“Many materials and technologies are used to build different types of bikes. Below is a beginner’s guide to bike components. Read it now”
Buying a new bike or accessories can often be bewildering to the novice; the folks working in the shop almost seem to be speaking a different language. It’s almost as bad as trying to pick out a personal computer.
From our perspective, sometimes it’s hard to tell when we’re using everyday language and when we’re slipping into technical jargon. We have to really ask questions to make sure we’re on the same page with a customer and really understand what they are looking for, and often it’s just a matter of making sure we agree on the meaning of the words we are using. For example, we sometimes get people asking for a “wheel,” when all they really need is a new tire. On the other hand, we’ve gotten really perplexed looks when we’ve handed somebody a “rim,” when they were really looking for an entire wheel.
So, breaking down the language barrier is an important step in productive relationships between bike shop customers and bike shop employees. To that end, here is a glossary providing a breakdown of the anatomy of the bicycle.
Bar ends – the angled extensions attached to the ends of some flat handlebars and riser handlebars that provide an alternate place to rest your hands.
Bottom bracket – the collection of ball bearings and spindle housed within the bottom bracket shell of the frame, which provides the “shaft” mechanism on which the crank arms turn.
Braze-ons – threaded sockets that may or may not be present on the bike frame that provide a place to attach accessories such as bottle cages, cargo racks, and fenders.
Cage – the preferred fancy name for water bottle holder.
Cassette – the collection of gears that is attached to the rear wheel on most modern bicycles (see “Freewheel”).
Chainrings – the gears that are attached to the right-hand crank arm nearer to the front of the bike. A bike with two chainrings is said to have a “double crank;” a bike with three chainrings is said to have a “triple crank.”
Cog – a single gear on a cassette or freewheel gear cluster, or the single rear gear on a fixed-gear bike.
Crank arms – the pedals screw into these; these bolt onto the bottom bracket spindle.
Cyclocomputer – the preferred fancy word for an electronic speedometer/odometer.
Derailer – the device that is bolted to the frame that handles the job of moving the chain from one gear to another when you shift gears. The front derailer handles the shifting on your chainrings and is usually controlled by your left-hand shifter. The rear derailer handles the shifting on your cassette or freewheel, and is usually controlled by your right-hand shifter.
Derailer hanger – a part of the frame where the rear derailleur is attached. It is usually an integrated part of the frame on steel and titanium bikes, but is a separate, replaceable piece on aluminum and carbon fiber bikes.
Drop bar – the type of handlebar found on road racing bikes, with the half-circle-shaped curved ends that extend below the top, flatter part of the bar.
Dropouts – the U-shaped notches at the rear of the bike frame, and at the bottom ends of the front fork legs, where the wheels are held in place. So-called because if you loosen the bolts holding a wheel in place, the wheel “drops out.”
Fixed gear – a type of bicycle that has a single gear and does not have a freewheel or cassette/freehub mechanism, so you are unable to coast. If the wheels are moving, you have to be pedaling. “Fixie” for short. More at TECH TALK: BIKE COMPONENTS FOR BEGINNERS