Not knowing the names of parts of a bike is no big deal. Until you’re at your LBS (local bike shop) and you can’t understand the language they’re speaking there.
They’re speaking in English, but they might as well be speaking mandarin. Derailleur? Saddle? chainstay dropouts? Chainring? Hub? What are you talking about?
Related: Different Types of Bikes
In this post, I’ll list down the English name of each part of a bike so you can learn all of them. I’ll also show you a picture of every named bike part. Once you read the description for each component and view its picture, you likely won’t forget it.
You’ll learn what every useful bike part is called in English. And you’ll no longer order a wheel when what you actually needed was a tire!
So, let’s dive in.
Below is a picture of a mountain bike and all its parts: Source
Below is a picture of a road bike and all its parts: Source
I’ll now hold each bike part closer to your eyes so you can understand what it is and why you need it. To organize this post, I’ve grouped the various bike parts into different categories.
When all these components come together, they become a bike. So, let’s talk about the end product for a second.
In the horse backing world, riders use horses to gallop around. In the cycling world, riders use steeds, too. But cycling steeds never neigh. Instead, they use wheels to carry the rider from one point to another. A mountain bike is a steed as is a road bike.
A road bike is a super light bike built to roll extremely fast on roads. This bike type features pretty thin tires with pretty much bald tires. These bikes don’t care about traction that much. Speed is the main thing. They’re the opposite of a fat bike. Anyone that rides a road bike is called a roadie.
Unlike a road bike, a mountain bike shines best on dirt-covered forest trails as well as rocky, rooty terrain. This bike also needs to be light enough, but its tires are starkly different than a road bike’s. A mountain bike comes with relatively thick tires, and if it’s a fattie, then the tires can be extremely wide.
List of All Bike Parts
Without any further ado…
Humans have a skeleton that holds ligaments and everything else together, and bikes have a frame. The frame is the tubing that keeps all the parts of a bike linked together. These tubes are usually hollow and lightweight, especially for road bikes.
When choosing a road bike or a mountain bike, pay adequate attention to its frame size. Tube geometry determines how comfortable you’ll be while riding. Your bike’s frame geometry also affects your pedaling posture and how energy-efficient you’ll be.
Different bike types often have different frame geometry, and their frame design makes them suitable for specific cycling styles.
Related: Different Cycling Styles
Parts of a Bicycle’s Frame
When standing legs apart over a bike, the tube near your crotch is the top tube. Opinion remains divided over how tall (standover clearance) should be. But for most people, 2″-4″ should be enough standover clearance.
The down tube links the head tube (discussed below) and the bottom bracket. Bike designers decide how long the top tube, seat tube, and head tube should be. Consequently, the lengths of these three tubes determine how long the down tube should be. Find the head tube under the front set section below.
Designers these days seem to favor larger down tubes to increase stiffness. It’s increasingly harder to find a carbon bike without a large-volume down tube.
But not all bikes have a down tube. Look at the bike below to get an idea of what I mean.
Don’t Confuse Seatpost with Seat Tube
As a beginner cyclist, it’s easy to say seat post when you actually mean seat tube. I describe both of them below to clear the confusion. Learn what a seat post is under the Saddle section below.
The seat tube extends from where the seat post joins it at the top to your bike’s pedal system. Most seat tubes today come with a water bottle mount (a bottle cage). This tube also features a special mount for the front derailleur. See seat tube pic below.
Seat stays are two parallel tubes that connect somewhere behind the rear wheel. These tubes connect your bike’s rear dropout/chainstay dropout with its seat tube/seat post.
At the convergence of these tubes, you’ll find caliper-type brakes if your bike uses such brakes. View a seat stays pic below.
The chain stay’s function is to link your bike’s pedal-crank system to the hub of the rear wheel. This part runs parallel to the chain.
If you check underneath this part, you’ll likely see a derailleur cable running to connect with the rear derailleur. View a pic of a bike’s chainstay below
Just like with the seat stays, the chainstay consists of two tubes. One tube stays on the drivetrain side and the other one stays on the non-drivetrain side. A brace connects the chainstay’s parallel tubes somewhere in front of the bike’s back wheel.
On the ends of the bifurcated tubes that are the chainstay are U-shaped notches that keep the wheel securely attached. Loosening the bolt that holds everything together releases the wheel and it “drops out.”
