How To Stop Noises on the Bike

A well maintained bike is not just a delight to ride, but also very quiet. If you are lucky to find yourself on a quiet rural road, without any cars, there is just you and your bicycle. It is at times like this where you really appreciate a quiet bike. If your bike has irritating clicks, noises, and scratches, there’s a whole range of things you can do to check and prevent it.

Bike in the remote Irish countryside. Don’t let squeaks spoil the peace.

Quite often, I let noises persist for quite a long time. When I finally get round to looking at the source of the noise, it turns out to be something obvious and simple to fix. Like a clicking because your pedal clips the front derailleur wire. All you need to do is bend the wire away from path of the pedal. Often the noise comes from the last place you look. For example, after repeatedly spraying all the gear mechs and pedals, I finally found the noise was coming from seatpost.

ALthough noises are irritating, they are a reminder to give our bike a little love and make sure things are in working order.

When I hear squeaks, the first line of defence is realigning part of the bike. The second thing to try is spraying with GT-80 hoping that will solve it. If that doesn’t work, the next thing is to try taking apart and adding some grease. If that doesn’t work, it may well be a case of taking down to bike shop.

Brake Pads
You can see the stone which causes scratching when braking.

Check Brake Pads. In the winter it is very common for bits of grit to get stuck in the brake bads. This means that when you brake, you get that irritating scratching sound of stone on your brake rims. As soon as you hear this sound, you should check your brake pads and use a sharp point or screwdriver to pick out the offending grit. As well as making a noise, it damages your rims.

Brake Pads

Another common issue is for brakes to catch the rim, on a fraction of the turn. This may be due to a buckled rim or incorrectly aligned pads. As a temporary stop-gap, You can try leaving a bigger gap between pads and rim. But, if the wheel is buckled, it is good to fix it.

Well Oiled Chain

If your bike is squeaking, it is probably a lack of lubrication. Somtimes, cycling around town, you hear this enormous squeaks, as some student bikes never see a drop of oil all year.

Oiling and Cleaning Chain
After a heavy winter riding, I sometimes degrease to help clean away dirt attracted to the chain.

After degreasing, I will add a winter lube during winter months, and a lighter lube in summer. I also spray with GT-80 on any wetish days.
Keeping chain clean and free of dirt helps to keep the chain quieter.


With enclosed bottom brackets, there is less that needs greasing on a bike these days. I remember the days, when twice a year you would take your bike for a strip down and grease. However, it is worth greasing your pedals to cranks. Also, your rear derailleur mech, may need greasing, if it is making a persistent squeaking sound.

Bottom Bracket.

I’ve sometimes had this kind of crunching when you pedal. This is simply because the bottom bracket has worn away. There is nothing to do but replace it. Make sure it is the bottom bracket by eliminating other possibilities.

Mudguard Rubbing

Another common sign of noise is mudguard rubbing. Many hours I’ve spent fiddling with mudguards trying to stop friction. Some mudguards are easier to adjust than others.

Types of Noises

Rattling. This is often a loose headset. I had a really annoying rattle on a cycle tour, when I took the bike apart. The headset was tight, but the noise was still coming from there. The secret is that you need to tighten up progressively all the allen key nuts, and not just the top one.

  • Squeaks – try oiling and greasing.
  • Rubbing – spin the wheels and isolation, check your pedalling.
  • Clunks – Try tightening the pedals.
  • Skipping of chain on rear cassette. Often occurs if chain is new ¬†and cassette is worn (or vice versa). You could try seeing if the chain will ‘bed in’ often it does after a few days. Or you will have to change cassette and chain together. See: how often to change chain

Isolating Noises

  • Sometimes, I can be hard to identify where noises come from.
  • Start by spinning each wheel individually. Also, test the brakes frequently, to check they pull apart from the rim.
  • Then you can eliminate wheels. Then try freewheeling, and pedalling progressively harder.

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