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How to Troubleshoot That Clicking Noise on Your Road Bike

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Not only is clicking on a bike irritating to listen to while you are riding, but it can potentially be dangerous if it is not addressed. You don’t want to be stuck on a road somewhere with a broken bike or injured in the process when you aren’t close to home or a nearby bike shop. Taking care of these issues as you hear them can save you time, money, and keep you safe.

How do you troubleshoot that clicking noise on your road bike? There is a wide range of issues that could be creating a clicking noise, including trouble with alignment, tire and brake rubbing, and problems with your chains, bolts, and spokes. Testing these areas immediately by pulling the bike off the ground and rotating different mechanisms can solve the problems.

In this article, we will address the potential causes of the clicking noise on your road bike and some steps you should take to troubleshoot these problems. While there are a plethora of issues that may cause this clicking, being sensitive to these noises and checking the health of your bike right away will not only keep you safe but prevent further damage to the bike.

How to Check for Clicking Noises On a Road Bike

Before we dive into the problems and the specific fixes that are required for a variety of clicking problems, there are some fairly standard procedures for troubleshooting a bike. Knowing what to do with the bike when you hear the clicking is an important first step before you can even diagnose the problem.

Here are some of the steps you should take when you hear clicking:

  • Try to identify the location of the click: You may be able to hear the clicking coming from a specific location on the bike, and this will help to eliminate areas and mechanisms on the bike that are not involved. Pay attention to any sounds and pinpoint their potential sources.
  • Stand up on the bike: Try taking pressure off the bike seat while you are pedaling or coasting to see if the clicking stops. If it continues, you can eliminate areas related to the seat area.
  • Identify the cadence and pattern of the click: You should determine how often the clicking occurs. Does it happen with every rotation of the wheels? How about with one rotation of the pedals? When you are breaking? When the chain completes a rotation? The differences in clicking rhythm suggest very different problems and can get you to a solution faster.
  • Get off the bike: You will want to stop biking once you hear that the clicking sound is a consistent problem. Continued clicking can cause further damage to the bike. Either put the bike on a bike stand (if it happens near home) or flip it, so the tires are suspended in the air. This will give you easier access to spinning the tires and pedals to find where the clicking is coming from and work with the bike itself.

Following these steps will help you to find the clicking noise and fix it on your road bike. These are fairly standard procedures for solving any of the issues that could be causing the clicking. If you still cannot figure out what the problem is, consider taking it to a professional or a bike shop. It still may be an easy fix, but hard for you to identify the issue yourself.

Why Is Your Road Bike Clicking and How to Fix It?

There are a variety of reasons that your road bike may be making a clicking noise, and many of these problems are connected to one another. Following the procedure above, you can identify where the clicking is coming from then act accordingly. In this section, we’ll see why this clicking is happening and how to fix it!

Causes of Clicking Noises on a Road Bike

Let’s first look at the most common issues that cause that clicking noises on a road bike so you know what you are looking for if this starts to happen on your bike. When the clicking does begin, you can check the stability of these areas first!

Here are some of the first places to check when you hear a clicking noise on your road bike:

  • Wheels: If a wheel is installed incorrectly, the clicking noise you hear could be due to the tires rubbing. This can quickly destroy the tire, and you should stop riding immediately if you notice the tire deteriorating. Spokes can also begin to touch one another once they get worn down, and this creates a click.
  • Spokes: Looking more specifically at spokes, these can become loose with extended riding and can click if they touch one another or other components on the bike. Another cause of clicking is a dry spoke that has not been properly lubricated.
  • Brakes: Clicking can also be due to brake misalignment and rubbing against your tire or wheel. Brake pads must also be in good condition, or this clicking noise can occur.
  • Bike Chain: When a bike chain is a bit loose, it may start clicking because it wants to move in between gears and is not properly fastened onto the rear cassette. A dry chain can also lead to some clicking sounds. Clicking bike chains can be one of the most common sources of clicking on a bike.
  • Bolts: The bolts that are not tightened correctly can start to create a clicking noise, and may need to be lubricated as well. Bolts that can click in particular are chainring bolts. Loose bolts are an easy fix for this common clicking problem.
  • Pedals: Your pedals may also not be on or tightened properly. Clicking pedals are often due to them trying to move in their normal rotation without anything to hold them in tightly.
  • Seat Security: Clicking can also be caused by a seat not being adjusted or tightened on properly. You can definitely be sure this is the case if you try riding while standing up to see if the clicking continues. This could be an issue with the placement of the seat or the bolts holding it in place.

In all of these locations, one of the common reasons for clicking and other problems is whether or not the bike is clean. Build up, and grime can start to negatively impact the components mentioned above and break down your bike much faster than a clean one. Inspect the areas of your bike and see if they need a bit of care in the cleaning department.

The categories mentioned above are the primary areas that can be causing the clicking noise on your road bike. Most of these fixes are fairly easy if they addressed right when you hear them. Waiting to deal with these problems could make them much worse than they need to be. You want to avoid any real damage! We will discuss how you fix these areas in this next section.   

How to Troubleshoot and Fix These Clicking Problems

Based off the causes of clicking that we have covered above, let’s tackle each area and how you can troubleshoot them to get your road bike back in its ‘quiet’ condition. Some of these are much easier to fix than others, but overall, taking care of clicking noises is a fairly manageable task on your own.

