Getting a brilliant new dirt jump or slopestyle bike is a nice investment when it comes to getting into this hobby. But, there are pros and cons to this approach. There may come a time when you realize that the bike isn’t 100% perfect and you can think of more than a few upgrades you would make. You have two options here. Either you take this risk, and swap out expensive components later, or you buy the bike piece by piece. The best place to start with the latter option is the frame. So, what are some of the best dirt jump frames out there right now and why is this such a good idea?
In this guide, you will learn more about the pros and cons of different bike frames on the market. The reviews below are a short introduction to some of the features and options available, and this should help you to narrow down your options. The perfect frame might not be there right now, but you should leave with some inspiration on what to do next. From there, you can learn about an alternative approach of using older second-hand frames. Also, we have a short buyer’s guide on key features to look out for. Before that, let’s talk a little more about why buying a dirt jump bike frame only is so advantageous.
Why should you get a dirt jump bike frame rather than a full dirt jump bike?
Getting a dirt jump bike frame is a lot like getting a blank canvas. You could pay hundreds of dollars for a bike that has everything pre-fitted for instant use. But, there is the chance that you might end up with some features that aren’t so beneficial as others. For example, you might love the look of a bike because of its geometry and color, but find that the brakes could be a little more responsive, the tires could be better, or you’d like a different fork to handle the impact. Before you know it, you are stripping the bike clean in order to upgrade it. This could mean a lot of dollars wasted if you didn’t go for a budget model, to begin with.
The alternative is to focus on the frame and then bring in features that you know will do precisely what you want. You can take your time picking and choosing between all the right elements to create something custom and perfect for your needs. This means that you can add on the wheel that you prefer, the right forks, better pedals, and everything else you need. Yes, it is a difficult task to create a quality dirt jump bike from nothing if all you have is this basic frame.
But, there is still a chance that you can turn this into a labor of love with the right skills and perseverance. But, you can’t do any of this without the right frame. It all starts with that base and you can build from there. So, let’s take a look at some of the best dirt jump bike frames out there that you can use.
Best Dirt Jump Bike Frames: Top 7 Reviews
- Mongoose Title Elite
- Mongoose Title Pro
- Santa Cruz Jackal
- DMR Sect
- NS Majesty
- Dartmoor Cody
- Black Market Roam
Best Dirt Jump Bike Frames:
We want to start this guide by talking about a pair of bikes from the same brand – Mongoose. Mongoose is highly popular with riders of dirt jump and BMX bikes because of their range and quality. Here, we want to highlight the difference between two of their popular frames to show that it pays to compare specifications more carefully.
The Elite is the more high-end model. Here you get, professional-grade 6061 Tectonic T1 hydroformed and butted tubing, a strong aluminum frame, and a stiff response. There is also a Tapered headtube, along with internal cable routing and an overall weight of 3.28 lbs. This one comes in black and retails for a very affordable $209.
Then you have the Pro, the lesser of the two. This one doesn’t have the same headtube or dropouts. So, experienced riders looking for the very best specification may notice a difference in quality. But, you do still get a light Tectonic T1 aluminum frame with the benefit of BMX race geometry. This one is a little bit lighter at 3.11 lbs as well. Another key difference is that this one is red rather than black. The Pro retails at a very cheap $139.99, so could still be a brilliant choice for anyone looking for an affordable way into their first custom dirt jump bike.
Next, we have the Santa Cruz Jackal. Some riders may be familiar with this bike and there are some great reviews about its potential as a multi-purpose option. There are riders taking this out in all kinds of areas to make the most of its capabilities for dirt jumping. There is also the fact that has a strong frame with a lightweight aluminum material and high-end 26’’ wheels.
Some critics also see this as a luxury option as a full bike. But, there is a way to get the best out of that frame and geometry while cutting down on costs. Santa Cruz offers this as a frame-only option, with the same great quality, so that riders can add in the forks, wheels and other components they need for the best ride. This means a little more room for adaptation. The “raw” color on the frame might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is the benefit of two size options – M and L – rather than one single size. At $850, this could be a great choice for a lot of riders.
