Learn Important Facts About The Parts Of A Motorcycle
You may live for riding your motorcycle, but only possess a rudimentary knowledge of its parts. While you do not need to be a professional mechanic, you should still know a little bit about the parts so that you can make smart decisions when replacing them.
Trying to learn about every single component could take years, but this comprehensive motorcycle – all parts – name list will educate you on the most important parts in case you need to replace or upgrade them.
The frame is essentially the foundation of a motorcycle; virtually all motorcycle parts and functions are built on and around it. There would be no bike without this critical part.
Some frames are designed as one piece, while others come in two pieces. Much like the suspension, the frame consists of several different parts including the head tube and front fork. It is constructed of welded aluminum, steel or alloy struts. The rear suspension figures heavily into the design.
The function of the engine is obvious; it powers your bike. Most motorcycle engines are two-stroke or four-stroke internal combustion engines, although other types like electric motors and Wankels are sometimes used. There are several different types of engines, the most common are: V-twin, inline two-cylinder, or inline four-cylinder:
- V-twin – A two-cylinder piston engine with cylinders arranged in a V configuration, most common in Harley Davidson and Japanese cruisers alike.
- Parallel two-cylinder – Two cylinders side by side, most common in touring bikes.
- Inline four-cylinder – The beefier brother to the inline two-cylinder, most common in larger European bikes.
The engine creates a significant amount of power that must be transferred to the wheels smoothly and with little disturbance to passengers. The transmission accomplishes this by incorporating various components including the clutch, gearset and drive system. The different types of transmission drives include chain/belt and shaft drive. Chain/belt drive is used on many Harleys, while shaft drive is common on Japanese and European models.
Each exhaust system on a motorcycle consists of exhaust pipes and baffles. The exhaust system displaces harmful combustion gases away from riders. It also enhances the performance of your engine. Baffles are located in the pipes and muffle noise. All of these factors make the exhaust system one of the essential motorcycle parts and functions.
Motorcycle riders need a way to stop the forward motion of their bike. Brakes serve this purpose. For this reason, no motorcycle – all parts – name list would be complete without them. Each motorcycle typically has two independent brakes – one on the front wheel and one on the rear. The rear brakes can be designed with a rotor or drum in older bikes. There are models with linked front and rear brakes that riders can apply simultaneously using a single control. The front brake provides about two-thirds of the stopping power a bike possesses. Some front brakes consist of a single or for heavier touring bikes, dual rotor.
A faltering ignition switch can cause your motorcycle to fail in its attempt to start. The switch sends power engine controls, starter motor and ignition controls.
When learning about the parts of a motorcycle, wheels or rims are perhaps the most widely recognized and well-known part. You are already aware that wheels serve two main purposes: They provide structural support and give motorcycles a way to move.
Wheels are specifically designed to handle axial and radial forces. It is this careful construction that prevents your bike from tipping or rolling over while traveling at high speeds and taking whipping around turns.
Motorcycle wheels are composed of steel/aluminum or cast iron. The steel/aluminum version has steel spokes and steel or aluminum rims. Cast iron wheels are made of aluminum-alloy along with carbon fiber and magnesium content alloy.
There are two main types of rims – spoke rims and solid rims. In the latter design, the spokes and rim are cast as one unit. Spoke rims, sometimes referred to as laced motorcycle rims because the rims are laced with spokes, are made of resilient aluminum and offer a classic look. The superior material for either type of rim is American-made, aircraft-grade, 6061-T6 billet aluminum. It is best to avoid steel cheaply made in China.
Tires are another critical item on any motorcycle – all parts – name list. The outer part of wheels, motorcycle tires, are attached to the rims. They play several roles: allow the motorcycle to turn, provide traction, absorb surface irregularities and resist wear. The contact patch is the most important part of a tire, as it is the area that makes contact with the surface of the road.
The majority of tires are pneumatically inflated, but some are filled with an unpuncturable tire mousse. They are made of rubber and designed with treads that allow them to maintain their grip on the road even in less-than-ideal conditions. Fat rear tires can be installed for increased torque and fat front tires provide a more comfortable ride.
The suspension shields passengers from disturbances such as bumps, vibrations and noise generated by the road.
While learning about the parts of a motorcycle, it is important to note that every motorcycle comes with two suspensions: the front and the rear. The front suspension is outfitted with a pair of fork tubes, while the rear suspension includes a swingarm with one or two shock absorbers.
Two essential parts compose the suspension: the spring and the damper. The spring supports the weight of passengers and absorbs the aforementioned disturbances. The damper balances the compression of the spring – a process called compression damping – so that passengers are not bouncing all over the place. Lowering kits, which create a lower center of gravity, further stabilize the experience for riders. Basically, the spring manages the bike’s mass and the damper controls the spring’s speed.
