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What makes a 'good' frame?

supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
edited January 2011 in MTB general
People often say x,y and z are good frames, but what does it actually mean? Can you even get a 'bad' frame nowadays?

If we remove BSO from the equation, with their plain guage frames and comedy angles, from the entry level up it seems nowadays it is simply preference. Sure, the more you py you may get lighter weight and more strength. But what about ride feel?

Look at the onone Summer Season. Cheap, heavy, strong, plain guage steel, stiff with very slack angles. Many people love it, but I am sure if it said Carrera on it, and was being released on a 500 quid bike it would get slated for being heavy, harsh, plain guage and overly slack ;-).

Many like whippy frames, others stiff, some just look at angles. Full sus obviously varies a lot in the physics, flex and weight.

Or is it more about looks, the name or some X factor?

Posts

  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 15,475
    edited January 2011
    Well, if it's a far eastern hardtail then adding an Orange sticker makes it the best frame ever, not to mention adding £250 to the pricetag. And if it's ludicrously heavy, don't worry, it'll ride lighter than it weighs, whatever that means.

    It's all too subjective. Objectively my Soul is better than my Mmmbop- it's better made, better finished, had better QC, looks better too. But it's the Mmmbop I'm keeping because it does the job I want it to do better.

    X factor plays a part... The reason I got the Soul was that I rode it and it was just, at the time, perfect. Eyes meeting across a crowded room. I really didn't want to pay £420 for it, but I knew there was something about the frame that just hit the spot and I was looking at 456s and such going "This is very similiar, but what if it's not love?"
    Uncompromising extremist
  • Wanted a meta since seeing Doddys when I picked up the MBUK Zaskar.


    I buy what I like the geometry/look/spec of for the application I want it for.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Of course being steel, being welded by a man with a beard (irrespective of any welding skill), being badly painted, no gear hanger, and being badly painted are what makes a frame the best EVARRRRRRR.
    If it takes 29er wheels, even BETTAR!

    The only way to top that is to have a titanium frame, again irrespective of the welder's skills.
  • neninjaneninja Posts: 424
    A totally personal thing in some respects. If a frame's geometry doesn't suit your riding or you're between sizes then you might not get along with a bike that others love.

    For me it's also about aesthetics, attention to detail, build quality, suspension design on a FS, and as above that non-quantifiable x-factor.
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, knowledge is strength and looks can be deceiving!

    Those who have been around mountain bikes for a long while and understand the basic design principles are probably the people who can identify "a good frame" instantly.
    They'll probably identify the head angles, top bar & triangle geometries as well as the material used and quality of workmanship in the design and think "wow this IS a good frame"
    Of course there's the aesthetic side to it too, but that wouldn't bother someone who's really in the know.
    Now for someone like me who has a 50/50 chance of identifying a "good" frame from a magazine photo or brochure, I'd never know just how good it was until I rode it. So, I'd depend on a combination of brand awareness, reviews and/or word of mouth to convince me it's a good frame.

    So, from my amateur "all the gear, zero idea" perspective:

    Reviews - Why? Because try before you buy isn't that easy in the MTB world
    Brand - Tried and trusted with a warranty one can trust
    Geometry - Slack headed, long travel is "what I wanted"
    Material - Steel is not a sin, neither is carbon, Reynolds, 6091 or 7075
    Build quality - The welds must function AND look good
    Price - I have no objection paying good money for great products
    Colour - Last on the list because if it's only available in pink, I would probably take it
  • bennett_346bennett_346 Posts: 5,092
    Versatility.
  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 81,520 Lives Here
    supersonic wrote:
    People often say x,y and z are good frames, but what does it actually mean? Can you even get a 'bad' frame nowadays?

    If we remove BSO from the equation, with their plain guage frames and comedy angles, from the entry level up it seems nowadays it is simply preference. Sure, the more you py you may get lighter weight and more strength. But what about ride feel?

    Look at the onone Summer Season. Cheap, heavy, strong, plain guage steel, stiff with very slack angles. Many people love it, but I am sure if it said Carrera on it, and was being released on a 500 quid bike it would get slated for being heavy, harsh, plain guage and overly slack ;-).

    Many like whippy frames, others stiff, some just look at angles. Full sus obviously varies a lot in the physics, flex and weight.

    Or is it more about looks, the name or some X factor?

    nope it is all to do with.

