Mountain Bike Part Guide
BMX Bike Parts • Mountain Bike Parts • Road Bike Parts
The varied components of a mountain bike, especially the frame, wheels, and suspension, have been developed to meet the specific needs of the mountain bike rider.
The frame is one of the most important parts of the mountain bike. It determines the handling quality, ride quality, weight, and size of a bike. Every other part is attached to the frameset so when purchasing new parts it is important to ensure that they are compatible.
Mountain bike wheels are wider, and their tires are knobbier, than those on a road bike; they usually have a diameter of 26 inches. The hubs may allow for disc brakes to be mounted. Some wheels are disc-only and do not allow for v-brakes.
Suspension is an extremely important aspect of any mountain bike. Shock absorbers come in different sizes, but most cross country riders choose forks that allow between three and four inches in travel. Rear suspension is often dictated by the frame builder, and it is usually best to stick with the rear shock that is provided with a dual suspension frame.
Mountain bike saddles are usually built with a narrower rear than a road saddle, allowing the rider to slide backward when riding down a steep hill. These saddles may have leather covers and Kevlar sides for abrasion resistance.
Handlebars are made from aluminum or carbon fiber. High quality bars should be both light and strong. They are typically straight with a slight sweep back; they may have a rise to allow for a more upright riding position. The handlebar has a large effect on the handling and comfort of a mountain bike, and it should be chosen with care.
The headset is the bearing assembly that allows the fork to turn. It is one of the least noticed parts of any bicycle but is very important, especially if the rider is fairly aggressive. A poor quality headset will quickly wear out and prevent the bicycle from handling properly.
Mountain bike pedals are designed for cleats that are recessed into the sole of mountain bike shoes. Cross country pedals are small and lightweight. They are double sided, enabling the rider to click into either side of the pedal. Downhill or free riding pedals have a platform around the clipless part, which prevents the rider's foot from slipping off.
Disc or v-brakes are common on mountain bikes. Disc brakes may be cable-controlled or fluid-controlled, and they have very strong stopping power. However, they weigh slightly more than v-brakes and require special wheels.
The drivetrain, consisting of a chain, cassette, crankset, bottom bracket, and derailleurs, is designed for a wide range of gear ratios. Most mountain bikes come with three gears in the front and nine in the rear, for a total of twenty seven speeds.
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