Mountain Bike Parts:
Know What They Are and
Know What You Want


Mountain bike parts... so many brands, types, bells, and whistles. How do I began to choose? If you feel this way, you are not alone. This site will answer that question by providing information to help you choose the best mountain bike components. If you are like me, you may wonder why you have to worry about bike parts. Can't I just buy a bike that the salesperson or website recommends and trust that the parts are good?


Yes, you can do that, but it's a good idea to have some knowledge of mountain bike parts so you know what the salesperson or website is talking about and you don't get ripped off by either paying too much for something or paying for something you don't need.



Another reason I like to have some knowledge of mountain bike parts is because I may want to upgrade certain components on my bike when they wear out or maybe I want to go with a lighter part to increase my speed.



In order to determine what types of mountain bike parts to look for when buying a mountain bike, the first thing you need to consider is what type of riding you are planning to do. Do you want a hardtail, full suspension, downhill, or freeride mountain bike? If you are unsure at this point, you may wish to check out our page on Types of Mountain Bikes.



The mountain bike parts that are most important to consider include the following:

Frame
Shocks
Wheels
Tires
Handlebars
Stem
Brakes
Pedals
Saddle
Chain

mountain-bike-parts-diagram

www.BikeParts.com: Over 25,000 parts from over 400 bicycle manufacturers. BikeParts.com is your one stop Internet shop for mountain bike, road bike, and bmx bike parts.

Frame

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The mountain bike frame is the foundation of your bike and supports all the other mountain bike parts. It is important to have a good solid frame that fits you.


Mountain bike frames come in different materials like steel alloy, aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium. Depending upon your budget and whether you are planning to do cross-country riding, all mountain, or downhill/freeride mountain biking, each have advantages and varying costs. Learn more about frame choices and proper fit.


Shocks

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Unless you choose to ride a mountain bike with a rigid frame, your bike will have some type of suspension in the fork. If you choose a full-suspension mountain bike, you will also have a rear shock that is built into the frame.


Travel is the amount of movement a fork or rear shock has when it is depressed. Cross country mountain bikes typically have around 4 or 5 inches of travel. All mountain often have around 5 or 6 inches of travel. Downhill and freeride mountain bikes usually have between 6 to 10 inches of travel. There is overlap in these categories, especially as bikes are able to be built lighter and stronger with advances in technology.


There are basically two types of mountain bike shocks, coil and air sprung. Coil shocks have a metal coil and air sprung have a chamber. Coil shocks are tougher and can take more abuse, but they are heavier. They are common in downhill and freeride mountain bikes. Air sprung shocks can't take as much abuse as coil shocks, but they are lighter and they have more adjustment options for different riding conditions and preferences. Learn more about suspension system features and adjustment.


Wheels

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As a beginner, I had no clue about mountain bike wheels.. I have found that having good quality wheels on my mountain bike gives me more control on the downhill and more efficiency on the climbs. it also makes my ride smoother and safer.


Mountain bike wheels are stronger, stiffer, and wider than road bike wheels so they can withstand bumps, obstacles, and jumps. Mountain bike wheels are usually 26 inches or 29 inches. 650b wheel size is recently receiving more attention, which is around 27.5 inches.


Mountain bike wheels are made up of a hub, rim, and spokes. Each of these components can be made from different types of materials and construction, which influence the weight and strength of the wheel. These factors help determine your ride quality.


There are wheels that are better for some types of riding than others; for example, wheels suited for downhill riding would be thicker and stronger than those suited for cross-country mountain biking. Learn more about wheels.


Tires

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Mountain bike tires are wider and knobbier than road bike tires so they have better traction and stability for trail riding. Mountain bike tires attach to the mountain bike rims. Most have tubes that go inside the tire and are inflated. Please visit our page on tubes to learn more about choosing tubes for your tires. There are also tubeless tire systems available, in which the tire is sealed to the rim and filled with air. These systems are growing in popularity.


There is a huge selection of mountain bike tires on the market today. Depending upon what type of riding and terrain you are planning to do, it is important to find the tire with right balance of weight, durability, traction, and rolling resistance.


