Posted in Cycle
bike infographic of a Verenti road bike

Bike jargon explained

The world of bikes and parts can at times be confusing and we've all come across some terms that are challenging to understand. We have made a list of some common technical words and explained them here as simply and accurately as we can.


  • Alloy: An alloy is a mixture of two or more elements, at least one part is metal.



  • Bearings: Ball bearings work as a way of letting something spin/rotate freely and smoothly.
  • Bottom Bracket: The bottom bracket is housed in the bottom bracket shell of a bike.
  • Bottom bracket shell: The bottom bracket shell is where the bottom bracket is fitted, it is where the seat-stay, down tube and seat-tube join.
  • Brake levers: Brake levers are the handles/levers mounted on the handlebars used for stopping or slowing the bike.
  • Brake Cable: The brake cable system is made of two parts, the inner cable and the outer cable


  • Carbon fibre: This is a composite that has a very high strength-weight ratio and is ideal for bicycle frames and components.
  • Cantilever brakes: Cantilever brakes are designed to operate in symmetry to touch the rim walls at the same time.
  • Cassette: The cassette is the cluster of sprockets fixed onto the splined freehub on the rear wheel.
  • Chain: The chain transmits the power from the chainring to the rear wheel of the bike.
  • Chain stays: The chainstays exit the bottom bracket shell in a rearwards direction where they meet the rear dropouts.
  • Chromoly: A type of steel that contains chromium and molybdenum. Another name you may see for chromoly is 4130 steel.
  • CX: CX is a short description for cyclo-cross.



  • Disc brakes: Disc Brakes comprise of a metal disc attached to the hub of the wheel, and can be operated either by hydraulic fluid or by cable.
  • Down tube: The down tube connects the bottom of the head tube to the bottom bracket shell.
  • Drop handlebar: Drop handlebars are predominantly used on road and track bikes.



  • Entry level: The term entry level is often used for first time riders wanting to buy their first bike.



  • Fork: The forks connect to the stem/handlebars allowing you to turn the front wheel and balance the bike.
  • Frame: The cycle frame is the main piece of the bike composed of the frame tubes. The wheels and other components are attached to the frame.
  • Freehub: The freehub is a component of the rear hub. It has a ratchet mechanism built into it to allow freewheeling/coasting.
  • Front derailleur: The front derailleur is used to move the chain in a sideways motion to allow shifting between chainrings.



  • Gear cables: The gear cable travels from the gear lever to the corresponding derailleur to allow the changing of gear.
  • Gear levers: Gear levers, often called shifters, enable the changing of the derailleur/gear mechanisms.



  • Handlebars: Bicycle handlebars are a one piece component fixed to the stem of a bike. The handlebars primary concern is to steer the bike.
  • Headset (Aheadset): The headset is a multi-piece component that is mounted at the head-tube of the bike.
  • Head tube: The head tube houses the headset and the steerer tube.
  • Hubs (front and rear): The hubs on a bike are the centre part of the wheels.


  • MTB: MTB is the abbreviation for Mountain Bike.


  • Rear derailleaur: This moves the chain from one rear sprocket to another, whilst keeping the chain tensioned.
  • Rear shock: This is a mechanical component that’s purpose is to absorb and smooth out the impact at the rear wheel of a bicycle, usually found on mountain bikes.
  • Rims: The rims are the perfect circular hoops that the tyres are mounted onto.


  • Saddle:The bike saddle is the most intimate contact point on a bicycle. It’s clamped to the seat-post by the saddle rails.
  • Seat-post: The seat-post is a removable extension that is placed in the seat-tube of the frame.
  • Seat stays: Seat stays connect the top of the seat tube to the rear dropouts.
  • Seat tube: The seat tube is the insertion point for the seat-post.
  • Steel: Steel is an alloy. It’s manufactured by combining iron and other elements.
  • Suspension fork: This is a type of bicycle fork that has a suspension or shock absorbing unit.
  • Spokes: Spokes connect the hub to the rim.
  • Sprocket: A sprocket is another name for one of the individual cogs on a cassette or freewheel.
  • Steerer tube: The steerer tube is the upper part of the bicycle forks.
  • Stem: The stem is the linking component to join the handlebars to the steerer tube of the forks.


  • Tapered (head tube): These head tubes feature a bigger diameter at the bottom than the top.
  • Thumb shifters: Thumb shifters are very simple gear levers that were very common on MTB’s.
  • Tyres: Bike tyres fit on the outer circumference of the rims.
  • Top tube: The top tube is the joining tube from the seat tube to the top of the head tube.