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Bike Anatomy 101: Explore the Parts of Your Bike

At first glance, bikes appear simple but they are complex machines that feature a multitude of parts and components that work in tandem to keep the bike ride smooth and efficient while keeping its rider safe.
What are all the parts of a bike?

Ozone 500 Men's Fragment 29 in 21-Speed Mountain Bike

Learn more about your bike to keep it well-maintained, help troubleshoot for repairs, find replacement bike parts, or make customizations to keep your bicycle rides as smooth as possible.
Front of Bike Parts
Handlebars – Handlebars quite literally help get you where you need to go since they steer your bike. They connect to the frame through the stem. Typically, mountain bikes, hybrids and commuter bikes utilize flat handlebars whereas road and touring bikes use drop handlebars. Handlebars are usually constructed from aluminum alloys but can also be made from other materials such as steel, titanium, or carbon fiber.
Brake Lever – Brake levers are for slowing the ride down. The brake cables emerge from the levers, lining down along the bicycle frame to the brakes on each wheel.
Headset – The headset connects the frame and the wheel fork and allows the rider to steer the front of the bike with the handlebars. Bearings in the headset allow rotation to synchronize turning of the bike’s handlebars to turning of its front wheel.
Head Tube – This shorter tube at the front of the frame connects the handlebars and the wheel fork. It contains the headset which allows riders to steer the front wheel using the handlebars.
Fork – This fork-shaped part (hence the name) connects the bike frame to the front wheel. Fork blades extend from beneath the head tube for wheel installation. The fork’s steerer tube (inside the head tube) connects to the headset.
Stem – The bike’s stem connects the handlebars to the bike frame. The stem helps a rider find the best riding position and is often available in different lengths for a customized riding experience.
Brake – The two most common types of bike brakes are rim brakes and disc brakes. Here is a closer look at each type:
Rim Brakes

Image courtesy of Huffy

Rim brakes are generally the most common because they’re lighter, require regular but overall easy maintenance, and can almost immediately stop a coasting bike in its tracks when enough pressure is applied to the brake levers. They are attached to the frame or fork along with brake pads that squeeze the sidewalls when braking. The pads wear down over time but are easy to replace.
Disc Brakes

Image courtesy of Huffy

Disc brakes are placed on a metal disc that's attached to the wheel hub. While most common for mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, and touring cycles, disc brakes have become increasingly used on all bike types.
EXPERT TIP: For frequent biking in wetter or colder climates, consider choosing a bike with disc brakes, which provide better performance in wet, muddy, or snowy conditions.
Hub – The hub is made up of 3 parts:
  • the hub shell: the outer component that attaches to the spokes
  • the axle: a bar that protrudes on both sides, and that attaches to the bike frame
  • the bearings: reside between the axle and shell, allowing the latter to spin around the axle
Rim – This metal circle forms the outside of the wheel. If they’re used with rim brakes, you’ll notice a smooth surface on the side (sidewalls) for the brake pads’ grip.
Spoke – Spokes connect the hub to the rim, applying even tension in all directions. This reinforces the wheel’s stability and strength so that the wheel can support the rider’s weight and force when pedaling.
Tire – A bike without tires won’t travel too far! The tire is mounted onto the wheel rim and provides traction, control, and handling while also standing up to natural elements and road hazards. Regular monitor and check your tires’ inflation before every ride. Use a tire pump to air them up if the pressure is too
Middle of Bike Parts
Saddle/Seat – The saddle (although commonly referred to as the bike seat, saddle is the actual name) is the part of the bike where you sit. Bike saddles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are often one of the more customized bike features.
Saddle Rails – These rails are found beneath the saddle to connect it to the seat post. Saddle rails also slide so the rider can adjust the seat back and forth.
Seat Post - The seat post adjusts the saddle height for the rider’s comfort. It is fastened in place by tightening a clamp near the top of the seat tube.
Seat Tube – The seat post is inserted into the top of this tube, which runs from beneath the saddle to the pedals. The seat post height adjustment is dependent upon how high or low the seat post is adjusted into the seat tube.
Top Tube - Also referred to as the crossbar. This is the tube the rider steps over to mount a bicycle. Top tubes typically run parallel to the ground, but they might be slightly angled on some models. Some bikes have no top tubes at all for easier mounting.
Down Tube – The down tube – typically the thickest part of the bike frame where you’ll see the bike’s logo – runs from beneath the handlebars down to the pedals. This is also where you can attach a bottle water cage for your bike bottle.
Pedals – The bike pedals move the bike’s wheels forward when force is applied to them. On coaster bikes, the pedals are also used for braking (backpedal brakes).
Crank Arm – The crank arm holds the bike pedals in place. It is connected to the bottom brackets on the bike frame.
Bottom Bracket – Comprised of bearings and a spindle, this is where the crank arms rotate (fitting into the bottom bracket shell at the base of the frame).
Back of Bike Parts
Seat Stays - Seat stays run from beneath the saddle to the rear wheel hub. Seat stays end at points referred to as rear dropouts, which connect to each side of the rear wheel axle.
Chainstays – Chainstays are tubes that run parallel to the ground, from the sides of the pedals to both sides of the rear wheel. The chainstays run alongside the bike chain.
Chain – The bike chain transfers your leg power to the rear wheel. The chain loops around the chainrings within the crankset, along the chainstay, and around the cassette sprockets in the rear wheel. Just like your tires, your chain should be inspected and maintained regularly with proper bike care chain cleaners and lubricants.
Cassette – This part is a stack of multi-sized cogs that attaches to the rear wheel’s hub and serve as the rear gears of the bike (if the bike doesn’t have multiple gear settings, there will just be a single cog).
*Front Derailleur – This is the part of the bicycle that moves the bike chain from one chainring to the next as the rider shifts gears.
*Rear Derailleur – This is the part of the bicycle that moves the bike chain from one cassette cog to the next as the rider shifts gears, working in conjunction with the bike’s jockey wheel.
*Note: The Front Derailleur and Rear Derailleur are only included on bikes that have more than one gear
Jockey Wheel – The jockey wheel keeps tension in the chain for a smooth ride as the rider changes gears. If the bike doesn’t have gears, it most likely won’t have a jockey wheel (unless it’s a single-speed bike using the jockey wheel as a chain tensioner).
Familiarizing yourself with the anatomy of a bike can be helpful when it comes to troubleshooting, replacing your bike parts and accessories, and deciding on customizations for you and your family’s best riding experience.
Want to keep your bike looking new and in perfect working order? Check out our 5 Bike Maintenance Tips for All Riders to learn about proper bike care tips, including brake testing, cleaning, proper tightening, and lubing your chain.
To find the right bike today for your age, size, and journey, check out the Academy Bike Buying Guide.
For everything you and your family need to begin riding, including bikes and cycling accessories, visit Academy Sports + Outdoors online and in-store.