Behind the Bike: Bike Buzzwords

Let’s talk lingo – bike lingo, to be exact. Though we wish your Riders’ feet were the only thing to keep their woom running smoothly, there are a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. It’s more than just the pedals and the wheels – there’s the gearing, the groupset, and so much more. If these bike buzzwords don’t sound familiar to you, don’t fret! We’re here to give you all the info you need so you can talk shop like a pro.

 

Familiarizing yourself with these words will win you some bonus points at the bike park, but most importantly, it means you’ll easily be able to handle any technical issues that may come your way. You’ll also gain some extra insights into what makes a woom bike so special.

 

Here’s the woom guide to bike terminology.

How it's all held together

The frame, or skeleton of the bike, is what holds everything together. It’s the sturdy fixture that houses or attaches to all the other necessary parts.

 

At woom, our bike frames are made out of superlight aluminum – making our bikes 40% lighter than the average children’s bikes. This means our bikes are easy to maneuver and even easier to pick up if your Riders’ adventures ever get derailed.

 

To get technical, our frames are made of double-butted aluminum. This special aluminum is what makes our bikes so lightweight yet strong. The term double-butted means that the aluminum is twice as thick at all of the welded joints, but not in the center of the frames’ tubes. This ensures that woom’s bike frames provide strength where it matters, while still having the lightest possible bike.

 

Bike frames are made up of several tubes. There’s the top tube, the seat tube, the downtube, and the headtube. How these tubes fit together and the distance between them determines how the bike performs. Because we want every adventure to be great, we took special care when placing and positioning the tubes on our bikes.


Our bikes feature a curved top tube, which creates a lower center of gravity, making balancing a bit breezier than it would be otherwise. The curved top tube reduces standover height – or how tall you need to be to stand over the bike. With standover height decreased, getting on and off the bike is easier than ever.

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How it moves

Groupsets:

A groupset is essentially all of the components on a bike that move or stop the wheels. This typically includes the derailleur, cassette, crankset, shifters, and brakes. This grouping of components is also sometimes referred to as a gruppo – the Italian word for group.


Click on the tabs below to see the different components in a groupset.

  • Derailleur
  • Shifters
  • Crankset
  • Brakes

Let’s start with the derailleur - the device that moves the chain from one gear to another. It’s important to note that only multi-gear bikes need a derailleur. Because we offer balance bikes and single-speed bikes, not all woom bikes feature this component. The woom 1 and woom 1 PLUS don’t have a drivetrain (pedals, chain, and other connected parts), and therefore don’t have a derailleur. The woom 2 and 3 are single-speed bikes, which means they don’t need a derailleur either. Derailleurs come in at woom 4 bikes and up – when your rider will get their first go at shifting gears!

Now onto shifters. Shifters are the hand-operated control for the derailleurs. They allow you to change gears while riding. Our ORIGINAL woom models with gears (models 4-6) employ something called grip shifters, which entails twisting the shifter to engage the derailleur and get into the right gear. Our OFF and OFF AIR bikes are equipped with trigger shifters, which just take the flick of a lever to change gears.

And just like that, we’re onto the crankset. A crankset is what converts pedaling into a forward motion. Consisting of crank arms (what the pedals attach to) and a chainring (the big gear in the front), the crankset is connected to the bike frame by the bottom bracket, in the lowest, most central part of the frame. When one pedals forward, they turn the crank arm and chainring, causing the wheels to rotate forward. More on cranksets and crank arms later.

 

The chainring is directly connected to the crank arms. Sometimes the combined chainring and crank arm are simply known as a crank. The distance between the crank arms (where the pedals attach) is referred to as the Q-factor. We’ve adapted the Q-factor to suit kids’ narrow hips, which results in a better riding experience for your Rider.

 

Fun fact! The “Q” in Q-factor stands for quack and is a reference to the wide stance ducks use when they waddle – we want to avoid that!

