Aluminium is the soul of our bikes

Thanks to its modularity, aluminium facilitates the work of our designers. It is reliable and benefits from a lower environmental footprint than carbon. And that makes us proud.

Nicolas MENARD, Head of the Design Office and creator of the brand Max COMMENCAL, reveal the secrets of the use of this metal which combines craftsmanship and high technology.

Why work aluminium?

Using aluminium allows more responsiveness in the design of bikes.

All we have to do is modify geometry or kinematic templates to refine, transform and optimise a frame to then go and test it. Aluminium means it’s possible to work on many details, such as stiffness or vibration modes.

It is also a sporty choice. Our riders prefer to ride an aluminium frame rather than carbon. All brands combined, over the 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons in World Cup DH Elite competition, aluminium bikes have won 31 out of a possible 44 races!

31 race wins for aluminum bikes in world cup dh elite since 2021

The environmental aspect
is it taken into account?

There is definitely an environmental impact. We invest to reduce our footprint and encourage our suppliers to do the same.

There is also a human aspect. To our knowledge, people who work carbon in China, Vietnam or Burma do so under disastrous conditions. They breathe in solvents and dust that are particularly harmful to health, all day long.

We don’t want to be part of that, and we don’t use carbon for those reasons.

Finally, aluminium is recyclable and infinitely recoverable. This allows us to deliver the highest quality responsibly, ethically and with respect for the people who work with us.

How are our frames worked?

Our frames are handcrafted. We consider each tube and every weld and pay particular attention to the finishes and the assembly.

The cut-outs are optimised to have stronger welds. Coupled with realignments throughout production, this prevents damage to the frame structure that could twist during assembly.

Geometry and kinematics are perfectly respected. We re-machine all pivot points after welding for smooth operation.

Finally, we shot blast our frames for increased fatigue strength of 30%.

What does aluminium triple butted mean?

« Triple Butted » means that the tubes have three differentiated thicknesses. We lighten the weight of the frame, and we can achieve very high-quality welds. This makes it easier to optimise the stiffness of the frame for rolling performance, but also on the deformation to distribute the stresses.

What alloys do we use?

We use 6061, 6066 and 6069 tubes. 6061 has a very good weight to price to performance ratio. On our frames with suspension, we use 6066 and 6069. These are high quality alloys that have superior elastic and fatigue strengths.

What are the prospects for aluminium?

It’s the metal of the future. With time and research, new possibilities and new ways of manipulating appear. We are not opposed to working with steel or titanium, as we have already done. Technologies evolve, nothing is set in stone, if there is a technical interest or advantage.

Is aluminium economically attractive?

No! Today our aluminium frames have a higher cost price than the majority of carbon frames.

As we manufacture them, a SUPREME DH V5 or META V5 frame represents 356 and 328 production steps respectively. This is one of the added values of our bikes and there is no comparison to that of the manufacture of a carbon frame.

Thinking of aluminium as an entry-level material and carbon as high-end, is a shortcut that does not reflect reality.

Our bikes combine manufacturing know-how with high-end technology. Our goal is to make the best bikes.

The cost of an aluminium frame is not necessarily inferior to a carbon frame

The final word

I like the marriage of aesthetics and technique.
A successful bike brings together the desires of our engineers and designers. It’s never simple because their fundamentals do not necessarily converge. The design, the machined parts, the welding: we see our bikes as works of art inspired by racing. They evoke performance and exclusivity. Their manufacture is uncompromised.