This question and its answers list the names of bike parts and cycling concepts.

Some Rules

  • Make sure you only put one term per answer!
  • Try to include an image if applicable
  • Include sources that contain detailed information
  • Add a link to the index in this question using edit.

Also, I made this a community wiki, so that anyone will be able to edit it, and to stop rep-hoarding

There's a handy reference at the Park Tool Co. website, a bike repair map; it's a diagram of a bike with all the parts labeled, and is very handy! At the moment, the diagram is up at parktool.com/blog/repair-help. (They've changed the URL in the past, so this link may break.)

A road bike has the following parts (source):

enter image description here

A mountain bike has the following parts (source): enter image description here

Edit: This page is meant to identify what things or concepts are (as per this thread in meta). If you want to recommend an accessory or a specific product you've found handy, please use the accessories page.

  • 7
    One term per answer please - would be beneficial.
    – dotjoe
    Aug 26 '10 at 13:51
  • 1
    Is there a way to link to a specific answer, so that in future questions you can use one of these terms and link to it for reference?
    – Kevin
    Aug 26 '10 at 16:13
  • 2
    Kevin: Under the bulk of the answer, there is a 'Link' hyperlink, which will link to the answer (its right above comment) Aug 26 '10 at 17:12
  • 7
    @MarkIngram: useful things that aren't actually questions are what community wikis are for.
    – freiheit
    Sep 12 '10 at 17:47
  • 2
    This page could use some more love. Maybe if people keep linking to individual terms here, more people will know about this page. Jun 27 '11 at 2:39

81 Answers 81


Bicycle-Shaped Object (BSO)

A derogatory term for a very cheaply produced bike with very low quality components. The components can be hard to maintain due to poor tolerances. BSOs are often sold at non-specialty retail stores.

The etymology of the term is uncertain. It appears in use in some parts of the English-speaking world. It may originate in the UK, as discussed at the link. Other languages may use terms equivalent to supermarket bike or department store bike. These terms are likely to be understood in English as well.

example BSO

For instance the BSO pictured is being sold in the UK by ASDA (owned by Walmart) for £75. These bikes tend to be mass produced and sold in flat pack boxes for self-assembly.

Purchasers of lower-end bicycles tend to be less experienced cyclists who focus on price. Many BSOs carry features which are included for marketing purposes but are unnecessary for the typical end-user. Such features may include front and rear suspension, wide off-road style tyres and an excessive number of gear ratios. For cyclists who are riding on city streets or smooth trails, these features are unnecessary. Including these features reduces the budget available for better components elsewhere.

It is more advisable to search for a cheap second-hand bike in a similar price range from a more experienced cyclist or on eBay than to go for one of these.

  • I softened the language a bit. I agree with you about BSOs, but the situation isn't quite that clear -- and people do occasionally tour on them. (I'll try to dig up a link for that last.) Sep 17 '10 at 4:18
  • 6
    "An impassioned guide on why not to buy a cheap Bike or BSO" southcoastbikes.co.uk/articles.asp?article=NO_BSO
    – Hugo
    Jul 17 '11 at 18:04
  • 3
    Suspension - it's not just that it's unnecessary for typical users, but that cheap suspension will add weight and absorb pedalling energy for little or no benefit. (An unpractised rider on pot-holed roads may well benefit from wide tyres though, if not knobbly ones). Also, the typical bike shaped object is heavy, being cheap steel tubes which are both large (to imitate the look of better aluminium frames) and thick-walled (to compensate for cheap steel with cheap welding being weaker). The one illustrated is far from the worst available.
    – armb
    Feb 11 '15 at 14:19

Door Zone

The area next to parked cars that a suddenly opened door would cover. A hazard that you should avoid.

enter image description here

Satirical portrayal of Santa Monica bike lane design; it illustrates the "door zone" concept well.

Cycling in the Door Zone reduces your ability to react to hazards emerging from the space between parked vehicles. These may include unobservant pedestrians, inadequately restrained dogs (whose leads can reduce your options), sports equipment and children chasing sports equipment.

Drivers entering the road from a driveway, forecourt or junction are less likely to observe a cyclist who is not occupying the space where oncoming motor vehicles are expected to be observed. This contributes to the SMIDSY(Sorry mate, I didn't see you) phenomenon.

  • I've never seen this before in the UK. Interesting.
    – Ambo100
    Aug 8 '11 at 19:09
  • @Amb100: you've never seen a bike lane that ran through the area doors would open into? The "DOOR LANE" thing isn't real, but the configuration of bike lane in door zone is common in the US.
    – freiheit
    Aug 8 '11 at 20:29
  • 2
    Oh I see. I thought it was a good idea.
    – Ambo100
    Aug 9 '11 at 11:00
  • Also known as the death zone. As a rider goes slower, they're more likely to be riding closer to the kerb and parked cars. Faster riders tend to move out more and into the traffic lane.
    – Criggie
    Dec 6 '15 at 22:48


LBS is the acronym commonly used for Local Bike Shop. The term is usually used when comparing small, privately owned shops with large chains, big box stores, and internet shops.

The best local bike shops usually have trained staff who have many years of experience in selling, maintaining, and repairing bicycles and have a well-equipped repair workshop. They can special order parts and let you know if a modification you want to make will work -- and how to make it work. As with all things, local bike shops vary in terms of their experience (and attitude) and it pays to shop around to find a LBS that matches your interests and orientation.

