Bontrager CrankThe quiet of a bicycle is part of the attraction.  Once away from the urban din of Indianapolis, we only expect the sounds of tires on pavement or trail, the mechanical buzz-purr of the chain, and our own exertion.   But sometime there will be another noise, a tick, or click or rub.  It may be continuous, only occur in certain gears, or have an infrequent mystery source.  
 
In my first summer of riding, my bike was plagued by a recurring tick from the cranks. It  would vary from side to side, and could not be found when in a repair stand.  In the course of a month I repacked the bottom bracket and pedals, without a solution.  It  wasn’t until I purchased my first pair of cycling shoes later that summer that I realized the source.  It was the aglets, the metal end of the laces on my sneakers, hitting the steel cranks when tied just right.
 
In the years since my aglet mystery, I have encountered other many noises while JRA (Bicycle Mechanic for Just Riding Along) on my own bikes and with other riders.  The sources have included:
 
  • Tire bulges (Both failing tires, and tires not seated correctly)
  • Stones stuck in brake pads
  • Rusted chain links
  • Sand and tar on tires contacting the frame.  (Don’t laugh, a couple riding in Australia totaled a tandem frame with this one!)
  • Out of true wheels hitting the frame
  • Jackets and packs rubbing on the rear wheel through a rack
  • Loose or broken spokes
  • Small pieces of metal  inside bicycle rims and frames
  • Loose bottle cages and racks
  • Springs in frame pumps
  • Slipped front derailleur
  • Those extra, unused, mounting bolts in some cycling shoes
 
Many of these can be found and resolved with an ABC Quick check before you ride (a few will require a bicycle mechanic):
 
  • Air (Check tire for pressure, and check for tire damage from your last ride)
  • Brakes (Levers don’t touch the handlebar, pads adjusted to clear the rim)
  • Chain  (Lubed, with no visible rust)
  • Quick Releases (Wheel mounted in frame correctly, and quick releases correctly set)
  • Check (Make sure accessories bolted to your bike are snug) 
 
Make this a very simple routine before every ride, with more extensive periodic checks throughout your riding season.  It will help keep your bike quiet and safe.  And if you would like assistance with a noise, or want more extensive review of your bike’s condition, the trained bicycle mechanics at either Indianapolis Bicycle Garage location will inspect your bike for free, and offer you tune up or overhaul alternatives.  It is good for peace, and quiet, of mind.
 
Do you have a good bicycle noise or service story?  Please tell us below: