The chainstays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket shell to the rear dropouts of a bicycle. When the rear derailleur cable is routed partially along the down tube, it is also routed along the chain stay. Occasionally (principally on frames made since the late 1990s) mountings for disc brakes will be attached to the chain stays. There may be a small brace that connects the chain stays in front of the rear wheel and behind the bottom bracket shell.
Chain stays can be straight or tapered tubes. Sometimes, on higher-end bikes, they are sculpted to allow clearance for the rear wheel and cranks.