The components are, together with the frame, the fundamental part of a bicycle. Today the bicycle components market is one of the most powerful and, therefore, year after year we find them more sophisticated and with better competitive advantages. The most prominent components of a bicycle are the wheels, the drivetrain (cassettes, chains, chainsets, chainrings, etc.), the brakes, the handlebars, the forks and rear shocks, the saddles and the tyres.
How to choose the components of a bicycle?
For all components we must take into account the manufacturer, which should preferably be of recognised category. From here, the price and characteristics will vary depending on the model.
First, we must consider the use : recreational, transport or sports. In the first two cases, it is better to bet on resistance, comfort and, above all, simplicity. Bicycles for sporting use, starting from a certain range, tend to have mechanical components that are too complex, may not be necessary and that require more maintenance. For sporting use, always take into account your level of fitness and the type of cycling you will be doing.
In the case of the MTB , the most important components would be the front suspension, the rear shock (in case of double suspension), the front and rear derailleurs and the wheels. Depending on whether we like more forest tracks or trails and rocky descents we will choose a type of suspension with more or less travel. We can also choose our cranks and chainrings depending on whether we are going to ride on steep and difficult terrain, since several gears are required, or in the city or on simple roads, where only one or two gears may be required. 26 inch wheels are the standard for downhill, freeride and BMX bikes, while 29 inch wheels are increasingly popular for endurance, cross country or trail cycling. 29 inch wheels have the advantage that they improve pedal power, offering more acceleration and better traction, but on the other hand they are heavier and more difficult to manoeuvre. Therefore, the last generation of wheels, are the 27.5 inches, with the smae advantages of traction and acceleration as the 29 inch ones, but without adding excessive weight or reducing maneuverability. Mountain bike handlebars can be flat or upright. The former favours aerodynamics on the bike, since keeping the arms closer together and holding a less upright position allows the cyclist to reach higher speeds and increases the traction of the front wheel on uphill tracks, by being more inclined over the handlebars. Upright or riser handlebars increase comfort and stability by placing the arms further apart and the body more upright. They also increase control over the bicycle and add safety on descents. For this reason it is rare to see flat handlebars on bicycles with double suspension. Road bike handlebars are for holding a more inclined position on the bicycle. The hands can adopt four different positions that will change depending on the gradient of the road.
The components of a road bike are the pedals, the derailleurs, the brakes and the gear shifters. Their prices vary depending on their weight and precision.
10-speed shifters are the standard for medium to high range road bikes, although some bikes offer 11-speed options. Starting bikes have 8 or 9 speeds. Choosing between double or triple chainsets (2 or 3 chainrings in the front) will depend on how and where you are going to ride your bike. Triple chainsets offer a wider range of gear changes, making ascents easier. Experienced cyclists are usually strong enough to use double chainsets. Those with less experience, or urban cyclists who ride with their bikes loaded, should look for bikes with triple chainsets. Most non-competitive bicycles are assembled with the so-called Compact chainset; two slightly smaller chainrings, usually of 34 and 50 teeth, this allows cyclists to tackle practically any type of route even if their physical state is not optimal.
The wheels are the star component of road bikes. The total weight and speed of the bike depend to a large extent on them. Carbon fiber and aluminum wheels are the most common. The use of aerodynamic or lenticular wheels are also common, especially on track or triathlon bikes. They have a high resistance to air, especially when spinning at high speeds.
Regarding the brakes , hydraulic discs have been introduced in mountain bikes and it is rare to find any bicycles with rim brakes or V-Brakes as standard. In road bicycles, rim or caliper brakes (or speed reducers) predominate, and disc brakes are only being introduced in cyclo-cross because of their greater power on wet terrain.
When it comes to tyres , tubeless ones will offer us a better performance than clinchers, by reinforcing the puncture protection thanks to the action of the liquid inside the tyre. Resistance and comfort are the main advantages of tubeless tires, despite the greater complexity involved in terms of assembly or maintenance. Another type of tire is tubular which are noramlly used for competition. With an inner tube completely wrapped in the tyre, they allow for better tracing power in bends, absorption of vibrations and comfort.
As for the pedals , for sports use it is better for them to be automatic; they improve the performance on the bicycle, allowing more strength to be transferred with the legs. In addition, they prevent injuries by keeping the knee always in the same position. For in the city it is much more comfortable to use any classic platform pedal.
The saddle is a component that must be chosen personally. The width should be set according to the distance between the ischia (the lower bones of the pelvis), which in the case of women is usually greater, and the inclination of the body when pedaling. As we lean our body forward with a more sporting position, the distance between the ischia decreases. The most important of all is to sit by placing the ischium in the widest part of the saddle, this will ensure that the perineal and genital area is free of compressions ensuring a good blood flow to the legs.
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