This is another option where you can choose between getting a full dirt jump bike or just opting for the frame. Those that can afford the full bike can enjoy a lot of quality components for a fair price. But, it might be more cost-effective long-term to go for the frame-only option and add in other features. One reason for this is that the frame is a Chromoly steel frame that is heavier than most. Therefore, you can use your best judgment with the wheels, brakes, and other features to bring the weight down as needed.
One of the top features on the full bike is the RST Dirt 100 fork. However, a custom build gives you a chance to go further, or to even adapt this into a more capable slopestyle bike. While it is a shame that there is only one size available this time, it is nice to see color choices. We saw one listing that mentioned black and red frame, while we have also seen pictures of full bikes in blue, green and purple. So, it might be wise to do some research there. Either way, this is a fun starting point for a bike that can help you gain more control over your jumps.
This next model from NS looks great. There is an instant appeal here for those that want to great a stunning looking bike that other riders will be envious of. The green or black frame is finished off with white branding that looks a little like it was spray-painted on like graffiti. It gives the impression that riders mean business. Remember that many top riders are sponsored by NS.
This feeling of professionalism also comes through from the use of 4130 Tange Eccentric Chromoly steel. While this does put the frame slightly on the heavier side of the range, it is worth it for the reliability and feels while riding. With the right components, this could turn into a great bike for those with a competitive spirit. You can use the low bracket to help you jump a little higher and then add in decent 140mm forks for a better landing. The frame also boasts an Integrated Tapered IS42/IS52 headset, 27.2mm seat clamp, and is compatible with 26’’ tires and a 32t chainring. Take a closer look at the potential of this face and the price offered by NS. It is a more affordable option than you might expect.
Next up, we have the Dartmoor Cody dirt jump frame. Dartmoor is one of those names that doesn’t always make it to the top of the guide, but is actually well-respected among those that ride. Therefore, it makes sense to take a closer look at their products to see what you can get out of them. This is a nice looking frame with a reach of 420mm, a strong seat post, and the ability to take tires up to 26 inches. While it doesn’t have the immediate visual impact of the NS Majesty, it does seem to come in a choice of black or red, so that helps. One thing to keep in mind about this frame is that it is actually a little thicker in places than other models. You might not fully appreciate this until you get up close.
There are pros and cons here. On the plus side, you have reinforcement around some welds and areas prone to breakage. So, this frame should last a little longer than other thinner options. But, this will add a little more weight, especially with the Japanese Cr-Mo 4130 steel tubes. Still, you can compensate for this with your choice of other components as you build your bike. There is only one size available and the company isn’t keen to divulge the price, so be aware of that too.
Finally, let’s take a look at the Roam. This model is one of the more interesting options for riders looking for a custom build because of the options available. You can start off by picking a color – either black or white – and then move onto the wheels. Do you prefer to stick with the typical 26? wheels or would you prefer to go up to 27.5? or 29 wheels? You have that option here, so this is ideal for those that fancy a 29er that is better suited to jumps.
Then there is the fact that this product comes in a range of sizes from XS to XL. This significant when you compare it to some of the other options in this guide that are one-size only. The frame also benefits from a CNC’d Pinch-bolt tapered 1.5” head tube and a 3D CNC’D DriveBox. But, there is a big downside to picking this custom option. It is expensive! You are looking at something between 1,895.95 and $2,490.95 according to their website. That seems like a lot when there are other quality options here for a third of that.
How about getting a second-hand frame from a rider online?
Before we look at some of the considerations for choosing a frame such as this, it is also important to look at another option for riders. This works for those that are happy to make these sorts of modifications and create a stunning bike. All of the frames that are mentioned here are current models. There are two reasons for this – the availability of items through various retailers at a fixed rate and the knowledge that you are getting something new, shiny, and perfect for your needs.
An alternative option here is to opt for something that is second hand and to do it up. You will find bike lovers and sellers with old models of bike or just the bike frame that you can use for a custom ride. In a lot of cases, these older models are easily adapted into a new model with the right parts. After all, the frame is just a starting point for all the additional components that you want.
A good place to start if you like the idea of giving an old frame a makeover is eBay or another similar auction site. Here you can find an array of models including some classic frames from the 80s and 90s. You could take a beloved slopestyle frame, polish it up and add on the forks, tires, and other essentials for a new lease of life. You could also find some classic BMX bike frames with vintage designs. This is great for those that want to impress other riders on the circuit with a nostalgic looking bike that performs way better than expected.
