Naming and explaining the different parts of a mountain bike

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Naming and explaining the different parts of a mountain bike
Mountain Bike Anatomy: Chainstay? Bottom bracket? Know your bike
Bicycle Anatomy (a description of all the bike parts)

This article shows what each of the parts of a mountain bike are called and gives a short simple explanation for a selection of these.

  • The frame - This is probably at the core of what makes a good bike. Frames are generally some Aluminium mix for lightness whilst still retaining strength. Carbon is strong, tough, yet light and is a knock absorbing material. It's more expensive than aluminium but becoming increasingly more common.

  • The front fork is the movable part of the frame that holds the front wheel (generally has a quick release drop out). On Mountain bikes these forks give a suspension effect taking the knocks of all we go over. Front suspension only bikes are referred to as hard tails. Full suspension is when a bike has a rear suspensionalso. This is great for steeper, bumpier descents with drops and roots. It also increases cost and weight. 

  • The wheels - The wheels are made of a hub, the spokes, the metal rim and the rubber tyre. Rim materials have got stronger so they can often be thinner and so lighter. Hubs have bearings and the main thing you need to know is to not use a high powered jet around them as when the bearings get clogged with dirt they don't spin so well. Wheel diameter sizes in MTB are numerous these days from 26", 29" 27.5". In essence 26" are the orginal wheel size and are being seen less and less in new models. 27.5 inch is the most common (and recent) for all mountain riding and some swear by 29 inch especially for more traditional trail / XC riding. It's very subjective mind (depsite a lot of science and even more frequent mtb community and brand debate). 

  • The seat and seat post. Seats need to be comfy and allow moisture and rain to go. Then you have the handlebars and the handlebar stem that connects the handlebars to the frame. Handlebars are things people often customise. A riser handlebar rises up slightly. This helps if you do lots of downhill or jumps as it makes the geometry of the bike more suited to landing and keeping your weight back. Similarly a shorter stem can give you more reactive turning power (it has less to move) and can of course make your bike a tiny bit lighter for speed. 

  • The cranks and the pedals. As for cranks if you go over lots of rocks and drops then shorter cranks will aid (but of course the shorter the crank the less power you have for pedalling). So it is a compromise you need to consider. Pedals. Clipped in or out. Both have pros and cons. If you are learning new stuff then maybe consider riding flat initially. If you are doing long trails then clipped in gives you power enhancements especially on the up. If you are a downhiller or freerider then also flats with teeth and good flat grippy shoes could be the order of the day although riding downhill clipped in is becoming increasingly common too to make the rider and bike more connected and reactive.

  • The brakes. Disc brakes are good for all mountain biking giving consistent, effectivel braking regardless of temperature, rim condition, or trail conditions right through the life of the brake. Make sure you don't get oil on your disc or pad. It would write off the pads and the discs would clean using an isopropanol alcohol.  

  • The chain and gears groupset, consisting of the front chain wheels, the rear freewheel, the front and rear derailleur, the shift levers on the handlebars and the cables. 

  • The bottom bracket on a bicycle contains a spindle to which the crankset is attached and the bearings that allow the spindle and cranks to rotate. (The chainrings and pedals are attached to the cranks.) The bottom bracket fits inside the bottom bracket shell, which connects the seat tube, down tube and chain stays as part of the bicycle frame.

Bike Parts