The Basic Bike

basic bike map
Above: A Hybrid bike: Advances in technology have refined the design and improved the performance of each category of bike part, producing a machine that's easy to ride and maintain. (Hover over discription labels for text. Click here for large-sized view.)

Modern bikes, such as the hybrid bike (image above), are designed to be light and user-friendly. The parts can be grouped into different categories, each performing a key function in the overall operation of the bike.

The frame is the skeleton of the bike, onto which all components are fitted. The fork holds the front wheel, and connects to the handlebar to allow the bike to be steered. The drivetrain is the system that transfers the rider’s energy, via the pedals and crankarms, to the rear wheel. It also contains a number of toothed wheels, known as chainrings and cogs, which carry the chain.

The derailleurs change the bike’s gears by moving the chain onto different chainrings and cogs. Derailleurs are controlled by the gear-shift levers, which are mounted on the handlebar to allow quick and easy use by the rider. The brakes are controlled by brake levers that are also mounted on the handlebar, and use brake pads to press against the wheel’s rim to bring the bike to a stop.

The modern bike is a high-tech machine: Many years of design refinement have produced an adaptable hybrid bike, which combines technology from road and mountain bikes for use in an urban environment.

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Bikes for general use

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.