Saddle Slang is sponsored by Rehook. Check out our tools, bike care and apparel


Noun, Noun Phrase

The chainwheel is the front sprocket on a bicycle.

Example usage: My chainwheel needs to be replaced, it's too worn out.

Most used in: Mountain biking and road cycling communities.

Most used by: Cyclists who frequently maintain and repair their own bikes.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 2/10

Also see: Crankset, Chainring, Front Chainwheel, Drivetrain,

What is a Chainwheel?

A chainwheel, also known as a chainring, is a circular metal wheel with teeth around its perimeter. It is the component in a bicycle's drivetrain that connects the crank to the bicycle chain, and it is usually located at the front of the bike near the pedals.

A chainwheel is an important part of a bicycle's drivetrain, as it is the component that transfers power from the cyclist's legs to the rear wheel. The chainwheel's teeth are designed to engage with the chain and move it along the drivetrain. The size of the chainwheel is typically measured in teeth, and the larger the chainwheel, the more power it can transfer to the rear wheel.

Chainwheels are available in a variety of sizes and materials, and many cyclists choose a chainwheel size that is appropriate for their riding style. Generally, road cyclists prefer larger chainwheels, while mountain bikers prefer smaller chainwheels. According to a survey conducted by Statista in 2020, the most popular chainwheel size for road cyclists was 52 teeth, while the most popular chainwheel size for mountain bikers was 34 teeth.

Where Did the Cycling Term 'Chainwheel' Come From?

The cycling term 'chainwheel' is believed to have originated in the late 19th century in England. It was first used to refer to the sprocket wheel that was attached to the pedals of the bicycle. This wheel was called the 'chainwheel' because it was connected to the chain that drove the pedals.

The chainwheel's purpose was to transfer power from the pedals to the rear wheel of the bicycle. This allowed cyclists to increase their speed by pedaling faster. As the popularity of cycling grew throughout the world, the term 'chainwheel' became more widely used.

Today, the term 'chainwheel' is still used to refer to the sprocket wheel on a bicycle. It is also often used to refer to the entire drivetrain of a bicycle, which is made up of the chain, sprockets, and derailleurs.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Saddle Slang

Find definitions for all of the technical terms, slang, and acronyms used in cycling. From the different types of bikes and their components, to training techniques, racing terminology and put downs, this dictionary has it all.

Talk the Talk
1 of 3