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Parts of a Bicycle Wheel: The Basics

When building up a wheel, there are several parts to consider. We will take a brief look at many of the integral parts.

rim

Rims

The rim is the most obvious part of a bicycle’s wheel. They are typically made of alloy or carbon fiber. Elitewheels makes carbon fiber rims which are not only much lighter, but also stiffer and stronger. Rims come in all shapes and sizes and are the most integral part of a wheel. A deeper section wheel is more aerodynamic, while a shallow section wheel is lighter. Different internal and external rim widths have a close relationship with which tires are used. Rims can be made tubular, tubeless, tube-less ready, or clincher. The options are nearly endless. It is connected to the hub via spokes.

hub

Hubs

The hub is the central part of the bicycle wheel. It is an anchor for the spokes and a joint between the wheel and the frame. A hub is made up of a hub shell, an axle, bearings, a driver body, end caps, and a rotor mount. Just like with wheels, there are a multitude of option. Different hubs have a different number of points of engagement. This basically means that when you start pedaling, the force that you apply will be more rapidly or slowly applied to the bicycles drivetrain, driving you forward.

Some hubs are machined with more precision. Elitewheels’ hubs are machined with Fanuc CNC machines giving them tolerances of within 0.02mm. They use hybrid ceramic bearings with lower rolling resistance compared to traditional bearings.

freehub

Freehub

A freehub is an extension of the the right-hand side of a bicycle’s rear wheel hub. Inside it is a system that engages with the wheel when you pedal, allowing you to move forward. It also disengages when you cease pedaling, so the wheels continue to turn without the gears and pedals turning as well. It is connected to both the bicycles cassette as well as the hub. Different freehubs fit different cassettes by different manufacturers. Elitewheels’ freehubs are compatible with both Shimano and SRAM cassettes.

Spokes

The spokes are rods that connect the hub to the rim. They transmit the power generated by pedaling and serve to keep rims round and true. Butted and bladed spokes are by far the most common. Elitewheels uses carbon fiber spokes, which can make a wheelset stiffer and lighter, on its Drive series road and gravel wheelsets. There are also wheels that do not use traditional spokes and nipples, such as the Velo TT disc wheels as well as our Drive Six.

Spokes

Nipples

An often overlooked part of a bicycle, the nipples play an integral and important role. They are the contact point between the rim and the spokes. They are threaded, allowing for the tensioning of spokes. Most wheels have external nipples to allow for easier wheel truing. Elitewheels exclusively uses them to make for easier maintenance.

Quick Releases and Thru Axles

Both quick release skewers and thru axles are metal rods that keep a bicycle’s wheels in place. Thru axles are more common on disc brakes bikes and wheels. They thread through the wheel hub and circular dropout holes. Quick release skewers use a camming mechanism so that the wheel is secured to u-shaped fork dropouts. Thru axles are made in different standards. Some are wider and some have larger diameters depending on the wheel and frame you have.

Tubeless Valves

Tubeless valves are used on rims that are either tubeless or tubeless-ready. They create a seal to prevent air from escaping. They are made of different lengths to accommodate different rim depths.

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