Large department or chain stores, on the other hand, often sell BSOs that they assemble using staff who often have little to no background in bicycle mechanics. They cannot repair or maintain the BSOs they sell and your only recourse often is to just return the bicycle if it is still under warranty.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnprolly/5728618798/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnprolly/5728618798/


Presta Valve / Presta Tube

aka Sclaverand valve (SV) or French valve

alt text

The Presta valve is a valve commonly found in high pressure road style and many mountain bicycle inner tubes. The air pressure in an inflated tire holds the inner valve body shut. A small screw and captive nut on the top of the valve body permits the valve to be screwed shut and ensure that it remains tightly closed. The nut must be unscrewed to permit airflow in either direction (this must be done before attaching a pump). The screw remains captive on the valve body even when unscrewed fully; it is tightened again after the tire is inflated and the pump removed.

Presta valve photo credit

Photo sequence of removing the dust cap then unscrewing the nut so the valve is ready to inflate.

A Presta valve adapter can be used to fill a Presta tube with a normal Schrader-style air pump, although many pumps today come with a built-in adapter.

For a video tutorial on the use of the adapter, check out this video at BicycleTutor.com

More information: Presta valve (Wikipedia).

Go to Schrader valve.
Go to Dunlop valve.



Cadence is the number of revolutions of the crank per minute.

Cyclists typically have a preferred cadence at which they feel most comfortable, and on bicycles with many gears it is possible to stick to a favourite cadence at a wide range of speeds. Recreational and utility cyclists typically cycle around 60–80 rpm; racing cyclists around 80–120 rpm and sprinters up to 170 rpm for short bursts. The professional racing cyclist and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is known for his technique of keeping up high cadences of around 110 rpm for hours on end to improve efficiency1

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadence_(cycling)

If you are getting pain in your knees, it could be that your cadence is too low. A cadence between 80-100 will probably reduce knee pains, as stated in bicycling.com or more detailed at Cycling Performance Tips web site.

EDIT by Ivor

To answer a comment below on beginners and cadence...

Cadence is critical to enjoying your cycling and if you become involved in cycle racing, winning. Cadence is something that is learned and once learned you promptly forget about it and move onto getting other things right :)

For a beginner:

  1. Get to know your gears.
    • Drop it into a high gear (big chainring on the front, small cog on the back)
    • Feel how hard it is to push (Pay attention to where you feel the muscles working)
    • Drop it into a low gear (smallest chainring on the front, largest cog on the back)
    • Feel how free your legs spin (Pay attention to how you bounce in the saddle :) If you are bouncing, then you are spinning too much, i.e. your cadence is too high)
    • Find a combination of gears that allow you to spin your pedals without feeling undue pain in your muscles and doesn't make you feel out of breath. (Ignore the speed for the moment)
    • Get to know this "sweet spot", ride around in this gear for a while and adjust your gears to suit your speed so that you balance not being out of breath and over exertion. (Watch out for the bounce in the saddle :) )
  2. The next thing to take into account is how fast you want to go
    • Without a bike computer? - Your feeling of relative speed is good enough
    • With a bike computer? - Set a reasonable target, say 20 km/h
    • Using the gears you have selected for your sweet spot, try to hit your target speed.
    • Once you hit it, can you keep it going? For how long? - Set a reasonable target say 5 mins.
    • When you have finished this, where does it hurt?
    • In your chest? Out of breath big time? - You may have been spinning too much, i.e. your cadence was too high?
    • Muscles in the small of your back, quads, glutes, knees, calves groaning or hurting (not burning, burning isn't as bad as you think) - You may have been spinning too little i.e. your cadence was too low?
  3. There is an ideal cadence proposed by some sports physiologists that is somewhere between 80 to 100 turns of the pedal per minute (rpm)
    • The only way to know your cadence accurately is to have a cadence enabled bike computer and sensor.
    • The other way is to know your gear ratios (Check out BikeCalc.com)
    • For example, You are riding your bike, it has a wheel of size 700c/29 and a tyre that is 23 mm wide, with a front chainring of 34 teeth, a rear cog of 17 and you are pedalling at a speed of 20 km/h. You should then have a cadence of 79 rpm. Simples :) (Get the bike computer ;) )
  4. Get used to spinning your legs in that range of RPM, i.e. 80 to 100 rpm.
    • In all conditions, on any terrain, whatever the occasion.
    • It trains your heart and body to be cardio fit and with a stronger heart comes better stamina and greater strength.
    • Pick up the pace and work to get the legs spinning at the next level of speed.
    • Hard work and worth it.
  5. Go cycling with a group more experienced than you
    • Watch them as they cycle, see all of the different styles and high cadence
    • Listen to the experienced guys as they can advise on many many things.
  6. Enjoy it, you will have earned it :)
  • 9
    We're really not here to copy and paste from Wikipedia. Are there recommended cadence rates for beginners? What users are generally concerned with cadence? Perhaps you could address concerns like these? Sep 2 '10 at 23:11
  • 5
    I'm not sure that citing Lance Armstrong as an example is really useful, given that he achieved his performances through doping...
    – mac
    Apr 26 '14 at 19:53
  • @Ivor my reading of your edit is that it's not clear if bouncing on the saddle is good or not. Can you make that clear please?
    – andy256
    Jan 11 '15 at 4:33
  • 1
    @andy256 I have taken your comments on board and modified the edit. Bouncing is definitely not good. The Quote I used to differentiate the text and have now removed it as the text is my own ramblings on cadence and I am the only one who would claim it :)
    – Ivor
    Feb 11 '15 at 10:31

Clipless pedals a.k.a. clip-in or step-in pedals

Clipless pedals require a special cleated cycling shoe that locks itself into the pedal's surface. To release a foot/shoe from a clipless pedal, the rider typically twists his/her foot outwards.

The word "clipless" (a rather confusing term) refers to a pedal not having an older style toe clip straps.

LOOK Pedals

LOOK Pedals

LOOK pedals came first and were inspired by ski bindings. LOOK pedals are commonly used on road bikes. A similar (but incompatible) pedal system is Shimano's SPD-SL system.

