Bike Parts 101

It’s Not Just Wheels, Pedals, Handlebars and a Seat

If you ask the weekend bike rider to name the different parts of a bike you may get a response like tires, chain, handlebars, seat, pedals, brakes, etc. If you ask an avid cyclist the same question they may start spitting out words like derailleur, fork, rims, crankset, etc. Don’t be discouraged if your face is making a confused look while reading those terms. Mine used to do the same thing until…

Welcome to BIKE PARTS 101:

Many parts go into making your bike operate smoothly, so you can enjoy the ride.

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Frame = This is the main component of a bicycle, the wheels and other components are attached to the frame. It consists of:

  • Seat tube = the roughly vertical tube in a bicycle frame running from the seat to the bottom bracket
  • Down tube = tube on a bicycle frame that runs from the head tube to the bottom bracket
  • Top tube = frame member leading from steerer tube to seat tube
  • Head tube = the tube of a bicycle frame that contains the headset
  • Fork = a mechanical assembly that integrates a bicycle’s frame to its front wheel and handlebars, allowing steering by virtue of its steerer tube.
  • Seat stay = small tubes running from top of seat tube to rear dropouts.
  • Chain stay = pair of tubes that runs from the bottom bracket to the rear fork ends


  • Front/Rear Hub = center part of a bicycle wheel. It consists of an axle, bearings and a hub shell.
  • Spokes = rods connecting the center of a wheel to the rim
  • Rim = a large hoop attached to the outer ends of the spokes of the wheel that holds the tire and tube
  • Valve Stem = port for adding or releasing air from the inner tube.

Chain = It consists of interlinking pins, plates and rollers that transmits power from the pedals to the rear wheel, thus propelling it

Chain ring = It allows the chain to transfer power to the wheel. They usually have teeth spaced to engage every link of the chain as it passes over.

Crankset = It consists of one or more chain rings attached to the crankarm that allows the rider’s leg motion to move the chain therefore making the back wheel spin and the bike to move

Front/Rear Derailleur = These consist of a chain, multiple chain rings (sprockets/gears) of different sizes, and a device to move the chain from one ring to another. When a rider changes gears using their levers while pedaling, the change in cable tension moves the chain-guide from side to side, “derailing” the chain onto different rings, known commonly as changing gears.

Brake = It is used to slow down or stop a bicycle. Most bike brake systems contain of three main components: an instrument for the rider to apply the brakes, like the brake levers; another device for transmitting that signal, such as brake cables; and the brake mechanism itself to press against the rear wheel creating friction and allowing the bike to come to a stop.

When I found out all the instruments that went into making my bike move, I no longer looked at it as a device that got me from point A to B, but an exceptional intricate machine. How about you?

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