The Glossary – Part 1

To Martha,

I’m going to do my best to explain the many bits of a bike – as not everybody out there knows about bikes (and unless they are “into” bikes why would they?) Also so that people might be able to (maybe?) understand what I’m wittering on about! I started this yesterday and quickly realised that this could quite easily be my longest ever post (It’s not as if they are ever particularly brief!) I will invariably miss things out.

The Late Great Sheldon Brown has an entire website dedicated to the many iterations of different components found on most bikes, ever. I believe the website is now maintained and updated by John Allen. Long may it continue! If you want details and history… Sheldon Brown!

With that in mind, I’m going to split this up into two posts and I’m going to keep it brief (ish) I’m not going to go into great detail about the different types (ie. Spokes – come in different lengths, thicknesses, profiles, double/triple butted, plain gauge, aero flattened spokes, straight pull, J bend, galvanised, stainless, steel, painted, anodised, 32, 36, radial, 2/3/4 cross, steel, carbon, aluminium, even titanium, by Sapim, DT Swiss, Mavic, Fulcrum and on and on…)

So brief….ish

Let’s go alphabetically…

Noggin – A noggin is a, usually plastic, cap that goes over the end of mudguard stays to stop them poking you.

Mudguard Stays – These are the rods that attach the mudguard to the frame. They often attach to the dropouts.

Dropouts – One pair at the front, one pair at the back, these are the semi circular, down pointing  cut outs where the wheel axle goes.

Wheel axle – The hollow rod (tube?) that goes through the middle of the hub.

Hub – The middle of the wheel, has all the bearings inside it, all the spokes connect to it.

Spokes – The wires/rods that go between the hub and the rim.

Rim – The round bit of the wheel, just before the tyre.

Tyre – Probably best stop reading if needing an explanation. Tire in the U.S.

Bead – the inner edge of the tire that holds it onto the rim.

Inner tube – Rubber tube that keeps the tyre inflated.

Valve – How to get air into the tube OR into the tyre for tubeless.

Tubeless – Tyres….without a tube, instead use goo to seal.

Goo – Or sealant, Iiquid normally containing latex, sloshes around in your tubeless tyre and seals holes.

Rim tape – stops the spokes/rim/nipples poking holes in the inner tube. Stops air escaping in tubeless tyres.

Nipples – Yes, really – these connect the Rim to the Spokes (usually).

Flange – the two raised sections of the hub with holes that the spokes thread into.

Quick release skewer – Rod that goes through the hub and the dropouts and tightens using a cam to hold the wheel in place.

Through axle – Larger skewer that goes through the hub and into circular dropouts and screws up, to keep the wheel in place.

Fork – At the very front of the bike, the two legs either side of the front wheel.

Brake mounts – The brake caliper bolts onto these. (Smooth right! 😀

Caliper – The part holding the brake pads. responsible for the braking action.

Brake pads – Either work on the rim, or the disc.

Disc – Exactly that, a disc, mounted to the hub that the brake pads press on to brake.

Head tube – The tube at the front of the bike, the top tube and down tube connect to it.

Top tube – the tube at the top of the bike! Connects the head tube to the seat tube.

Seat tube – the tube the holds the seat post. Connects to the top tube and the seat stays at the top, and the bottom bracket shell at the bottom.

Down tube – the tube underneath the top tube, runs down from the head tube to the bottom bracket shell.

Bottom bracket shell – Connects the chain stays, seat tube and down tube and contains the bottom bracket.

Chain stays – run from the bottom bracket shell, to the seat stay and the dropouts at the back of the bike. There are 2 of these – one on each side.

Seat stays – run from the seat tube to the chain stay and the dropouts at the back of the bike! There are 2 of these too!

Sides – Chain stays and seat stays have both a drive side (right side of the bike if you’re sat on it) and a non-drive side (left side of the bike if you’re sat on it.)

Seat post – This is the tube that sits inside and sticks out the top of the seat tube, that your saddle is attached to.

Seat clamp – This is attached to the seat tube and clamps your seatpost in place so it can’t slip (holds your saddle at the right height and angle!)

Saddle – Butt perch.

Rails – run underneath the butt perch, allow forward and backward adjustment. Can also strap saddle bags to them.

Bottom bracket – The bearings and crank axle or spindle that live inside the bottom bracket shell.

Crank axle/spindle – A rod or tube that runs through the bottom bracket that the crank arms attach to.

Crank arms – or Cranks. Hmmm, the bits the pedals are attached to…one on each side, can be rods or tubes, pedal at one end, the other end attaches to the axle/spindle.

Pedals – Futt perch. (Couldn’t resist)

That seems about the right place to split it!

If you learned something (or were interested/amused/bored) continue to Part 2.

Oh, and the picture – my old set of Chieftain 2 Cranks – with the crank axle as part of the non-drive side (left), the 4 arm spider on the drive side and all the many washers, spacers, seals and bearings needed for the bottom bracket (plus a couple of tools)!



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