SPD Pedals

Shimano SPD

Shimano Pedaling Dynamics or SPD pedals use a cleat that is recessed into the shoe. This allows the rider to walk normally, which is why this pedal is commonly used in mountain biking or similar disciplines, where a rider may need to walk for short distances over some obstacles. Note that Shimano's SPD-SL system is not compatible with SPD.

Cleats used for these pedals have two holes for screws that go into a shoe.



A type of clipless pedal, cleats and compatible shoes used mostly by road race cyclists.

Compared to SPD, this system has bigger cleats which protrude from shoes, making walking in them awkward. Cleats for SPD-SL have three holes.

SpeedPlay Pedals

SpeedPlay Pedals

Design proprietary to Speedplay products. The spring retention and release mechanism in this design is bolted to the shoe, rather than part of the pedal.

Crank Brothers 'Eggbeaters' system

Crank Brothers Eggbeaters

A proprietary design that uses proprietary cleats. Used by Crankbrothers in all their clipless pedals. The most prominent example is the Eggbeaters model range looking very minimalistic.

Toe Clips a.k.a "Rat trap"

pedal with toe clip and strap

Clipless pedals are called so, even though you do clip onto them — because one avoids the need for toe clips and straps.

The word "clipless" (a rather confusing term) refers to a pedal not having these older style toe clip straps.

This answer draws heavily from Clipless pedals (Wikipedia).

  • Aren't TIME pedals kind of major? I see a lot of them (and I own a pair), but it might be some kind of local phenomenon...
    – dee-see
    Oct 14 '10 at 23:26
  • @domsterr: Feel free to edit this answer Oct 15 '10 at 11:27
  • 2
    Added a link to clip+strap pedals, mainly to explain why clipless pedals have clips!
    – mgb
    Feb 9 '11 at 5:20
  • Would platform pedals qualify as well, since they are 'clipless' too?
    – Ehryk
    Sep 28 '13 at 3:51
  • I don't have the ability to edit (or the knowledge) but I'd encourage a bit of expansion here with shoes/cleats. See: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/20700/…
    – Ryan
    Mar 12 '14 at 13:13

Fixed Gear or Fixed Wheel

AKA: Fixie

A fixed-gear bicycle has the rear gear locked to the hub, which fixes the pedals rotation to the rear wheels rotation. In other words, you can't coast; the pedals are always in motion as long as the bike is. Track bikes are commonly fixed-gear.

The sprocket is screwed directly onto a fixed hub. When the rear wheel turns, the pedals turn in the same direction. This allows a cyclist to stop without using a brake, by resisting the rotation of the cranks, and also to ride in reverse.

Fixed-gear bikes are almost always single-speed (i.e. have only a single gear ratio), but internal-gear hubs without freewheels do exist.

flip-flop hub on fixie setting

The hub in the picture is a flip-flop hub.

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed_gear

Compare with Single Speed.

  • 3
    One should note that typically, horizontal dropouts are required to convert a bike from derailleur to fixed gear, since a pulley cannot be used as a chain tensioner (when you resist to brake, the pulley will be sheared off the bike). Vertical dropouts can be adopted in some cases using something like White Industries' Eccentric Rear Hub or an eccentric bottom bracket or something.
    – Batman
    Mar 17 '14 at 6:53

Schrader valve/Schrader tube

aka "American valve" or "car valve" or "Auto valve" (AV)

alt text

The Schrader valve consists of a valve stem into which a valve core is threaded, and is used on virtually all automobile tires and most wider rimmed bicycle tires. The valve core is a poppet valve assisted by a spring.

A valve cap is important on a Schrader valve because if one is not fitted, dirt and water can enter the outside of the valve, potentially jamming it or contaminating the sealing surfaces and causing a leak. Rock salt and other chemical deicers used in the winter are especially damaging for the brass components in the Schrader valve.

Schrader valves are almost universal on car tires, meaning you can often (carefully) inflate your bike tires with the air machines at roadside garages.

For an instruction video on patching and inflating a Schrader tube, check out this video on BicycleTutor.com.

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schrader_valve
Go to Presta Valve.
Go to Dunlop valve.

  • 2
    I don't think it would hurt to combine this one with its sibling answer Sep 6 '10 at 17:51
  • @Joe - Except that it makes linking to one valve or the other more difficult. Nov 2 '10 at 15:06
  • 3
    In the UK at least this can also be referred to as the 'car type' since it's common to our car tyres. It's quite useful to use this type of valve because it means you can get your tires pumped up at petrol stations. Mar 3 '11 at 17:24
  • 1
    What are the advantages/disadvantages of this type of valves? Do they loose more air with time? (compared to presta) Are they heavier? Easier to find pumps for it?
    – J.A.I.L.
    Feb 16 '13 at 15:19

Flip-Flop Hub

Most often seen on fixed gear track (velodrome) bikes, a flip flop hub is hub that allows a cog to be attached to each side.

This allows a rider of a fixed gear bike to effectively 'change' gears by taking the rear wheel off, flipping it around and reattaching the wheel.

Track riders will use this to have a smaller (more teeth, fewer gear inches) warmup gear that allows them to spin at a higher cadence and a larger (fewer teeth, more gear inches) cog for racing or high speed efforts.

Variations of flip-flop hubs might offer a freewheel in one direction and a fixed gear in the other, so a cyclist can convert the bike from a single-speed to a fixed gear bike by flipping the rear wheel around.

The unused cog is an additional hazard. Many velodromes require unused cogs to be removed. A collision involving a bike carrying an unused cog at the 2013 North America Harcourt Bicycle Polo Championships led to an amendment of the NAH ruleset to explicitly identify exposed unused cogs as a prohibited hazard. Players are permitted to carry an unused cog if it is covered.

