ycling is an incredibly technical sport and has over the years developed what will feel like an entirely different and often unwelcoming language to anybody new to it. Here is a brief account for some of the common terms and basic anatomy of your bike for any budding new star who wasn't to get out on their wheels
First off, know your anatomy! Your bike is a precious mechanical beast made up of many precious parts. Use the image below to really feel a part of any conversation you have with a mechanic or more experienced rider. We will later look into the components in a little more detail.
Here are a few of the above technical terms and few of the more commonly used slang variants along with definitions for your use.
Road bike: Unlike your average bicycle, a road bike is more lightweight, has extra gear combinations, and features stupendously narrow tires that are inflated at high-pressures. All these features make road bikes fit for speed.
Steed: The steed is what personifies your bike as more than a piece of fancy metal, it is your companion. This steed also requires due care and maintaining with the added bonus that it won't kick you if you walk behind it.
Cadence: Also known as pedal rhythm, cadence (often measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM) depends on the cyclist’s power and the resistance from the bike’s friction with the ground, winds, and road incline. Everyone has a cadence sweet spot. Find your C-spot by shifting gears until pedalling power matches resistance.
Gears: Bikes have two sets of gears, the rear of which are called the “cassette.”
Shifting: Being shifty is a good thing in cycling. Shifting, or transitioning from one gear to another, allows cyclists to maintain constant cadence despite changes in resistance or incline on the road. On most bikes the shifter on the right side of the handlebar makes fine-tuning changes to the back gears. The shifter on the left side adjusts the front gears, used for more major shifts. Cyclists spend most of their time shifting the rear gears in search for their cadence sweet spots.
Saddle: Cyclists deserve a little cushion during all their pushing! The saddle, or bike seat, is where rear ends can rest while the legs spin away. Not famed for comfort, the saddle will hold you steady during a long day on the road while the newer saddle designs, such as the “no-nose,” promise to limit groin pain and the risk for erectile dysfunction.
Clip-ins: Clip-ins (aka step-ins and clipless pedals) are a type of bike pedal that lock onto the cleat of a special cycling shoe so that the rider is firmly attached to the pedal. To lock into clip-ins, firmly step down and forward until it clicks (some clip-ins require twisting the cleat into the lock). To unclip, twist the heels outwards.
Cycling shoes: The defining characteristic of a sport is a special shoe. Cycling shoes are sleek kicks that lock into clip-in pedals, allowing for more efficient transfer of power. For those riders who want to be a little less committed to their bikes, toe cages (or toe straps) are a reasonable alternative to clip-ins.
Look: One of the two major clipless pedal styles, Look pedals require Look shoe cleats, which protrude from the sole of the cycling shoe. Be prepared to waddle like a duck after dismounting from the steed.
SPD: Unlike Looks, cleats of an SPD, or Shimano Pedalling Dynamics, are built inside a recess in the shoe’s sole and allow for steadier walking.
Chamois: Let’s set this straight now. Chamois, or the padded bike shorts cyclists wear, should never be worn with underwear. Total cycling faux pas. All that comes between sit bones and saddles should be the spandex chamois (aka “shammy”), which limits chafing, blisters, and saddle sores.
Jersey: Forget tanks and T's. Cyclists wear jerseys, which wick away sweat and keep them cool (in more ways than one!). Successful pros can even earn special jerseys throughout races.
The Mechanical Stuff: This is where you will really get to grips with the anatomy of your bike.
Frame: The frame is the spine of your bike aka the geometrical tubing connecting its parts. Often hollow (unless you have friends who fill it with sand - this has happened) and made of lightweight material, the frame comes in all different shapes and lengths. A properly fitting frame size is important for efficient energy use and pedalling posture.
Road/racing tires: Skinny, bald, and bursting at the seams. Not me, the tires! Racing tires are narrow, have no tread, and are run at high pressures to minimize friction and maximize speed. The tires are usually inflated to between 100-110 psi (pounds per square inch) making them solid.
Clincher: A clincher is the standard road bike tire unit that includes the rubber tire, an outer rim that the tire holds onto, and a separate tube within the tire that requires inflation. Tubular tires are becoming more popular but I am still a fan of the clincher!
Schrader: A Schrader valve, found on most tires, is used to inflate the inner tube. Pump away until the tires reach their appropriate PSI, which can be found on the tire itself, somewhere along the rim close to the spoke nipples.
Blowing a tire: POP! Another tube bites the dust. Don’t fret, flat tires happen to the everyone, which is why riders always carry extra tubes and at least a mini pump to re-inflate tires when on the go.
Mudguards: For those wet and horrible days, a mudguard is a rider’s ugly best friend. Attached to the back of the seat, nto only will your pal ruin the sleek look o fyour bike it will hover over the rear wheel to block the spray from the kicked up dusty and grimey roads. Sacrificing quality in the looks department is a small price to pay for keeping your bum dry!
Quick release: The quick release (or “QR” for slang) is a bolt and lever that allows bikers to quickly adjust different parts of the bike. There can be a QR that adjusts saddle height and another that clamps the wheel.
Drops and hoods: No, this isn’t a new dance move. Drops are the lower part of the down-turned road bike handlebar while the curved segments are called hoods.
Bike chain: The bike chain, or the loop of chain links that encircle the gears, make the wheels go round and round. Sometimes the chain slips off and needs to be gently coerced back on — wet wipes would be a good shout!
Lube: Bikes need TLC too, so don’t forget the lube. Maintain the chain by applying generously before rides. Lube love goes a long way.
Brakes: In this car-eat-bike world, brakes are essential for any cyclist. Road bike brakes come in a variety of styles and are usually found near the shifters. The left brake puts the kibosh on the front tire and the right brake slows the back tire. To abruptly stop, squeeze both brakes. Never squeeze the left brake alone, unless front flipping over handlebars is what you wanted to achieve?
Drivetrain: A bicycle’s drivetrain is the mechanical system that converts a cyclist’s pedalling power into forward movement. You know, all that metal stuff between the wheels! Drivetrains usually include the pedals, front and rear dérailleurs, cranks, cassette, sprockets, and the chain.
Sprocket: When cyclists use the word gears, they are loosely talking about sprockets (aka cogs), or the ninja weapon-like wheels with teeth. While these teeth can bite, be careful of that, their actual purpose is to latch onto the links of the bike’s chain to help pull the bike forward.
Dérailleur: The dérailleur (or front and rear mechs) moves the chain from gear to gear whenever the shifters tell it to. There is a dérailleur in the front for the crankset and another in the rear for the cassette.
Crankset: Part of the drivetrain, the crankset (aka front chainrings) collectively refers to the sprockets closest to the front wheel (next to the pedals) and the crankarms that rotate them.
Cassette: Step out of the time machine, the cassette, or rear block, is the set of sprockets next to the rear tire and not an 70's music recording device. The back wheel typically has five to eleven sprockets. The biggest sprocket (the innermost, closest to the wheel) is for easy-peasy pedalling. The smallest, outermost sprocket allows for faster speeds, but is harder to pedal unless the bike is zooming downhill.