    " I spent my money on it so it has to be the best thing since Sliced bread as i would not waste my money on any poor bike"

    As like you say there are few bad frames out there.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • I test rode my Cube back in August, and loved the bike. I don't know if it's for the geometry of it or what, but it was nice and light, quick, well built and looked good. Plus, it was the bike that gave me the biggest smile on my face whilst riding it.

    The Blender was a bike of similar size (both 16" frames), but is a lot sturdier, will survive a pounding and is ideal for messing about in town with, chucking it down steps, and practising jumps etc. The geometry looks very similar when you stand them next to each other, maybe a few degrees difference, but some people claim "That's a completely different bike, changes the ride massively".

    So, not sure what makes a good frame really. I like them, therefore I ride them.
    It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded.
    Join us on UK-MTB we won't bite, but bring cake!
    Blender Cube AMS Pro
  • Uncle PeterUncle Peter Posts: 324
    edited January 2011
    I don't think you can get a bad frame today at all, you'll probably more likely to find that frame are unsuitable/unfit for purpose. Even a BSO has it's uses, and if it wasn't for the BSO market you'd find less people would get in to the sport in the first place.

    For me if a frame looks good/right it puts you in the right frame of mind for riding it. If you smile where you're pulling it out of the shed, you're on to a winner from the off.

    Look at the onone Summer Season. Cheap, heavy, strong, plain guage steel, stiff with very slack angles. Many people love it, but I am sure if it said Carrera on it, and was being released on a 500 quid bike it would get slated for being heavy, harsh, plain guage and overly slack

    People get sucked in to brands far too easily. If a magazine review states something is great then some people think it must be true. A lot of people buy bikes off the back of reviews and think if they don't feel the ride the way the reviewer feels it, it's a rubbish frame. Without considereation that the frame may not suit them as well as a frame which got one or two stars less in the same mag review.
  • sheepsteethsheepsteeth Posts: 17,418 Webster
    my idea of what makes a good frame has changed over the very few years ive been riding,

    i used to think a good frame was whatever was written about on the forum and in the mags. (thats how i ended up with a p7 which i loathed)

    then i used to think the good looking frames were the good ones and for the most part, this turned out to be true for me (up until i bought the golden willow which was superb but so ugly it could trick or treat down the phone)

    now i prize adjustability over all else, it is more important to me than looks and popularity.
  • Do youo think that adjustable frames can make them a Jack of all trades, master of none? Surely it's more practical to buy a frame which suits the largest proportion of the type of riding you do?

    Got to say, you were very brave buying a Bionicon. :shock: :wink:
  • sheepsteethsheepsteeth Posts: 17,418 Webster
    Do youo think that adjustable frames can make them a Jack of all trades, master of none? Surely it's more practical to buy a frame which suits the largest proportion of the type of riding you do?

    Got to say, you were very brave buying a Bionicon. :shock: :wink:

    buying a frame which suits most of your riding is a compromise unless you only ride on one surface and gradient throughout a ride be it flat, just up hill or just downhill.

    i have never ridden a trail which is the same gradient all the way round.

    the edison can be steep for perfect climbing ability, slack for perfect descending, and anywhere in between so it is perfect for every eventuality i cant see how it could be better :? it is perfect for ALL of my riding, not just most of it.

    im not sure whats brave about a bonicon either, it is my second and they suit exactly what iwant from a bike, so much so that i sold 2 other bikes which were fine for some of a trail but disadvantaged for the rest of it.

    i think many folk would be happier with something more mainstream and trusted but i dont want to ride a compromised bike.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Well, it's still a compromise, but a different one to most other options. It'll never be as light as an XC bike, but on the other hand it's more capable.
    Likewise, it will also never be as har dhitting as a freeride bike, but it can also come back up the hills with relative ease.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    nicklouse wrote:
    supersonic wrote:
    People often say x,y and z are good frames, but what does it actually mean? Can you even get a 'bad' frame nowadays?

    If we remove BSO from the equation, with their plain guage frames and comedy angles, from the entry level up it seems nowadays it is simply preference. Sure, the more you py you may get lighter weight and more strength. But what about ride feel?

    Look at the onone Summer Season. Cheap, heavy, strong, plain guage steel, stiff with very slack angles. Many people love it, but I am sure if it said Carrera on it, and was being released on a 500 quid bike it would get slated for being heavy, harsh, plain guage and overly slack ;-).

