Author Topic: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?  (Read 8682 times)

PathtoFIRE

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annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« on: November 12, 2014, 01:25:59 PM »
Ok, I've been biking to work twice weekly since July, and while I love it, there is one thing that is recently becoming such an annoyance that I am actually considering stopping, at least until I can fix it. My ninja google skills are somewhat lacking in identifying the source of this sound/click, so I'm asking you all for help or ideas. Also, my only bike maintenace experience is what few things I've fiddled with on this bike over the last few weeks, so I am definitely a newbie. Finally, I have neglected my bike, and freely admit that I have not done a good job of getting it cleaned. I am awaiting delivery of products/brushes from Amazon, and hope to knock this out this weekend. On to the problem.

Not too long after getting my bike, and riding around, I noticed once while having to stand and pedal hard, I felt a slight shift, and then heard/felt a click that appears to come from the front chainring/derailleur area. Now maybe it was coincidence, but that's when I remember first noticing it. The click was very light, barely felt it through the pedal. In the last few months, it has gotten worse (at times), i.e. louder, with a palpable feel, and more often. The odd thing about it which has me confused about the source is that while the click is rhythmic, it is neither constant nor the same each time.

To explain it in my head (and this is going to be pretty abstract, sorry), imagine a clock. If both hands are pointed at 12, no sounds or clicks. If one is pointed to 12 and the other to 6, constant clicks of similar size. If one is pointed to 12 and the other at 3 or 9, the clicks fade in and then out over time, softer to louder to softer to absent, repeat. Early on, it was like the clock hands had to be almost completely opposite to get the clicks, but now it's like the only time I don't get clicks is when everything is aligned perfectly.

Additional info about the clicks: Only happens when I pedal. Happens mostly in the higher rear gears, but as part of the worsening over time, it has crept from gear 5 all the way down into 3 and even at 2 sometimes. I get rid of the click by stopping any pedaling for a split second, and then re-engage. This will change the rhythm of the clicks, and may take several tries before everything seems to "align perfectly" and I continue on without clicks (and dread having to stop pedaling and restart this farce). I have following online instructions for adjusting the back and front derailleurs, with no real change. I couldn't replicate the clicks with the bike suspended, but I was more focused on derailleur adjustments, and didn't really try to hard, but I would say at this point it seems that the clicks are only with load, I am getting a better holder to test this out more thoroughly.

More google reading suggests that maybe it's a chain problem (but would that be constantly rhythmic everytime the bad link goes on or off the chainring), maybe a loose bottom brackets, maybe something to do with the front derailleur clamp. So I've got several things to consider and test this weekend, but I just can't find anywhere on the bike maintenance forums where someone described this unique type of sound/click, so I'm hoping that one of you will immediately recognize from my elaborate description and pinpoint exactly what I need to change/fix/replace.

Greg

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2014, 02:18:49 PM »
Sounds like your chain is stretched.  Ride with a stretched chain too long and you can ruin your gears.

PathtoFIRE

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 02:26:16 PM »
Sounds like your chain is stretched.  Ride with a stretched chain too long and you can ruin your gears.

That's a good thought! I had considered it but didn't pursue further because while my bike is about 1.5 years old, I've only be really riding it for 6 months, and I've put less than 1,000 miles on it I'd estimate, and it seems like chain issue happen later (OTOH, I did buy my bike from Walmart...). I'll have to measure it. Also, it doesn't seem like the clicks come during a certain "part" of the chain, and not necessarily at all gears, but I guess if you couple a stretched or partially malfunctional chain with certain parts of the pedaling motion, maybe that would account for why I get the clicks sometimes, and sometimes don't? I guess it's somewhat the randomness of when it occurs that has got me really confused, and I just assumed a real chain issue would be constant and unwavering. I'll definitely measure out the whole length and look for any areas of stretch or any frozen or impaired links, thanks!

Russ

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PathtoFIRE

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 03:44:17 PM »
That looks like the perfect website, thanks, and I will be back to report what it ended up being (hopefully).

big_owl

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2014, 03:49:03 PM »
Check your bottom bracket as well - same thing happened to me and it turned out that the plastic cup for the BB had a small crack in it.  I got an intermittent clicking sound and eventually I could feel the movement through my pedals when I really pedaled hard.  It took me a long time to diagnose that one.  I'd check for looseness in the BB and make sure that cranks are tight.

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2014, 03:52:14 PM »
in order i would:

Check chain for stretch, replace if worn.

