Those Noises You Don’t Want to Hear

Listen to your bike. Just like your other loved ones, it will tell you when it’s not happy or getting worn out.

Those clicks, squeaks, rattles and knocks are trying to give you a little nudge to keep up to date with your bike maintenance. The more that you ride your bike, the more wear and tear it will accumulate and the more maintenance issues you will need to address. Whilst bike maintenance can be a source of frustration, It doesn’t have to be.

Keeping your bike in decent shape is not too difficult especially with a few tricks up your sleeve.

Listen Up

Squeaks, clicks and rattles are your bike telling you to do something. Bikes shouldn’t be all that noisy. If you are unsure where the noise is coming from, ask a ride mate to have a listen whilst you are riding. Listen how often the noise happens; Each pedal revolution? Each wheel revolution? Each turn of the cranks? Sat in the saddle? This should narow down the potential culprit.

Don’t Mech me Angry

Front and rear Mech’s or derailleurs are often the guilty party when it comes to an unwanted soundtrack on your nice, quiet ride. The clicking noise is usually from gears not adjusted correctly. Cable stretch and general wear on components can be the cause, either the cable adjuster or the derailleur’s two adjuster screws usually provide the solution.

Check out our guide to rear derailleur set-up here.

Keep it clean

Keeping certain parts of your bike clean can save you money in the long run. That scraping noise when you brake, is your bike trying to tell you to clean your rims. Rim braking surfaces tend to wear quicker than other wheel parts. Keeping rim braking surfaces clean will result in a longer life for the wheel. Make sure your brake block surfaces are clean. Small stones, grit, glass and fragments of metal can get lodged into brake blocks and gradually grind away the rim.

Lube your loved one (bike)

Bike chains can squeak when they get too dry, the dry squeaking chain is likely to be wearing excessively and wasting power too. The constant contact between the chain and cassette needs a little maintenance upkeep. Keeping your bike’s drivetrain running smoothly is as simple as degreasing / cleaning and applying lubrication. One well looked after cassette, should last the same as two chains.

Check out our guide to looking after  a chain here.

Bike up the Creak without a Pedal

Creaking noises should really be looked into. Cracks or breakages can develop through regular riding. The creaking noise could be two sides of the cracked component rubbing against each other. While replacing a noisy bottom bracket a few years ago, I found a crack running around the base of my frame’s seat tube – turns out the creaking wasn’t coming from the bottom bracket after all…

Sneaky Creak

The best way to reduce abnormal noises from your bike is to make sure grease / apply fixing paste to components when they are fitted. Always listen out for any new noises and try to rectify ASAP – A quiet bike is a happy bike…

Sit Quietly

The creaking noise from your seat post can be down to the way it was fitted. Once you have your road bike seat post at the right height, it stays in the same position. This makes it vital to apply either grease (metal frame / post) or carbon paste (carbon frame / post) before fitting. It’s also worth removing, re applying and refitting every once in a while.

Chased by a Pig?

The squeaking from the back end of your bike is more likely to be the jockey wheels in your rear derailleur than a chasing pig. Spinning at a few hundred rpm for hours-on-end and adverse weather conditions can eventually dry out the lubrication in the jockey wheels. Re-lubricating the wheels should solve the problem, replacing worn jockey wheels is relatively straight forward and cost effective.

Frame Shame Noises

Internal cables can rattle inside the frame, particularly if cables are cut too long. Regular riding can also allow cables to rub against the frame and remove paint or lacquer. Applying frame protection stickers, or at the very least a bit of tape, can protect the wear eventually becoming more serious. If wear has already occurred, seal the surface with clear nail varnish and a frame protection to prevent it happening again.

Wheel Good Fun

Riding along quietly, and you hear a sniggering sound? That’s your ride mates mocking your front wheel quick release lever being on the wrong side of the bike. Be sure to keep your wheels in the correct way around and the sniggering should stop (QR levers on the non-drive side).

Sneaky Cleat

Struggling to find the source of a persistant rattle or squeak? Check the bolts attaching cleats are tight, they can work loose over time.

Top 11 Unwanted Bike Noises

  • Loose headset (rattling front end)
  • Loose cassette lock-ring (rattling cassette / rear drive train)
  • Gears out of sync’ (clicking – rear of drive train)
  • Dry chain – (squeaking from drive train)
  • Dry jockey wheels – (squeaking rear of drive train)
  • Brake pads – (squeaking from front or rear brakes)
  • Worn Bottom Bracket – (clunk / click from the front of the drive train)
  • Cables – (rattling over rougher surfaces)
  • Loose Valves – (rattling from the wheels – particularly deep section wheels)
  • Wheels not true or not correctly seated in the drop out – (catching sound each wheel revolution)
  • Loose Bottle Cage – (rattling noise from the frame)