Bike riders fall into two general categories - those who just want to get onto the bike and go, and have someone else do any repairs, and those who enjoy tinkering with the bike almost as much as they do the biking itself.
For either category, it really is essential to be familiar with biking terminology.
Rather than listing this terminology alphabetically, I'm going to list it by where it's found on the bike.
So, let's start at the front of the bike.
The Front of the bike
The handlebar is attached to the steering tube by the STEM. The stem comes in different lengths, depending on how high up you'd like the handlebars to be.
You steer the bike by the handlebars which are attached to the STEERING TUBE, better known as the HEAD TUBE or HEADSET. This is the shortest tube on the bike, running down vertically. The top tube, running horizontally from your seat, is attached to the headset, as is the down tube.
The head tube is also connected to the FRONT FORK - the mechanism that holds your front wheel in place, and to which your FRONT SHOCK is attached - assuming you have a shock absorber on the front of y our bike.
The wheels consist of a number of different parts. 24. The HUB is the center of the wheel, to which the spokes are attached. From this the spokes radiate out and are attached to the RIM. By taking off the tire you can "true" the wheel by tightening or loosening these spokes. The more spokes you have, the sturdier your tire will be. The spokes are attached to the rim by NIPPLES - threaded receptacles that keep the spokes secure.
Attached to your handlebar are BRAKE LEVERS, which come in various designs. The left lever, of whatever design, will activate the front brake, and the right side handles the rear brake. The BRAKE CABLES transfer the "instruction" to break to the breaks themselves - whether they are
The Middle of the bike
The TOP TUBE runs horizontally from the front headset to your seat. It is the length of this top tube that defines how far forward you have to lean to reach the handlebar, so it's important that you get a bike with a top tube of the correct length for your torso..although the STEM at the front of the bike will help also. It is for the top tube that you'll want your "standover clearance."
The DOWN TUBE runs from the headset down to the BOTTOM BRACKET. Altogether, these three tubes form a triangle - which is what gives strength to the bike.
The bottom bracket is connected to the SEAT TUBE, the tube that runs vertically downward and on which you sit, once you've placed your SEAT or SADDLE post at the appropriate height into that tube.
At the bottom of the seat tube is your CRANKSET - the machinery that provides power to your bike when you pedal, or crank. It's a "set", which means there are things attached to it - the chain ring, on which the chain rests, the CRANK ARMS, which are the levers that extend downward and onto which the PEDALS are secured. A SPINDLE connects the crank set to the free rotating axle.
The BOTTOM BRACKET attaches the crankset to the body of a bike - and its to this that the DOWN TUBE is attached, remember.
The back of the bike
The chain runs from the middle of the bike to the back of the bike, running along the CHAIN STAY. The CHAIN RING is a set of toothed rings attached to the crank, which hold the chain. If you've got a bike with many speeds, then you've got DERAILLEURs as well, which is the mechanism for moving the chain from one sized cog to another, to either make it easier or more difficult to pedal, depending on the size of the rings.
The chain stay are tubes that run horizontally from the crank set to the rear wheel cogset. The BACK STAY is the tube that runs from the top of the seat tube to the rear wheel, where it forms a triangle with the chain stays.
The IDLER PULLEY is attached to the REAR DERAILLEUR, or cog set, and provides the tension necessary to keep the chain tight.
If you've got a dual suspension bike, then you'll have a REAR SHOCK - or shock absorber.
A bit more about wheels. The wheels are attached to the frames by means of a SKEWER, a metal rod that goes through the hub and is attached to the DROPOUTS (slots in the front fork and rear triangle where the axles of the wheels attach).
Alastair Hamilton is the author of many articles on different web publications, with subjects like bicycle parts published online for http://www.bikecyclingreviews.com A website with tips on mountain bike reviews.