Getting a new bike is exciting, and establishing a cycling routine is empowering. Your body will feel stronger than ever. But will your bike stay as strong? Over time, the parts of your bike will require cleaning and replacement if you want to stay safe on the road. Understanding how your bike works helps you take better care of it. Two components that new riders may not know about, but which are essential to bike function, are the crankset and bottom brackets.
A crankset is an essential part of your bike, operating as something of a transmission. It transfers the power from your legs into forward motion by handling the pedaling operation. Most modern cranksets include multiple parts: the crank arm, spider, spindle, and chainrings. The crank arms connect to the pedals, while the chainrings help keep the chain in place and facilitate the drive of the rear wheel. The rings are bolted into a spider. The spindle is also called the axel, and it connects all the parts.
Bottom brackets connect the crankset to the frame of your bike. So, yes, they’re kind of a big deal. This allows the crankset to rotate free of the frame while remaining attached. Sometimes called a BB, this set of important brackets attach to either side of the bottom shell on your bicycle. A good set of bottom brackets will stop the crankset from wobbling around while you ride while also increasing the efficiency of your pedaling by allowing the crankset to turn smoothly.
Like any other part of your bike, a crankset and its brackets can stop working well if they’re neglected. Just as you inspect and lube your chain to make sure the links aren’t dirty or stretched, you should check in on your crankset from time to time. The axel is particularly prone to collecting dirt. Look for cracks, dents, and other damage during your inspections. If you can grab the crankarm and move it back and forth, it could be time to tighten the bearings. A bike-specific solvent and toothbrush are a handy way to thoroughly clean the parts of your crankset without having to remove it altogether.
Your bike will start to feel like a part of you, so make sure you maintain its parts just like you look after your teeth or your back. Understanding a crankset and bottom bracket guide is just the beginning – be sure to put your knowledge to work and take good care of your equipment.
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