filthy bike chain non lubricated dry noise

10 Reasons Why Your Bike Chain Keeps Clicking & How To Fix It

Knowing why your bike chain keeps clicking and how to fix it is an essential skill for any biker. Moreso, if you want to be an all-round biker who is helpful to others or want to master some do-it-yourself bike fixing skills.

So, what causes your bike chain to click, and what can you do? Here is a look at 10 reasons why your bike chain keeps clicking and how to fix it.

1. Old and Worn-out Bike or Chain

worn out bike chain red wall background hand fixing
Image Credit: The New York Times

One of the common reasons you experience bike chain noise while pedaling is an old and worn-out bike and chain. The chain is one of the most important parts of a bike, as it transfers power from the pedals to the wheels.

Often, a chain will wear out and stretch over time, making it loose and not fit on the sprockets. This means it will move laterally and horizontally more, thus causing the clicking sounds.

Additionally, a worn-out chain has more gaps than a new chain. Therefore, it will clatter when you pedal because it does not align well with the sprocket.

Furthermore, with time your bike will get old with continual use. However, it will appear older if neglected.

How to Fix

Fixing an old and worn-out chain is relatively easy. The most common remedy is to replace your bike chain. You can do this by going to a bike shop and having it replaced.

However, if you want to do it yourself, grab protective gloves, lubricant, a new chain, and quick-link pliers for easier and speedier chain replacement.

2. A Misaligned Chain

misaligned bike chain shiny new clicking
Image Credit: PowerSportsGuide

A misaligned chain is another bike chain-clicking cause. The misalignment is common for various reasons, such as the rear wheel not being centered, the wrong choice of chainrings and sprockets, and the wrong-sized wheels.

Typically, a chain should have a straight path, but due to its allowable flexibility, it will tend to bend. However, the various components will wear and tear down if this exceeds the ideal level.

This means your chain will start to click as you pedal.


How to Fix

The most effective way to fix t a misaligned chain problem is to have a professional align your bike.

But if finding a pro is challenging or you are not near one, the temporal remedy is shifting the bike to the lowest gear using the left shifter.

This will cause you to ride on the largest chainring. Afterward, pedal until all links fall into place

3. A Non-lubricated or Dry Chain

filthy bike chain non lubricated dry noise
Image Credit: Hoffy Cycles

A dry chain is one of the causes of a bike clicking sound because the power from the pedal is not easily transferable. Thus, the chain will skip or jump because it is not flexible.

In addition, a non-lubricated bike chain will not last as long as it should and can even damage the bicycle. This is because it will eventually wear out from friction, causing wear and tear on all moving parts over time.

This can cause premature wear on your derailleurs and cranksets, which may lead to costly repairs down the road

How to Fix It

Fixing this problem is the easiest and the most basic one. You only need to lubricate the chain regularly.

And if you bike in dusty or muddy terrains, ensure you wash and dry the chain before lubricating it.

4. Hard pedaling

Image Credit: Biketoworkday

Is your bike chain making noise when pedaling? Well, hard pedaling is another reason why your bike chain keeps clicking. This happens because of a loose or not-well-lubricated bottom bracket.

In addition, the clicking sound may be due to unsteady pedals and bottom brackets.

How to Fix It

The best way to reduce the clicking sound is by tightening the pedals. A pedal wrench is the best tool to use, and you can follow the following steps

  1. Using a wrench remove the pedals from the crank arm
  2. Using a rag or clean cloth, clean the pedal threads
  3. Apply a layer of grease on the threads
  4. Place, screw, and tighten the pedal back

If the lube does not stop the clicking, use a plumber’s tape by wrapping it around the cups. On the other hand, if you do not have a wrench, have a pro do it. Alternatively, start with lubing the spindle joint or springs and if tha clicking sound does not end, opt for opening the crank arm.

Also, depending on the noise, a pedal change may be recommended if all the other solutions do not help eliminate or reduce the clicking sound.

5. Dirt and Grit in the Pedal Bearing

dirt grit pedal bearing how to fix bike chain clicking
Image Credit: Liv Cycling

When dirt and grit accumulate in the pedal bearing, they may lead to your bike chain making noise when pedalling.

Generally, pedals and the entire chain link system should be clean to be devoid of clicks and work optimally.

