Parts of a Mountain Bike: Becoming an MTB Expert
Whether you’re aspiring to participate in the next MTB World Championship, an avid mountain biker, or just curious about mountain bikes, one of the most important things about riding a mountain bike other than the actual skills is to know the anatomy of the bike.
This brings us to wonder what exactly are the parts of a mountain bike.
For a vehicle that just looks nothing more than tires and a thin frame, you would be surprised to know how many different parts an MTB consists of.
What Are the Parts of a Mountain Bike?
Mountain bikes often tend to have more features than regular bikes.
It is important to understand every different part of it to make the most out of it.
Below, we have compiled a detailed overview of the mountain bike’s parts right from the valves to derailleurs to pedal and the brakes.
Let’s start with the single biggest and possibly the most important part of the mountain, the frame.
This can be considered as the bike’s backbone.
It is the largest part of your bike, and all the other parts on it are joined to it.
The quality of the frame will determine the quality of the bike.
As such, make sure you’re reading up a lot about the bike’s frame before you settle on one.
Most mountain bike frames are available in two different types of materials.
Aluminum or even aluminum mix is considered to be common and affordable.
Bike frames made from this material tend to be strong and light, so it is popular.
Carbon is the other material used to make bike frames.
This is strong and light, but what makes it better than aluminum is shock absorbent.
It goes without saying that bike frames made from this material are expensive but worth spending money on.
Every mountain bike frame will consist of six basic parts. These include three tubes, two stays, and a fork.
The tubes are part of the frame’s main triangle: the top, down, and the seat tubes.
Along with the seat tube, the chainstay, and the seat stay, they make up the frame’s rear triangle.
Do note that there are two each of the stays, which total to four.
They all connect at the rear wheel hub.
The fork in the front is the two-legged part located at the front of the frame. This part is what keeps the front tire in its place.
Every mountain bike comes with two wheels, one in the front and the other in the rear.
You would think that wheels don’t have much to be talked about.
However, you will see that different parts make up the bike wheel when you take a closer look at them.
The rubber tire is the most obvious part that everyone is aware of.
This is available in various sizes that depend on the terrain you will be riding it on.
The tire itself consists of two different parts.
The inner part that you have to fill with pressurized air.
The other is the tire’s outer part, which is stronger and thicker and has grooves to offer the rider a better grip.
The entire tire is connected to the wheel’s rim, which is the wheel’s outer hoop.
Same as the frame, these rims are made from either aluminum or carbon.
Aluminum is the common and cheaper material found in budget-friendly bikes.
On the contrary, high-end models feature carbon fiber rims.
There is the inner tire’s valve, which is used to blow up the tire.
This valve comes out of the rim through a small hole.
You will find spokes attached to the tire’s rim. They converge towards the wheel’s center, which is referred to as the hub.
This is an important part of the wheel that contains ball bearing and the axle.
3. Pedals, Cranks, and Bottom Bracket
When the cranks and pedals are pushed, they make the chain spin around, making the bike move forward.
The cranks and pedals are attached to each. These are then connected to the bottom bracket.
This bracket is where you will find the seat tube, down tube, and the seat stay coming together.
It contains the bearings and a spindle which allow the spindle and cranks to spin.
Cranks and pedals may be considered one of the bike’s most important parts that are often taken for granted.
To avoid that, you must consider a couple of things when you look for a new mountain bike.
Firstly, you need to choose between two pedal types, flat and clip pedals.
Flat pedals come with or without teeth and are ideal for new riders.
On the other hand, clip pedals secure your feet to the pedals.
These are necessary if you are looking for more power to push the pedal.
They will let you push the pedal down with one leg while pulling the other upward with the other leg.
You can also choose pedals that have clips on one side and are flat on the other.
The cranks on the bike are also something you should consider.
Shorter cranks will need less power to pedal.
Shorter cranks are a good choice when you are going downhill and over a lot of obstacles.
4. Chain and Gears
One of the most important parts of the mountain bike is the chain and gear.
A good set of gear is what separates the high-quality mountain bikes from the average ones.
When looking for a new mountain bike, make sure you’re paying close attention to the gear’s quality.
A good quality mountain bike will come with two sets of gear.
One will be located at the front, whereas the other will be at the rear wheel.
The one in the front consists of either two or three chain wheels along with the front derailleur.
The derailleur’s responsibility is to shift the chain from one chain wheel and onto the next.
As a rider, you will not use the gear set placed in the front as often as the rear since it consists of the big gear.