    Many like whippy frames, others stiff, some just look at angles. Full sus obviously varies a lot in the physics, flex and weight.

    Or is it more about looks, the name or some X factor?

    nope it is all to do with.

    " I spent my money on it so it has to be the best thing since Sliced bread as i would not waste my money on any poor bike"

    As like you say there are few bad frames out there.

    This is interesting because I'm looking at buying my first full sus frame in the summer and there is a pretty large range of prices.

    I've been looking at Ibis Mojos, Knolly Endorphines, Santa Cruz Nomads all seem to be well respected and about the £1700-£1900. But I've also noticed frames like the Mondraker Foxy RR and one from Transition (can't recall the name), these are atlest £500 cheaper! So I'm wondering what I would be getting for the extra, I imagine the Mojos would be quite a lot lighter being carbon, but is it worth me spending a extra £500 when I might just have a posher named, more flashy bike, with little performance gain.

    Or, will there be some massive gain?
  • lawmanlawman Posts: 6,868
    depends on tha application of the bike, and there are so many variables its hard to say what makes a good frame, but i look mainly for geometry, weight and then looks when it comes to a frame only, then ill try and ride it and see if i like it. never got on with a meta i test rode, geometry and suspension were great, as was the price, but its abit too heavy for what id want, compared to say a blur LT, mojo or a zesty. i think im completely sold on carbon full sus frames, the last couple ive ridden have been fantastic, and two have them had twin link suspension too, which seems to me to be the best setup for the type of bike i want, and ive always liked vpp and similar bikes in the past, hence why ive ordered my mojo which has a dw link suspension system. i think its easier to make a decent hardtail frame, less to get right after all, with no suspension design to "perfect" you can focus on geometry and the material youre using. i would love a ti hardtail at somepoint in the future, as the one fault i have with my maxlght is its slightly harsh over many hours in the saddle, and i think a Ti version of an xc120, would be the nuts 8)

  • sheepsteethsheepsteeth Posts: 17,418 Webster
    Well, it's still a compromise, but a different one to most other options. It'll never be as light as an XC bike, but on the other hand it's more capable.
    Likewise, it will also never be as har dhitting as a freeride bike, but it can also come back up the hills with relative ease.

    i could have been clearer, it isnt an xc bike or a freeride bike, it is an all mountain bike and compared to other all mountain bikes i have ridden, this is the only one which climbs as well as it descends due to the angle changes.

    most all mountain bikes (and by all mountin i mean 140-160mm trail bikes) have heavy weight and slack angles for descending but can be pedalled up hill. i find climbing with slack angles to be awkward at best which is where this system works best.

    i suppose this sub discusion proves that whats right for one is not for another so the whole "what makes a good frame" question is really about as subjective as it gets.
  • Sheepsteeth: How were the frames you sold disadvantaged? Surely if you'd have learnt to ride around those disadvantages it would've made you a better rider? If that weren't the case then everyone would be on an adjustable bike?

    There must be loads of bikes which are perfect for all your riding? Would an increase of head angle make you so much faster up hill than training a little more? Has the extra travel made you that much quicker downhill? Again, more than maybe practicing?

    If I'm honest I think the whole adjustable bike thing is a gimick, there has to be a compromise how ever small when you buy a bike. Be it the ride, feel, usability or even looks.

    Richard, only you can tell if a more epensive frame offers a gain over another frame, just go out and test ride them. Then buy which ever suits you best/like the look of/makes you go fastest. Hell, it may even go down to the companies philosophy. I love the idea that Ibis use carbon neutral shipping, it just makes sense...
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Sheepsteeth: How were the frames you sold disadvantaged? Surely if you'd have learnt to ride around those disadvantages it would've made you a better rider? If that weren't the case then everyone would be on an adjustable bike?
    Brain backfire :roll:

    Sheeps, I realise that it's the best of all worlds, but I still see it as the best compromise, if you see what I mean. The Bionicon will never descend as well as as a thoroughbred nutter-machine, and it will never climb as well as a thoroughbred XC bike, but, on balance it will be better overall than both.
    So you're compromising the extremes of either end of the scale, to get a better all-rounder.
  • sheepsteethsheepsteeth Posts: 17,418 Webster
    edited January 2011
    Sheepsteeth: How were the frames you sold disadvantaged? .

    how do you not get what i have written already? why are you so upset by me liking something different to you?

