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


May 2013

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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