Biking Glossary

Biking Explanations

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Aerobars -- Aerodynamically designed handlebars that point toward the front of the bike and have elbow or arm rests.

Ankling -- Pedaling technique which helps build speed and efficiency. For this technique, toes should be pointed slightly downward at the bottom of the stroke, slightly upward at the top of the stroke.

Arm Signals -- Also called hand signals. The direction in which the arm is positioned to indicate the route you are turning: left, right, slow down or stop.

ATB -- All-Terrain Bicycle; also known as a Mountain Bike.

Axle -- The shaft on which the wheel revolves.



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Bar Ends -- Extensions that can be added on to the handlebars to allow for better and more efficient body positioning  when cruising and climbing.

Bar End Shifter -- A gear-shifting system that is operated by twisting the ends of aerobars.

Bead -- The outside edge of the tire, which is stiffened by a wire.

Bike, Bicycle, Cycle -- A vehicle propelled by human power with two wheels, one in front of the other and having a saddle for the rider. The   handlebar and driven by pedals.

Binder Bolt -- Any bolt used to attach a part to a bicycle.

Bottom bracket -- The mechanism at the bottom of the bicycle frame which holds the spindle and crank.

Brakes -- A lever that helps you to slow down and/or stop.

Brake Shoe -- A rubber pad which stops the bike by pressing on the tire’s rim, creating friction.




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Cables -- Metal wires twisted into cables and sometimes covered with plastic coasting. Cables are used to connect the brake levers to the brakes and to  connect the gear shift levers to the derailleur.

Cadence -- The regular and rhythmic pace at which a cyclist pedals the bike.

Caliper Brakes -- Any bicycle braking system which works by opening and closing two brake shoes on the tire’s rim in a clamping motion, like jaws. Caliper brakes’ hand controls are usually mounted on the handlebars.

Catch Air -- A type of bicycle stunt riding.

Chain -- A connected series of metal links.

Chain Rings -- The toothed wheels that move the bike chain. The chain fits over a chain ring’s teeth. When the rider pedals, the chain ring turns.

Chainset -- The crank, chain rings, and bottom bracket.

Chainstays -- The part of the bicycle frame that runs parallel to the chain. It connects the bottom bracket to the rear dropouts.

Chainwheel -- One or more large gears with teeth, located near the pedals. Also sometimes called the front gear set. The chainwheel is attached to the bottom bracket and crank.

Click Shifting -- A gear shift lever that clicks into position when you have hit the right spot for each gear.

Coaster Brake -- (Sometimes called Foot Brakes.) A brake system located inside the hub of the rear wheel and activated by pedaling backwards.

Cranks -- The two L-shaped metal arms on either side of  the bike that run from the pedals to the bottom bracket axle.

Crossover Bike -- Also called a half-breed, hybrid or city bike, this is a cycle that combines elements of both road bikes and mountain bikes.

Cruiser -- Simple medium or heavyweight single-speed bicycle with coaster brakes and fenders.

Cyclometer -- A measuring tool for a bicycle, usually measuring speed and distance traveled.




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Derailleur -- The mechanism that guides the chain and allows it to be shifted from one gear to another. Derailleur is a French word which means, "to derail" or cause the chain to come off the rail. There are two derailleurs on a mountain bike: front and rear.

Doubletrack -- Trail wide enough for two cyclists to ride side by side.

Down Tube -- Part of the bicycle frame which slants downward at an angle. It runs from the head tube to the bottom bracket.

Dropout -- Small, slotted openings which hold the front and rear wheel axles. On many bikes the dropouts do not appear to be separate parts. They are merely the openings at the ends of two other frame sections: the seat stays and the front fork.




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Fire Road -- A dirt mountain road wide enough for a truck and often used by mountain bikers.

Fork -- The fork is a double-pronged section of the frame which holds the front wheel and houses the steerer tube. Many front forks come equipped with shocks designed to absorb bumps for a smoother ride.

Freestyle -- A type of competition involving stunt riding, usually performed on curved wooden ramps called quarterpipes.

