Mysterious Bicycle Sounds

riverWhen I am out on a ride I pay attention to any abnormal sounds that I hear my bike make-almost to the point of obsession.

I know I am over attentive because when I hear something that sounds like it could be coming from my bicycle, I always assume it is.

That squeal. “Oh, there must be a piece of metal in my brake pads.”
Nope. The car that has pulled alongside me in the intersection is the one with the bad brakes.

That weird chirping. “My bike must need a good cleaning.”
No. The bird flying overhead is singing.

That thudding. “Is a stick caught in my wheel?”
Umm, no. There are men doing construction work on a church nearby.

But I don’t always get it wrong, sometimes when I think my bike is making strange noises, my bike is actually making strange noises. The fix for these extraneous sounds is usually rather simple: either cleaning the bike, moving my boot away from the crank arm, adjusting the brakes, tightening the rack, straightening the computer sensor or fixing a leaking tube does the trick.

But this week when the weather got cold for the first time this season, my bike started making a noise that I had never heard it make before.

Every time I went over a bump there was a sickening rattle that seemed to come from the bottom of the frame. The longer I rode in the cold, the worse the rattle became.

“It’s gotta be a loose screw on the rack!” I thought.

But when I checked after the ride, the rack felt secure. Even more mystifying, when I looked the bike over again before heading out on my next ride, the rattle was gone. I was thankful, it must have been a fluke!

Such good fortune was not to be. Before I had biked a few miles the rattle returned in full force.

It wasn’t until Wednesday morning, when I was pulling into the driveway at work, that I finally caught on. Apparently, there was a loose screw, not on my bike rack, but in my brain.

bike water bottle

The culprit, a frozen water bottle

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39 thoughts on “Mysterious Bicycle Sounds

      • Funny you should say that! My anesthetist told me that shortly after he got into his field, they had a deal where the screws that came into surgery for the patient were metric and they only had American tools. One of the nurses had a motorcycle and his tool box was in his pickup with metric tools. They got those, ran them through the sterilizer 3 times and used them. They had no choice. So maybe the bike shop would be a good choice!

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      • Oh my goodness, what a story! I hope when you go in on Monday they have the right tools. Might want to give them the LBS number just in case…

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    • I sure hope so! There are occasions when I feel completely at one with my bike, but most of the time I feel a bit like an awkward tag-along. I bet you were feeling pretty in tune with your bike when the two of you were screaming down that hill last September 😀

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      • At that moment….absolutely…but I was also telling myself just to hang on and not make any sudden shifts of weight.

        You’ve learned how to deal with snow and rain and mud…so I am sure you are quite in tune with your bike.

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  1. A similar one. Tick tick tick. Erratic ticks from the frame. The top tube? It’s driving me mad!!!! It was the hard plastic thing on the end of the drawstring on my jacket hitting the tube. Ugh!

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  2. With my bike it’s not so much whether it’s making a noise as whether that noise is important or not. So many clangs and squeaks come as standard, mostly down to a bent chain guard.

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  3. This made me laugh because I do the same thing!! I regularly stop riding to check my bike over only to discover the sound is something like the noise my rain jacket makes when my legs cause the fabric to shift while I pedal.

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  4. I hate the strange noises – once on a windy descent in a group ride hitting 55 I heard a strange noise coming from either my fork or the head tube – I feared catastrophic failure so stopped and checked …. Nothing …. Carried on and t returns – tried the brakes no change (so def not fork or headset) it seems to come from the frame itself. Titanium oh no I thought. Nursed it down to the bottom of hill and group who thought it was a puncture. On the straight the rattle/bring/knock returned – again. Check and eventually I found a crack in the bottle cage – grinding against itself with the weight of the bottle – so bottle in back pocket and off I set happier. A quiet bike is a happy bike.

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    • That’ s a great story, I can feel your anguish, riding down that hill you must have been on pins and needles…only to find out it is just a water bottle causing drama. Silly water bottles anyway 😀

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  5. Heh-heh, chuckle-chuckle. I am what you might call extremely sound-oriented. My wife makes fun of me often: “That’s the toilet filling”, or “It’s an airplane”, or “Yes, I started the dishwasher”, she’ll say with an eye-roll when I start tilting my head and looking around like a curious puppy. And that’s just while sitting around the house. Out on my bike, especially in mixed traffic when I absolutely depend on my bike to perform as flawlessly as possible, every little tick and clink and rattle becomes the precursor to a major frame failure or the loss of a wheel. Is my crank about to fall off? No, that’s just my shoelace hitting it (I don’t use “bike shoes”). Is my tire shredding itself? No, that’s just a leaf caught under my fender. Is that air hissing out of my tire? No, its just a patch of sticky mud. I know the difference between the zip of a piece of gravel being *rolled* around under my fender (harmless) and the scratch of something being *dragged* around under my fender (usually means there something stuck in my tire). I’ve also fallen victim to paranoid mind-rambling while listening to [liquid] water slosh around in my water bottle.

    And just to take it a level higher: smells. I smell hot wiring, it must be my headlight about to fail–no, wait, it’s some car’s hot engine. I smell “tire air”, is it mine? No, I don’t hear any hissing. I smell hot rubber, is something rubbing my tire? No, somebody just spun a tire when that last light turned green. So I, personally, cannot agree that there is a screw loose in your brain, because that would mean I have perhaps multiple screws loose in mine…

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    • Oh my goodness! I have never even thought of taking smells into consideration…you really are on a whole other level 🙂 I have to tell you though, the more I read your comments the more I wish you had a blog (maybe you already do!). Your description of the bike sounds that mess with your head really gave me a chuckle this morning 😀

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  6. Ha. My favourite thread on one of those forums was somebody asking about this errant squeak they couldn’t locate. A few posts later they sheepishly admitted that they were wearing Crocs which were squeaking…

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    • I am really glad you came over here to read my posts, Shirley I enjoying reading your blog the other day. It is always fun to find a fellow blogger who bikes and loves God 🙂 I use a mountain bike in the winter, I brought it second hand for a decent price, the only thing special about it is the studded tires, believe me they make all the difference in winter!

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