At some point it is inevitable that you will hear an unusual sound on your bike and a little bit of detective work will narrow down where it is coming from.
Clicks, squeaks and creaks all happen at some point in the life of your bike along with rubbing noises from your drivetrain. A well maintained bike will last years longer than a poorly maintained one.That said not all faults you will come across need your bike to be serviced and many things you can fix yourself.
Many bikes that come in to Doctor Sprockets Workshop fall into this category and hopefully this blog post will help you in being confident to fix the minor faults and not need a professional mechanic to service your bike..Clicking sounds from your gears can be a number of things which are generally easily remedied.
The most common cause of clicking sounds from your bike is not your gears but more likely to be your chain. A dry or rusty chain may have links that have seized partially or fully solid. As they pass over the chainring (the big toothed wheel by your right pedal) the solid links don’t bend and produce a click.Cleaning and lubricating is the answer unless your chain is beyond saving and is so rusty it is impossible to get it moving again.
A good wash of the chain with some hot water and washing up liquid and scrubbing with a small scrubbing brush or and old toothbrush will get most of the dirt and grime off. Wash off with clean hot water and dry with an old rag. Have a good inspection of your chain to see if the cleaning has freed up the links before lubricating with Chain Oil.
When I am servicing bikes in my workshop I prefer to use a spray lubricant called GT85 which is a water displacer and a Teflon lubricant at the same time. Great stuff which does an excellent job and the best one I have tried also smells nice too !
Give your chain a drop of oil (or a spray) at each link joint and use an old rag to wipe of the excess. Pedal your chain around with the rear wheel off the ground and this will work the oil in. This should remedy the problem unless your chain is too far gone to be saved.
Most bikes don’t like ‘Cross Chaining’ which is the situation where you have the chain stretched to its maximum. This will inevitably cause the chain to rub on the front derailleur. Chain is designed to run in a straight line and being bent sideways but only to a point.
Check which gear you are in when you hear the noise start. For instance… if you are on the smallest front chainring and the smallest cog at the rear the bike won’t like it as the chain gets bent laterally. Like-wise largest front & largest rear means the same thing will occur usually causing the chain to rub on the front derailleur cage and putting stress on the chain.
Some front derailleurs can be trimmed when cross chaining to avoid the rub using the shift lever by ’half clicking’ which is a design feature.
How to trim the front derailleur?
Go to change gear on the front derailleur normally but only push half way. If you have the feature you will hear a click and the front derailleur cage will move and stop away from the chain thereby stopping the rubbing.
Cable adjustment and limiter screws.
Unless you are confident I would not recommend adjusting the limiter screws which can be found on the derailleur cage. Two screws – one limits travel of the cage on one direction the other in the opposite direction. The cage will only move laterally to the stops. If the stops are set too close and the derailleur can’t travel far enough out of the way this may also cause the chain to rub.
Some front derailleurs can be trimmed when cross chaining to avoid the rub using the shift cable adjustment on the lever can sometimes stop the rub.
Cables by nature stretch and an old cable can get slightly longer with prolonged use. A new cable is the answer but a quick get you home remedy can be to adjust the cable tension. The tighter the cable the more pull on the derailleur cage towards the big chainring on 99% of derailleurs! There are some that pull a different way but these are not common.
To adjust the tension find the barrel screw coming out of the lever turn it half a turn anticlockwise and see if the rub stops. If not try again but watch the derailleur and check it is moving. If the stops are incorrectly set too low the cable will tighten but the derailleur won’t move.
At this point I would suggest seeking a qualified bike mechanic to assist you and out a new cable in and adjust it correctly.Still clicking? It may be your rear derailleur adjustment or something else.
Check out my other blog posts in the maintenance section for help with the problem.
'The Doc’ is a keen triathlete and lifetime cyclist who runs Doctor Sprockets Workshop servicing and repairing Race, Tri and Road bikes in Wallasey, Wirral. He is a fully qualified cycle technician and also certified as an Iron distance coach.
The Doc offers professional bike fitting services for Triathlon and Road cyclists. If you are looking for a bike mechanic for any of your family bikes on the Wirral look him up on social media or contact him here.