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Bicycle Clicking When Pedaling: What’s Wrong & What To Do

A bike being pedaled on a country road, legs down photo.

As someone who frequently goes biking to stay active and enjoy scenic views and places, I’ve often heard my bike clicking while I pedal. Concerned by whether it was safe to continue biking, I sought out the answer to why it was making this noise. Whether you’re new to cycling or are an experienced cyclist, you may have had the same question as mine.

A bicycle clicks when pedaling due to issues that arise with:

  • poor lubrication
  • pedals and shoe cleats
  • bottom bracket
  • brake pads
  • shifter cables
  • derailleur hanger

While these clicking noises may not be detrimental to your bike, they can be annoying and suggest that something could be wrong with one of the parts. To make the noise go away, locate the source and fix it accordingly. Read on to learn how to identify the causes of the clicking noise, and how to address them.


Irritated with clicking noises on your bike? First, examine the chain links to find out if they are the source of the noise. If they’re difficult to move and there’s a buildup of rust, then you’ve found the culprit: poor lubrication. You may have not oiled your chain in a while.

A person lubricating the chain on their bike.
Lubricate the chain to see if that helps the clicking sound

Fortunately, you can lubricate the chain to get rid of the clicking sound. Just place some drops of this type of lubricant (available at Amazon) at every link of the chain. Then, wipe away the excess with a towel to clean the chain. A great practice is to apply lubricant on your bike chains every two weeks.

Pedals and Shoe Cleats

If you find the source of the noise in your pedals or shoe cleats, here are the steps you must take to be rid of the clicking. First, remove the pedals. Then, apply a drop of lube to the pedal springs, and at the joint in the bike spindle.

If you’re still hearing the clicking sound after checking the pedals, it’s time to check your shoe cleats. They usually make a clicking noise if they’re loose.

Pedal while the shoe is not clipped in to see if that is indeed the issue. If so, use a wrench to tighten your pedals. You may also tighten the cleat tension screw to permanently remove the noise.

Bottom Bracket

If the noise continues even after checking your pedals and shoe cleats, perhaps the bottom bracket is the issue. The bottom bracket cups tend to get loose, thus making clicking sounds while you pedal.

You can easily fix this by removing the crank arms, adjusting them properly, and tightening the cups in the bottom bracket. You shouldn’t hear the sound anymore.

TIP: If the bottom bracket is just old, you may need to replace it altogether.

Brake Pads and Rim

The brake pads and rim also need to be addressed when it comes to your bicycle clicking. While you’re pedaling, the brake pads may rub against the rim making a clicking sound. To fix the problem, follow these steps:

  1. Realign the brake pads, making sure that the front section of the pads comes in contact with the rim before the back section does. 
  2. Possibly replace your brake pads if they’re damaged or tattered.
  3. Get rid of any residue accumulated on the rim by carefully washing all angles of the rim with a cleaning solution. Then, use a clean cloth to remove any remaining unwanted excess.
A hand tightening the shifter cables on a bike with a tool.
Shifter cables may need to be adjusted or replaced

Shifter Cables

A sign that there’s an issue with your shifter cables is a continuous clicking sound in your bike’s gears. A problematic shifter cable can cause misalignment of the derailleur, making the chain constantly hit against the derailleur cage and, as a consequence will make a clicking sound.

If there’s no visible bending or misalignment of the derailleur, you can adjust its tension. If the clicking sound persists, you might have to replace your shifter cables.

Derailleur Hanger

A clicking sound can be caused by a bent or misaligned derailleur hanger. It doesn’t matter how minimal the bend is, the shifting will still be impacted and cause constant clicking.

A derailleur hanger grinding against the bike frame can also be an issue. In this case, you need to remove and clean the hanger. Make any needed tweaks or repairs on the hanger before putting it back on again.

TIP: Don’t forget to apply enough oil on all surfaces to mitigate friction.

Top Maintenance Tips for Your Bike

With the right maintenance, you can ensure safety while biking and enhance the longevity of your favorite bike. Let me share some tips for how I take care of my precious bike:

  • Maintain the bike’s cleanliness: Cleaning helps keep your bike from wearing out. Avoid storing it outside, especially in the rain. Dry it well after cleaning to avoid rust, which can cause noises while biking and other issues.
  • Have a safety check before biking: Don’t forget to check the chain, tires, and brakes before you start your ride.
  • Lubricate your bike: A good rule of thumb is lubricating your drivetrain to lessen the chances of clicking noises or wearing it out.    
  • Have your bike serviced every year: With the help of an expert bike mechanic, every part of the bike can be inspected thoroughly.
  • Learn how to fix flat tires: This skill can help you save time, money, and other resources. Consider watching helpful videos online and secure the necessary tools in case the need arises.
A man stopped in the woods checking the pedal on his bike.
Once you identify the source of the clicking, it’s usually an easy solution!

Final Thoughts

As I have shared with you, instances of bike clicking when pedaling could come from:

  • lubrication problems
  • pedals and shoe cleats
  • bottom brackets
  • brake pads and rim
  • shifter cables
  • derailleur hanger

There’s no need to panic! You simply have to identify the source of the sound and apply the proper solutions, including:

  • lubricating
  • tightening
  • cleaning

Now, you don’t have to ask why your bike clicks when pedaling — you can quickly pinpoint the issue and enjoy your ride!

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