 

Whether pushing forward with tiny feet on a woom 1 or flying down a mountain trail on a woom OFF AIR 6, kids need a safe reliable way to come to a stop on their bike. Although there’s a variety of different braking mechanisms for bikes, most bicycles feature some form of rim brake or disc brake. Disc brakes are commonly seen on mountain bikes as well as motorbikes – they’re known for their efficiency and quick stopping power. Whereas rim brakes apply pressure from the brake pad directly to the wheel’s rim, and disc brakes use pads that squeeze the rotor instead of the rim.

 

Rim brakes come in a variety of forms, with cantilever brakes, caliper brakes, and V-brakes being the most common. All woom ORIGINAL models (woom 1 - woom 6) come equipped with V-brakes, whereas all OFF and OFF AIR models come with disc brakes. For more in depth information on V-brakes and troubleshooting them, check out our blog post Gimme a Brake: Common Brake Problems and How to Solve Them. Whether the bike features V-brakes or disc brakes, you can operate the brakes using the hand-operated brake levers. Particularly in our entry-level woom bikes, we’ve designed our brake levers specifically for their intended users. Our brake levers are kid-sized, color-coded with the brake pads, and feature a reach-adjustment knob to ensure a good fit for a variety of small hands.


Other Components:

Did you know that our pedals are smaller to accommodate kid-sized feet? Their size reduces the possibility of pedals striking the ground and your young one taking a spill, especially when taking a sharp turn.

As for sharp turns, the woom 1-3 models are equipped with steering limiters, which we carefully designed to prevent accidental oversteering. Featuring a detachable rubber ring attached to the fork and the frame, they’re also designed with a breakaway feature. Usually, by the time your Rider breaks free from their steering limiter, they have graduated from needing it. This typically won’t happen until your kiddo is really cranking on their bike.

Back to cranksets – when facing that crank arm forward, it’s possible your young one could pinch their fingers. We know kids are curious (we don’t blame them!), which is why our woom 2s and 3s are equipped with a woom designed chainguard. The chainguard not only keeps fingers safe from the chainring but also eliminates the possibility of getting that annoying oily chain print on your leg while riding.

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How fast it goes

Bike gearing can be confusing. To better understand all the moving parts, first, you have to know what a sprocket is. A sprocket is a metal wheel with teeth, and it is the generic term for chainrings (a.k.a. front sprockets) and cogs (a.k.a. rear sprockets). All pedal bikes (which excludes balance bikes) have at least two sprockets – one chainring and one cog.


The combination of a certain chainring (front sprocket) and a certain cog (rear sprocket) is known as a gear. (If you refer to a sprocket as a gear everyone will know what you’re referring to, but the combination of different sprockets is the actual meaning of a gear when it comes to bicycles). Single-speed bikes (such as our woom 2 or woom 3) only have one gear option, which is to say one front chainring and one rear cog.

However, some bikes have multiple gears, meaning they also have multiple rear cogs and a derailleur to shift the chain from one cog (a.k.a. sprocket) to the next. A cluster of cogs on the rear of a bike is known as a cassette. Our woom 4, 5, and 6 models (ORIGINAL, OFF, and OFF AIR) all feature a cassette consisting of eight different cogs. Those cogs - along with the one chainring - represent the eight gears or “speeds” those bikes feature.

 

Side note! The side of the bike with the chain and sprockets is known as the drive side. We recommend your child either use their kickstand or lay their bike down “drive side up” if they leave it on the ground to avoid damaging the chainring.


As we already mentioned, single-speed bikes have a singular gear. With that in mind, the gearing of a single-speed is even more crucial than the gear choices for multi-speed bikes. When there’s only one gear option, making sure it's appropriate for the Rider is key. Too low and pedals spin out without enough forward motion, and too high of a gear causes frustration when getting started or going up hills. The woom 2 and 3 were designed to offer just the right amount of gearing to learn how to pedal and enough for when your Rider is ready to pick up the speed.

 

Our gearing options on our woom 4, 5, and 6 are designed to empower young Riders to explore further, tackle hills, all while being as safe as possible. Every individual is unique, and especially with children there exists a wide variety of gears that may be ideal for different riders in different situations. To accommodate for this range, we’ve designed their range of gears to allow new riders to quickly learn the ropes while not letting experienced riders max out in top gear.

