Mountain biking is one of the most freeing experiences. Imagine yourself on an adventure, pedaling through a trail, basically being one with nature and away from all the noise and havoc of daily life. It’s an amazing feeling. So amazing, in fact, that for a lot of avid cyclists, mountain biking isn’t merely a hobby—it’s a way of life.
But whether you intend to be a hardcore cycling enthusiast or just a casual rider, it’s always important to start with the basics—the ins and outs, so to speak, of mountain biking. And, indeed, we think that a good understanding of the anatomy of a mountain bike—a good understanding of what makes a mountain bike—is the first thing to learn before getting on the saddle of one.
So, in this article, we’ll try to give you a simple, easy to digest overview of a few of the components that make a mountain bike—the different parts, what they do, and what about them you should know about, laid out in the simplest way possible.
Table of Contents
This one’s pretty easy. This is basically the main body of the bike, or the two triangles paired with each other to form a diamond that is bookended by two forks, one for holding the front wheel, and the other for holding the rear wheel. It is the part of the bike that joins all the other parts together. It’s like the skeletal structure of the bike, if you will, that is made from a variety of materials, including steel, Aluminum, Carbon Fiber, and etc.
It can’t be a bike without a pair of wheels, now can it? While it might seem pedantic to list this as another part that will be worth learning about—since everyone knows what these are, or where they are in a mountain bike, or what their purpose is—but, trust us, it’s more complicated than it seems.
The wheels, after all, are composed of other, important parts. The tires, for instance, consists of both the inner tire and outer tire, the former being the part that is filled with air, and the latter being the part that touches the ground.
The rim, which is typically made from Aluminum or Carbon Fiber, is the hoop over which the tires are placed.
The spokes are what connect the rim to the center of the hub, located at the center of the wheel. The hub, of course, is what holds all the axles and bearings.
The Pedals, Crank, Chain, and Gears of the Bike
These are basically what make the chain spin and make the mountain bike move. The pedals, which are what the feet rotate, are connected to the crank, which allows the pedals to rotate. That rotational force turns the gears that are attached to the chain. The chain rotates another set of gears connected to the rear wheel, propelling the bike forward.
These are parts of the mountain bike that some take for granted, but their importance cannot be stressed enough. Indeed, the quality of a bike’s gear set is often what determines its price. High-end bikes will typically have quality gear sets, and cheap ones will have poor performing ones.
Mountain bikes will also offer a wider array of gears than road bikes, which allows riders to better manage all kinds of steep and slippery terrain.
The Derailleur and Sprockets
The pedaling motion rotates the cranksets, feeding the chain through the derailleur, which prevents the chain from catching and allows the bike to switch between gears. It does this by moving the chain up and down various sprockets, each one representing a gear.
This is another very important component of a mountain bike, and they typically consist of three parts. 1, the brake levers, located at the handlebars, 2, the cables that connect the levers to the brakes, and 3, the actual braking mechanism, which are the brake pads or discs that tighten against the rim (for pads) or the hub (for discs) to stop the bike or slow it down.
Saddle and Seat Post
The seat post is basically what holds the saddle on one end, with the other end inserted into the seat tube. It can be adjusted by loosening the seat post clamp and sliding it up and down depending on the rider’s height.
As its name suggests, it’s where the rider grips his hands to steer the bike. This is also where the brake levers and shifters will be located, allowing the rider easy access to these while on the move.
There are different kinds of handlebars, but typically mountain bikes will be fitted with either a flat bar or a riser bar. A flat bar, contrary to what its name suggests, isn’t perfectly straight but has a small amount of back sweep to make handling them more comfortable. Riser bars, on the other hand, have handles that rise upward to each side, making the rider’s grip position higher than where the stem clamps onto the bar.
Modern mountain bikes come with either a front fork suspension or a dual suspension system (that is to say, both front and rear suspensions). The suspension allows the bike to absorb bumps by moving the wheels up and down to adjust to the terrain. It also protects the rider from the shock of a jump.