Freewheel -- The set of gears or sprocket wheels attached to the rear wheel of the bike. This allows the rear wheel to keep rolling when you stop pedaling.




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Gear Ratio -- A number which indicates the relationship between two gears and tells you how much work a particular combination of gears will do. To get the gear ratio, divide the number of teeth in the chainwheel by the number of teeth in the freewheel.

Gooseneck -- The handlebar stem, which fits inside the head tube.




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Handlebars -- Use them to steer. This is where your grips, shifters, and brake  levers are mounted.

Headset -- The part of a bicycle that houses the bearings that allow the steerer tube to rotate.

Head Tube -- Short vertical tube at the very front or head of the bike. The hand tube contains the stem (which connect to the handlebars) and the steerer tube from the front fork.

Helmet -- A protective head covering.

Hub -- The part of a wheel that supports the spokes and holds the ball bearings that enable the wheel to spin smoothly. Bicycles have tow hubs, one at the center of each wheel.



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Index Shifting -- A gear-shifting system in which gears can be clicked from position to position, making selection easy.



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  Motocross -- A cross-country bike race held on a dirt track.

Odometer -- A device which measures the distance traveled.




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Paddle -- A lever-like part worked by the foot located in the middle of the bicycle to make it move.

Panniers -- Pouches or saddlebags which are mounted on a bike carrier and used to carry items.

Quick Releases -- Devices that allow you to quickly tighten or loosen your seat post and wheels.


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Reflector -- A device that reflects light, to be located at the front, and back of the bike along with both tires. To make yourself more visible.

Rims -- The two metal hoops on which the tubes and tires are mounted.

Road Bike -- A Lightweight bike with dropped handlebars.




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Saddle, Seat -- A place for the rider to sit on top of the bike.

Seat Post -- The tube that holds the saddle and goes inside the seat tube

Seatstays -- A section of the frame which runs from the seat tube to the rear wheel dropouts.

Seat Tube -- The more or less vertical tube on the bike frame which holds the seat post and saddle.

Sew-Ups -- A kind of tire which is actually sewn around the tube. Also called tubular tires, these are used mostly for racing.

Shifter -- The mechanism that allows you to change gears.  On most mountain bikes, the shifters are on the handlebars.

Shock Absorbers or Suspension -- Springs or other devices on bikes, cars, or other vehicles that absorb bumps and other jolting movements so that the ride feels smoother.

Singletrack -- Trail wide enough for one rider.

Snake Bites -- Slang for the kind of tire puncture that occurs when an underinflated tire flattens from pressure against the wheel rim.

Spin -- To pedal with smooth, fast, and efficient strokes.

Spokes -- The thin metal rods that connect a wheel’s hub to the rim.

Sprocket -- One of the teeth on a gear or cog.

Switchback -- A very tight turn on a road or trail. Also, what a rider does when making one of these tight turns.




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Tandem -- A bicycle for two riders.

Time Trial -- A timed race in which the racers start one at a time and race against the clock. Some times trials measure the distance traveled in a set amount of time. Others measure the time it takes to cycle for a set distance.

Tire -- A hoop or band of metal, rubber, air-filled rubber tube, or the likes, placed around a wheel of a bicycle to form the tread.

Toe Clips -- A small housing on the pedals used to hold the foot on the pedal.

Top Tube -- The top horizontal tube on a bike frame that runs from the head tube to the seat tube.

Touring -- Extended bicycle trips, lasting anywhere from several days to weeks, months or years.

Travel -- The maximum distance a bike’s suspension moves up and down when a rider hits a major bump.

Tridem -- A bicycle for three riders.


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Velodrome -- A track with steep banks or berms, used for bicycle track races.


Washboard -- Soil ripples on a trail that make the ride very bumpy.

Washout -- A water-eroded area on a dirt or gravel trail.

Wheel -- A circular frame arranged to turn on - to roll along to travel smoothly.



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Mountain Biking (Book by: Chris Hayhurst)
Wheels! The Kid’s Bike (Book by: Megan Stine)
Webster’s New World Book Dictionary