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How to choose a MTB Frame?

The frame is the main component of the bicycle and is the base of any bike built. MTB frames are designed for riding off-road, over rough terrain. There are two main categories of MTB frames: Hardtail and Full suspension .

you need to expect to spend between €200 for an entry level frame and €3500 for a high end model. You will need to choose the right frame for your riding discipline and riding style.

Which MTB frame is right for you?

Your riding discipline

Personal choice between hardtail and suspension frame. 

XC riders have an important decision to make: choose a hardtail frame for efficient power transfer and light weight or choose a full suspension frame for better stability when descending, better traction when climbing and better comfort.

For gravity disciplines (Enduro, Freeride and DH), riders generally choose full suspended frames to push the limits on demanding terrain, for their big-hit ability and their slack frame angles.

Depending the type of riding the bike is intended for, geometry will vary.

Generally, XC bikes will have a long top tube to allow a stretched riding position and a relatively steep head and seat angles. Gravity bikes will feature a short top tube to give a better rider control on rough terrain (the rider will have a more upright position), seat and head angles are slacker.

Your height

To help you choose your frame size, you can use the size chart below as a guide to get you on the right frame:

- Rider Height: 152cm to 171cm - Frame size: S

- Rider Height: 169cm to 180cm - Frame size: M 

Rider Height: 178cm to 187cm - Frame size: L

- Rider Height: 185cm to 193cm - Frame qize: XL

However, depending on your body and practice, you may need to select a smaller or larger size. 

MTB Frames are designed for use with 26", 27.5" and 29" wheels. While older design and/or budget MTB are often designed for 26" wheels, 27.5" and 29" standard has become typical on new models.


 - Steel: it was for decades the only frame material available on the market. It was eclipsed by the rise of aluminium but this material is making a comeback today

Indeed, steel frames are appreciated for their strength, durability and comfort even if they are quite heavy. 

 - Aluminium: the most common material for modern MTB frames. They offer reasonnable performance at a good price: it is light, strong, stiff and has good ride qualities. Aluminium offers good performance characteristics.

Aluminium is however percieved to be harsher ride than carbon fibre. 

 - Carbon Fibre: superlight, very good vibration damping properties, strong and stiff. Carbon fibre frames are comfortable over long distances and very efficient at power transfer. It offers the highest performance characteristics of all the frame materials. Carbon frames are today available at lower price points as the technology has matured. 

 - Titanium: Titanium frames are light, resistant to corrosion and offer a very good ride quality. However, titanium is an expensive material and is very difficult to work with so Frames are very expensive.

Titanium frames are for ardent fans looking for a 'bike for life'. 

Compatibility Standards

If your plan is to change your frame only and keep the components fitted on your bike, you will need to be vigilant as many standards are available on the market.

Travel: frames are designed for a certain amount of travel. Frames with a 80mm-100mm travel forks are typically XC Frames, trail frames have 120mm-140mm forks, enduro frames have 160mm forks and frames designed for more than 160mm travel forks are for the specific demands of Freeride and DH.

Front Derailleur: the majority of front derailleurs are attached to the frame with a clamp fits around the seat tube. You will need to make sure your new frame has the same seat tube diameter. Other derailleurs bolt directly on to mounts attached to the frame (direct mount) or are fitted with a special mounting plate to the drive side of the bottom bracket (E-Type). Front derailleurs also differ in how the cable is pulled. You need to make sure your both frames are designed for a bottom pull mech (cable pulled downward and normally routed under the BB) or top pull mech (cable pulled upward and routed under the top tube).

Seatpost: as the seat tube diameter may vary form one frame to another, you will need to make sure your new frame has the same seat tube diameter in order to keep your seatpost. Generally, seatposts diameters are 30.9mm, 31.6mm and sometimes 34.9mm.

The rear axle, the brake mount, the bottom bracket shell and the headtube have also to be checked before buying a new frame.

Wheels: your new frame needs to be designed for the same wheel size: 26", 27.5" or 29".


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