Check derailleur alignment front and rear. (especially if you are using a 'quick link' chain since sometimes the magic link is the one that catches as it is fractionally fatter then the rest)

Re-grease bottom bracket barings. (my gut tells me it might be this one as what you describe sounds like what happened on my bike)

replace bottom bracket

wizlem

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2014, 11:09:28 PM »
Sounds like your chain is stretched.  Ride with a stretched chain too long and you can ruin your gears.

That's a good thought! I had considered it but didn't pursue further because while my bike is about 1.5 years old, I've only be really riding it for 6 months, and I've put less than 1,000 miles on it I'd estimate, and it seems like chain issue happen later (OTOH, I did buy my bike from Walmart...). I'll have to measure it. Also, it doesn't seem like the clicks come during a certain "part" of the chain, and not necessarily at all gears, but I guess if you couple a stretched or partially malfunctional chain with certain parts of the pedaling motion, maybe that would account for why I get the clicks sometimes, and sometimes don't? I guess it's somewhat the randomness of when it occurs that has got me really confused, and I just assumed a real chain issue would be constant and unwavering. I'll definitely measure out the whole length and look for any areas of stretch or any frozen or impaired links, thanks!

Clicks can be really hard to pin down but what you say about having to stop pedaling for a split second to make it go away would lead me to the the rear hub. Possibly a problem with the freewheel/freehub pawls getting hung up in certain positions.

Bikes from walmart can be pretty crappy. One I had, the rear hub was a steel piece of crap and the spot welds broke on one side and the bearing cup with free to move around causing the wheel to wobble. That was after I changed the bottom bracket because the bearing cages in it tore apart and made horrible crunching noises and when I inspected the cups they had a whole bunch of tiny cracks. Can I ask what kind of bike it is?

PathtoFIRE

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GuitarStv

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2014, 08:03:10 AM »
If you can't figure out what it is after a couple days, I'd take it in to a bike shop for an opinion.  I like to think of myself as semi-knowledgeable about bicycles, but there is no substitute for experience.  There's an older dude, a 'bike-whisperer' at the shop I go to . . . he just sidles up to your ride, lovingly caresses the frame and components for a few minutes to calm her down, and then tells you exactly what's wrong with your bike through some sort of machine/human mind meld.  It's amazing.

FreeWheel

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2014, 09:56:43 AM »
As you have seen from the replies here it could be any number of things. Figuring it out over the internet will be most difficult. I will say that chains are highly unlikely to stretch (which is actually wear) after only 1000 miles. Take it to a shop and see what they say. I do all my own repairs but believe shops will give you an estimate for free. Then you'll know what is wrong with it and can consider fixing it yourself.

APowers

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2014, 10:21:29 AM »
I had/have a very similar problem with my bike. It doesn't click at the same pedal crank position every time, so it has a random feel to it, but it's regular and you know it's not *actually* random. It generally only happens when I'm standing up to pedal, and it is just barely jarring enough to mess up your power stroke.

Turned out it was a partially frozen link-- due to neglect or whatever, one of the link pins had rusted (or otherwise gotten itself gunked up) so that it didn't want to curve around the smaller sprockets in the rear (hence why it happens more in the higher rear gears than the lower ones). It took me some VERY careful watching to catch it in the act; I had the bike upside down and would watch the chain go around the rear sprocket as I pedaled as lightly as possible to find exactly which link was acting up.

I vocally considered a new chain, and the threat of replacement made it behave for a couple rides, then it started acting up again; I bought a new chain, and heavily lubed the old one (especially that link and its pals) with WD-40. It hasn't given me a problem since then, but when it does, I'll just put a nice new chain on.

Russ

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2014, 10:25:19 AM »
WD-40 is not a lubricant

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2014, 12:14:15 PM »
Yeah WD-40 is really volatile. It will clean out the chain but the problem is likely to return more quickly then you might like.

WD-40 is Great for displacing water, dust, salt etc and works to de-grease stuff, but not really a chain lube. There are plenty around but essentially you want something that runs in and stays put to keep grit out and lubricant in the little chin links. Chain stretch is actually more to do with grinding out the holes in the chain links and less about the metal in the links yielding to your enormously strong legs.(i was devastated when I learnt that me wearing out chains frequently was due to lack of proper maintenance, not my tenancy to race around town in my top gear).

