What Parts Is The Bicycle Made Of? Cycling For Beginners, part 1.
What is your bike build of?
This article opens a series of articles called: “Cycling For Beginners” with SickBiker, or me 😉 I’m going to write those in a simple way, so that everyone will be able to go to their local bike store and proudly say: “do you have a rear mech with adjustable clutch, the capacity of 45 and polimer coated cable?” 😉 Are you ready?
All the parts of your bicycle are somehow attached to the frame and the fork, called frameset. It is indeed a “soul of the bike”, as it will affect:
- the handling of the bike,
- your position on the bike (comfortable, aerodynamic, powerful etc.),
- the overall weight,
- the look (very important factor, if you want to ride the bike with joy),
- compatibility with different components.
To consider, when buying the frameset:
- The size – we should never buy a bike in a hurry, not being sure, what size suits us the most,
- The geometry – that’s where your comfort and bike’s handling comes from,
- The Material – steel, aluminium, carbon, titanium, wood etc.
These are usually made of the rim attached to the hub by the spokes. The wheels will affect:
- the handling (how stiff are they in the corners, how well they roll, how much road buzz they absorb),
- the overall weight – cheap 29″ wheels weigh over 2 kg, superlight carbon wheels can be even 1 kg lighter),
- the look of the bike – just as with the cars, the same bike can look much better on some cool wheelset.
To consider, when buying the wheelset:
- The size – unlike with the road bikes, the mountain bikes can have three different wheel sizes: 26″, 27,5″ and 29″. The “small wheels” can be a good choice for smaller riders and many women, who have difficulties maneuvering the bike in the corners. The big wheel – 29″ – rolls better through the obstacles and gives the rider better traction in the mud.
- The number of spokes – the less spokes in the wheels, the lighter and more aero they are, but it affects their durability negatively and requires a lower weight limit of the rider. If your weight is much more than 90 kg or 200 lbs, consider the wheels, that have more than 28 spokes.
- The material – aluminium wheels are the best choice for everyday rides and training. The rims and even the hubs become more and more reliable in nowadays, but they cost much more and so I would recommend using such a wheels only for those important races.
The tires are extremely important, as they affect:
- the grip of your bike under dry and wet conditions,
- the comfort of your rides on different roads.
To consider, when buying the tires:
- The width – after you’ve found the right size, think about the width of your tires. The 25 mm are now the most popular for the road bikes, as they provide enough grip, comfort and are still very fast. For the mountain bikes, the 2.1 or 2.25 are definitely a good idea for most of the riders.
- The tread – the more aggressive the tread, the more grip you’re gonna get in the terrain and less on the tarmac. For muddy terrain opt for the tires with less knobs.
- Tubeless Ready systems – I highly recommend trying out the tires without the inner tubes, as they allow you riding on a lower air pressure for more grip and comfort on the trails. The tubeless system lowers the risk of getting flat tire as well.
The drivetrain consists of the crankset, cassette or frewheel, chain and the derailleurs which are operated by the shifters located on the handlebar. The type of drivetrain you choose will have an impact on the following:
- ability to ride on steep climbs,
- ability to ride at high speed on descends,
- gear change quality,
- ability to ride with the most efficient cadence (cadence defines how fast you spin the cranks),
- the overall weight,
- durability of its parts.
To consider, when choosing the drivetrain:
- The number of front and rear sprockets – the most popular systems are: 3×8, 3×9, 3×10, 3×11, 2×11, 1×11. The more gears you have, the easier it is to find the most comfortable cadence.
- The number of teeth on the sprockets – unlike with the number of gears, the size of your sprockets defines the range of your gearing, which define how slow or how fast you can ride.
- The Materials – in some bike stores you’ll be told, that the higher and more expensive groupset you buy, the better for you, but the truth is, that the cheapest chainrings made of steel will be the most durable. The aluminium and titanium cogs will need to be replaced more often.
You don’t want your bike to be unstoppable 😉 And good brakes will actually let you ride faster. Different brake models will affect:
- braking power in dry and wet conditions,
- modulation (predictable power, that you apply on your brakes),
- overheating resistance (better brakes dissipate heat more efficiently).
To consider, when choosing the brakes:
- Caliper brakes or disc brakes – make sure your frameset will fit the type of the brakes you’re buying. Godd quality disc brakes are usually more powerful than the caliper brakes.
- Hydraulic or mechanical brakes – once again, good quality hydraulic brakes are generally more efficient, than the mechanical ones, but need some more knowledge in terms of their maintenance.
- Disc brake rotor size – the rotors must fit your frameset and the brakes.
The contact points.
These are the parts which support your body:
- the pedals – platform / flat pedals, road clipless pedals, MTB clipless pedals,
- the handlebars – different shapes and width allow us to find an ergonomic position for our arms and upper body,
- the stem – this part connects the bars with the fork, it can have different length and incline,
- the saddle – your comfort and health depend largely on the right choice in this matter,
- the seatpost – this tube slides into the seat tube of the frame and it supports the saddle.
That’s it! These are the basics. In the next articles I’m going to describe all the parts and help you choose or build the bicycle of your dreams 🙂