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Mountain Bike Anatomy - 50 parts in 5 minutes


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This is a mountain bike, and at the heart of any bike is its frame. Let’s start with the parts of the frame. This here is the top tube, the down tube, the seat tube, the seat stay, and the chain stay. This area down here is called the bottom bracket shell. At the very front of your bike is the head tube, which houses the steerer tube. This moves smoothly thanks to a set of cups and bearings collectively known as the headset. Above that are headset spacers and the stem. The stem, which clamps on to your handlebars, is fastened to the steerer tube with a top cap and pinch bolts. On your handlebars you’ll find brake levers, shifters, grips, and end plugs. All this stuff up here is collectively known as the cockpit.

Moving down is your fork, which in this case is a suspension fork. This top piece is called a crown. Some bikes are fitted with dual crown forks for added strength. The crown is what holds your stanchions, which you should try as hard as possible not to scratch. Don’t hang your bike by the stanchions.

Down here is your brake caliper, which camps down on your rotor when you squeeze your brake lever. Some calipers are mechanical, while others are hydraulic. Hydraulic brakes push fluid through a hose, while mechanical brakes pull the caliper using a cable.

This big round thing is a wheel. If you buy a front and back wheel together, it’s called a wheelset. All the parts of your wheels are held together using spokes, which connect to your rim with these little guys. They’re called nipples. Also on the rim is a valve stem which is used for pumping air into your tires. At the center of the wheel is the hub, and inside the hub are bearings. The hub rotates around an axle. On a lot of mountain bikes this takes the form of a thru axle, which can be removed or installed by hand.

On the rear wheel a cassette hub. This has a ratcheting mechanism built into it which is made to accept a cassette. The cassette is a set of cogs which can actually be changed to your liking. The size of each cog is measured by the number of teeth it has, and these teeth are specially designed to work with a chain. Your chain is made up of individual links, with one link in particular being possible to unfasten easily. This is called a master link.

The chain can be shifted up and down the cassette with a derailleur, which is attached to the bike via a small breakable part called a derailleur hanger. If your derailleur hanger snaps or bends, you can just get a new one. On the derailleur itself is a long spring loaded piece called the cage, which keeps tension on the chain. The chain passes through the upper pulley and lower pulley, also known as the jockey and idler respectively.

Moving down to the bottom bracket shell, you’ll find your crankset, with the most visible parts being the crank arms. The crank arms are attached to the spindle, which runs through a set of bearings which are inside the bottom bracket shell. The spindle and bearings collectively are known as the bottom bracket.

The part with all the teeth is called the chainring. Some bikes have up to 3 of these. At the end of the crank arms are pedals, which can be found in many different forms. The crankset, chain, derailleur and cassette are collectively known as your drivetrain.

On a full suspension mountain bike you’ll find a variety of stuff connecting the front and rear of the bike together, known as the suspension linkage. At the heart of all this is your shock. This is usually fastened to the linkage on one side, and to your top tube or down tube on the other.

Moving up, we have the seat, or saddle. The two words are interchangeable, but some people think it’s pretentious to call it a saddle. Personally I don’t care what you call it as long as you don’t correct other people. In any case this is most definitely not a saddle post, it’s a seat post, and it’s held on to your bike with a seat post clamp, or collar. These days a lot of seat posts can be adjusted on the fly. Those are called dropper posts.

So I just named well over 50 parts of a mountain bike, but all of these parts can be broken down into hundreds more. So, put those terms down in the comments, and if you’re really bored see if you can come up with an exact count of the terms I used in this video. Also, tell me how you pronounce derailleur. Are you one of those people who say “derailleeyur?”. In any case thanks for riding with me today, I’ll see you next time.

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