These are how you fix each area of the bike that is making the clicking sound:

  • Wheels: If there is any clicking issue related to the tires, you should pull off the wheel and make sure that it is straight (aligned correctly) when you put it back on. This will prevent rubbing on the tires. The easiest way to do this is to hang the bike up and then make sure the bolts are tightened all the way. This is also a great time to identify if your spokes need to be tightened as well, as these can cause the clicking as well.
  • Spokes: To deal with the loose spokes, you are going to need a spoke wrench to tighten the nuts around the rim of the wheel. You can identify loose spokes by pulling on them gently as you make your way around the wheel. You will also want to make sure these areas are well-lubricated with lightweight oil. A couple of drops of oil on spoke nuts, and the point at which the spokes cross each other can avoid dryness that results in clicking.
  • Brakes: Another form of clicking is related to your brakes, where both the brakes and wheel’s alignment could cause additional rubbing. You will first want to check your brake pads to make sure they are not worn down, as this can cause damage to the bike. They should also be centered on the wheel, which may cause some of the clicking. Make sure all bolts in the area are secure to prevent further misalignment.
  • Bike Chain: To diagnose this problem, prop the bike up and try rotating the tires to get the chain moving. You will start to hear the clicking sound with a full rotation of the chain if this is the problem. To fix it, you will want to use barrel adjusters (located near the shifters) to tighten your cables. You will want to turn the adjuster in ¼ increments clockwise for a tighter gear and counterclockwise for larger.
  • Bolts: Nearly all areas of a bike are fastened with bolts, and these all need to be securely tightened for the bike to be ridden safely and without clicking. These prevent different mechanisms on the bike from becoming misaligned as well. You will want to fasten them tightly with a wrench so that they do not come undone. They may loosen over time with use, so you should be checking these areas frequently (almost all areas with bolts are on this list).
  • Pedals: Make sure your pedals are not only tightened enough but also attached correctly. This means that they are on straight and not rubbing against any other mechanism on the bike. A clicking noise can easily occur if either of these is not well-adjusted. This is one of the easier fixes that can be accomplished with a wrench.
  • Seat: Again, using a wrench, take off the seat and try to readjust it so that it is not only the proper height but also aligned correctly. Your shifting movements could be causing the clicking as you ride. Once you reattach the seat, make sure the bolts are securely tightened.
  • Clean: Make sure you clean these areas if you notice visible dirt and debris. This can help to save you a lot of time and adjusting in the future if you keep these areas free of buildup.

If you are still having a difficult time troubleshooting these issues and the clicking persists, we recommend taking the bike to a shop to have it checked out. This will not only help to properly diagnose why your road bike is clicking, but will also be less expensive than the potential damage that could occur if it goes undiagnosed.

Beyond the cost, safety is very important on the road bike. Tackling the clicking noise will help to keep you safe, especially when you’ll be using the bike in areas that may not be close to resources in the event the road bike breaks down.

Keeping Your Road Bike in Good Condition

Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with many clicking issues on your road bike! You can take some preventative measures to keep these chances of clicking low. This will not only save you time and money in not having to deal with repairs, but it will also make it less of a hassle and safer for you to ride your road bike without worry.

Here are some of the top things you should do regularly to keep your road bike in good condition:

  • Check your bolts: We bring up bolts again because they are what holds most of the road bike together. You should be checking the bolts on your bike regularly to make sure they are securely fastened and well-lubricated with some bike oil. Doing this will prevent clicking and keep the bike from becoming damaged prematurely.
  • Clean it: You need to make sure that your bike remains clean because dirty spokes and other components may also lead to clicking, other noises, and further damage. Dirt and debris from the roads can easily find its way on your bike, especially in varying weather conditions. Lightly soapy water, a rag, and a toothbrush or other fine tool will work well for detailing. Dirty brakes tend to make noise, so make sure those are clean too!
  • Lubricate: After cleaning a bike, you may have wiped away some of the lubrication that keeps the bike quiet and running smoothly. Keep any areas where metal touches metal well-lubricated and remember that it only takes a little bit of oil to do the job. Bike oil can be especially messy, so use sparingly.
  • Pre-ride checks: You should be looking at your bike and checking its readiness before you head out for a ride. This means that making sure everything is tight and in the right place so that you won’t have to discover it later with an unpleasant sound.
  • Professional Maintenance: It is not a bad idea to take your bike in for yearly maintenance, especially if you ride it a lot. There may be some things that a professional sees that you have overlooked, which can be easily fixed with another set of trained eyes.

Keeping these things in mind and really making the effort for preventative measures can help you to avoid common bike issues that may lead to clicking sounds and other troubles. Clicking can seem harmless at first, but if it is not addressed, it can lead to larger bike damages and problems for you, which can be dangerous if you are out on the bike.

Troubleshooting Clicking Noises On a Road Bike

Keeping yourself safe on a road bike is particularly important because it often leaves you in more remote areas that make it more difficult to fix your bike or get assistance when you need it. This is why it is particularly important to listen to your bike and fix issues on the road bike when they first arise. Clicking can be a minor problem that can lead to larger ones.

With our recommendations of areas to check when you hear clicking and what to do when you hear it, you should be set in making minor adjustments to get back on your bike with no noises in a short time frame. Most of these problems can be fixed on your own, but don’t be afraid to ask for professional help to make sure the problem is fully resolved.

There is nothing more annoying than a consistent click when you are riding and taking both preventative steps and making minor adjustments can get you back to a smooth ride.  

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