Motorcycles are equipped with fenders to prevent the tires from throwing road spray like rocks, sand, mud and liquids into the air and hitting your passengers and yourself, other motorists and other vehicles nearby. This is a very real risk because loose objects can get pressed in the tread grooves of the tires as they roll over the ground. As the tires continue rolling and impart kinetic energy to these objects, they can eject them from the surface of the tires at high velocity at other motorists, vehicles or pedestrians.
Fenders are rigid and frame the wheel well, shielding you and those on the road with you from objects ejected from the wheels. Riders who prefer larger rims on their wheels can use a fender kit and spacers to realize their vision.
When it comes to handling your motorcycle, the front fork is essential. It connects the motorcycle’s front wheel and axle to its frame, holding the front wheel and providing the ability to steer the bike.
The front fork’s setup is mildly complex, consisting of the following:
- A triple tree that connects the handlebars and fork tube to the frame with a pivot
- Two fork tubes that hold the front wheel axle
The majority of front forks incorporate the front brake and front suspension, allowing the front wheel to rotate around the steering axis.
Rake is the angle between the front forks and the ground or the head tube and the ground. The majority of stock bikes feature triple-trees that hold the forks parallel to the head tube. This creates a rake that is the same for the frame and the bike. Modifying the frame, triple-tree or both can change the way the bike handles by altering the trail. Rake kits are used for this purpose.
Rear Shock Absorber
The rear shock absorber serves dual purposes: It uses damping to control up-and-down oscillations of the suspension and supports the weight of the rear of the motorcycle by utilizing a spring that softens bumps. In this way, the rear shock absorber is a critical component of the suspension.
This important part facilitates the transfer of power from the motorcycle engine to the transmission and the rear wheel. Put simply, the clutch is the middle man between the engine and transmission.
Jet Kit or ECM power commander (chip)
You can reconfigure your carburetor’s or fuel injector’s fuel delivery with a jet kit or ECM power commander. This assortment makes reconfiguration possible for purposes including correcting deficiencies in the way your motorcycle runs and installing an aftermarket airbox kit or exhaust.
Safety features should be included on every motorcycle – all parts – name list. In addition to illuminating the route ahead during hours of darkness, the headlight on your motorcycle also makes your bike more visible to other drivers at any time of the day or night. Drivers can spot a headlight well before they are able to see a motorcycle or its riders.
Air Cleaner or Air Intake
One of the safety features on motorcycles is the air cleaner. They filter impurities out of the incoming air charge, protecting the engine oil from contamination, and the pistons and cylinders from scoring and abrasion. Air cleaners function using either forced air or turbo. You can choose from an aftermarket air filter element, air cleaner assembly and velocity stack.
The gas tank in motorcycles serves the same purpose as it does in automobiles: it holds and dispenses gasoline the bike needs to run. Nearly all motorcycles have just one gas tank. The average motorcycle will get about 120 to 200 miles from a tank of gas depending on riding conditions, the size of the tank and the size of the engine.
Just like in a car, the odometer on a motorcycle measures the distance in miles that it has traveled. Odometers can be mechanical, electronic or a combination of the two.
Most sets of handlebars will fit any motorcycle. Handlebar modifications are among the easiest and most affordable measures you can take to improve the style and/or comfort of your bike. When it comes to the latter consideration, aftermarket handlebars can make an enormous difference, as factory handlebars are installed according to generalized measurements of height and reach. The different types of handlebars include the following:
- Zero drag, low drag or high drag
- Ape Hangers
This small but mighty part helps riders keep their feet planted and in control during even the most challenging rides. The types of footpegs include passenger, engine guard, highway, dually highway and anti-vibration.
Highway Bars/Crash Bars
These bars protect both the motorcycle and riders. Highway bars, also known as crash bars, are designed to hit the ground during a crash, preventing contact with the engine area and side of the bike. They also safeguard riders’ legs. The three materials most commonly used in the manufacturing of crash bars is stainless steel, mild steel and aluminum.
Some riders prefer to extend their legs further than factory assemblies allow. These riders can equip their bike with forward controls – a modification in which the shift peg, brake pedal and foot pegs are relocated forward.
Fulfilling All Of Your Parts Needs
Regardless of your motorcycle parts and functions needs, you can get many of the motorcycle parts on our list through FlexPay, a better way to pay than traditional financing, credit cards and layway.
The manufacturers we work with – American Suspension, Fat Katz, SMT Machining and Bad Dad – are the best in the business. The parts you can purchase from them include custom rims, fenders, rear shock absorbers and triple tree kits.
Applying for the FlexPay program is a breeze. There are no credit checks, and as long as you earn an income, chances are you will get approved. You can start the EZ 1-2-3 process by filling out our secure, convenient 5-minute online application.
We will notify you within 24 to 48 hours that you have been approved and at that point, you are ready to start shopping for the parts you need to repair or upgrade your motorcycle.