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.