2. Parts of a Bike’s Wheel
If you’re like most new cyclists, you’ve said wheel when you meant tire. But that confusion ends here, today, now.
The tire is the exterior rubber part of the wheel. It’s the part of the wheel that stays in contact with the ground. Some tires have inflatable tubes inside while others are tubeless. One advantage of tubeless tires is that you can ride them at relatively low pressure. Pic of a bike’s wheel with tire and rim.
What’s more, you’ll never get snakebites with tubeless tires. Oh, I’m talking about flats not danger noodles here. Danger noodles? OK, I’m talking about real snakes now.
Inner Tire tube
A tire tube is where the air ends up when you pump it in with a bike pump. It looks like a pool ring buoy. Be sure to learn your tires’ recommended air pressure (PSI) and generally air up to that number.
See what a bike rim looks like
The rim is the circular metallic part of a wheel. Your bike’s tire mounts onto the rim. When you ride your bike too hard on bumpy roads or trails and get it tacoed, you have to true the rim. Related: How to Maintain a Bike
Spokes look like aluminum rods. These rods serve to connect the rim with the wheel’s hub. Have you ever wondered what a bike’s spokes do? Spokes distribute your weight and your bike’s weight between the hub and rim. But spokes can’t do that job efficiently if they’re damaged. So, replace all wonky spokes where necessary.
Spoke nipples are internally threaded brass or aluminum nut that keeps a bike’s spokes taut. Tightening a spoke nipple increases the spoke’s tension and loosening it reduces the tension.
If you watch a cycologist (bike mechanic) trueing a wheel, they’ll be adjusting the tension using a spoke wrench. You work spoke nipples from the outer surface of the rim.
Schrader? OK, a schrader is that component found somewhere on the rim that lets air up the tube inside. No further explanation needed here.
The schrader is basically a valve that keeps things in the inner tube nice and sealed. It lets air in and traps it inside.
By the way, this bike part is called a schrader because the guy that invented it was called the August Schrader.
Two Types of Bike Pressure Valves
There are two types of valves: schrader valves and Presta valves. If you have deep-rimmed wheels, choose Presta valves as they’re longer than schrader valves. Go with a Presta valve if you’re a roadie and like having tons of pressure in your inner tube.
Picture of a schrader valve
What if you get a flat while on a bike tour and didn’t pack your CO2 (bike pump)? That’s when having a schrader valve helps. With a schrader valve, you can easily air your tires up at a service station. Plus, these valves tend to outlast Presta valves.
3. Parts of a Bike’s Saddle
Cyclists rarely use the word seat when describing the area where your bum rests during a ride. In proper cycling lingo, it’s a saddle. To become a better mountain biker or road cyclist, start spending more and more time in the saddle.
This tube enters the seat tube at the top and it’s where the saddle/seat attaches. This part’s job is to support your saddle and your weight as you ride. Moving this tube up or down helps you adjust your saddle height so you can ride comfortably.
Seat Post Clamp
A seat post clamp features bolts that tighten to hold the saddle securely onto the seat post. Some seat post clamps let you attach a rack if you like.
Others offer the so-called Quick Release function that makes lowering or raising your saddle super easy. The downside of having this feature? It makes it easy for a thief to uproot your saddle from the seat post.
4. Parts of a Bike’s Front Set
This is the front part of a bike. Below are the main components that the front set features.
The handlebars help you easily steer your bike. But as a cyclist, it’s almost always best to lean into the turn than turning the handlebars. This part also provides room for a camera, bike bag, cyclocomputer (electronic speedometer), brake levers, shift levers, bell, and whatnot.
A bike’s handlebars also provide support when you’re in certain riding positions. A good example is when you’re hopping logs out in the woods. You’ll transfer some of your weight over the handlebars, at least some of the time.
Related: How to Hop Logs On a Mountain Bike
There are all kinds of handlebars on the cycling market. The design of the handlebars depends on what bike type you’re looking at. Road bikes, for instance, have drop handlebars.
All the components on the handlebars plus the bars themselves are referred to as the cockpit in cycling speak. As you grow in your cycling career, you’ll have to decide what cockpit setup would work best for your cycling needs.
Newbie bike riders may call this part the gooseneck, but real cyclists call it the stem. The stem links the handlebars to the bike’s frame.
Pretty self-explanatory, huh?
Shifters help you operate the front and rear derailleur to change gears and maintain your cadence. These components can be levers (shift levers) or twist grips.