For a fixed-gear road cyclist, a flip-flop hub often is used to allow one side as a fixed gear, and the other side to freewheel. This way, a tired fixie rider can switch to freewheeling (possibly with a different ratio) and get home.

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flip-flop_hub

alt text



A pannier, pronounced pan-yer /ˈpanyər, ˈpanēər/ (US) or pan-i-er /ˈpanɪə/ (UK) [1], is a bag designed to be mounted on the side of a bicycle rack. Bags can be made of nylon, canvas, or waterproof materials such as PVC. Panniers are most commonly carried on the rear, but smaller panniers intended for a front rack are also available.

enter image description here

Often erroneously called a saddlebag because a pannier on a motorcycle or horse is attached to the saddle. On a bicycle, the saddlebag mounts behind the rider from loops at the back of the saddle. The saddle bag goes athwartship – from side to side.

Bikes that do not have rack mounts can often accept bags that strap under the handlebars, under the top tube, and behind the seatpost. Gravel bikes often do not have rack mounts, and these alternative bags are used instead. Potentially, these may affect a bike's handling more than a rack and panniers would, because the loads are carried higher on the bike.

  • How do you pronounce this? pan-near, panny-air, pan-near? Sep 6 '10 at 17:54
  • I pronounce it pan-yay, but I'm not sure how to properly say it. Sep 6 '10 at 18:36
  • 5
    It's an English word that's commonly mistaken for being a french word. It's pronounced "PAN-yer", but many people say "PAN-yay".
    – freiheit
    Sep 12 '10 at 18:04
  • @freiheit - The link you put in allows for two pronunciations, I updated this entry. Oct 22 '10 at 14:34
  • 2
    @freiheit: It's an English word that is also a French word. That's like saying "Paris" is an English word that's commonly mistaken for a French word. In English, we pronounce "pannier" as "PAN-yer" and "Paris" as "PAIR-iss" but in French they are pronounced "Pan-YAY" and "Pa-REE."
    – R. Chung
    Nov 2 '12 at 19:03


Quick release skewers (sometimes abbreviated QR, sometimes just called skewers) secure bicycle wheels in the dropouts. They have a lever that when opened, enables the wheel to be removed quickly and without additional tools. They use a cam mechanism at the lever end pulling against a threaded nut at the other end. The cam mechanism may be internal or external; the latter type is cheaper to produce and is often lighter, but it produces lower clamping force for the same amount of hand pressure on the QR lever.

a picture of a bicycle front wheel quick release assembly
Quick-release axle (internal cam)

Their invention is frequently attributed to Tullio Campagnolo, but Jan Heine's research shows this may be inaccurate. Heine was unable to determine who invented the QR, as there appears to be no original patent for the QR mechanism.

Tabs called lawyer lips frequently come on fork and/or frame dropouts. They prevent the wheel from dropping out immediately when the QR lever comes open, the nut must be unthreaded several turns as well. These tabs increase the amount of time needed to operate a QR but they can be an important safeguard against improper operation of a QR.

Wheels with disc brakes may be secured by QRs or by thru axles. Disc brakes are said to generate much greater torque than rim brakes; some experts contend that disc brakes can eject wheels from dropouts. Thus, increasingly disc brake bikes and wheels are secured by thru axles rather than QRs.

QRs are sometimes used on seatpost clamps as well, to allow easy adjustment of the saddle height. "Quick-release" also refers to several other types of quick-release mechanisms that are popular on folding bicycles, such as collapsible seatposts and folding frames.

  • I know there are some different kinds of quick release. Some have a spring in there to make it easier right? Maybe explain those differences Sep 6 '10 at 17:55
  • 3
    The quickness of the release is defeated on most bikes by extra lugs that force you to unscrew the axle almost fully to remove the wheel. They are supposed to stop the wheel falling out if the release comes loose - but they are really to stop you sueing and so are called lawyer-lugs
    – mgb
    Oct 22 '10 at 3:51
  • 2
    @Martin - I think the value of a quick release isn't that it's fast so much as that you don't need a wrench to get the wheel off. Oct 22 '10 at 4:12
  • Well, Tullio Campagnolo's design (which forms the basis of a modern QR skewer) was designed for race conditions, so the speed value exists. I've never heard lawyer lugs, but I have heard lawyer lips. In most cases, however, the primary value is the lack of tools (which does make it relatively faster).
    – Batman
    Mar 17 '14 at 6:55
  • and of course in cities like NY you don't want to have a quick release on your wheels because they will get stolen.
    – Deesbek
    Nov 28 '16 at 3:09

Triathlon bars or Aerobars

Aerodynamic bike handlebars are for racing bicycles and particularly time trial bicycles.

Included are narrow, bolt-on extensions that draw the body forward into a tucked position, pursuit bars that spread the arms of the rider but drops the torso into a slightly lower position, and integrated units that combine elements of both designs.

Triathlon bars are commonly used in triathlons and time trial events on road and track. However, they are illegal in most mass start road races or any other event where drafting is permitted because, while aerodynamically advantageous, they tend to draw the hands away from brakes, make the rider slightly more unstable on the bike, and can be dangerous in the event of an accident. Further, they are not useful in sprints or shorter climbs where power is of greater importance than aerodynamics.