TrMama

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2014, 12:51:11 PM »
If you can't figure out what it is after a couple days, I'd take it in to a bike shop for an opinion.  I like to think of myself as semi-knowledgeable about bicycles, but there is no substitute for experience.  There's an older dude, a 'bike-whisperer' at the shop I go to . . . he just sidles up to your ride, lovingly caresses the frame and components for a few minutes to calm her down, and then tells you exactly what's wrong with your bike through some sort of machine/human mind meld.  It's amazing.

^^ This. I ride a lot. I can do lots of different kinds of repairs and maintenance on my bike. However, it's still no replacement for a great bike mechanic. My "bike whisperer" can fix things very quickly for less money than me and the end result is flawless, rather than just livable. To his credit he also gives me great discounts on gear.

APowers

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2014, 01:48:58 PM »
Yeah WD-40 is really volatile. It will clean out the chain but the problem is likely to return more quickly then you might like.

WD-40 is Great for displacing water, dust, salt etc and works to de-grease stuff, but not really a chain lube. There are plenty around but essentially you want something that runs in and stays put to keep grit out and lubricant in the little chin links.

Yes, I know WD-40 is not chain lube. Yes, I know that it will not actually solve the problem, and is detrimental in the long run.  Buuuut...It allowed me to verify that what I thought was the problem was actually the problem, and I knew I needed a new chain anyway [I actually did end up eventually replacing a link with a spare link my Dad had in his shop, and currently that's not giving me any problems...if it starts acting up again, I'll just throw my new chain on]. If you want to properly lubricate your chain properly, do use PJ-1 or some other lube designed for drive chains.

Russ

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2014, 01:56:02 PM »
preferably lube designed for bicycle chains, not motorcycle chains

Heckler

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2014, 03:47:36 PM »
Just an FYI, wd-40 does work well for bikes... If you are using their bike specific lubes.

http://www.wd40bike.com

Russ

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2014, 04:17:15 PM »
But it's not WD-40, it's chain lube made by WD-40-the-brand. WD-40 is a very specific thing (that isn't even good for much) and when someone says they used WD-40 for something, they are saying they used that specific product under WD-40-the-brand.

Heckler

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2014, 08:42:53 PM »
Look at the profile of your gear teeth.  A stretched chain (that definitely happens!) will wear down the teeth on the chainrings you use most (front and rear).

A chain measurement tool is the most mustachian bike thing you could invest in.  Replace a $30 chain often before it wears out your $300 drivetrain in the same time!  I replace my chains annually and haven't replaced a drivetrain in a long time.

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/ca/en/park-tool-chain-checker-cc2/rp-prod7858

https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#safe=off&q=worn+chainring+symptoms


Heckler

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2014, 08:43:19 PM »
next in the line of suspects is your bottom bracket, and then your pedal bearings.

GuitarStv

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2014, 05:57:44 AM »
Look at the profile of your gear teeth.  A stretched chain (that definitely happens!) will wear down the teeth on the chainrings you use most (front and rear).

A chain measurement tool is the most mustachian bike thing you could invest in.  Replace a $30 chain often before it wears out your $300 drivetrain in the same time!  I replace my chains annually and haven't replaced a drivetrain in a long time.

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/ca/en/park-tool-chain-checker-cc2/rp-prod7858

https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#safe=off&q=worn+chainring+symptoms

You absolutely do not need to waste money on a chain measurement tool.  Take a tape measure, and hold it up to the center pin of one of your links.  If your chain is stretched, the 12 inch mark will be about 1/8th of an inch past the corresponding link.  If the chain isn't stretched then six links should line up exactly with 12 inches.

FreeWheel

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #22 on: November 18, 2014, 12:48:48 PM »
A chain checking tool is way more accurate than eyeballing a ruler, and can be had for as little as 10 bucks. Well worth it if you ride a lot or work on lots of bikes like I do.

But I still say the OP's chain is not stretched after only 6 months and 1000 miles of service. In all the bikes I pick up from the trash very few had stretched chains. Rusty yes, and a good soaking in regular old WD-40 fixes that! Wipe with a rag and blow dry, then lube with bicycle specific chain lube.

OP, let us know what you find.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2014, 12:51:13 PM by FreeWheel »

jamal utah

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2014, 04:31:14 PM »
If it only happens when you stand up to pedal, it may be that the bottom bracket is flexing ever so slightly and the front chainring is rubbing on the  front derailleur.  It would be telling if the problem only happened when you were in the big ring in front.  I have experienced this with older bikes where the frames are starting to get a little worn out.