    anyway:

    my enduro was slack, i measured it at 66.5deg, which made it brill for pointing down and it was ok for riding up hill but was a bit wandery and required me to adjust the way i rode it, i could drop the fork using the 2 step and this helped make it climb better. it wasnt particularly heavy at a shade over 30lbs.

    the stumpy was the most compromised of the lot, too steep when pointing downwards but much better when climbing and on the flat. it weighed 27lbs.

    of course, this is just how the bikes felt for me, im sure many stumpy and enduro riders love their bikes, just like i did until i found a better way.

    im not saying people on bikes with a fixed head and seat angle are wrong, im saying those bieks are not right for me.

    also, what is a "better" rider? why would you want to adjust yourself to suit your bike as opposed to adjust your bike to suit you. i paid money for the censored , im pretty sure im supposed to be in charge of it and not the other way around!

    There must be loads of bikes which are perfect for all your riding? Would an increase of head angle make you so much faster up hill than training a little more? Has the extra travel made you that much quicker downhill? Again, more than maybe practicing?

    all i know is that if i leave it in the slack setting to climb, it isnt brilliant and if i leave it in the steep setting for descending, it is awfull.

    i can counteract both of these things with the press of a button whilst i pedal along.
  • sheepsteethsheepsteeth Posts: 17,418 Webster
    So you're compromising the extremes of either end of the scale, to get a better all-rounder.

    exctamondo and this compromise s considerably less for me on a bike like this than the comprmises i would have to make on a bike more favoured towards ethe climbing or descending.

    when i eventually make my way back to your neck of the woods, you will be welcome to give the old girl a go.
  • TorresTorres Posts: 1,266
    You know, i think sheeps is speaking sense here...

    I've got a light weight "xc" bike and a really burly point and shoot full suss, they both do their respective jobs perfectly, however if i'm not too sure what my riding's going to entail that day i go to my weapon of choice, my NS.

    Yes it's steel, and it's heavy, but the material isn't important here, when paired with a well built pair of wheels, 9 gears and a nice adjustable fork it'll do everything i want it to. I took it to glentress for a few days and i had the best two days riding i've ever had on two wheels.
    Shorten the fork to 100mm and it climbs very nicely, i wasn't uncomfortable and it wasn't a chore. Stiffen the fork up a bit and it was brilliant around 110/120mm messing around the skills loop, playing on the jumps. Then winding it out fully to 160 slackened it off nicely and it descended like nothing else.

    If i had to sell all my bikes bar one, this would be the one i'd keep, jack of all trades master of none maybe, but it can cope with nearly everything and i always love riding it. :D
    What We Achieve In Life, Echoes In Eternity
  • andyrmandyrm Posts: 550
    Sheeps has it totally right with the Bionicon thing. I was well sceptical when I first saw one, until I had a real good go on an Edison owned by a mate and had it explained to me. You’re always going to have a compromise when you ride AM (maybe less so if you do one type of riding or other) – by having a variable geometry and travel system, you have a bike that is a better climber than a regular 150mm bike and a better descender than a 120mm bike, all at the push of a button, on the fly with no stopping to readjust. This leaves you with more time as a percentage spent on a near-optimum setup rather than compromised.

    Factor in super geeky German engineering (read amazing quality) and the fact that a fork service needs a 5mm allen key and 20 minutes (ie no £70 Fox service fees) and there really is so much to say for the Bionicon setup.

    They’re not a big corporate brand like Spesh or Trek – they’re a niche brand run by guys who ride the bikes on trails out the back of their place. If you can get your head round buying something from a niche manufacturer (think Ariel over Lotus for example), you’ll not be disappointed. Plus the Bionicon UK top dog, Roger, is a true legend of service and support.
  • VWsurfbumVWsurfbum Posts: 7,959
    when i first read a review of the bionicon i though what an amazing idea, then they slated it??? since having the scott genius which i could alter the rear shock set up and the forks by different switch on the bars, i think its the way forward!

    As the best frame question?
    I think i'm attracted by looks first then functionality second, hense buying some real sheds of bikes in the past :oops:
    Now my tick box for my new bike went something like this.
    1 29" wheels
    2 Full suspension
    3 120mm or more travel
    4 carbon frame

    as they dont exist really in my price bracket i'm having to comprimise. (mainly the carbon bit)
    Kazza the Tranny
    Now for sale Fatty
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