Shifters can also be incorporated into the braking system so that you control them the way you do the brakes. Road bikes and other bike types that have drop handlebars have their shifters integrated with the braking system.
The head tube is part of the frame, but it seemed just right to discuss it in this section. The head tube contains small ball bearings that help transmit steering movements from the handlebars to the fork below.
The headset is simply the bearings inside the head tube. You’d never enjoy smooth steering without these small but very useful ball bearings.
Fork dropouts are the U-shaped ends of a fork. These notches hold the wheel the front wheel in place.
Do you know why they’re called dropouts? It’s because loosening the bolt that attaches the wheel to the fork causes the wheel to come off or drop out.
5. Bike Brakes
Know what kind of brakes your bike comes with before purchasing. There are caliper brakes, disc brakes, and other braking systems. Understand how each stopping system works before forking over your money.
Bikes usually have brake levers on the handlebars that enable you to use the front brake and the rear brake. To use the front brake, squeeze the left brake lever. And to use the rear brake, pull the brake lever on the right side of the handlebars.
Avoid pulling the front brake all the way especially when going fast. Some crashes in mountain biking happen because the rider squeezed the front brake too hard when pinning it on a run. Pinning it? It means riding a trail section super fast.
The rear brake slows the rear wheel.
When going downhill or riding berms, feathering brakes helps a lot. Feathering means keeping a finger on each lever and applying pressure as you go. Brake feathering is the opposite of suddenly slamming on the brakes because you spotted a rattlesnake too late.
To stop abruptly, it’s best to use both brakes.
Maintain your bike properly to avoid sticky brakes or squeaky brakes. Because both suck.
6. Parts of a Bike’s Drivetrain
You probably thought only cars use a drivetrain. It turns out bikes too use a drivetrain to propel the cyclist forward. While every part is critical to the proper functioning of a bike, the drivetrain does most of the lifting.
The drivetrain is essentially a bike’s engine. It’s a complex system with many moving parts, and you should lube them sufficiently before a long ride. Or, pack some bike-specific lube in your backpack.
Related: Mountain Biking for Beginners
When you pedal, you transfer power to the chain. And the chain gets your wheels rolling. Many chain links come together to form a chain. Always keep your chain clean and lubed and it’ll serve you faithfully. When it’s too loose, you’ll have to get it back on. Be OK with having greasy hands.
Chain links are metal plates that interlink to form a chain. They look like the letter 8. If one chain link gets damaged, create a quick link and get your chain functioning as before in no time. But if it’s a couple of chain links, consider replacing the entire chain.
Chainrings (Front Sprockets)
A bike’s chainring is a wheel with teeth and it’s what pulls the chain round. When these teeth bite your leg, we say you just got a chainring tattoo. When you rotate your cranks/crankarms, power transfers to the chainring which in turn transmits it to the chain. Chainrings are essentially the sprockets near the front wheel.
Crankset (Crankarms + chainrings)
When you combine a set of chainrings and the crankarms that drive them, you get a crankset.
For some reason, cyclists refer to the rear wheel chainrings as sprockets. But they’re the exact same thing and they perform the same role: propelling the chain.
Cassette (a Stack of Rear-wheel Sprockets)
When you stack several rear-wheel chainrings/sprockets, you get a cassette. A cassette could have anywhere between 5-9 sprockets. In everyday language, sprockets are a bike’s gears.
Usually, the sprocket with the largest diameter stays closest to the rear wheel. It’s the innermost sprocket and makes for pretty easy pedaling.
But if you’re trying to bike faster while burning more fat, shift to the smallest, outermost sprocket. When a cyclist wants to enjoy a hammerfest, they’ll often downshift to increase resistance. That’s how to ride like the wind.
And when cycling up a steep hill, shift to the granny gear. This is the lazy cyclist’s gear and it makes for extremely easy pedaling. It’s the gear your grandma would use because, well, she knows best.
How do you shift to the granny gear? Simply engage the smallest cog in the cassette and the largest chainring/sprocket in your front wheel.
Most bikes these days come with a front derailleur (front mech) and rear derailleur (rear mech). But what’s a derailleur? When you want to upshift or downshift you instruct your bike’s shifting mechanism to do the job. Your bike’s shifting mechanism in turn has the derailleur process the instruction.