 

The gear ratio can be defined as the number of revolutions the rear tire makes with one revolution of the pedals. This ratio can be assigned a number value by dividing the number of teeth in the front chainring by the number of teeth in the rear cog. The higher the number, the harder to pedal and the faster you can ride.

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How it rolls

A wheelset is the combined set of rims, tires, spokes, and hubs that makes up the wheels. The rims are the metal outer edge of the wheel and house the tires and tubes inside of their rim walls. On our woom bikes, our rims are made of lightweight aluminum and are double-walled for durability. The spokes are the thin metal rods that connect the rim to the hub, and the number of spokes affects the strength and weight of the tire. We pay careful attention to the spoke count on our tires to ensure they are tough but lightweight.


The hub is the center of the wheel where all the spokes meet and rotate on the axle. Most of our bikes come with a freewheel hub, but our woom 2s come with coaster hubs in order to meet federal guidelines. For a deep dive into hubs, check out our blog post Coaster and Freewheel Hubs: Explained. In order to accommodate kids' smaller hips, the woom 1 - woom 3 original models feature hubs that are narrower than most children’s bikes to create a more comfortable ride.

And some more info on wheels! In order to provide even the youngest riders access to high quality, woom uses tires made by industry leader Schwalbe for all of our bike models. The tread of the tires is designed for youngsters who want to explore different terrain. Rather than being optimized for speed (such as thin, narrow road bike tires), or being optimized for rugged conditions (such as knobby, wide mountain bike tires), our woom ORIGINAL tires are meant to do a bit of everything. Featuring excellent shock absorption and grip, our Schwalbe tires are also extremely durable and feature low rolling resistance.

Inside of most bicycle tires are rubber inner tubes, usually referred to just as simply tubes. When you use an air pump to inflate the tire, you’re actually inflating the tube which expands the tire. When a rider gets a flat, it rarely requires replacement of the tire – more often than not, just the tube will need to be replaced. For more information on fixing flats, check out our FAQ page on the topic.

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How it turns

Without being able to turn or steer, a bike would be impossible to ride. That being said, the headset, stem, and handlebars are three of the most critical components when it comes to steering a bike.

 

Like the connection between the roots of a plant and the flower, the “stem” of a bicycle connects the handlebars to the frame of the bike. Because we know that learning youngsters will occasionally have mishaps on their bikes, we go to lengths to remove any potential precarious elements of the design. That being the case, all woom bikes feature stems with gently sloped angles and no sharp edges. The stems on our larger “big kid bikes” (woom 4-6) also feature another point of innovation - our Vario stems. The Vario stem allows for quick and easy adjustments so your Rider can optimize their fit as they grow with the bike.  

 

The choice of handlebar design in woom bikes is very intentional too and changes depending on the model. For our entry-level balance bike, the woom 1 features an integrated stem and handlebar. Because these components are combined, there aren’t any protruding bolts or sharp angles that could cause any additional harm if your child were to get into a crash. The woom 1 has mostly flat handlebars with a slight rise to promote an upright stable riding position. For our growing riders, the handlebar featured on the woom 2 and 3 is a high-rise handlebar. Lastly, the woom 4, 5, and 6 feature adjustable handlebars thanks to the Vario stem. In each case, the handlebars’ width and rise are designed to ensure comfort and stability, taking into account the actual dimensions of typical children at each age range.

 

All of our woom handlebars come with our woom Ergo grips. Designed specifically to meet the dimensions of a child’s hands and made of non-toxic rubber, these grips screw into the handlebar for added security.


While the handlebars get all the attention, it is actually the headset that is perhaps the most crucial part of the steering system. The headset is a set of stacked circular components that allow for the fork (and connected steerer tube) to rotate. A quality headset must not only be very stiff and secure laterally (side to side) but also rotate freely and easily for steering. In order to provide ease of steering while maintaining a secure ride, woom bikes use high quality internally sealed bearings to last longer and perform better than cheaper alternatives.