There is a distinct set of aerobars that are utilised in draft legal triathlons on regular road frames. As draft legal (ITU sanctioned) triathlon races require road frames that are UCI legal, a stubby pair of arms has been developed for this style of racing.

alt text


  • Are tri-bars purely aerodynamic or do they adjust your riding position enough to relieve muscles you will use in the run part of a triathlon?
    – mgb
    Feb 9 '11 at 5:20
  • Remember Greg Lemond final time trail in the Tour de France 1989. Closest TDF win ever! youtube.com/watch?v=AyvwtOQYQ-E Thank you earobars.
    – allcaps
    Apr 14 '14 at 12:08
  • @mgb It might be that triathlon bikes in general are designed for a more forward position (steeper seat angle). This is thought to make you use your hamstrings more, whereas you may need your quads for the run. I'm not sure if that contention is backed up by research! forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/…
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 12 '19 at 19:19

Tire Lever

aka Tire Iron

A tire lever is a small, narrow lever used to help lift a tire off a rim. Traditionally they were steel, later aluminium alloy and now most commonly they are plastic.

The most important feature of a tire lever is that it does not have any sharp edges that may "pinch" the tube (that is, become wedged between the tube and the tire) causing a small hole or tear in the tube.
Operation of tire levers usually involves either a pair or a triple set of levers. Levers can also be used help get a tire onto a rim when it is a particularly tight fit.

Plastic & Alloy tire levers

More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tire_iron

  • Is it possible to use the metal irons with anodized rims without damaging the coating? I bought some cheap ones, and they're ribbed on the face, and a bit sharp on the edge of the face, and when they slip, they dig in to the rim a bit.
    – naught101
    Sep 28 '13 at 0:04
  • and a question here: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/17743/…
    – Móż
    Sep 28 '13 at 5:01

Dunlop Valve

aka Woods valve or English valve

The Dunlop valve is an older style valve that is no longer commonly found in the english speaking world. It is still commonly found in Japan and the Netherlands on non-speciality bicycles. The advantage of a Dunlop valve is that it is very easy to manufacture. The main pressure control mechanism is a simple rubber tube called a "plug" or "worm" that can be easily replaced. However, the rubber plugs also quickly degrade and this can be a cause of frustration for users. Recent Dunlop valves in Japan come with mechanical springs rather than plugs.

A pump designed for a Presta valve can be used to fill a tube with a Dunlop valve.

Dunlop Valve

More information: Dunlop valve (Wikipedia).

Go to Presta valve.
Go to Schrader valve.

Also see this answer.

  • 5
    This is the most common valve on everyday usage bicycles in The Netherlands Oct 19 '10 at 7:40
  • 1
    and possibly here in Poland too
    – Marcos
    Mar 8 '12 at 18:22
  • 2
    And Japan, almost all non specialty bikes are Dunlop valves.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 15 '15 at 15:19
  • Very common also in Germany. We distinguish the interior: rubber plug vs. "Blitzventil" (flash valve): Rubber plugs are notoriously hard to pump because there's a lot of pressure lost at the plug, the Blitzventil has a ball valve which works basically without any pressure loss. Jul 22 '19 at 10:19


Attaches the handlebars to the bike, or, more precisely, to the steerer tube. Stems are designed differently for different headset types (i.e. threaded or threadless). They are also sized to suit different diameter handlebars and in the case of threadless setups, different diameter steerer tubes.

Stems of many different lengths and angles are available, so that the rider can position the handlebars where they will be the most comfortable. There are also angle-adjustable stems made, so the rider may change bar positions without removing the handlebars or changing the stem.

More information at Sheldon Brown's site

Adjustable stem

Adjustable stem on a touring bike, attached to the headset with risers, with the handlebars removed

Four different-lengths of threadless steerer. These clamp around the outside of your bars and the outside of your steerer tube.

Some threaded stems - often shaped like a number 7 but some have more "rise" to effectively lift the bars up. These stems clamp the bars, but the other end goes inside the steerer tube and expands outwards.

This folding bike effectively has no stem, with the handlebar mounted straight to the steerer tube. There's a bend in the steerer which does the same job as the stem.


Chain Tool or Chain Breaker

enter image description here

Used to 'break' a chain by punching out one of the link pins. Needed to shorten a new chain to the correct length or to replace a broken link.

A chain link is placed in the open slot and the handle turned to force a punch pin into the pin of the chain, pushing it out of the other side.

Traditionally the tool needed to be used quite carefully such that the pin would not pushed all the way out, as the same pin was later used to reassemble the chain, using the same tool. Obviously, if a chain is repeatedly "broken" and reassembled this way at the same link the pin and associated holes in the plates will wear and no longer hold well, so care must be taken to not do this.

More recently this strategy has changed somewhat. Shimano now supplies special replacement pins which are equipped with a break-off guide cone on one end, making it easier to reassemble the chain. (Even with this scheme one should still avoid repeatedly "breaking" and reassembling the chain at the same link, though.)

Several other manufacturers now sell what is commonly called a master link (or quick link), which allows a chain to be reassembled without tools.

enter image description here



A bearing is an interface between parts that turn and parts that do not. They enable an axle or other part to roll on steel balls. The hubs in the wheels contain bearings, as do the bottom bracket, the headset in the head tube, and the pedals.

Wheel bearing -- from Park Tool site

A standard bicycle wheel bearing consists of an axle, a hub, two cones, two locknuts, and a number of steel balls. In both ends of the axle is a concave section known as the "cup" that the balls sit in. The "cone", threaded onto the axle, contacts the balls from the other side, and together the cup and cone retain the balls and serve as the surfaces against which the balls roll. The picture above shows a cup and cone bearing assembly.

The locknut secures the cone so that it doesn't thread in or out as the hub turns relative to the (stationary) axle.

The bearings in the bottom bracket and headset are similar except that the cup part is stationary and the axle turns.

Bearings are also available in cartridge form, where the bearing cup with bearings inside is sold as a unit. The cartridge is then pressed into a seat in the appropriate part, e.g. the bike's bottom bracket assembly or the hub.

