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Daily Archives: May 18, 2013

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Why Does Your Bike Make That CLUNKing Sound When You Pedal?

You’re hammering down the causeway, not a care in the world, wind at your back – all is well in your realm… Then, clunk, clunk… Clunk, clunk… Clunk, clunk…

It sounds like it’s coming from low on the bike, down around the crank, maybe back at the derailleur… You can’t quite place it though and it’s driving you nuts.

First, relax. Nothing clunks on a bike on purpose so you know something’s wrong.  Second, if you’re worried about the shop not being able to recreate the noise on the stand, don’t sweat it – keep riding, it’s bound to get worse.  Joking aside, it’s probably easier to fix than you think. Here are two simple tips for fixing the clunky drivetrain.

First, check that the bolts that hold the chainrings are tight. If not, tighten them up and continue on. When you get home, pull out the bolts (I cheat, one at a time rather than taking everything apart), clean the bolt, grease it and reinstall. Repeat until they’re all cleaned, greased and reinstalled.

You’re not done yet though.

Second, if possible, make sure that the crank arm bolts are tightened. This is a likely culprit. To regrease the bolts, consult your handy-dandy Bike Repair App.

This post assumes, of course, that the problem is not in the pedals or cleats. Pedals, especially cheap ones, can develop annoying clicks and you’ll feel that one with your foot. There are also other major problems that can cause a clunk or a click, a worn out bottom bracket and so on. I don’t cover these on this blog as I don’t bother with these repairs – the bike goes to the shop for the big things. My local shop owner needs the work and I don’t. 😉

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One With The Universe… And The Bike

We started out cloudy and in the low 60’s this morning but the forecast had some good things in store for us – abundant sunshine, nice breeze and 80 degrees by 1 pm.

Now I won’t kid you, I can do without the breeze but I can’t complain too much – it was probably 5-10 mph unless it was in the face (in which case it felt like 30). I headed down at a fairly brisk but easy 19 mph, head down just cruising along. Rather than head straight for the running club I opted for the long route around town and was infinitely glad I did… It was just one of those perfect rides where every turn of the pedal was a cause for a smile. That might seem corny but that’s how it was – I just had a fantastic time.

It warmed up quickly and the clouds were a fading memory by the time I pulled into the running club, 18 miles at about 19 mph (including numerous stops – I was closer to 20).

I was thinking about sitting down for some lunch but thought better of it. I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and headed out to see if I could find my running buddies on there route. With the warming temps I figured at least one would need some H2O. Before I even got out of the subdivision my mountain biking buddy Tim came running up and let me know that he’d picked up a brand new (used) Trek mountain bike for my daughter so I headed back with him to check that out first… Another 9 miles, but at a very leisurely 15 mph.

After a fantastic taco lunch (good God can Grateful Jim make some awesome tacos) and even better conversation I packed up and headed out for the ride home. With the 5 mph breeze at my back for five of the first eight miles I figured this would be the leg to push for speed (not exactly a bright idea after a four taco lunch, but whatever). I got through the tailwind section at 20.2 mph, but without stops that would have been 20.5 easy. Then I turned north and tried to put the hammer down. There are some decent hills, more up than down for the first four miles, and I attacked each one two gears higher than prudent. By the time I rolled over 14 miles I had raised my average by a tenth to 20.3 (no stop signs or lights) but was on the verge of leaving my lunch on the road so in the interest of keeping the needed food in my stomach where it belonged I dialed it back to 16 mph and just spun it back, a smile on my face.

45 miles on the day and more than 135 for the week (so far, I still have tomorrow) and I couldn’t be happier. It was the perfect day for a ride and I took advantage of every minute I had. I’ve never had a “bad” day on the bike, but this one was better than most.