Skip to Content

Road Bike Clicking Noises: 5 Common Causes and Fixes

Clicking noises from anywhere on the bike can ruin even the best ride. It’s annoying at first, and you wonder if it’ll cause a bigger problem or indicate something is broken. If your road bike is clicking and creaking near the bottom bracket and rear wheel, what could be the cause, and how can you resolve it?

A clicking noise is frequently caused by your chain attempting to jump up or down a gear on the rear cassette. Typically, this can be resolved by adjusting the tension of the cable that connects your shifter to your rear derailleur. A well-set up and maintained road bike should be relatively devoid of squeaks, creaks, and clicking noises.

If you have trouble with your road bike clicking, we probably have a a fix that will put an end to the noise.

bike chain, cassette and tools

Where Does The Clicking Sound Come From?

Chains are likely to produce the most noise on your bike. Most of them can be avoided with a simple lubrication service. A continuous clicking noise at the same point on your pedal rotation, on the other hand, could indicate a tight link in your chain. 

Turn the bike upside down and reverse the pedals. If you notice a bump in the chain movement anywhere, especially when it travels through the derailleur or over the big gear in front, you’ve found a tight link and maybe the source of the clicking sound.

Causes Of The Clicking Sound

There are numerous reasons your chain may make noise, leap about, or vibrate excessively.

Here are some of the most typical causes.

1. Old And Worn Out Chains

Chains that are old and worn out can make more noise. Chains expand over time, causing them to move more horizontally and laterally. You won’t feel or hear anything when the links are snugly fitted to the sprocket. 

When they’re worn and strained, the more expansive space causes them to clatter when you pedal. A worn-out chain will damage your sprockets and chainrings and is more likely to result in a snapped bike chain.

2. The Chain Is Misaligned

Another common problem is a misplaced chain. It’s simple: your spacers may need to be aligned, or you may have the wrong size wheels, sprockets, or chainrings. Alternatively (and this is typical), your back wheel may not be centered.

Your chain should run directly from the rear sprocket to the chainring. There is some wiggle room because chains have some elasticity, but if you go too far, your components will wear out, and your chain will begin to click and hop.

3. Clicks And Creaks From The Seatpost

Your seat post is another common source of creaking, especially if the noise occurs only while seated. 

Remove your seat post by releasing the quick release (if it has one) or loosening the hex bolt at its base where it enters the frame, wiping any grit off the post and in the seat tube with a clean cloth.

Apply a fresh thin layer of grease or fiber grip compound if you have a carbon frame. Reinstall it and see if this solves the problem.

4. Derailleurs Need Adjustment

Derailleurs on geared motorcycles push and pull the chain into gear. A misaligned derailleur is a very common cause of chain clicking and jumping. 

A cable is used to alter the gears on most shifters and derailleurs. On the other hand, the chain will desire to leap out of gear if the cable is too tight or too slack.

That could be a worn-out shifter cable, but it’s more probable that you need a tune-up. Shifter-derailleur balance is an art, so bring it to your local bike shop for correction.

5. Frame Cracking

A frame that is developing a crack may sometimes creak. You may test for this by standing next to the bicycle, grasping the handlebar in one hand and the saddle in the other, and pushing on the bottom bracket area with one foot. 

Do this from both sides. The test for a loose headset described below may also reveal that the frame or fork is failing.

Why Is My Bike Pedal Clicking When I Pedal?

After a while, even the pedals might begin to make noise. You may have noticed that the noise occurs with each pedal stroke. It is recommended to remove your pedals, lubricate them, and inspect the washers between the pedal and crank arm. 

Similarly, squeaking with every rotation could be caused by your shoe cleats. To identify the sound, you can slow down from pedaling and observe whether you still hear a sound.

Bike Clicking When Pedaling Hard

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. The chain may be rubbing against the cage of the front derailleur, hence causing the noise.

If you have been having difficulty riding your bike and hear a knocking noise when putting the weight in pedaling, it strongly indicates that the bike chain is not adequately lubricated. The chain can only function properly if it is well-maintained. 

Because it lacks oil or lubrication, the chain cannot handle the amount of force put on it. To fix the problem, use a lubricant spray or grease the rollers. Make sure you lubricate your bike chain on a regular basis. Once every two weeks is ideal.

Bike Clicking When Pedaling Uphill

At times peddling to go uphill can make loud banking or clicking sounds as well. This, too, is caused by the force applied to the pedals when taking the bike up a slope. As mentioned before, when a lot of force is put on the pedal, the change rubs against the derailleur, causing a louder clicking sound. 

Road Bike Clicking Noise From Bottom Bracket

A worn-out bottom bracket will produce a clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk noise as one foot, then the other, applies power.  A cup-and-cone bottom bracket may just require adjustment, or the holding rings or cups in the frame may be loose. It is a regular problem with press-fit bottom brackets, particularly with bigger riders.

