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Bicycle Anatomy



Understanding how the parts on your bike fit together will help you perform maintenance tasks successfully. Although your bike may differ from the modern mountain bike (below; high-rez image here), all bikes fit together in a similar way. For example, the quick-release levers on the wheels below perform the same function as axle nuts on a bike with hub gears.

The main parts and their components, and where each part is attached to the bike, are shown on the mountain bike. Take the time to study the illustration, since it will act as a useful reference to help you follow various maintenance and tutorial guides on this web site.

Mountain bike

We'll use the mountain bike, depicted below, as a good example of how parts fit together -- its frame, wheels, drivetrain, pedals, derailleurs, brakes, and gear -- shift levers are generally similar to those of road and hybrid bikes.

Exploded view of a mountain bike. CLICK HERE for high-resolution image.  -- Click image for more detail
Above: Exploded view of a mountain bike. CLICK HERE for high-resolution image.

AN ASSEMBLED BIKE

Bike parts are designed to bolt together in the same way to allow straightforward maintenance by following a few key workshop principles. Most parts use Allen bolts, so for many tasks an Allen key multi-tool is all that is required.

Bike parts are designed to bolt together in the same way to allow straightforward maintenance by following a few key workshop principles. Most parts use Allen bolts, so for many tasks an Allen key multi-tool is all that is required.

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The basic bicycle

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Wheel: The rim’s shape and high-tech aluminum composition increase the wheel’s strength. The wheel requires fewer spokes, reducing weight and air resistance. Derailleur: Derailleurs arc designed to cope with the wide range of cog sizes required to climb and descend the steepest hills.
Frame: Improved welding techniques allow this-walled aluminum tubes to provide a relatively cheap, light, and responsive frame. The thickness of the tube walls varies to cope with areas of increased stress. Drivetrain: Stiff materials maximize the amount of power the drivetrain transfers to the rear wheel. A triple crankset increases gear range and flexible chain allows quick, easy gear-shifts. Pedals: Toe-clips and straps give increased power transfer to the pedals, and allow feet to be removed quickly. Pedals: Gear-shift levers: Ergonomically designed gear-shift levers were developed from mountain bikes, and give easy, precise gear-shifts. Brake: Caliper brakes were designed for road-racing bikes. Their dual-pivot action mimics the powerful brakes on mountain bikes, but their neat design improves the bike’s aerodynamics. Fork: Forks are designed with varying thickness in the tube wall. Tubes are thin in the middle, where no as much strength is needed, and thick at both ends. This reduces weight and absorbs road shock. Tire: Modern tires are made from rubber compounds that roll well on the road, while adhering to it when cornering. They often have puncture-resistant bands of material, such as Kevlar, beneath the tread.