Motorcycles appeal to a wide variety of different types of people. Therefore, modern motorcycles come in a wide variety of types. One of a motorcycle's most integral components is its frame --- basically the skeleton upon which all other parts of the bike rest. Several different types of frames are available, differentiated both by their design and the materials.
Steel Tube Motorcycle Frames
Steel tube motorcycle frames are extremely strong and also inexpensive to manufacture. Problems with steel tubes include their heavy weight and tendency to corrode. These types of frames were by far the most common up until the 1980s.
Pressed Steel Motorcycle Frames
Pressed steel frames require the use of moulding machines. The manufacturer starts with sheet metal, presses the metal into two halves and then welds the halves together to arrive at the finished frame.
Aluminium Beam Motorcycle Frames
Aluminium beam bike frames are the most common type of frames for modern motorcycles. Aluminium weighs only a third as much as steel, which allows for the construction of thicker, denser components. Another form of aluminium motorcycle frames, cast aluminium frames, are created using pressurised moulds.
Single Cradle Motorcycle Frames
The most basic style of motorcycle frame, the single cradle frame, derives its name from the space on which the motorcycle's engine rests. This frame, which closely resembles the design of the very first motorcycles, is usually made from steel tubes. The cradle around the engine consists of one large tube running atop the engine and several smaller tubes supporting the engine from beneath.
Split Single Cradle Motorcycle Frames
Split single cradle frames are a hybrid of single and double cradle frames. They look just like single cradle frames, with one, larger top tube and several smaller tubes beneath until they reach the exhaust, at which point they become double cradle frames.
Double Cradle Motorcycle Frames
Double cradle frames have two separate cradles supporting the engine --- one on each of its sides. The most common use of double cradle frames is in custom-made motorcycles, but they sometimes play a role in road bikes as well. Double cradle frames are not widely used as of 2010.
Perimeter Motorcycle Frames
Perimeter frames are a completely different way of visualising how a motorcycle frames support's the bike's engine. Perimeter frames consist of two large, bulky arms that run from the motorcycle's steering head to its swing arm around the sides, or perimeter, of the engine. This type of frame, less prone to moving under torsional pressure, most frequently incorporates aluminium.
Backbone Motorcycle Frames
Backbone frames are another more modern style of motorcycle frame. They support the engine with a wide, thick beam. The engine hangs off this beam, and the finished bike looks as if the engine just hangs in midair from the motorcycle, as no steel tubes run beneath the engine as in cradle frame designs.
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