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2014, 02:05:58 PM »
Yes, I know WD-40 is not chain lube. Yes, I know that it will not actually solve the problem, and is detrimental in the long run.  Buuuut...It allowed me to verify that what I thought was the problem was actually the problem, and I knew I needed a new chain anyway [I actually did end up eventually replacing a link with a spare link my Dad had in his shop, and currently that's not giving me any problems...if it starts acting up again, I'll just throw my new chain on]. If you want to properly lubricate your chain properly, do use PJ-1 or some other lube designed for drive chains.

Fair point. Never thought of it as a trouble shooting tool. Quick an effective. I like it.

the lorax

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2014, 07:42:00 PM »
Hi, re your 'annoying sound: I've seen this a couple of times (if I understand your description) and it can be caused by either loose cranks or loose pedals. In both cases there only needs to be a very very small amount of 'play' for it to creak under load. Check your crank bolts are properly tightened (large allen key required) and also check your pedals re tightly screwed in. A proper pedal wrench is preferred but you might be able to do it with a small wrench. If in doubt your local bike shop should do this for free.
Good luck.

Maseroni

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #26 on: December 01, 2014, 07:00:23 AM »
A couple things to look at first:  When you pedal out of the saddle (standing up), and you are putting max torque through your pedals, look down at the chain rings - are they flexing or rock solid?  If they are flexing/wobbling it could mean a bent or loose chain ring which could be foxed by tightening the bolts that hold the chain ring on.  If it is bent, the replacement is really the only viable option.  Also, check that the crank arms are on securely as well.

I agree with some of the other posters that it is VERY unlikely that your chain is stretched.

Newer Schwinns are not as high quality as they used to be, and if it was bought from a big box store, it was likely assembled out of the box by a rather unsophisticated (in a bike mechanic sense) employee, and often it can be as simple as bringing it to a bike shop to get it properly set up.

Failing all else, I'd say its likely a bottom bracket issue.  Most medium and low end bikes use pretty cheap bottom brackets which can be prone to cracking even within a few hundred miles of use.  In some cases the bottom bracket cups simply come loose and need tightening rather than outright replacement.  Either way, most bottom brackets require specific tools that you are not likely to have, and while not typically expensive, will not get used very often, which might weigh into your decision to buy them or take it to a shop.

Depending where you are located, there are often Community Bike Shops which are fully stocked with tools and knowledgeable bike mechanics where you can do the work yourself with guidance.  There is usually a nominal membership fee (my local organization here in Peterborough, Ontario costs $30/yr and is stocked with every bike tool imaginable and free used parts!).

Best of luck!

FreeWheel

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2014, 10:45:15 AM »
Another good source for seasoned, low cost bike mechanics is on Craigslist. Most busy area's have several mechanics who post for business on the site. They're almost always gonna be substantially less expensive than a bike shop. Search "Tune up" "bicycle repair" etc., in the bicycle section.

In my area they post tune ups starting at 15-20 dollars, (plus any parts, of course) which is quite a bargain. And they'll give you an estimate up front so you can consider your options.

These are also the guys who have used bikes for sale that they've gone through and are %100 ready to go.

ohyonghao

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2014, 01:19:27 PM »
For me a clicking sound was caused by not lubing the pedal threads.  Just a dab of grease before threading on fixes that.  The sound can change depending on the amount of stress being put on, hence standing up in the saddle can make it more apparent; also changing difficulty by shifting or going from flat to slightly uphill terrain.  Sheldon Brown is a great resource too.

so.mpls

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2014, 07:54:20 AM »
OP, if you're going to take it to a bike shop, try this place http://qcbs.wordpress.com/about/

We have something very similar here in Minneapolis and it's probably my favorite concept ever. Take your bike in, volunteers (people who love bikes) will teach you how to find the problem and fix it. Idk what this place does as far as payment, but it's more than likely free.  The one here in Minneapolis asks that you volunteer your time, or make a small donation but neither are required.

As others have said, it's probably your chain, derailleurs alignment, bottom bracket, or something in your crankset... in that order.

fantasyclaw

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Re: annoying bike sound, any thoughts of the source?
« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2014, 10:06:34 AM »
i've had exactly this issue on a couple bikes. both were simple repairs. make sure your chainring bolts are tight. make sure your pedals are on tight.

if your chain is in reasonable condition or new, and it is still making the noise, you may need a bottom bracket.if it's a bottom bracket, you'll only be out about $20 or so for the part if it is one of the common shimano ones. if you don't have the tools to install/remove, a shop will charge $40-50 for the bottom bracket--parts and labor.