How to Fix It

One of the easiest diagnoses and solutions is to replace the pedal. This will even help determine if the clicking is from the pedal area.

 Lubing the pedal is also perfect for reducing or eliminating the clicking sounds.

Alternatively, if these two solutions do not work, disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling the pedal may be the only perfect remedy. However, this may require an expert, as some special tools are required.

6. Damaged or Worn-out Bike Components

damage worn out bike chain component noise problem
Image source: Reddit

If you continuously experience bike chain noise, it is time to look at your components. These include chainrings, sprockets, cranksets, derailleurs, and shifters.

Generally, these parts will get damaged over time due to normal tear and wear or neglect. But whatever the reason, they will lead to bike chain-clicking problems and need immediate checks to avoid further damage.

Furthermore, a damaged or worn-out chainring will not be able to grip a chain, thus causing it to skip and produce clicking sounds.

How to Fix It

Ideally, there is no quick and easy fix to this problem. The recommended solution is to have them replaced by a bike expert

Additionally, an expert can recommend proper maintenance to help the component serve you for longer. These will include activities such as lubrication and proper bike cleaning.

7. Derailleurs Need Adjustment

Derailleurs Need Adjustment bike chain make noise
Image source: Singletracks

Besides the chain, a derailleur is another part, if not adjusted, can be a cause for bike chain clicking.

Derailleurs are the small mechanisms that guide the chain between gears on your cassette, so it makes sense that if you hear clicking when you’re shifting or moving into a lower gear, a poorly adjusted derailleur could be the cause.

These parts use cables to shift the gears, and if it is too loose or tight, the chain will most likely skip or jump, causing the clicking sound.

Also, if the derailleur is bent, it can cause constant sound clicking.

How to Fix It

  1. Start by shifting the chain to the lowest cog and then the barrel adjuster clockwise
  2. Adjust the upper limit screw by turning it to the point where the smallest cassette cog is directly above the top derailleur pulley.
  3. Adjust the cable tension by loosening the anchor screw
  4. Adust the lower limit by moving the chain into the largest cassette cog and then the B-tension

If doing it yourself seems challenging, have an expert help you adjust the derailleur.

8. Loose Presta Nut Valves

Loose Presta Nut Valves bicycle chain clicking noise
Image Credit: Bike Tinker

A loose Presta nut valve is another cause for clicking noises and should be checked if you still seem not to locate why your bike chain keeps clicking.

These are jam or installation nuts used to secure the stem at its meeting point with the bike’s rim. Usually, these nuts comprise an inner valve body, an outer valve stem, and a locknut.

The locknut can sometimes become loose, and it will rattle on the rim resulting in a clicking sound.

How to Fix It

Fixing loose Presta nut valves is easy, although sometimes it may require going to a bike pro if it seems they have a problem.

Alternatively, you can install o-rings to help you keep the valve tight for a longer period.

9. Loose Cassette Cogs

Loose Cassette Cogs how to fix bike chain noise clicking
Image Credit: YouTube

When cassette cogs become loose, they can be a source of bike chain noise. These components help in gear ratio transfer, power transmission, and speeds.

How to Fix It

To fix the problem, tightening the cogs is the best approach. If you decide to do it yourself, use an adjustable wrench and an adjusting tool.

Alternatively, you can have a mechanic at a bike shop do all the work for you, especially if there is dirt on the cogs and it needs cleaning.

The cleaning will also entail removing the wheel to enable you to clean each cog individually; thus, having an expert look at it is recommended.

10. Brake Pads

Brake Pads reduce bike chain noise clicking
Image Credit: Cycleplan

If the brake pads are not well-aligned, they can vibrate against the rim and cause a clicking sound.

This may be due to worn-out pads, although checking is crucial before deciding whether to replace or adjust.

How to Fix It

Fixing the problem of brake pads is also pretty easy.

  1. First, check if the front pads touch the rims before the back ones. If this is the case, adjust such that they both touch the rims simultaneously when you brake
  2. Next, check whether there is residue build-up on the rims and remove it by cleaning
  3. If the pads are worn out, have them replaced


I hope this article has helped you identify why your bike chain keeps clicking and how to fix it.

Normally, bike chain noise problem boils down to non-maintenance, chain age, and normal tear and wear.

Having other bike chain problems? Here are some tips on why your bike chain keeps falling off and how to fix it.



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