It is rare that you would get a bent bike frame if you were to buy a new bicycle. These items are properly vetted when they are shipped out to customers and bike shops. And if you are sold a bent bike, you can always take it back and get a replacement – or a full refund.
But you may experience a bent bike frame if you buy a secondhand bike. And since this practice is so common among college students and bike enthusiasts, it is worth understanding how to repair a bent bike frame.
A bike frame can also be bent over time, especially if there is an accident involving the bike. Enough force can bend the bike frame so it is not completely straight while being ridden.
Our quick guide should help those who are attempting to fix their bent bike frame.
Fixing a Bent Bike Frame
When a bike frame is bent, it can cause many issues for the rider. These issues include handling and tracking issues, as the wheels are not aligned to the mid-line of the bike.
There are instances where the rear cogsets being improperly aligned with the front chainrings can result in gear shifting issues. Here are some tips on attempting DIY repairs on your bent bike frame. Remember to only try these fixes on a steel bike frame, as aluminum bike frames may break if you attempt DIY repairs on the frame.
Fixing Front Fork Bends
Bike forks, which hold the front wheel, are not meant to survive intense impacts. Even relatively small impacts, such as hitting a car at a slow speed or hitting up against a fence could cause the front fork to bend.
If the steel fork on your bike bent backward, it can be a problematic issue. It will be harder to steer the bike. When the bend is very small, it may not impact performance and you can keep riding.
But to correct a significant backward bend in a steel fork, turn it around backwards. When you have turned around the fork, take your bicycle and slam it into a wall! It may sound dramatic, but doing that often results in the fork bending back into its original alignment.
You are not going to get this perfect without professional tools and assistance. But you can bend it back enough so that you can ride your bike normally.
Frame Tube is Bent in the Middle
If you notice a slight bend in your seat, down or top tube, it is possible to perform a quick repair. You will need some tools and innovation, though.
Saw out a wooden block that has the same diameter as the tube. Then saw it in half. The idea is to take half of the block and put it against the side of the tub, on the area where the bend is located. Now tap on the block with a hammer. Keep increasing your force slowly, until you see the tube straightening.
Twisted Front Triangle
Is the front triangle of your bike frame twisted? You can notice it if the head tube is tilting slightly compared to the seat tube.
A good idea is to get in front of the bicycle so that you can look at the head tube. You are attempting to see if it is parallel to the seat tube. You can take a ruler and place it alongside the head tube to get a better sense of any twist or bend.
Now take a pipe and insert it into the head tube. Make sure you hold the seat tube so it does not tilt. Pull on the pipe in the direction necessary to correct the tilt. Only perform small corrections so you can check the alignment each time, as you do not want to tilt it in the other direction!
More Serious Frame Bends
When you notice that a part of your bike frame is bent, the best option is to take the bike to a professional. Bike shops have the tools and their employees have the experience in repairing bent frames.
If your bike frame is steel, they should have no issues fixing the bend. It may take a couple days, as they need to disassemble the bike to access that part of the frame, but it will get done.
Bike owners are generally advised to avoid serious bike frame repairs on their own. In the examples above, we illustrated how you can repair issues to some parts of the bike frame.
Those repairs were possible as those parts of the frame are easier to access and manipulate. But more serious bike frame bends require professional tools to repair.
Even if you manage to improve the bend on your bike frame using our tips, it is best to take it to a bike shop when you get a chance. They can do a better job of ensuring that your frame is 100 percent correctly aligned.
The Bike Frame
Anyone who is riding a pedal bicycle should know that the most important component on their bike is the frame! While other parts are easily and affordably replaceable, a quality bike frame is what costs a lot of money.
The bike frame is the glue around which everything else is set up. Not only is the quality of a bike frame going to determine its performance and longevity, but it dictates its use cases as well.
Common Bike Frame Materials
Most bike frames are made of steel. It is the default material for the majority of bike frames that you will see on the market. Steel is the ideal choice as it is relatively lightweight, very strong, and can handle the wear and tear that a bicycle goes through over the years.
There are also bikes that are made out of an aluminum frame. It has the advantage of being lighter, which may be useful for some riders. But that lightweight nature comes at the expense of significant durability. Aluminum is much softer, which means that it is easily damaged if it is ridden in a rough way. And when aluminum frames are bent, it is much harder to straighten.
Caring for a Bike Frame
Beyond a bent frame, there are other issues that can develop on bike frames. Corrosion is a major enemy for bike frames, as it can damage a steel frame if you are not careful.
If you are going for long bike rides during the summer, you are probably sweating on your bike quite a bit. These sweat deposits contain a lot of salt, which will increase the chances of the frame corroding. Make sure to regularly wipe down your bike frame after each ride, especially during summer months.
When there are chipped areas where the paint came off on your frame, take care of them quickly. Rust can develop in these areas. If there is already some rust, you can use sandpaper to rub it off before painting over the area yourself.
Our Final Word
Bicycle bends can be very complex, especially if they are significant. As a general rule, aluminum frame bends are very difficult to fix and DIY repairs should not be attempted. Steel frames are a lot easier to repair, but bike owners should still exercise caution.
Depending on the scale of the bend, bike owners can attempt creative repairs to try and get the frame straightened out. If those attempts straighten the bike enough so that it functions correctly, it is a job well done!