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Bike Jargon Buster... Bike Frame Stickers

The stickers on a bike say a lot more than the make and model - they usually tell you what the frame is made out of and what components are used. But sometimes the manufacturers just make things up!

Some of the things you'll find on the bike frame stickers...

Hi-Ten:

Short for high tensile steel. Basically what your car, your washing-machine and your lawnmower are made out of. It's strong, if you use enough of it, but frames made with it end up feeling heavy and have a dead ride.

CarboFerric Steel:

If you're a chemist, you'll be laughing. Yes, all steel is carbo-ferric - it means that it has iron and carbon in it. This is basically the same as Hi-Ten.

CrMo (a.k.a. ChroMo, Cromoly):

This is better. This is steel with some extra things added to make it stronger - this means the bike manufacturers don't need to use as much of it, making the frame tubes thinner. Bikes made of this will feel lighter and more lively to ride. More specifically it has Chromium and Molybdenum added to increase it's tensile strength.

4130:

This is a type of CrMo - the number is a way of defining what extra things are added to the steel to make it stronger. The number is globally recognised as a metallurgical type definition, which has strict standards to which the steel must comply.

501,525,531,653,725,753,853:

All types of bike steel made by the British company Reynolds. All are very good, as they are specifically designed for bicycles, not other stuff which happens to be cheaper. As the number goes up, generally the sophistication of the alloy goes up, and the bike gets lighter and stronger - and more expensive of course!

Reynolds, Tange, Easton, Columbus:

Companies which make bicycle tubing. If the bicycle manufacturer tells you which company they use, that's generally a good sign.

6061, 7005:

These are grades of aluminium alloys used for making bicycles. Both are good, strong alloys. These numbers may also be followed by a "T" designation, eg 7005-T6. In this instance the T value (6) denotes the tempering method; the method of hardening (tempering) the material. Different T values result in materials which behave differently, even though they share the same chemical constitution. These designation numbers are globally recognised and standards are very strict.

Double-Butted:

Not a strange anatomical problem, but a method of making bikes lighter. The tubes are thick at the joints for strength, but get thinner in the middle for weight saving, because the stress on the centre section of the tube is lower than that at the ends where it is welded. This is a sign of quality
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