Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Talk the talk Part 1: The Frame

Taking the step from knowing nothing to knowing something about a given topic is not always as easy as it sounds. When it comes to bicycles every part of the bike has a specific name and purpose and varies from bike to bike depending on style, quality, and price. In this short(ish) article I hope to introduce some common phrases and terms that are used when talking about bicycles or bicycle related accessories or activities. So when you go talk to your LBS you won't feel totally out of the loop.

Bringing us to our first...

LBS is an abbreviation for Local Bike Shop. Talking to knowledgeable staff at an LBS can make a world of difference when choosing bikes or accessories. But go to a couple to make sure you're not getting biased opinions.

Fully Loaded Touring is used to describe the type of trip done on a bicycle over many days ranging from a week or two, to a month or two and more. These bikes carry everything the person will need for survival in a combination of front and rear panniers, and/or a bike trailer.

Panniers are first of all pronounced like "pan-yay" not "pan-ner" as some people would believe. It is a french word, as the french basically invented touring, meaning "basket" or "bags" which were used to carry bread on a bicycle. They mount on racks attached to the bicycle frame.

Now I'll get into the actual bicycle. As I was writing this it looked to be a lot longer than I would have liked so I am going to do it in parts to not bore you all to death and as well so I'm not up all night writing.

As an example bike I will use an image of my current internet girlfriend whom I hope to meet soon and is just as beautiful in real life as in her pictures, the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

First the basics, I'll point out the name of specific parts of the frame.

The Top Tube (a), Down Tube (b), and Seat Tube (c) make up the main triangle of the bike. This area is used for mounting water bottles, pumps, locks, and sometimes small frame bags. The second triangle is made by the Seat Stays (e), and the Chain Stays (f) along with the Seat Tube, and is obviously the mount point for your rear wheel. This area is often occupied by a rear rack for carrying things. The Fork (d), is not technically apart of the frame, but will often come with a "frame set." Obviously your front wheel is mounted here but it's also occupied by front racks from time to time, used for carrying bags. We then have the Seat Post (w/ seat aka saddle) (g) and the Handle Bars (h) while not part of the frame, very basic components.

These names are important to know when deciding which bike is right for you. Every bike has a slightly different Frame Geometry, meaning the lengths of each of the mentioned frame tubes. Shortening or lengthening anyone of the tubes changes the feel and fit of the bike, so be sure to check the geometry specifics. The most basic measurement you will have to know is the Frame Size, which is typically taken from the top of the seat tube (where the seat post starts) to the middle of the Crank, that is the silver thingy at the bottom of the seat tube.

But that will bring us to Part 2: Components where I will introduce and explain the drive-train and braking systems of the bike, and then on to Part 3: Wheels and Tires.

Obviously these next couple of entries aren't for people who are already experienced, but more for the people who are teetering on the idea of buying a bike this winter and getting into it next summer. Hopefully this will be a push they need.



  1. I'm going to have a lot of competition when this 'internet girlfriend' arrives.


  2. -this is jordon-

    hey did you see those bamboo frames for bikes that was featured on daily planet? they're supposedly stronger, lighter, and causes less fatigue cause the bamboo absorbs vibrations better (or some thing). google it, it looks pretty neat.

  3. Interesting! Thanks for bringing it up, don't think it will catch on bigtime though, probably more of a limited thing.

  4. no it's not actually. its a new company, wish i could remember the exact name. but they're also going over to africa to teach locals how to build them themselves out of charity.

    im sure if you google bamboo bike farmes + daily planet you could find it.