Behind the Bike: Bike Buzzwords

Let’s talk lingo – bike lingo, to be exact. There are a lot of moving parts behind the scenes to keep your Rider’s feet moving smoothly. And there are more than just the pedals and the wheels. There’s the gearing, the groupset, and so much more. If you find yourself baffled by these buzzwords, 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 not only win you some bonus points at the bike park also mean you’ll be better prepared 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. You’ll also gain some extra insights into what makes a woom bike so special.

How it's all held together

The frame, or skeleton of the bike, 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 that makes them 40% lighter than the average children’s bikes. This means they are easy to maneuver and even easier to pick up if your Riders’ adventures ever get derailed.

 

To get technical, woom 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 provides strength where it matters most 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 with their placing and positioning.

 

Our bikes feature a curved top tube to create a lower center of gravity and make balancing a bit breezier than it would be otherwise. The curved top tube reduces standover height – how tall you need to be to stand over the bike. This makes it easier for your Rider to get on and off their bike.

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How it moves

Groupsets:

A groupset is essentially all 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 a group.


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

The derailleur is 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 woom 3 are single-speed bikes, so they don’t need a derailleur either. Derailleurs begin with the woom 4, when your rider gets their first go at shifting gears.

Shifters are the hand-operated control for the derailleurs. They allow you to change gears while riding. Our ORIGINAL woom models with gears (woom 4, woom 5, and woom 6) employ grip shifters, which require twisting the shifter to engage the derailleur and get into the right gear. Our OFF and OFF AIR bikes are equipped with trigger shifters that simply take the flick of a lever to change gears.

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.

 

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 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 refers to the wide stance ducks use when they waddle!

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 are various braking mechanisms for bikes, most bicycles feature some form of rim brake or disc brake.

 

Disc brakes are common on mountain bikes and 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, disc brakes use pads that squeeze the rotor instead of the rim.

 

Rim brakes come in several forms; cantilever brakes, caliper brakes, and V-brakes are the most common. All woom ORIGINAL models 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 called 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 with color-coded brake pads and a reach-adjustment knob to ensure a good fit for your child’s 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.

To fend off sharp turns, the woom 1, woom 2, and woom 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, 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 specific chainring (front sprocket) and a specific 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 — 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, woom 5, and woom 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. The gearing of a single-speed is even more crucial than the gear choices for multi-speed bikes because it’s important to make sure it’s important for the Rider. If too low, the pedals spin out without enough forward motion, and if too high, it causes frustration when getting started or going up hills. The woom 2 and woom 3 were designed to offer just the right amount of ease when learning how to pedal and enough oomph for when your Rider is ready to pick up the speed.

 

Our gearing options on our woom 4, woom 5, and woom 6 are designed to empower young Riders to explore, go further, and tackle hills – all while being as safe as possible. Every individual is unique, so there are a variety of gears available for different riders in different situations. To accommodate 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 refers to 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 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 all woom bikes, 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 to meet federal guidelines. For a deep dive into hubs, check out our blog post Coaster and Freewheel Hubs: Explained. To accommodate kids' smaller hips, the woom 1, woom 2, and woom 3 original models feature hubs that are narrower than most children’s bikes to create a more comfortable ride.

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), 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 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 the 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. Therefore, 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. All woom bikes feature stems with gently sloped angles and no sharp edges. The stems on our bigger bikes (woom 4, woom 5, and woom 6) also feature another point of innovation - 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 intentional 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 woom 3 is a high-rise handlebar. Lastly, the woom 4, woom 5, and woom 6 feature adjustable handlebars thanks to the Vario stem mentioned above. 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, the headset is perhaps the most crucial part of the steering system. The headset is a set of stacked circular components that allow the fork (and connected steerer tube) to rotate. A quality headset must not only be quite 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 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!).


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 more information info, contact us here.


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 backward.

 

crank arms - the arms that the pedals attach to; connected to the bike frame at the 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 that 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 that 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 consisting of 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.

Do you want a fun way to learn and memorize some of these terms? Download our word search and test your knowledge!

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