You know, I had ridden bikes for years before ever knowing the frame had different names for the different components, and I’ll wager I’m not the only one who didn’t know. So before we venture too far into What Is It Wednesday land, I thought it would be fitting to start with the basics. Start/click at the top left and scroll through the slideshow to learn about different parts of the wheels, front assembly, the frame, and what we like to call – the heart of the bike.
A) Rim: This is the hard circular part of the wheel where you will find your valve, where one end of your spokes attach, and finally where your tires wrap around. B) Tire: I could write a whole post about tires, the main thing here is you need the right type for your style of riding, where you’re riding, wheel size, and whether you need tubes or not.
Valve: If you have don’t have solid tires, this will be where you adjust your tire pressure. There are two main valves you’ll come across often: Schrader (typically for mountain bikes) and Presta (typically for road cycles). Tip: get a bike pump that can handle both.
A) Hub: this is the big thing in the very center of your wheel that holds the axle and attaches the other end of the spokes. If you have a quick release wheel, this is where the skewer will pass through. It also has bearings that determine the base resistance on the wheel. B) Spokes: These connect the hub to the rim and help to keep the wheel “true” aka a circle and not a lopsided oval.
Brake Calipers: the brake levers will pull the tension on a cable that connects to calipers, causing them to close in on the rim with brake pads, slowing the bike down. If you have disc brakes, the calipers will clamp down on the disc located around the hub.
A) Fork: This holds your wheel and along with the headset and handlebars allow you to steer your bike. They, like the frame, can be made of various materials. B) Suspension: There are various forms but two basic kinds – hardtail (like what’s shown here) and full. Full suspension means there’s suspension in the front (like shown) and in the rear. Suspension is a means to absorb shock.
Head tube: the front part of the frame above the fork connecting it to the headset.
Headset: this is that piece above the headtube that contains bearings that allows the steer tube to pass through to the handlebars.
Stem: these come in many lengths depending on how upright you wish to be while riding and can be threaded or threadless. You’ll find these at the top of the steer tube.
Handlebars: There are a plethora of handlebar styles to choose from. Road bikes will typically have drop handles, and mountain bikes will typically have flats.
Shifters: This is another item that can come in various styles. Mine are thumb shifters, (this slide) while my husband’s are twist shifters (next slide).
Shifters (cont.): The left one will control the front deraileur and the right one tells the rear deraileur what to do and where the chain should be on the cassette. Some older bikes have their shifters located on the frame instead..
Brake levers: Just like the shifters the left side does the front, and right controls the rear.
Grips: where your hands go! This could just be tape or specialty grips. On ours you’ll see some ergonomic ones. These along with the saddle and pedals make up the 5 points of contact with your bike.
A) Top tube: this connects the head tube to the top of the seat tube. The angle here really varies. Mine is angled downwards which is great for passing your leg through. Tip: if your top tube makes getting it on and off a bike rack a nightmare, try a top tube adapter. B) Down tube: connects the head tube to the bottom bracket where you’ll find the front deraileur.
A) Seat tube: This is an easy one – it holds the seat post. B) Front triangle: the space formed by the top tube, down tube, and seat tube. Many accessories can be attached in this space.
A) Seat post: inserts into the seat tube and allows the rider to adjust the height of their saddle. B) Saddle: often called a seat, but this is where your bum sits, and there’s a ton of styles to choose from. Saddles sit on rails that you can move forward and backwards to adjust your sitting angle in relation to the handlebars. The saddle is one of the 5 points of contact on your bike.
A) Chainstay: runs in line with the chain to connect the bottom bracket to the rear dropout B) Seatstay: runs from the top of the seat tube to the rear dropout. C) Rear triangle: formed by the seat tube, chainstays and seatstays, providing structural support to the rear frame as well as a means to carry cabling .
Dropouts: They are notches where the wheel axles are placed and locked in front and in the rear.
Front derailleur: this is where your chain will pass through and be adjusted onto the different chainrings controlled by the front shifter.
Bottom bracket: found where the down tube, chain stays, and seat tube all converge. This connects the crankset to the frame and allows the cranks to spin.
A) Crank: these are the “arms” that attach the pedals to the crankset and chain rings, B) Pedal: These make up 2 points of contact with the bike where your feet are placed.
Chainrings: these are the round things with teeth a lot of people will call gears. Those teeth insert between the chain links and work with the cranks to rotate the chain forward, propelling the rear wheel. The smaller chainrings are used for hills/climbing, while the bigger ones can be used on flatter surfaces to produce speed.
Cassette: no, not the ones that go in a boombox. These are a set of sprockets (or gears) that can be found on the drivetrain side of the rear wheel and come in multiple configurations.
Rear derailleur: this works with the cassette to move the chain onto the appropriate gear controlled by the right shifter.
Drivetrain: includes the crank, pedals, chain, and deraileurs,