Diagnosing clicking/banging noises

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Anonymous's picture

I'm curious if anyone can point me in the right direction; I have a fairly obnoxious clicking/banging noise emanating from the bottom bracket area, although it's an aluminum frame so the sound reverberates easily.

Here are the givens - the noise only occurs when I'm both on the bike AND pedaling. Further, it is barely noticeable until about 5 miles into a ride, then gets progressively worse and downright loud at 20+. On RARE occasion it will spontaneously shut up for a few minutes, and start again at the first gear change (though changing gears once it's making noise doesn't affect anything).

My rear wheel (ALX330) was repaired for a broken hub about 300 miles ago so I'm a little suspicious of it, but it's rolling 100% true without the slightest wobble.

Anybody have a clue?

Anonymous's picture
An anonymous cow! (Christian Edstrom) (not verified)

Does it happen both seated and standing?
Is it cadence related or speed related?

I'd check the seat/seatpost interface, crank bolts, and pedal cleats before having the bottom bracket out.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Pete Sweeney (not verified)

The noise happens both seated and standing (although I believe it's a little more muffled when standing), and I'm 80% certain it's speed related (not cadence) which leads me to suspect the rear wheel. Thanks for the idea though - tomorrow I'll try spinning like a maniac on a downhill to see what effect it has.

Are there any possible culprits in the rear wheel or the hub/freewheel/cogs that would make extremely loud banging noises ONLY when pedaling, even though it's rolling 100% true?

FWIW, I had the LBS take a cursory look, tighten/lube the obvious culprits, and they found nothing (again the noise requires pressure and only grows noticeably loud after riding a few miles). I can probably rule out seat/seatpost since I've gotten the noise while standing (though it's more muted), and it's definitely not the cleats.

Thanks for all the advice.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
internet diagnosis


Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
What crank and bottom bracket?

Freehub noise should occur whether you are pedaling or not and such noise will be noticeable when turning the pedal with your hands.

Sure, it is possible I could be wrong. A simple test would be to try a different rear wheel.

Since the noise occurs only when pedaling and its volume increases as speed increases, which can be inferred as more pedaling force is occuring, my internet diagnosis is that it is coming from the bottom bracket area.

I would go so far as to revise my original guess and say it is loose cranks and not the bottom bracket. If the latter is loose, you would definitely feel it. For the cranks this is not necessarily so.

What are the bike's crank and bottom bracket?

Anonymous's picture
Reg (not verified)

As Christian said; Stand and pedal. If the creak goes away then it's prob your seat or seatpost. If not check for a loose or worn bottom bracket lockring--same thing happened to me and it was because of a worn BB lockring.

Did you check your frame? I had a clanking BB and a loose chain only to find out that my frame had neatly cracked at the crankarm (an extreme and not likely with your symptoms, but possible).

Anonymous's picture
Ean (not verified)
Same Problem but add 210 lbs

Thank you for this thread. I also have a clicking noise. My problem - when it's on a bike-stand no click. I add my 210 pounds, start riding and click, click, click. I have tried these suggestions and will retest it today. I appriecated this conversation.

Anonymous's picture
Ed (not verified)
Diagnosing clicking/banging noises

Why not get the bottom bracket serviced?

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
What answer do you wish to read?

First guess would be the bottom bracket. Second guess - loose cranks. Guessing here as there's not much information to go on. I would stop riding it and get the bike checked out. Otherwise you may be at risk damaging to the bottom bracket shell, crank splines or to yourself.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Infuriatingly difficult to find

"""clicking/banging noise"" does suggest bottom bracket, but while you're down there you might as well grease everything else - crank bolts, chainring bolts, pedal threads, pedal bearings - so that when you come to find out it wasn't, in fact, the bottom bracket, at least you can eliminate that part of the bike as suspect.

Good luck. Hope it's not the saddle rails, or the handlebar/stem interface, or the seatpost, or the front dropouts, or the ..."

Anonymous's picture
Bob Shay (not verified)
Same problem

I had the same problem. Simple fix for me. Pulled out the seatpost, cleaned and lightly greased it, put it back in. Problem solved.

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)

Always tricky because noise reverberates through the frame. Further, our ears do not well perceive the direction of sounds emanating from above or below. You may have a friend ride beside you and give a listen on a quiet stretch.

If they can't isolate it, a checklist should include bottom bracket, crank, chainring (bolts), pedals, stem, seatpost, saddle (rails) plus headset (clean/lube) as well as inspection of drivetrain, frame, fork.

Eventually you'll get it by process of elimination.

Anonymous's picture
Bob Ross (not verified)
localizing problems

>>our ears do not well perceive the direction of sounds emanating from above or below.<<

They do however excel at localizing directional cues which occur on either side of the median plane. The solution is simple: look down.

(But don't try this in heavy traffic!)

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
"""The solution is simple: look down."""

Mmmm. Same problem.

Our ears are engineered to detect predators from 360 degrees on a horizontal plane (sabre tooth tigers, bishon frieses), but not from above or below (birds, gophers). Looking down does not materially alter the rider's orientation with regards to isolating a noise coming from the front or back of the cycle.

Ideally, you'd want a person to ride alongside ... about six feet away ... ears at axle height ... head facing in your direction. I agree this shouldn't be tried in heavy traffic ... unless they have one of these:


Anonymous's picture
Bob Ross (not verified)
okay, so look sideways

">>Looking down does not materially alter the rider's orientation with regards to isolating a noise coming from the front or back of the cycle.<<

Looking down allows one to determine whether the sound is coming from the left or right side of the bike. If one needs to assess whether noises emanate from the front or back of the bike, looking 90 degrees to the left or right will reorient the ear's median plane to the bike's fore/aft. (Again, not recommended in heavy traffic.) Like any thorough trouble-shooting, it's a systematic, step-by-step process of elimination.

But your pictured ""Lowrider"" would definitely be helpful! Maybe owners of those bikes could rent out their services as travelling diagnosticians...?"

Anonymous's picture
Cranky (not verified)
Do you have FSA carbon cranks?

If so, check for seperated inserts, where the pedal interfaces with the crank arm. FSA cranks are notorious for failures here, and you'll get clicking noises from that.

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