However, you should not make assumptions because it could be something else. You might try swapping out the pedals for some regular pedals to rule out the pedals as the source of the problem before focusing on the bottom bracket.

Because of the threading of most bottom brackets, the cups are self-tightening to a point. This sometimes leads to careless installation, particularly on the right (fixed cup) side. If the right cup is slightly loose, it won’t necessarily unscrew itself, but it won’t really tighten itself up fully, either. 

Watch the video to find tips on fixing the bottom brackets of your bike.

Bike Clicking Sound When Coasting

The sound is produced by the two ratchets sliding side by side as the bike cycles; the more teeth on the ratchets, the louder the buzz. 

It’s a high-end design that allows for tight engagement for instant power; the more teeth there are, the tighter the engagement, resulting in a higher-pitched sound.

How To Fix The Clicking Noises On A Road Bike

These issues can be resolved by immediately pulling the bike off the ground and checking for different components that could be making the noise, like chains, bolts, and spokes. 

1. Fixing A Clicking Chain

A clicking noise is frequently caused by your chain attempting to jump up or down a gear on the rear cassette. Typically, this can be resolved by adjusting the tension of the cable that connects your shifter to your rear derailleur. Depending on the model of your bike, barrel adjusters will be situated on the shifters, cables, and/or near the rear derailleur. 

To fine-tune the cable tension, use the barrel adjusters. 14 turns at a time on the barrel adjuster should work. If the chain appears to want to fall into a smaller cog, turn the adjusters clockwise. If the chain doesn’t shift up to the larger cog, turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise.

If you’ve turned the barrel adjuster more than a complete turn and it hasn’t solved the problem, visit a bike technician. The clicking could be caused by a bent derailleur hanger.

2. Fixing Squeaky Brakes

First, check if your wheel is attached correctly: Before attempting to silence a squeak, make sure your wheel is properly seated in the dropout of your front fork or rear part of the frame. A wheel that is not seated correctly will be off-kilter and may rub against one brake pad or part of the frame.

Next, check if your wheel is true: To make sure your wheel is not wobbling side to side, put your bike in a stand or lift the squeaky wheel off the ground and spin the wheel. 

If you have rim brakes, watch the rim and the brake pads. Your wheel needs truing if you see wobble or inconsistent rubbing between the rim and brake pads.

If you have disc brakes, watch the rotor and brake pads. If you see wobbling and rubbing, either your wheel needs truing, or you may have a bent rotor.

If your wheel needs truing or you have a bent rotor, take your bike to the shop. If your wheel is true, you can proceed to the next steps.

Check for dirt and wear: Try cleaning the pads, rim, and rotor with rubbing alcohol or a cleaner designed specifically for brakes. Then rough the pads and rotor lightly with sandpaper (with disc brakes, it will be easiest if you remove the pads from the calipers before sanding them). 

Then, check that your brake pads haven’t worn down too much. There need to be enough pads that the metal piece that holds the pads won’t touch your rim or rotor.

Whether you have disc brakes or rim brakes, if your brake pads are off-center, it’s best to take your bike to a shop to have them adjusted. Off-center brakes cause one side of the brakes to make contact with the rotor or rim before the other one does, resulting in poor braking power.

3. Fixing Clicking Pedals

Apply a drop of lubricant to the pedal springs and the spindle joint. Wipe away any excess lubrication. If your pedals are grinding or stiff, your bearings may need to be serviced at a local bike shop. 

If lubing the pedal springs doesn’t stop the squeaking, make sure your cycling shoes’ cleats are tight. Creaking can be caused by cleats that are too loose.

Other Tips To Keep Your Road Bike Well-versed

bike chain maintenance

A well-maintained bike will keep you safe, save money, and ensure smooth riding. Don’t wait for something to break down mid-ride; just a little regular maintenance can prevent you from injury and keep you from having to make costly repairs later on.

Here are five general tips to keep your bike maintained.

  1. Annually service your bike at your local REI or other bike repair shop. A competent bike mechanic will address clicks, creaks, and squeaks before they become a problem.
  1. Keep your bike clean and lubricated to avoid wear and tear as well as squeaks and creaks.
  1. Keep a tube or tub of paste grease available and a bottle of liquid lubricant appropriate for your riding conditions. Use only bike-specific lubes and cleansers
  1. A torque wrench is the only way to ensure that all of the bolts on your bike are tightened to the manufacturer’s standards. Bolt tightness is frequently specified immediately next to the bolt, whether it’s on your rotor or your stem. 
  1. Set the wrench to the necessary torque, tighten the bolt, and when the proper tension is achieved, the wrench will release pressure. An adjustable torque wrench should not be confused with a screwdriver’s wrench, which is a star-shaped bit wrench.

Conclusion

You are likely to hear various clicking and creaking sounds while you are driving your road bike. While the clicking sound is not always something to be alarmed about, it is mostly caused by some part of the bike which has been exposed to some damage.