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6 Reasons Why Your Bike Makes a Clicking Noise When Pedaling Hard

Are you tired of hearing that clicking sound every time you pedal your bike when all you want is to enjoy the ride? If the answer is yes, we are here for you.

In this article, you can find six reasons why your bike clicks when you’re pedaling. From a dry chain to loose nuts and cogs – you can find all the problems and solutions if you read on. Plus, some extra bike maintenance tips for you!


Why Does Your Bike Make Clicking Noises When You’re Pedaling Hard?

Clicking noises are irritating, making the ride harder to enjoy. Though the clicking noise may not be lethal for your bike, they indicate something is wrong with your bike.

There are several reasons why your bike clicks when pedaling, six of which we have presented below.  Read on to find out how to make it stop.


Your bike chain needs lubrication

bike makes clicking noise when pedaling hard

A nice rule of thumb is to check the bike chain first when it makes clicking noises, as it is an essential component of your bike.

If you notice the noise is coming from your chain, inspect the chain links to see where the clicking sounds are coming from. Is there rust? Or are they challenging to move? If yes, you found the root of the problem: you haven’t oiled the chain in a long time. Oh, now you remember, right?

But don’t worry, the solution is simple: lubricate the chain, and the noise will disappear. Luckily, you can oil your bike chain by yourself without needing the assistance of a bike mechanic.

Start by applying a few drops of lubricant to each link. Wipe the excess off, and finish by running a towel through the chain multiple times.

Apart from needing lubrication, there are other reasons why you may hear a clicking noise from your bicycle chain. If the chain is misaligned or old, it will make noise. If that is the case, consider fixing your bike chain, or maybe get a new one.


The front derailleur needs trimming

bike makes clicking noise when pedaling hard

If you can still hear your bike clicking when pedaling, check the derailleur pulleys. The chain may be rubbing against the cage of the front derailleur, hence causing the noise. In that case, you need to trim the front derailleur.

The chain will rub against the derailleur only in some gears since it changes its angle as you shift gears. That’s why your bike makes a clicking noise when pedaling hard. So, you need to shift your bike into the gear where you hear the clicking. Start by grasping the front shifter and pushing the lever. You will hear a slight noise like a click, but you will see that the gear has not changed. Check the front derailleur, and you will see that it has moved away from the rubbing chain.

If the noise still doesn’t stop, it can mean that you need to adjust your derailleurs. The noise can be coming from the cable responsible for changing gears if it is too tight or loose. But if that is the case, you need to take your bike to a local bike shop.


Loose Presta valve nuts

If you still haven’t found why your bike is making clicking noises, move on to check the Presta valve nuts. The Presta valve has a locknut, an outer valve stem, an inner valve body, and sometimes a valve cap. The locknut holds and secures the stem where it meets the rim, but sometimes it can get loose. The slightest loosens will make the valve nuts rattle on the rim, resulting in a clicking noise.

Check if the Presta valve nuts are finger tight. If they seem loose, proceed to tighten the valves by snuggling them. Or, you can install an o-ring on the valve nuts.


Loose cassette cogs

Still no luck? Consider inspecting the cassette cogs. They can make noise when loose. To fix the problem, you need to tighten the cogs. You can send your bike to a local bike shop and have a mechanic do it, or you can tighten the lockring yourself by using a locking tool together with an adjustable wrench.

Before you start, there are chances that you have dirt in between the cogs, and you won’t be able to tighten them until you clean the dirt off. Once you do that, start by removing the rear wheel.

To use the tool for tightening the lockring, you will also need a way to turn it, hence a large adjustable wrench. All you have to do is turn the tool clockwise with your wrench and keep turning until the lockring is tight. To ensure the lockring has tightened the cogs, hold onto the largest cog and move the smaller cogs with your other hand.

If they are all solid, and the noise is gone, then you have done your job successfully.


Inspect the pedals and bottom bracket

Pedals can be another possibility why your bike clicks when pedaling. To know for sure, try pedaling them one at a time. To do that, first, remove your pedals. Next, place a drop of lube on your pedal springs and at the joint in the spindle.

If that doesn’t seem to stop the noise, consider checking your shoe cleats. When they are loose they tend to make a clicking sound. To find out, try pedaling when the shoe is not clipped in. Then you can tighten the pedals by using a wrench. You can also tighten the cleat tension screw so that you get rid of the noise for good.

That’s not all, though. If the sound still hasn’t stopped, there is a chance the clicking noise is coming from your bottom bracket. Sometimes the cups in the bottom bracket can get loose, causing noise as you pedal. But don’t worry. Nothing some tightening can’t fix.

Start by removing the crank arms and adjusting them back into place. Then tighten the cups and adjust the bearings as well. The sound should be gone, unless the bottom bracket is worn out, and in that case, consider getting a new one.


Check the brake pads and rim

As you pedal, the brake pads could be vibrating against the rim and making noise. To stop that from happening, you need to adjust the brake pads so that the front part of the pads touches the rim before the back part does. In that way, the sound will be gone. However, we would advise you to check if your brake pads are old or worn out. In that case, consider replacing them.

In addition, inspect for build-up residue along the rim, as that could be causing the problem. To clean it, start by applying some cleaner on both sides of the rim while spinning it around gently. Keep a piece of cloth or a towel nearby to wipe the dirt away. Voila, you are done!


General Bike Maintenance Tips

Bike maintenance is crucial to every rider as it provides safety and helps bike parts last longer. You do not need to be a mechanic to maintain your bike. With our six tips, bike maintenance is simple.

  1. Perform a quick safety check before every ride – this includes checking the brakes, chain, and tires.
  2. Keep your bike clean – among other benefits, it makes your bike last longer. Do not store it outside in the rain, and do not forget to dry it thoroughly after cleaning. A wet bike can get rusty, leading to noises, shifting difficulties, and other problems.
  3. Learn how to fix a flat tire – you can pick up some tools from your local bike shop, watch some videos online and learn how to fix a flat tire.
  4. Lubricate your drivetrain – if there is anything you learned from this article, always use lube for your bike. It will help you reduce sounds and keep the bike from wearing out.
  5. Keep screws, bolts, and nuts tight – always tighten screws, bolts, and nuts not to lose them. By using a torque wrench, you can check and tighten your bolts.
  6. Get your bike serviced annually – a bike mechanic in a bike repair shop will check your bike in detail.


Final Thoughts

You can do your best but still not succeed in making bike noises stop. Sometimes noises can be hard to track, and getting help from a professional can be the best solution. However, as we mentioned above, you can be the master fixer of your bike with a bit of care and dedication.

But you shouldn’t consider bike maintenance only when something is off. A good practice is to clean and take care of your bike regularly, and this way, your bike will be your best friend for a long time.


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