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​Bike Terminology: Getting to know bike parts

​Bike Terminology: Getting to know bike parts

Cycle Carriers

Whether you are new to cycling or need to replace some parts, it is important to know your way around the bike so you can get the parts you need. In this guide, we will ensure you know the bike terminology for essential and optional bike parts as well as showing you where everything is on your bike.

Essential Bike Parts


This is the part of the bike that you put your feet on. It allows you to gather the momentum needed to move the bike forwards by putting pressure on the pedals which get the wheels turning.

Front derailleur

The front derailleur sits parallel to the chainrings and shifts the gears by lifting the chain from one chainring to the other. This allows you to adapt to different road conditions.

Chain (or drive chain)

The chain transfers power from the pedals to the drive wheel which moves the bike forwards.


This is a pair of tubes closest to your bike chain connecting the pedal and crank to the rear fork ends.

Rear derailleur

This shifts the gears at the rear of the bike and lifts the chain from one gear wheel to the other.

Rear brake

Activated by pulling the lever at the handlebars. This causes the brake pads to clamp around the rear tyre, allowing you to slow down.

Seat tube

This is the part of the bike that the seat post fits into. The seat post connects the saddle and the height can be adjusted by lowering the seat post down the seat tube.

Seat stay

The seat stay connects to the top of the seat tube with the rear wheel hub.

Seat post

This is the tube that slots inside the seat tube and extends upwards with the saddle sitting on top.


Often called the saddle, the bike seat supports your buttocks and back while cycling and is one of five points of contact on the bike.


Commonly found on men's bikes, a horizontal crossbar provides stability and support, connecting the head tube with the seat tube.

Down tube

Connecting the head tube to the bottom bracket shell, the downtube is the longest and thickest tube on the bike and comes under a lot of force.

Tire valve

There are two types of valve a bike may have; either a schrader valve, or a presta valve. Your bike will have one or the other and they allow air into the tyre and prevent it from escaping.


Wheel spokes are the rods that span from the centre hub of the wheel to connect at the wheel rim.


The bike tire fits around the rim of the wheel and encases the inner tube. It is coated in rubber and is the only contact between you and the road.


This is the outer edge of the wheel where the spokes are connected and the tire slots into around the inner tube.


The spokes come from the hub which is at the centre of the wheel. The hub allows the wheel to rotate around its axle.


A bike fork has two blades that sit on either side of the front wheel and hold it in place. The fork connects the handlebars to the front wheel which allow you to steer.

Front brake

The front brake is most commonly used to regulate speed when you are cycling as it is generally the more effective brake.

Brake lever

The brake levers are attached to the handlebars and release hydraulic fluid when pulled which activates the brake pads to close around the wheel.


This connects the handlebars and fork which enable you to steer the bike.


The stem connects the handlebars to the frame of your bike and is inserted into the head tube which allows the height of the handlebars to be adjusted.


Handlebars allow you to steer the bike. They are connected to the bike frame by a tube and are just like having a steering wheel.

Brake cable

The brake cable connects the brake lever on the handlebars to the brake pads surrounding the wheels.


Shifters are the gear controls that allow you to move up and down the gears via the derailleur.

​Bike Terminology: Getting to know bike parts

Optional Bike Parts

Toe Clip

These are like cages that surround the toes and help to keep the feet in a comfortable cycling position and increase cycling power.


Designed to keep you safe on the road, these rectangular prisms reflect light so that other road users can


Not all bikes have fenders but they can help to catch the water spraying up from the tire. Fenders are a curved piece of metal that covers part of the wheel.

Rear light

Rear lights go on the back of your bike and should be switched on when light levels are low so you can be seen by other road users.


When you pedal, a generator can convert your pedal power into electricity to power the front and rear lights on your bike.

Carrier (aka Rear Rack)

Attached to the back of your bike, a carrier sits above the rear tire and allows you to carry luggage on your bike.

Tire pump

It is always a good idea to carry a tire pump with you when cycling. This allows you to re-inflate your tire if it is low on air.

Water bottle clip

Usually attached to the downtube on your bike, a water bottle clip is a convenient way to carry water with you when you are cycling.


Just like a car, the headlights on your bike are at the front and allow you to be seen by other road users.

Once you are familiar with all of the parts on your bike, it makes it much easier to understand how everything works in sequence. It also means that if anything on your bike ever needs replacing, you will know where to look and what to ask for. Being comfortable with your bike and how it works will likely make you feel much more confident about taking them out on the road. So, why not check out our bike racks now and start planning your next cycling adventure.

The NEC Cycle Show 2017

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