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Phew! We know that was a lot of information. We’ve included a glossary below to help define bike terminology even more. And as always, our woom team is always here for extra support. We’re here to answer your bike buzzword questions – and any other questions for that matter. For extra info, try our live chat option in the bottom corner of the page or contact us here.

 

We hope you’re feeling empowered to talk the talk as your young rider walks the walk (or we suppose as they ride their heart out!)


GLOSSARY

balance bike - a bicycle with no pedals or drivetrain, used by toddlers who are learning to balance.

bottom bracket - positioned at the bottom of the bike frame, connected to the crank arms.

 

brake levers - the hand-operated levers that control the brakes.

 

cassette - a cluster of cogs; found on multi-speed bikes.

 

cog - a rear sprocket.

 

chainguard - a protective sheath that covers the cog, chainring, and chain.

 

chainring - a front sprocket.

 

coaster hub - a hub with a built-in brake that can be used by pedaling backwards.

 

crank arms - the arms that the pedals attach to; connected to the bike frame at bottom bracket.

 

crankset - consisting of crank arms, bottom bracket, and chainring; the crankset uses the chain to convert pedaling into motion.

 

derailleur - the mechanism that moves the chain from one gear to another.

 

disc brakes - brakes which apply pressure to a rotor parallel to the wheel.

 

downtube - the downward slanting tube on a bike frame that runs from the headtube to the bottom bracket; where water bottle cages often go.

 

double-butted aluminum - aluminum that is doubly thick at all of the welded joints, but not in the center of the frame tubes.

 

drive side - the side of the bicycle with the chain and drivetrain; typically the right side.

 

drivetrain - all components related to the forward motion of the bike; including pedals, crank arms, chainring, chain, cog, and derailleur.

 

fork - often included as part of the frame, the fork holds the front wheel and is connected to the steerer tube.

 

frame - the main structure of the bike that all other bike components connect to.

 

freewheel - a rear wheel with a hub that freely allows backpedaling without braking.

 

gear - the combination of a certain cog and a certain chainring, which determines how easy or hard it is to pedal.

 

gear ratio - the number of revolutions the rear tire makes with one revolution of the pedals.

 

gearing - the arrangement of gears on a certain bicycle; the gear option(s) provided.

 

grips - the padded part of the handlebar intended for holding.

groupset - the group of all the components on a bike that contribute to moving or stopping the wheels.

 

handlebar - the steering control for bicycles.

 

headset - set of stacked circular components that allow for the fork (and connected steerer tube) to rotate.

 

head tube - the front part of the bike frame that the steerer tube goes inside of, directly below the headset; where brand badges are typically placed.

 

hub - the center of the wheel where all the spokes meet.

 

pedals - the platforms connected to the crank arms that a rider’s feet contact.

 

Q-factor - the lateral distance between the crank arms.

 

rim - the metal outer edge of the wheel, which houses the tire.

 

rim brakes - brakes which apply friction directly to the wheel’s rim.

 

shifters - the hand-operated controls for the derailleur that allow for gear-changing.

 

single-speed - bikes with a single gear that have just one front chainring and one rear cog.

 

spoke - the thin metal rods that connect the rim to the hub.

 

sprocket - a metal wheel with teeth connected to a chain; often mislabeled as a “gear”.

 

standover height - the required height needed to stand over the frame of a given bike.

 

steerer tube - the top part of the fork that fits inside the head tube, and connects with the headset.

 

steering limiter - a rubber O-ring that connects to the frame and fork to prevent over-turning.

 

stem - the connection between the handlebars and the frame of the bike.

 

tire - not to be confused with wheels, tires are the inflated rubber that contacts the road surface.

 

top tube - the top part of the bike frame that connects the head tube to the seat tube.

 

tube - the inflatable rubber inner tube that lives inside of the bicycle’s tire.

 

V- brakes - also known as linear-pull or direct-pull brakes, V-brakes are a form of rim brakes.

 

wheelbase - distance between the front and rear wheel; longer wheelbases are more stable.


wheelset - the combined set of two wheels and their respective rims, hubs, spokes, and tires.

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