Many bearing assemblies have some level of sealing, which reduces the amount of dirt or water that get into the bearings. In general, the more tightly sealed the bearing, the more drag it will have and the more power it will take to turn the attached axle.

Bearings require periodic maintenance, typically cleaning and regreasing. Cartridge bearings are often replaced entirely, although they can be maintained as well.

The ball bearings and the races they turn on may be made of ceramic. Ceramic bearings have industrial applications in very rapidly rotating parts. On bikes, they likely reduce drag very slightly, but they are very expensive.

  • Anyone who has the knowledge, please feel free to expand on this. Feb 9 '11 at 4:39

Gear Inches

One of the several ways to describe gearing; how hard/easy the bike is to pedal. The actual figure is the equivalent diameter of the wheel if you were on a direct pedal cycle like a unicycle or an old fashioned high-wheeler. It does allow for different size wheels as well as the gears, but it ignores the effect of different crank lengths.

Easier to pedal (granny-gears) have low gear inches (smaller equivalent wheel). Harder to pedal gears have higher gear inches.

The basic formula is:

GI = (CrT/CogT)*D
GI     = Gear Inches
CrT    = Chain Ring Teeth
CogT   = Cog Teeth
D      = Wheel Diameter

For example, a 700c tire is going to have a diameter of roughly 26.3" (depends on the width of the tire). If you have shifted to your smallest front ring of 24 teeth, and your biggest rear cog of 27 teeth then your gear inches are:

GI = (24/27)*26.3 = 23.4"

Note: if you want to take the math a little further - and of course I do since I am a math nut - you can find how far you travel each pedal stroke by remembering that:

Circumference = pi*Diameter

In our example:

Circumference = 3.14*23.4" = 73.5

Note: you can search for Bicycle Gear Calculator and find several pages online that will do the math for you. There will be a lot of variation and calculators use different rounding and make different assumptions about wheel width. Pre-prepared tables are available, calculated for ETRTO 23-622 (700c x 23mm) tyres or in the case of traditional track racers' tables, a "standard" wheel with an assumed 27" overall diameter.


Chain Tug

AKA: Chain Tensioner

On most bikes, the rear derailleur keeps the chain in tension. On fixed gear, single speed, or hub geared bikes, a chain tensioner is required to keep the chain in tension. Without this mechanism, the chain may fall off, or the rear wheel may pull forward while pedaling.

Chain tug 1 Chain tug 2

Some chain tugs are available with derailleur hangers to allow horizontal droput bikes to run derailleur gearing systems.

enter image description here

More information about chain tugs is available in this answer.

Bottom Bracket mounted Chain Tensioners:
Typically seen on downhill styled mountain bikes.

Bottom Bracket Chain Tensioner Bottom Bracket Chain Tensioner on bicycle


Derailleur hanger

The part of the bicycle frame that the rear derailleur bolts into. As in the pictures below, most derailleur hangers are separate pieces of metal, often aluminum, that bolt onto the dropout. These are called replaceable derailleur hangers.

Replaceable derailleur hanger derailleur hanger 2

Derailleur hangers frequently bend slightly if a bike is dropped or crashes, which is especially common off road. This can compromise shifting. The key advantage of a derailleur hanger that is softer than the frame is that in a crash, it will bend and break before the derailleur or the frame. The hanger can then be replaced. Replaceable hangers are proprietary to each frame and tend not to be interchangeable. Manufacturers will usually stock them as replacement parts. The US company Wheels Manufacturing makes a wide variety of replacement hangers also.

Non-replaceable derailleur hangers are part of the dropout, as in the picture below. (Note that this bike is set up and singlespeed, with a derailleur in place you would never put the axle this far forward in the dropout)

derailleur hanger integrated in the frame

These hangers are present on some steel and titanium bikes. If the derailleur hanger is bent, it will need to be cold set (i.e. bent) back into alignment. Tool manufacturers make derailleur alignment gauges for this purpose. Steel and titanium hangers can be bent repeatedly. If a non-replaceable derailleur hanger breaks, an experienced welder (preferably a frame builder) will need to replace it.

  • why is a separate hanger safer?
    – naught101
    May 12 '12 at 3:01
  • @naught101 because if it bends/breaks you can substitute it. it is actually a breakable part, softer than the frame, so that any force will act on this piece instead of the frame.
    – bigstones
    May 12 '12 at 11:02
  • So it's more about safety for the bike than for the rider?
    – naught101
    May 12 '12 at 12:19
  • @naught101 yes. I'm not an english speaker, so feel free to reformulate that part.
    – bigstones
    May 12 '12 at 13:32
  • 4
    I'm not sure I agree with the replacement ability not being a primary design point - for off road riding, it seems like this is key, especially on non-steel frames (e.g. aluminum), where the hanger cannot be safely bent back in cases of crashes due to metal fatigue.
    – Batman
    Mar 17 '14 at 7:02


The group of bearings and bearing cups that allows the steer tube to turn freely within the head tube. Headsets come in two basic varieties.

Threaded headsets are common on older bikes and inexpensive bikes. They are called "threaded" headsets because the top race is held on with a threaded race and locknut which thread onto a threaded portion of the steerer tube.

Threaded Headset

Threadless headsets are standard on modern mid-level and high-end bicycles. They are called "threadless" headsets because there are no threads on the race or steerer tube nor is there a lock ring. The headset is held together by pressure created by a bolt through the top cap which threads into a star nut inside the steerer tube.

Threadless Headset

Images courtesy of Sheldon Brown.


Chain gauge

Measures the stretch of a chain to determine how worn it is and when to replace it.
It's made to fit exactly between two separated links of a standard chain. chain guage

Alternately you can measure the chain with a ruler - standard links are 1inch (25.4mm) long.

