Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
This week, let’s see if we can help a reader named “David” who has a ticking noise. His question is below and pretty interesting I think. You’ll see my answer with everything I could think for him to check on his roadster after his query. If you are experiencing a similar noise it might help you fix your ride.
Also, I’m very proud of my Keep it Quiet! resource that’s been regularly updated for over 20 years now on my personal bicycle website. Every time a cyclist sends me a noise and their fix, I post it and credit them for sharing.
You might be able to help me? I’ve a ticking noise at the front of my road bike. But only when I go down onto the drops. What could this be? Note that it’s not there when I’m on hoods.
My Reply with Suggestions (best educated guesses)
“Hmm.. good one, David. Here are some possible noise-makers to check:
- Is the front wheel securely tightened in the fork, i.e. wheel fully inserted in the dropouts and the quick release or through axle tightened fully?
- Shifting your weight forward loads the front wheel more. Maybe the spokes have loosened over time and the added weight is causing them to move. If so, they could move against each other at the cross making the noise.
- How old are your wheels? With enough miles, some rims can develop hairline cracks right at the base of the spoke nipples and these can make ticking noises.
- By any chance have you been riding the same aluminum handlebars for a long, long time and got a lot of sweat on them and underneath the tape? If so, the handlebars could slowly be getting eaten by the salt and might be about to break and making a ticking sound when you add weight by weighing the drops? This happened to me. Remove some tape and see if the handlebar is still like new underneath. If not, install new bars asap.
- Is something on your clothing hitting something else – like a zipper swinging and hitting the metal zipper track, tick, tick, tick?
- Is the end plug(s) in the handlebar loose and putting weight down there lets it move and make noise?
- Is being on the ends of the bars applying more weight to the stem and causing the handlebar and/or stem and/or top cap to flex and make a tick noise? Could be a sign of corrosion or loosening bolts.
- Are the brake levers tight on the handlebars or maybe allowing the levers to make a noise when you are on the drops?
- Is the front wheel securely tightened in the fork?
Those are a few things I’d check, David. I hope they help you silence that ticking noise. Please let me know what you find.”
I haven’t heard anything back from David yet. I’m hoping he sees this Tech Talk. If you can think of other things you think he should check, please comment to share them. It will help David if he reads this and also anyone else hunting down an annoying noise.
And, hopefully if we fix his noise, David will read this and tell me or us what it took to quiet his weight-shift tick once and for all. Thanks for the assist!
Ride total: 9,716
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.