1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Smaller vs Bigger - which frame is generally stronger?

    This thought came to me after reading in my bike manual that a bike frame is not designed to last *forever*, and that eventually it will break due to exposure to stress and environmental factors.

    Now, I find the small and medium frame sizes both comfortable for me, although I tend to lean towards smaller frame size for better standover clearance and lighter weight. But if I can determine which frame is stronger, it may serve as the deciding factor for getting my next bike.

    So which frame size for a mountain bike is generally stronger by design?
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  2. #2
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    I would imagine the smaller frames would be more rigid, does that make it stronger? or easier to crack from rigidity?

  3. #3
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    smaller would generally be stronger, assuming the tubing used is the same between sizes (which is usually is)

    considering that at all in any way in a purchasing decision would be utterly stupid.

  4. #4
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    If the aluminum and welding is of the same grade, they should be equally as strong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    smaller would generally be stronger, assuming the tubing used is the same between sizes (which is usually is)

    considering that at all in any way in a purchasing decision would be utterly stupid.

    I'm in agreement with Joules, plus any potential strength gained by going smaller could be negated by the need to use a longer seatpost and stem.

  6. #6
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    You can go out and spend $40K on a car that will last you 15-20 years which is far from forever. Don't let that influence your decision or even be a reason to move to one size frame or the other. If something happens on a bike to where you would crack a frame, then chances are, its not going to matter what size it is..its simply going to crack whether its a xs, s, m, l or xl. Finding a frame that fits you correctly is more important than wondering whats going to happened 10-20 years down the line. Who knows, maybe we'll all be flying spaceships by then and vehicles with wheels would be obsolete.

  7. #7
    RTM
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    regardless of the real answer, you don't even need to think about this, let alone use it as a deciding factor in which frame you pick. they are required to put that language in the manual because one time back in 1973 some kid's frame broke and his parents sued a bike company. all things being equal, if a manufacturers small frame breaks it is likely their medium and large would have the same issue.

    jeez, shakester beat me by mere seconds!
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten." - Benjamin Franklin

  8. #8
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    How long a bike lasts is not influenced by frame size, but by other factors. Those include how bike is maintained and ridden.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  9. #9
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    A small frame will definitely last longer than a larger frame because it will have smaller, more lightweight riders riding it therefore putting it under less stress than a heavier rider on a larger frame. That's the reason I chose a small frame over a medium.

  10. #10
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    Re: Smaller vs Bigger - which frame is generally stronger?

    Thank you all for the replies. So the frame makers don't take into account that in general the bigger frames get more punishment from heavier riders? Interesting.

    Of course, I won't settle for just the frame strength to achieve longevity. I'm also set on reducing my weight, learning the skills, and all that seemingly negligible factors that individually may contribute very small percentage to my goal. But all combined together will help me get there.

    My idea is similar to those who do every thing they can think of to shed off every micrograms from the weight of their bike.
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    How long a bike lasts is not influenced by frame size, but by other factors. Those include how bike is maintained and ridden.
    ...and even moreso by how it was designed and fabricated.

    Experience has shown me that if I'm riding regularly, I shouldn't expect to get more than 4-5 years out of an aluminum frame, at best. I've owned certain makes/models that wouldn't make it more than a few months without cracking at the chain/seat stays, and no more than a couple years before cracking the main frame. (I've had a lot better luck with steel, of course.)

    One of the things that's made riding more enjoyable to me was accepting the fact that a mountain bike is not an investment, an object d'art, or any sort of collectors item. It's just a toy, with a single purpose - to be played with in the dirt. It's going to get scratched, dented, worn, abraded, and sooner or later, broken, thrown on the scrap heap and subsequently replaced by another that'll go through the same cycle.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    A small frame will definitely last longer than a larger frame because it will have smaller, more lightweight riders riding it therefore putting it under less stress than a heavier rider on a larger frame. That's the reason I chose a small frame over a medium.
    Ummm...I know plenty of people that ride small frames that are far heavier than I am. Style and terrain matter too.
    Also, since neither you or the OP is going to magically change weight depending on what frame size you buy, I think you might want to rethink your conclusion.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTM View Post
    regardless of the real answer, you don't even need to think about this, let alone use it as a deciding factor in which frame you pick. they are required to put that language in the manual because one time back in 1973 some kid's frame broke and his parents sued a bike company. all things being equal, if a manufacturers small frame breaks it is likely their medium and large would have the same issue.

    jeez, shakester beat me by mere seconds!
    It depends on whether the welder shaves that morning or not

    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_beginner View Post
    Thank you all for the replies. So the frame makers don't take into account that in general the bigger frames get more punishment from heavier riders? Interesting.

    Of course, I won't settle for just the frame strength to achieve longevity. I'm also set on reducing my weight, learning the skills, and all that seemingly negligible factors that individually may contribute very small percentage to my goal. But all combined together will help me get there.

