attention to the normal operating sounds from your bicycle is essential
for keeping your bicycle in top condition. The first sign that your
bicycle needs attention will usually manifest as a new noise: a click,
creak, squeak, or groan.
Listening to your bicycle so
that you know what sounds are normal will make identifying new noises
easier. When you first notice a new noise, pay attention to it; listen
to its pitch, frequency, and rhythm and try to determine what actions
cause the noise. These are the first steps in identifying the noise’s
source and what steps to take to quiet it.
New noises that your
bicycle makes are usually the first sign that something needs your
attention. Any unusual or new noise should be taken seriously as it may
originate from a loose water bottle cage bolt, a dry chain, a loose
crank bolt, or a crack forming in your frame. As a general rule noises
that are higher in pitch and softer – harder to hear – can be looked
into after your ride while noises that are lower in pitch and relatively
louder should be taken very seriously. In every case if a new noise
starts and then gets progressively louder or changes pitch during the
ride you should stop riding immediately and determine the cause.
Try to determine the cause of the noise
a new noise begins, try to isolate what conditions cause the noise and,
even better, see if you can create the noise on demand. This will
simplify identifying the source. Think about the following:
Do I hear the noise when I’m pedaling or coasting or both?
Is the noise rhythmic? And if so, does the rhythm’s tempo increase with the speed of the bicycle or the speed of my pedaling?
Which gear(s) is the bicycle in when I hear the noise?
Is the noise present when I’m standing or sitting on the bike or both?
Is the noise present when I start my ride or does it only manifest after a few miles?
If the noise is non-rhythmic can I create the noise on smooth
pavement by shifting my weight and/or pulling and pushing on the
handlebars? Or can I only hear it on rough pavement?
What do I have to do to create the noise at will?
But it's still challenging to diagnose the source
noises that your bicycle makes are very hard to isolate directionally.
Noises that are coming from the saddle can sound like they are
originating from the handlebar. When riding, all the parts of the
bicycle are the same distance away from each of our ears, and because
the sound waves are traveling such a short distance our directional
sense is often fooled. Add to that the ability of the sound-causing
vibrations to resonate all through your frame and you have a hopeless
situation when trying to hear what part of your bike a noise is
originating from. If the noise is loud enough for your riding partner
to hear, getting him/her to ride next to you to try to identify where
the noise is coming from can be helpful. Usually it is possible to tell
if the noise is coming from the front, middle, or back of someone
Rhythmic noises that keep time with your pedaling
cadence are the most common and very difficult to track down. Many
times this class of noise originates from the crank/bottom bracket
area. However, a rider’s weight will shift from side to side and there
is a corresponding push/pull on the handlebars, especially noticeable
with a hard pedaling effort. These secondary forces are frequently
responsible for causing rhythmic sounds that come from the saddle, seat
post, stem, or wheels and not from the crank where we intuitively expect
cadence timed rhythmic sounds to come from.
We're always here to help
If you cannot determine the cause of your bicycle’s new noise and/or need assistance eliminating it, Landry’s Bicycles
is here to help. Coming into the shop with answers to the 7 questions
above will help us identify and quiet your mystery noise quicker and get
you back out on the road sooner – so you can enjoy the quiet operation
of your finely tuned bicycle.