The mountain bike initially looks like an intimidating piece of mechanical engineering, but once you get familiar with it you’ll find it’s not so hard to maintain and even repair on your own. There will always be certain advanced aspects that are better left to the professionals, but most of the bike’s parts are things that you can work on by yourself with just a little knowledge and practice.
We’ll give you a quick overview of each of the major mountain bike parts, starting from the top and working on down.
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As should be evident from the name, this is the thing you sit on. Most bike saddles are designed to be easily removed by loosening one or two set screws with a hex wrench. It’s important to find a saddle that is comfortable for your build, or your butt will literally get chapped!
The seat post is what the saddle is mounted to. At the opposite end, it slides into the frame by way of the seat tube. This requires little maintenance but an occasional cleaning and re-greasing, done more often if the bike is regularly used in wet conditions.
3. Seat Tube
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The seat tube is part of the bicycle frame, usually welded directly to the other mountain bike parts that make up the frame. The seatpost slides directly into this.
4. Seat Stay
This is the frame piece that connects the seat tube to the rear fork. As with the rest of the frame, it will not require much maintenance other than cleaning.
5. Top Tube
The top tube is the bar just beneath the saddle that connects the seat tube to the head tube. It is also sometimes called the cross-bar. Mountain bike top tubes are nearly always sloped downward toward the seat tube.
6. Head Tube
At one end the head tube connects to the stem (which holds the handlebars) and at the other end it connects to the front fork. This is a particularly important part of the frame as it contains the bearings that allow the front fork to freely pivot. These do require some periodic cleaning and lubrication, and eventually the bearings may need to be replaced.
You may also hear this part referred to as a “goose neck.” It is the go-between piece for the handlebars and the head tube. You’ll find this needs fairly frequent cleaning and greasing if you do strenuous rides as it tends to catch dripping sweat.
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Bicycle handlebars come in a wide variety of styles, and the stem is generally designed so that you can change them out yourself without much mechanical knowledge, though it will be more time-consuming than changing out parts of a mountain bike like a saddle or a tire.
9. Down Tube
The down tube is the part of the frame that runs between the head tube and the seat tube. Along with the other frame pieces, you’ll likely never repair or replace this — if the frame is bent you’ll either bring it to a mechanic or just replace the bike entirely.
On modern bicycles, the front wheel attachment is actually the only part that is shaped like a fork. The rear wheel attachment is usually actually a set of triangular tubes, but it is still often referred to as the “rear fork” just due to long tradition.
11. Shocks (optional)
Not all mountain bikes will have shocks, but those meant for heavy off-road use almost certainly will. Shocks are mounted between the seat stay and the down tube and help to absorb impact.
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Also referred to as the “gears,” this is the transmission system that turns your pedaling into motive power. This will be one of the parts of the bike that regularly gets the most dirty and will require regular cleaning and lubrication. The chain is also part of the derailleur system and should be inspected regularly for worn links.
The crank works as part of the drivetrain to make the bike go. Periodically wiggle them to see if they’re loose in addition to cleaning them.
There’s not much to say about the humble bicycle pedal, though they can make for some of the most interesting custom mountain bike parts. They will need to be replaced from time to time, more often if they are exposed to road salt in the winter as they can corrode. The threading should also be re-lubricated at least once a year if the pedals are not replaced.
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The tire is the outer rubber portion of the wheel, protecting the inflated tube from the rigors of the road. They are generally separate but there are some models that incorporate tire and tube directly together. Tires will need to be replaced periodically as they lose their tread, and you’ll want to keep an eye on the air pressure as low pressure will slow you down.
The rim is the metal hoop that holds both the tire and the tube. Rims need to be cleaned periodically to keep the bike braking properly, and this will also reduce wear on the brake pad.
The wheel spokes don’t really require much thought or effort unless the wheel feels loose or is rubbing against the brake pads. If the spokes turn out to be loose, it’s likely going to be easier to just get the wheel trued at a bike shop, as it usually costs very little money.