You need to maintain the derailleur in tip-top condition, otherwise, you won’t achieve a good cadence. That’s because sustaining a good cadence is impossible without the ability to shift your bike’s gears.
How do you pronounce derailleur? The American pronunciation is dee.rei.lr. and Britons pronounce the word as duh.rei.lyuh. Don’t ask me why.
7. Bike Pedals
A bike’s pedals attach to the ends of the crankarms. The pedals are where you place your feet whether you’re pedaling or just rolling downhill.
Flat or Clipless Pedals?
Definitely flat for beginning cyclists and clipless for pretty much everyone else. In the end, though, the best pedal is a matter of personal preference.
Flat pedals don’t need special cycling shoes to use. And getting your feet off the pedals when bailing is instant with these pedals. That’s not the case with clipless pedals.
Some flat pedals these days feature anti-skid pins that keep your feet on the pedal for as long as you want. Take a look below.
These pedals lock your feet in but let you take them off with zero resistance in an emergency.
Well, you actually clip into clipless pedals. With clipless pedals, your feet have a hard time slipping. Once you get used to them, you’ll love how secure and safe clip-ins feel.
And yes, you need specialized cycling shoes rather than your sneakers to ride clipless. You can use either LOOK clip-in pedals or SPD clipless pedals.
LOOK Clipless Pedals
To use LOOK clipless pedals, you need cycling shoes with protruding cleats. Have you ever seen a cyclist waddling like a duck instead of walking like a human? The odds are they were using LOOK pedal-specific biking shoes.
SPD Clipless Pedals
SPD is the abbreviation for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. To use SPD clipless pedals, you need cycling shoes whose cleats are built in the sole rather than on the sole. Not surprisingly, SPD pedal-specific bike shoes are easier to walk your bike in.
8. Front and Rear Hubs
The humble hub may not seem like a very important bike component, but without it, your wheels just won’t spin. A bike’s hub works pretty much like a skateboard wheel’s hub.
The hub holds ball bearings that enable the wheel to rotate around its axle. This part is the center of the wheel. Spokes radiate from the hub the same way planets radiate from the Sun.
Each of the wheels has a hub.
Not every bike has a fender. It’s what Britons and other countries that speak UK English call a mudguard. My old city bike features a fender.
This component prevents mud and water spray. On the wettest days on the road, you’ll wish your bike had a fender.
10.Quick Release (QR)
The Quick Release feature allows you to make adjustments to different parts of your bike. It’s a bolt-and-lever-based system that makes lowering your seat or increasing its height extremely easy. Most steeds these days let you clamp or detach the wheels via the QR feature.
The bottom bracket isn’t the most visible part of any bike. But it’s a super important component. Some cyclists refer to this bicycle part as the crank axle.
A bike’s bottom bracket lives inside a shell called the bottom bracket shell. The bottom bracket links the crankset to its frame.
Like the hub, the bottom bracket houses ball bearings. These bearings cause the crankset to rotate, making your wheels move.
Two main types of bottom brackets exist namely threaded bottom bracket shells and press-fit shells. The threaded type has a shell with internal threads.
Some shells are threaded directly while others have threaded components installed inside to provide the threads. With the right bike tools and some tooling skills, you can repair this bottom bracket and make it stop squeaking.
To make press-fit bottom bracket shells, bike makers simply push ball bearings into the shell. Friction rather than threads holds the bearings in place.
But once this kind of a bottom bracket gets wonky, you’ll have to replace it rather than repairing it.
12. Bottle Cage/Water Bottle Clip
This part comes in handy when you don’t want to carry your water in a bike bag. Stay hydrated, cyclist.
13. Bike Pump or CO2 Cannister
Ever heard a cyclist asking another to loan them a CO2? They meant a CO2 inflator/CO2 cartridge. But you can use a regular bike pump to keep your tires sufficiently inflated.
Parts of a Bicycle: Final Thoughts
A bike, whether a road bike or a mountain bike, has many, many parts. And while knowing each bike part’s name in English won’t earn you a medal, it helps.
Hopefully, shopping for parts will get easier for you. You’ll even start pronouncing derailleur right ha. When you need to order a tire, you no longer will buy a wheel.
What’s more, you’ll be able to explain any issues you might be experiencing with your bike to a cycologist. If there’s a squeaking noise from the bottom bracket, you’ll describe the issue precisely. As opposed to pointing at the problematic part saying, “It’s that.”