Note - the chain doesn't actually stretch, the pins connecting the links wear away making the joints looser. The extra movement reduces efficiency, causes the chain to skip and will wear the rear gear teeth.

  • Note that tools that work this way are not especially accurate, to work properly both measurement points should be on the same side of the pin they're measuring.
    – Móż
    Jun 10 '14 at 2:35

Cable Stretcher

A.K.A. "Fourth Hand" brake tool


The cable stretcher is used to stretch brake cables when installing brakes or new cable. It can also be used to tighten zip ties.

  • Can you explain what you would use it for? I'm betting most people don't install their own brake cables. Sep 6 '10 at 17:53
  • 1
    I have never had problems installing brake cables with a standard set of pliers.
    – Ian
    Sep 17 '10 at 9:22
  • @Ian - I've frayed cables by doing this. Perhaps I need practice! Feb 9 '11 at 10:29
  • 3
    @neilfein, I tend to solder the ends of cables after I have cut them to stop any fraying.
    – Ian
    Feb 9 '11 at 11:37
  • 1
    @Ian superglue also works! May 16 '16 at 8:01

Track pump (or floor pump)

A large pump that you use by standing on the bottom plate and moving the handle up and down. You can use both hands and your back to pump a high pressure tire quickly and easily. Generally for use at home - or at the track - rather than for carrying on the bike. Some manufacturers make portable track pumps which bolt to the down tube for easier inflation of high pressure tires.

track pump

Features to look for:

  • sturdy construction
  • pressure gauge
  • a head that can be used with both Presta and Schrader valves


A groupset or gruppo (from the Italian for "group") generally refers to the components involved in shifting gears, braking, and transmitting power from the rider's legs to the rear wheel. It excludes stems and handlebars (sometimes referred to as the cockpit of the bicycle), saddles, seatposts, pedals, and quick release skewers.

Groupsets typically include:

  • integrated brake levers/shifters (on older bikes, brake levers and down-tube or bar-end shifters)
  • front and rear brakes (including calipers/pads or rotors/disks/pads)
  • rear derailleur
  • front derailleur (unless the bike has a 1x drivetrain)
  • bottom bracket
  • crankset or chainset
  • chain
  • cassette (freewheel on older bikes)
  • cables and housings as appropriate (for electronic groupsets, control wires and batteries)

In the past, groupsets have included some or all of the following components.

  • headset
  • hubs and usually quick release skewers
  • stem and seatpost may have been included, or may have been optional purchases
  • pedals are typically optional purchases

SRAM Red Groupset

Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo account for the vast majority of road bike groupsets. SRAM had entered the road bike market in 1988, then exited, then re-entered in 2004. Shimano and SRAM are the majority of the mountain bike groupset market. Campagnolo briefly produced one mountain bike groupset before exiting that market. At the time of writing, Full Speed Ahead and Rotor have produced groupsets as well, but these have yet to achieve widespread take up.

Groupsets are offered at a range of price points. Each of the 3 major manufacturers makes one version for professional road (e.g. Campagnolo Super Record) or mountain bike racing (e.g. SRAM XX1). They also offer various lower level groupsets for consumers. Generally, the high-performance consumer groupsets (e.g. Shimano 105 and Ultegra) will have less exotic material (i.e. less titanium and carbon fiber) used in manufacture and will be heavier, but will usually offer very similar performance on other characteristics (e.g. durability, shift quality). Groupset manufacturers generally offer electronic shifting versions of their top two groupsets.

The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) market is dominated by Shimano and SRAM (i.e. most complete bicycles come with Shimano or SRAM components). For the most part, shifters and derailleurs are not compatible between brands, and complete bicycles will not mix these components. However, some complete bicycles will substitute cranksets and/or brakes from third party manufacturers for cost or performance reasons.

  • 1
    Is "drivetrain" a synonym of "groupset?" I've heard the two words used almost interchangeably in many contexts.
    – Jules
    Sep 23 '15 at 16:02
  • @Jules In motorized vehicles, drivetrain is the set of components that deliver power from the engine to the wheels (excludes the motor). On bikes, I believe that people usually mean the crank, chain, and rear derailleur. It may include the cassette. In principle, the pedals connect the cranks to your legs, so maybe they should be included. I don't think this would fit with common usage (but I could be wrong).
    – Weiwen Ng
    Sep 25 '19 at 20:46


The part of the bike you hold onto. When you turn the handlebars, the front wheel turns with them. The front wheel is held in the fork, which ends in a steerer tube, which in turn attaches to the stem, which clamps onto the handlebar.

Broadly speaking, there are flat handlebars as found on mountain bikes and hybrid bikes, and drop handlebars which have bar ends that are curved below the flat portion. This question provides further detail.

Additional information:

Sheldon Brown on handlebars, drop bars, and upright bars.



Mudguard / mudflaps

A must for winter cycling. As the wheel rotates, it will spray water and dirt up a rider's back and onto various parts of the frame. Fenders block this spray. They are often recommended for riding in wet weather. Mudguards are flaps attached at the ends of a fender.

fender / mudguard

Commercial fenders can be made from metal or plastic. They can also be DIY'ed from plastic milk cartons. Typically, fenders require the frame and fork to have fender mounts. However, some fenders, like the ones depicted, can attach on to the frame and fork directly. This mounting is less secure, and such fenders do not cover as much of the wheel.

If an object like a stick gets jammed between the tire and fender, it can cause the fender to break off. The frame may be damaged as well. If there is not much clearance between the fender and tire, this may be an argument for using fenders made for race bikes. These fenders may just bolt to the seat stay and down tube, and will offer partial protection from dirt and water.

