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Bicycle Frame Repair
Bicycle Frame Repair

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For many bikers, bicycle frame repair is costly, with the prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of bucks, depending on the damage. This is not only true for high-end carbon and titanium bikes, but also for steel and aluminum bicycles. But what exactly do bike repair shops do to your bike when they repair it? Let’s take a look at the two main frame types and learn more about Aluminum and Carbon bicycle frame repairs.

Aluminum Bicycle Frame Repair

What causes aluminum bike frame failures?

There are several causes why aluminum bike frames fail and thus require a bicycle frame repair. The most common reason is that aluminum frames are not as sturdy as their other counterparts. Thus, when you ride aluminum bikes on rough terrains, there is a higher chance of it failing than steel bikes.

That being said, aluminum bikes are more prone to bends and cracks, which if you don’t notice early (and can be difficult to spot, especially in the welded areas) can lead to complete bike frame failure.

Common places where the frame might crack or bend is in the down-tube, near the heat-tube. That welding area is very prone to break. In stiff bikes, without suspension, the frame might also break behind the cranks.

What processes do the bikes go through during repairs?

There are several processes involved when it comes to aluminum bicycle frame repair and this is not a process that most of you can do at home unless you are a trained welder with the necessary tools and equipment in your garage. So how do the experts go about repairing your broken aluminum bike frame?

Bicycle Frame Repair

First on the list is disassembling the whole bike. Then they will clean the bike bare by scraping the paint off or by melting the paint with a paint cleaner solution. After that, they will have it annealed in a heat treatment process, and then weld the broken parts together using an aluminum welder and argon gas, then have it annealed again.

Next is having the frame submerged in a molten salt solution and then aged in the aging room. After this, they will have to check the frame for proper alignment, making sure that the welding process and aging process have not altered the dimensions of the frame.

When everything is in the right place, they will then clean it using a cleaning solution before they finally paint it. Quite a long and difficult process, isn’t it?

What is the difference between bonding and welding?

There are two types of constructing aluminum bikes – bonding and welding, although, in bicycle frame repair, welding is the more popular. In bonding, the different joints and segments of the aluminum bike using a special type of superglue – strong enough to hold the parts of the bike together.

The advantage of this is that the connections or bonding points help to absorb the shock that comes from riding the bike. In the case of welding, the joints and segments of the bikes are welded tight, and strong, which makes it sturdier and stronger than bonding. Because of the special materials, skills, and techniques required to do an aluminum bonding repair, they are bound to cost twice as much as welded aluminum frame repairs.

Bonding is not advisable when fixing a free-ride bike, cross-country bike, or downhill bike: The bond might not be strong enough to resist the intense load that the bike passes through. In this case, I’d recommend going for a professional welding process.

Is it worth it?

After all the things that your bike frame went through in the bicycle frame repair process, is it all worth it?

Did you know...?

Bicycle Frame Repair

Did you know that aluminum is considered a "notch-sensitive material"?

This means that after a long period, small cracks or fragmentation may cause adjacent pieces of aluminum to rub each other, eventually worsening the breakage. Bonding can address this problem by preventing separate aluminum fragments from rubbing against each other, but welding cannot.

Well, for some yes it is. These are especially true for people who bear to part with their aluminum bikes for certain reasons; the first and foremost is sentimental value.

Truth be told, depending on the bike shop and the class of craft that is put in repairing your aluminum bike frame, there is a fifty-fifty chance that your bike frame will be bound to fail again. The chances of it breaking again are even higher when you are a hard rider who likes to take your bike on an extreme adventure now and then.

There are many considerations to make when having an aluminum bicycle frame repair - the costs and the type of repair - whether bonded or welded, are just some of them. Thus, many riders would recommend buying a new one instead of having a broken frame repaired. However, as mentioned, if you have issues about letting go, and using your bikes for cruising in the streets for grocery or work, then an aluminum bike frame repair may just be for you.

Carbon Bicycle Frame Repair

Carbon frame bikes are widely gaining popularity among many bike enthusiasts out there, willing to experience the many advantages it has over metal frame bikes, as well as the great promotion and marketing techniques employed to sell them to the public.

Many people think that, unlike metal frame bikes, carbon frame repair is almost impossible: once it is broken, it is good for nothing but moving to the trash. Well, thankfully, nowadays it is not so true .

One major problem with Carbon frame repairs is the availability of repair shops: there are just a few shops that can perform this task. That fact allows them to charge just about any price they want. If you want to fix your frame, I'd recommend spending some time gathering information about which shop can perform the best job at a reasonable price.

How It Is Done

Accordingly, carbon bicycle frame repair is not as difficult as many first thought it would be. There are several procedures involved in a carbon bicycle frame repair.

First, the damaged carbon is removed. Second, a sanding process follows, sanding the surrounding areas where the damage is until it tapers towards the fibers that are missing.

Then, the affected areas are tried to be rebuilt using a brand new layer of carbon fiber, after which it is sanded again to achieve the desired or original frame shape. Restoring the paint job to its former glory is the last step, but it can be an optional one rather than mandatory.

For those who are looking to restore the look of their bikes completely, then a paint job is in order. However, those who prefer to have a rugged and battle-worn look on their bikes can choose to leave it as it is.

Its Effects on the Bike

Many people are afraid that once the bike is broken and repaired, the original characteristics of the bike, which the engineers in the manufacturing company work so hard to achieve, will be lost completely. Well, that is not entirely true either. Accordingly, a study was conducted to see the difference between a carbon bicycle frame repair and a brand-new carbon bike frame. The result was that both bikes showed almost the same strength and durability.

The weight was only slightly affected as well. Of course, drastic weight changes occur when you decide to add a support tube to the frame, but they generally do not go over 100 grams, which is still good if you are trying to maintain a lightweight bike.

Negative Drawbacks

There is none, as mentioned earlier in the above paragraph. The only drawback here is that some carbon bicycle frame repairs are good - so good that they can even fool anyone into thinking that they are brand new. So when you are hunting for a carbon bike to buy, you might be tricked into thinking that what you are paying for is a brand-new carbon bike frame. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, there is no way to check if the bike is repaired or brand new, so best to buy a brand new bike or get a bike professional to help you when purchasing secondhand bikes over the internet.

Is It Worth It?

Just like the case on the Aluminum frames, for some it is worth it, for others no. Carbon bicycle frame repair can cost between a hundred dollars and a few thousand, depending on the severity of the damage. The bigger the damage, the more expensive the repair will be. Also, restoring the original paint job can be expensive, almost as expensive (or even higher) than the repair itself.

If the repair costs you, say, $500, then, by all means, have it fixed. However, if the damage is too big, costing you a thousand dollars or so (without the paint job), then better get a new carbon bike frame. Carbon bicycle frame repair is a good option for those who want to restore their beloved rides. They can be quite expensive, but if done well, you may find your restored bike as good as it ever was.

Bicycle Frame Repair
Bicycle Frame Repair

More bicycle frame repair tools on JensonUSA.com

Last Word About Bicycle Frame Repair

In the end, the question of whether to repair the bicycle frame or buy a new frame comes down to personal preference. When you repair aluminum or even a carbon frame, you know that the frame won't be the same, even if it's tweaked and worked on after the welding process it's not going to be the same, and if it breaks again, it's likely going to break at the same spot where the welding was done.

I'm not saying it's going to be fragile, but you can't ride through rough terrain as you did before with this bike. Consider all that and see if it's worth repairing your frame or just but a brand new frame.

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