Just be aware here that there are risks with this approach. You might decide to go for an old classic and trust a seller, only to find that the condition isn’t quite as good as the listing or photos made out. This may mean a lot of extra work to get it clean and retouched, or that is simply isn’t viable for your needs. Then there are all the risks of purchasing through a person rather than a company, especially if they end up charging around $1000 for their product. Keep this option in mind as an alternative to the new and expensive frames above if you are keen to create something unique.
Buyer’s Guide: Important considerations when choosing a dirt jump bike frame
You need to think about choosing the best possible dirt jump bike frame in the same way that you would a full dirt bike. That frame has to be just as advantageous and reliable even if it doesn’t come with any other parts. So, make sure to consider the following points when choosing the frame.
1) The material used
This is essential for the right weight and feel as you ride. Most dirt jump bike riders will opt for
something as light as possible for a better jump. The less weight that there is holding you down, the better the chance that you can soar over the bigger jumps and get that thrill you have been seeking. Aluminum is a great choice if you want to be sure of a lighter weight while retaining some rigidity and durability. However, other riders like to turn to steel alloy for its durability and response. It is up to you which you feel will give you the better ride.
2) The geometry
Next, you need to take some time to think about the geometry of the bike. The shape of the frame and the angles used make a big difference to the performance. You will have noticed this if you switched from riding trails on a mountain bike to jumping with a dirt bike. Manufacturers should offer a detailed diagram or at least some indication of all the measurements and angles involved in their frames. You may also find some small differences between standard and pro options. Find what suits you best.
3) The size
What size do you want your bike frame to be for the most comfortable ride? Unfortunately, many companies sell bikes and frames that are one-size only. You have to either adapt or go elsewhere. Others may be more open with sizes from XS to XL to accommodate smaller or taller riders. Figure out what you need based on previous experience with other bikes.
4) The look
The frame of a bike is what stands out the most to anyone passing by or other competitors on dirt tracks. If you want to make an impression, you should consider the style of the frame as well as the more practical elements. So, take a look at the finish on the frame. Is there a simple matte paintwork with a little bit of branding or something with more of a shine. Metallic looks can catch the eye for a grown-up feel. Check out product listings to see if you can get it in another color. Some will start by showcasing black frames as they are more neutral, but may also offer bolder options like reds, purples, or something custom. Remember that the look sets the tone for the rest of the bike, so choose wisely.
5) The cost
You might be surprised at the different prices of frames out there. It all depends on what you want and who you go to. On one side, you have the manufacturers that promise the very best designs and materials with customizable options. Here, you can expect to pay a premium price for their efforts. On the other side, you have the companies that create lots of variations of frames at different price points. The “lesser” models here could be a lot more affordable and even knock hundreds of dollars off the up-front cost. This saving really helps when it comes to our next point – modifications.
6) Is this bike suitable for modifications?
Finally, you need to be sure that the frame you choose can play host to all the cool components that you have your eye on. It all has to go together with ease for a well-balanced bike that is easy and fun to ride. With that in mind, let’s consider some of those features that you will need to finish off this frame and create that perfect dirt jump bike.
- You need to add in the right fork and suspension system at the front of the bike for a soft landing on each jump
- If you want to turn this into a slopestyle bike then look for rear suspension too.
- Most riders are happy with single-speed drivetrains with high gears, but seek out quality components that work for you.
- Decide what type of brake you want. Are you going to stick with a high-end disc brake on the back only, brakes o both wheels, or do you want to be bold and take the brakes off to reduce weight?
- You need wheels that are the optimal size for the frame with tires that can glide over the dirt
- A Saddle that is as low as possible but also nice and comfortable for regular use
In short, there are lots of options when looking for the best dirt jump bike frame. Check out the websites of manufacturers that you like to see what they offer. You might find that one of the top-rated models above is perfect, or that they have something with slightly different geometry or a better style. Browse your options until you are sure that you have something that will make you happy and allow for all the modifications you need. Enjoy the process of selecting all the parts and see why building a dirt jump bike from the frame up is such a rewarding experience.