    My idea is similar to those who do every thing they can think of to shed off every micrograms from the weight of their bike.
    Unfortunately it's the other way around, most makers would focus their designs around the large and med frames and may add some reinforcement on the XL or XXL but any changes to the SM and XS down are done to create more clearance not strength. Unless you are getting a custom built frame from builders like Seven Cycles, you'd get the same tubes.

    It's also a terrible way to decide on a frame. I own many brands and models in SM and Med, I can tell that small is for fun, and medium is for business(XC), not which one is stronger and 3oz lighter.

    Frame strength is subjective. A skilled rider can land a 12 foot drop like butterfly with sore feet repeatedly without much stress to the frame, same bike can break going over a 6 inch curb when a noob is riding it a few times.

    Unless you are ready to drop some serious $$$, don't put too much focus on "every micrograms", you'd go nuts. Light weight bikes while can be nice on the climb but is not end all be all. Best is to get the one that fit you best, before taking your new bike for the first ride, take out your old bike slap a few bottles of water on that old frame and ride it for a couple of hours, when you take the first ride on your new ride it would feel so sweet'n'low(weight).

  14. #14
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    Re: Smaller vs Bigger - which frame is generally stronger?

    I guess I wasn't clear enough. I'm not after the lightest bike I can get...but rather the theoretically stronger frame size for a given bike model that I would choose.

    For example, I'm comfortable with the fit of either the small or the medium frame size on the Specialized Crave. If I could verify that the medium size frame has more reinforced design for strength to carry heavier riders, I would surely go with that. If not, common knowledge tells me that for a given tube size or diameter, the shorter the length the stiffer it gets.
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_beginner View Post
    I guess I wasn't clear enough. I'm not after the lightest bike I can get...but rather the theoretically stronger frame size for a given bike model that I would choose.

    For example, I'm comfortable with the fit of either the small or the medium frame size on the Specialized Crave. If I could verify that the medium size frame has more reinforced design for strength to carry heavier riders, I would surely go with that. If not, common knowledge tells me that for a given tube size or diameter, the shorter the length the stiffer it gets.
    Check the Clyde forum, I'm sure you are ok on either size.

  16. #16
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    Re: Smaller vs Bigger - which frame is generally stronger?

    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    Check the Clyde forum, I'm sure you are ok on either size.
    Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm only interested in locally available brands/models. In fact, my short list is down to Stumpjumper HT and the Crave.
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  17. #17
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    Smaller vs Bigger - which frame is generally stronger?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_beginner View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm only interested in locally available brands/models. In fact, my short list is down to Stumpjumper HT and the Crave.
    ??? What is that has to do with anything?


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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Ummm...I know plenty of people that ride small frames that are far heavier than I am. Style and terrain matter too.
    Also, since neither you or the OP is going to magically change weight depending on what frame size you buy, I think you might want to rethink your conclusion.
    LOL but I feel sooooo much leaner and lighter climbing onto my small frame.

    My post was meant with a heavy dose of irony.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_beginner View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm only interested in locally available brands/models. In fact, my short list is down to Stumpjumper HT and the Crave.
    The Clyde forum is a sub forum of this site for heavier riders. It's not a brand or type of bike.

  20. #20
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    The difference in frame "strength" is going to vary only very slightly between sizes of the same model, slightly enough to be inconseqential outside of a laboratory. There will be a far greater variance between different models.
    Basically, don't buy an XC race bike and expect it to handle a beating like a dirt jump bike. Don't buy and aluminum bike and expect it to take a beating like a steel bike. Don't buy any bike and expect it to last indefinitely.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    LOL but I feel sooooo much leaner and lighter climbing onto my small frame.

    My post was meant with a heavy dose of irony.
    Damn you and your early start to the weekend!
    19 minutes before beer o'clock here still...left my sense of humor outside today.

  22. #22
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    Re: Smaller vs Bigger - which frame is generally stronger?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    The Clyde forum is a sub forum of this site for heavier riders. It's not a brand or type of bike.
    LOL! My bad.
    BTW, I'm only 5'7" and I weigh between 130 to 140 pounds (depending on how much I've eaten for the week).
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  23. #23
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    Smaller frame, smaller triangles, more strength.
    BUT, smaller frame = longer seatpost and longer stem, = longer moment arms causing more stress on head tube and seat tube.

    Bottom line - It doesn't matter!!!! Literally. Do not give it another thought!

    On the other hand, fit matters, A LOT. It is like the most important thing to consider when buying a bike.
    Use all those brain cells to analyze which frame fits you the best. One has to be better than the other.

  24. #24
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    Re: Smaller vs Bigger - which frame is generally stronger?

    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    ??? What is that has to do with anything?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk pro
    Sorry, I misunderstood your post. See my reply above.
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Damn you and your early start to the weekend!
    19 minutes before beer o'clock here still...left my sense of humor outside today.
    Only 10 minutes to go now. Enjoy that drink.

    Cheers

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