All About Huffy Bicycles: Parts And Accessories

If you grew up riding a bike, chances are it was a Huffy. Learn about the parts that make your Huffy go and stop.

If you grew up riding a bike, chances are it was a Huffy.

The first Huffy bike, the Dayton Special Roadster, hit the streets in 1899, back when the Huffy Corporation was the Davis Sewing Machine Company owned by George P. Huffman. Today, Huffy makes and markets a large line of bikes, as well as stilts, scooters, and wagons.

Many racers have claimed victory astride a Huffy bike. The 1984 and 1988 U.S. Olympic teams took advantage of Huffy aerodynamics to bring home five Olympic medals. Mark Allen rode a Huffy Triton Bike to a third straight win of the Ironman Triathlon in 1991.

But no matter what your motivation for riding, Huffy provides a bike to suit your needs. If you're a casual rider looking for a bike to take you around the neighborhood in comfort and style, you might be interested in a classic Huffy single-speed cruiser or a modern, multi-speed comfort bike. Perhaps you're more the off-road type. Then you'll want to take a look at Huffy's mountain bike series, designed as the bicycle equivalent of the sport utility vehicle. For the kids in the family, Huffy has a wide selection of quality bikes and trikes built for durability and fun. And, of course, for the extreme thrill seeker, there's the tough and rugged BMX bike.

Although there are many types of Huffy bikes available, they all share some common basic components. Here's a look at the major parts of a Huffy bike.

Parts that Hold the Bike Together: The frame, the fork, the handlebars

The frame is the skeleton of a bike. Like the human skeleton, it holds all the parts together and provides the structural backbone. And, like the human skeleton, it comes in boys', girls', men's, and ladies' forms. Huffy frames are made of very strong high-tensile steel or very strong yet light-weight titanium-boron steel.

A short, nearly vertical tube attaches to the front of the frame and connects the frame to the fork. The fork can be constructed of three pieces of steel (unicrown fork), or suspension elements can be incorporated to act as shock absorbers and provide a smoother ride, as in Huffy mountain bikes. At one end, the fork has two prongs that attach to either side of the front wheel to hold it in place. The other end of the fork, also referred to as the steerer, extends upward into the head tube and attaches to the handlebar stem, which is sometimes called the gooseneck.

The handlebar is clamped at its middle to the stem. The handlebar is the control center of the bike; it is used to steer the bike and is the site of attachment for the brake levers on bikes with hand-operated brakes, shifters on multi-gear bikes, and bar ends on some bike models. At the middle of the frame is a long, nearly vertical seat tube which is attached to the seat post, upon which sits the seat, or saddle.

Parts that Make the Bike Go: The drive system, the wheels, the tires

A bike's drive system is composed of the pedals, the cranks, some cogs, and a chain. The pedals are pushed by the feet to move the attached cranks, or crankarms, which turn the attached chainwheel, or chainring. The teeth on the chainwheel fit into the spaces along the bike's chain. The chain is the key to translating pedal pushes into turns of the rear wheel. The chain circles around the front chainwheel and the sprocket, which is a toothed cog attached to the bike's rear wheel. On many bikes, the chain is protected by a chain guard that fits over the chainwheel and chain.

Single-speed bikes have only one chainwheel and one sprocket, but multi-speed bikes can have several chainwheels and sprockets. By connecting the chain to differently sized cogs, you can make the bike easier to pedal up a hill, or faster down the stretch. A mechanism called a derailleur moves the chain from cog to cog. The derailleur is connected to a shifter on the handlebar. The derailleur moves the chain between cogs when the shifter is pulled. Multi-speed bikes can have only a rear derailleur, or front and rear derailleurs.

No matter how many different gears a bike has, the chain still converts the turns of the pedals into the turns of the rear wheel. Pushing on the pedal turns the chainwheel, which pulls on the bike's chain. As the chain moves around the chainwheel, it turns the sprocket. The sprocket is attached to the rear wheel, so the rear wheel turns when the sprocket turns, and the bike moves forward!

The wheels of a bike come in different sizes. The wheel size refers to the diameter of the wheel measured in inches, although special wheels that support high-pressure road tires are referred to as 700c road wheels. Huffy kid's bikes come with 12-inch, 16-inch, or 20-inch wheels. Smaller adult bikes and larger kid's bikes have 24-inch wheels, while full-size bikes sport 26-inch wheels. Huffy BMX bikes traditionally ride on 20-inch wheels, but BMX cruisers have 24-inch wheels.

A bike's tires are where the rubber literally meets the road. It is the only part of the bike that should touch the ground when you ride. Different tires are designed for use on different surfaces. Riding on dirt and mud calls for knobby tires that provide a good grip on the rough surface, but you'll get a smoother ride on pavement with smooth or semi-smooth tread on your tires. The tires fit around the wheel rims, which may be constructed of light-weight alloy or very strong and durable steel.

Parts that Make the Bike Stop: The brakes

Four different types of brakes can be found on Huffy bikes. Simple coaster brakes are used on many kid's bikes and some cruisers; they're easy to operate by pedaling backwards and require little maintenance. Two types of hand-operated brakes act by squeezing the brake shoes against the rim: sidepull caliper brakes are found on most cruisers; the more powerful and more complex cantilever brakes are used primarily on mountain bikes and on some kid's bikes. The less complex yet very powerful V-style brakes can be found on adult mountain bikes and some BMX bikes.

Accessorize and Customize Your Ride

After you have the basic bike parts, you'll probably want to customize your bike with nifty accessories that make biking easier, more convenient, or more fun. Some of these accessories are available through Huffy, while others are found on the shelves of bike stores or mass retailers. A water bottle and holder can come in handy on long rides, as can a bag or rack to carry such items as a snack, a picnic lunch, or treasures you discover along the way. You'll be better prepared for those annoying flat tires or slipped chains if you carry a pump, spare inner tube, patch kit, and tools onboard. Tool bags that mount on the handlebar, the frame, or behind the saddle are available and are included with some models of Huffy bikes.

If your bike didn't come with a kickstand to hold it up when parked or reflectors to increase its visibility, these can be easily added as accessory equipment. If you plan to ride at night, be sure to add a light and extra reflectors to your bike; reflectors can also be stuck on helmets. Small mirrors that attach to a handlebar or helmet can provide an added measure of safety and convenience. Depending on where you leave your bike, a bicycle lock might be a wise investment to ensure that your bike is still there when you return.

A bike horn or bell can be lots of fun for a child traveling the sidewalks on a tricycle. Older children may want to embellish and personalize their rides with streamers attached to hand grips, colorful stickers, or specialty reflectors that fit on the spokes. A small computer that attaches to the frame or handlebar can be amusing for adults as well as children who are interested in keeping track of their speed, trip distance, or ride time.

And don't neglect your personal comfort, safety, and style. You may want to ride in a comfortable pair of bike shorts or go trendy with baggy cycling shorts. A pair of gloves can improve your grip on the handlebar. Youngsters may benefit from suiting up in elbow and knee pads, at least until they've managed to avoid the pull of gravity. And, most importantly, every rider needs to wear a good-fitting, CPSC-approved helmet.

We've yet to mention the most critical part of your Huffy bike. The part that provides the power, the navigation system, and the safety procedures: YOU. (But we don't want to forget the baseball cards in the spokes, either.)

© High Speed Ventures 2011