Bicycle Parts & Design

Bicycle Materials

Material Selection

Case Study



There are many parts of a bicycle. The main parts of a bicycle are wheels, frame, seat, handle bars, and components. We also could consider the helmet as a key safety issue.


Wheels give the fundamental purpose to the bicycle; that is why we call it a “bi” (meaning two) and “cycle” (meaning turning). A bicycle wheel is made up of a hub, spokes, a rim, tire, and tube. Each part of the wheel may require different material properties.


The frame is the core to the bicycle as a complete functional unit. Material selection importance should lay with strength and weight (i.e. strength/density materials and processing). A major consideration is the tube frame design.


The “Components” is the bicycle industry’s name for the moving mechanical parts: everything but the wheel, frame, seat and handle bars. We will just the overall material importance for the components. This focus is the parts function, wear, weight, and cost. Some examples of the bicycle components are brake/shifting levers, crank, front derailer, rear derailer, cassette, and chain.


The helmet materials will be considered separately from the other bicycle applications. The standard helmet materials are crushable foams. Helmet design factors are weight, cost, and safety.

Bicycle Design

Any type of bicycle design is defined by what the bicycle is used for; these are the requirements of the design. As always the major overall bicycle requirements are speed, safety, comfort, and endurance. The bicycle weight is the key to speed, but the lightweight need must be balanced by the other factors (safety, comfort, and endurance). For us to fulfill these requirements we must select specific materials. This is called material selection.