Every single shift in the gear will result in a massive difference in the pedaling power.
The rear gear set is responsible for precise and short shifts in the gear.
It contains smaller and more chain wheels than the one in the front.
Since this is the gear set you use more often, it must be made using high-quality materials.
Even here, the derailleur will take care of the chain shifting from one wheel to the next.
The derailleur in the rear is larger than the one in the front and hangs down from the rear wheel’s center.
As a rider, you can control the derailleurs and gear set from the shift lever located on the handlebar.
The mountain bike’s brake system is made up of three different components.
The brake cable helps connect the handlebar brake levers to the discs or the brake pads.
Let us briefly talk about what brake pads and discs exactly are.
- Brake Pads
These can be found at the top of both the rear and front wheels, near the seat stay and front fork, respectively.
When you pull the brake lever, the pads located on each side of the wheel will get pushed together.
These squeeze the rim of the wheel as it spins, slowing it down.
- Disc Brakes
These can be found around the hub of the bike’s wheels.
They are a more modern and highly effective braking system.
They also use pads to slow down the bike’s speed.
The difference here is that the pads move onto the disc instead of the wheel’s rim.
When looking for a mountain bike, look for one that features disc brakes.
They tend to be more effective and consistent regardless of the trail conditions, temperature, and rim conditions.
6. Seat Post and Saddle
Every bike will come with a seat post, which will slide into the seat tube.
You can adjust it either up or down to accommodate the rider’s height.
This is secured in place by tightening the seat post clamp.
The saddle is placed on top of the seat post. It must be comfortable and capable of wicking water and moisture.
As the name suggests, the handlebar is what you hold onto when you ride and maneuver the bike.
This steers the front wheels and contains the shift levers and brake.
Every different type of bike comes with a different type of handlebar.
The most common one found on mountain bikes, though, is the flat bar.
This is a straight bar that has little to no downward or upward curves.
Many mountain bikes, especially the modern ones, come with suspensions either in the rear or front, or even both.
The suspension in the front is placed in the front fork. The rear is more intricate and placed either in the stays or the seat tube.
Mountain bikes that have a rear suspension tend to have a more complicated frame.
What Is the Difference Between a Mountain Bike and a Normal Bike?
Untrained eyes might not be able to see the difference between a mountain bike and a normal bike.
On that note, here are some of the most significant differences between these two bikes:
The biggest difference between a regular bike and the mountain bike is the intended use.
Regular bikes or road bikes are mainly designed for the pavement.
On the contrary, the mountain bike is built to tackle rugged and tough terrains.
Normal bikes have a lightweight design. As such, they are highly responsive to the smoother pavement.
These bikes also feature thin tires that reduce rolling resistance and increase speed.
On the other hand, mountain bikes are made to conquer off-road terrains like snow, gravel, dirt, and mud.
That is because mountain bikes are built extremely well, from the top to the bottom.
Wheels and Tires
The wheels are one of the best giveaways between both these bikes.
Mountain bikes often come with stronger wheels. They also have thicker tires that can help resist any damage from impact.
Mountain bike wheels have a size ranging from 26 to 29 inches. They also always come with raised lugs.
On the contrary, normal bike tires are extremely narrow. Plus, they almost always come without lugs.
That is because of the bike’s intended use.
Is It Cheaper To Buy or Build a Mountain Bike?
Building your own mountain bike is a more expensive affair than buying one.
That is, of course, unless you can find all the different mountain bike parts at a wholesale rate or find the parts at a cheaper rate.
What Makes Building Your MTB Expensive
The cost of the parts is not the only factor to consider when building a mountain bike.
Even your mechanical skills are important. If this is your first time building a bike, you are likely going to make mistakes.
That will result in you constantly buying more replacements. This adds up to the costs of building the bike.
If the parts itself aren’t going to be an issue, you will find that you need special tools to build your mountain bike.
The problem is that your regular toolbox will certainly not have these tools.
As such, you would need to purchase the said tools.
Why Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own MTB
Building a bike can also be more affordable than buying one. That is if you’re eyeing for a premium mountain bike.
Mainly because a premium quality MTB is backed with a hefty price tag.
In that case, building your own mountain bike will end up being cheaper since you were anyway going to spend a large amount.
We are sure you’re surprised to have learned that there are so many mountain bike parts.
Knowing all these will help you understand your bike better.
It will help you become a better rider and be able to deal with any issues with it.
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