For example, if you are planning on riding in soft conditions with loose rock, you would want a tire with more knobs than if you were going to mostly be riding in hardpacked conditions or muddy conditions. There are also differences between cross country and downhill/freeride mountain bike tires. Learn more about choosing tires.


Handlebars

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Mountain bike handlebars are another important mountain bike part. The handlebars are what you use to steer your bike. Having the right handlebars and having them adjusted correctly is crucial for riding comfort.


As a general rule of thumb, the handlebars of the mountain bike should be about 4 to 6 inches wider than your shoulders for cross-country riding, but wider for downhill or freeride. The wider the handlebars, the more control, but the slower the turning response time.


Mountain bike handlebars are made of many different materials and come in a variety of shapes and styles. Some are bent in the middle section so that they rise up on the ends and some are flat all the way across. Learn more about handlebars


Stem

The mountain bike stem connects the handlebars to the steering tube of the fork. It helps determine the distance of your reach to the handlebars and your position on your mountain bike, which influences how your bike rides and handles on the trail.


There are different lengths and angles of mountain bike stems that can be used to customize the fit of your mountain bike, change the style of your bike, or to tailor your bike for better climbing or downhill performance. Learn more about mountain bike stems.


Brakes

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When I was a kid, I was riding my bike in the rain one time and my brake pads and wheel rim got so wet that the brakes didn't grip. I knew I needed to stop, but didn't have a clue what to do. I panicked and ended up riding into a stump and flipping over my handlebars.


Imagine having that happen while flying down a wicked fun but treacherous singletrack. Pretty scary thought, but it helps me realize the importance of having good brakes.


Brakes are an important mountain bike part not only because they provide stopping power, but they also help you regulate your speed, control your bike, and make it possible to do advanced tricks and techniques.


Types of mountain bike brakes include disc brakes and rim brakes. Disc brakes perform best, even in wet or muddy conditions, but are heavier and more expensive than rim brakes.


Rim brakes do not perform as well as disc brakes in muddy and wet conditions because they rub against the rim to provide stopping power and the rim is exposed to the mud and water you are riding through.


For more information on brakes, including mechanical vs. hydraulic disc brakes, please visit our page on disc brakes


Pedals

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Mountain bike pedals are another important mountain bike part. Choosing the right pedals for your type of riding makes your ride safer, provides more pedaling efficiency, and gives you more control with your bike.


Clipless pedals, cage pedals, and platform pedals are the three basic types of pedals.


With clipless pedals, you have a specially made mountain bike shoe with a cleat on the bottom of it that attaches to the pedal. Shimano is an example of a brand that makes clipless pedals; however, there are other companies that make great pedals. For more information, check out our page describing features of different brands of clipless pedals.


Cage or toe-clip pedals have straps or metal cages on the front of them that you put your feet in. These pedals are more difficult to get your feet out of so they are best for very casual riding.


Platform pedals are flat pedals that do not attach to your foot. They sometimes have metal pins poking out of them so that your shoe can grip onto them.


Learn more about choosing pedals.


Saddle

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The mountain bike saddle is a very important mountain bike part because it adds comfort to your ride. Without a good bike seat, your ride is not only uncomfortable, but a real pain in the...well, you know. It often takes a ride or two to adjust to biking and it is normal to have a little soreness, but after that break-in period, a mountain bike seat should not be at all painful.


When I first started riding, I wondered why my mountain bike didn't come with a softer seat. The saddle on my bike seemed really small and did not have a lot of padding. I found out that more padding does not mean more comfort.


One reason many riders have aches and pains when they ride is because they don't have their bike seat adjusted properly. To learn more about what to look for in a bike seat and how to adjust it properly, check out our page on bike seats.


Bicycle Chain

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The mountain bike chain is a very important mountain bike part, but it is often neglected, which can cause problems leading to expensive repairs down the road. To learn tips on caring for your bicycle chain, please visit our Mountain Bike Chain page.





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Get Your Free
"How to Mountain Bike"
Ebook

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Receive this eBook, "How to Mountain Bike" absolutely free when you subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, "Attack the Singletrack!". It's loaded with mountain biking tips.


Check out examples of previously sent newsletters.

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)
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Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
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