those on a tight budget you may compromise on quality. Should the frame be damaged though there are options out there to get it repaired.

The choice when it comes to carbon frame road bikes is vast, with everything from ultra-fast and aero Bianchi Oltres to the more comfort and endurance focused Trek Domanes to pick from.

Shop our range of carbon fibre road bike framesets.

Cannondale CAAD13 Road Bike Seat Tube
Specialized Tarmac Downtube
Trek Emonda Seat Tube

Steel Road Bike Framesets

The original material bike frames were made from and still with a strong contingent of loyal fans, steel is favoured for its durability. Although the heaviest material of the four, where it loses points on the scales it makes up for it when it comes to ride quality. Alongside titanium, steel is well regarded for those looking for comfort due to its road dampening properties.

Pros - Strong, easy to repair, provides excellent comfort

Cons -  Heavy, limited mainstream brands make steel frames, not the stiffest material

Rondo Steel Bike Downtube
Cinelli Headtube
Genesis Seat tube

Titanium Road Bike Framesets

The most exotic of the mainstream frame materials, titanium is often a custom frame builder’s material of choice. Beautiful and tough, with exceptional dampening properties, titanium, although not the lightest and most definitely not the cheapest, it is a solid choice for those looking for a bike for life.

Pros - Exclusivity, comfort, durability

Cons -  Expensive and not the lightest material

A stand-out brand in the titanium road bike frame sector, Seven Cycles lead the way when it comes to bespoke frame manufacture and even provide a custom option for those looking for a truly unique machine.

Shop our range of titanium road bike framesets.

Rondo Ruut Headtube
Seven Cycles Titanium Tubes
Seven Cycles Titanium Dropouts

Whether you are looking to build a road bike from scratch, have our workshop put one together for you or you are wanting to know what to look out for when choosing a fully built, off-the-shelf road bike, we hope this guide has been of help. Should you require further assistance, feel free to get in touch with one of our experts.