  • 5
    A link to a good DIY fender tutorial would be good here.
    – naught101
    May 13 '12 at 4:29
  • 3
    I'd suggest that a mudflap is different to a mudguard or fender. Mudflap is usually the wide, flexible extension which hangs on the rear end of the mudguard: sjscycles.co.uk/mudguards-mudflaps Sep 27 '16 at 21:15
  • 1
    It should be added that some road-riding clubs see mudguards as mandatory for wet and/or winter rides - the reason being that they stop the rider behind you getting a mouth full of whatever is currently on the road.
    – David Kemp
    Oct 22 '19 at 11:54

Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket (BB) is an assembly that contains bearings and sometimes the axle that the cranks attach to. The bottom bracket shell is the part of the frame holding the bottom bracket. The bearings often have seals to keep dirt out.

Threaded bottom brackets

Traditional bottom brackets screw into the bottom bracket shell. BB axles/spindles for threaded bottom brackets can be square tapered (in two standards, the more common Japanese International Standard and ISO, used by Campagnolo and a minority of manufacturers) or oversized (Shimano Hollowtech or International Spline Interface Standard, or ISIS). Generally, the oversized spindles were stiffer due to being larger, but had smaller bearings and may have had poorer bearing life. The crankarms were then fixed on to each side of the axle with retaining bolts. In older threaded systems, the bottom bracket contains the crank axle.

External bottom bracket cups came into play in the early 2000s. Here, the bottom bracket assembly contains only the bearings, and the crank axle is attached to one or both crankarms. The axle goes through the bottom bracket.

Among bikes with threaded BBs, the majority conform to the English standard. Many Italian frames used the Italian standard. A modern oversized standard called T47 is seeing increased adoption. This has an internal diameter of 46mm (compared to the 35mm diameter of the British standard).

On most threaded BBs, the bearings are not accessible for maintenance. Users will frequently discard them when they are worn out. It is possible for users to damage the threads when installing BBs, e.g. by forcing a BB in at an angle. A bike store can chase the threads to attempt to restore them. If the threads are beyond repair, it is possible to ream and re-tap a British threaded BB to the Italian BB standard, because the latter has a slightly larger diameter (36mm vs 35mm for BSA). This will have to be done cautiously, and not all shops will have the necessary tools. Also, Italian BBs are right hand threaded on both sides, so the drive-side cup may unscrew as you pedal.

Press-fit bottom brackets

Later, various press-fit bottom bracket standards were developed where the frame contains a molded seat for bearing cups. It is not possible to cut threads into carbon fiber. The alternative to press fit involves bonding a threaded alloy sleeve into the frame, and press fit is simpler and lighter. In some press-fit arrangements, most notably Trek's older BB90 standard, the cartridge bearings sit directly on the BB shell itself, rather than in cups that are pressed into the shell. (NB: Trek appears to be phasing this standard out at the time of writing.)

There are numerous standards for press-fit bottom brackets. Cups for one standard are not interchangeable with a different standard. However, for each press fit BB standard, manufacturers will make cups to accept most or all cranksets on the market. Examples of open standards include BB86 and Press Fit 30. Some larger bike manufacturers have BB standards proprietary to their own frames, such as Cervelo, Cannondale, and in the past, Trek.

Selecting a Bottom Bracket

Generally, users looking to install a BB and crankset from scratch would determine the frame's BB standard, then find a bottom bracket in that standard that matches their desired crankset axle type and diameter. On many press-fit BBs, users or bike stores can service worn bearings (i.e. clean and re-grease them) without replacing the cups, or extract the bearings from the cups. Naturally, the cups themselves can be replaced. Creaking is a known problem with press-fit BBs, and it is caused if the BB shell was manufactured out of specification (or if the shell got enlarged over time from a loose-fitting BB).

Current generation cranks can have axles ranging from 24mm (Shimano) to 30mm (so-called BB30 cranks). Any crank can be mounted on a bike with any bottom bracket shell type. Some companies even make bottom brackets for older (e.g. BSA) threaded shells and 30mm axles.

Also note that there are eccentric bottom brackets, which are really a bottom bracket that goes inside of an offset bottom bracket shell that fits inside the frame's bottom bracket shell. This allows the bottom bracket to be moved a bit, to tension the chain on a single-speed or fixed-gear bike.

  • 1
    Note: may be at the front or back of the bike rather than the bottom. And is not a bracket.
    – Мסž
    Apr 20 '11 at 4:38
  • I've recently been made aware of sealed, unsealed, and external BBs. Can here anyone expand on the difference between them? Jul 31 '11 at 16:00
  • This actually describes the bottom bracket shell. The bottom bracket is the bearing assembly and is usually removable...
    – freiheit
    Oct 31 '12 at 17:25
  • @freiheit - fixed, feel free to edit further. Nov 1 '12 at 19:52
  • Ok, I edited the heck out of it. I didn't mention sealed/unsealed, but I did explain external BBs and tried to explain the new external-style-but-actually-go-inside-a-larger-shell-BB style that I can't figure out the standard name for (it's called "press-fit" on one of my bikes, but the same thing also can screw in...)
    – freiheit
    Nov 2 '12 at 23:34


Also called the seat, the saddle is where the rider sits.

enter image description here

Gel saddle

enter image description here

Leather saddle

enter image description here

Plastic saddle


Disc Hub

Disc hubs come in two varieties: 6-bolt ISO and Shimano's proprietary Centerlock spline. Converters exist to allow a Centerlock hub to accept a six-bolt disc rotor.

6-bolt ISO:

ISO disc hub

Shimano Centerlock: (Note, centerlock hubs ship with a rubber cover over the centerlock splines). Centerlock disc hub

  • Most Rohloff hubs are also "disk hubs", and come with a proprietary 4 hole mount. No adapter is possible, the reason they do this is because they need a bigger hole than the other mounts allow.
    – Móż
    Jan 14 '17 at 6:09

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