The sounds of your bicycle: does it need maintenance, or repair?

The bike whisperer hears the message in the sounds of a bicycle. How can you tell whether your bike is asking for maintenance, or screaming for repair? If you’re at all unsure, just drop in to The Bike Doctor, and we’ll let you know what’s up, free of charge.

Sometimes it’s straight forward. If you hear a constant chorus of squeaking which stops when you stop pedaling, it’s probably your drive train telling you that it’s time for some oil. Add oil to your chain as you spin the pedal backward, making sure that it is applied to each of the links evenly. After a short ride, or even at the end of the day, wipe all of the excess away. Excess oil will attract dirt and wear down your components, so you’ll want to keep your drivetrain clean. Simple maintenance is that easy, it really doesn’t require much in the way of special tools.


Sometimes it’s a little more complicated. Does the squeaking continue even as you’re coasting? Perhaps you need new wheel bearings. Is there a creaking, or a clicking sound as you pedal? It sounds like your bottom bracket needs your attention. A loud screech when you apply the brakes is an obvious clue that they need a bit of TLC. It might be as simple as a loose pad or misaligned brake shoe. If you still have rubber on the pads, but the levers touch the grips when you’re trying to stop, just come in and we’ll tighten the cables while you wait for $8. Watch how we do it, and next time you can tackle it yourself.


Roll the wheels to see if they’re running true. Rubbing sounds could mean a couple of things. A constant rubbing noise might happen when a fender or brake needs a slight adjustment, whereas a short rub per revolution may be signalling that your wheel is out of true. Book an  appointment with us online, and we’ll take care of that for you.

A clicking noise, and a delay or jumping between gears when you shift is a sign that your cables may have stretched – something that happens to all cables and is easily adjusted – or it might be that your derailleur needs an adjustment. If you hear the rear derailleur clicking on the spokes, stop riding immediately and bring your bike in.

Body language speaks volumes; your bike is always talking to you.. Keep it clean, and get used to giving it a once-over, so that you can easily tell when something is out of place. Before you ride, give it a quick check; make sure that the tires are inflated, the brakes are working properly, and everything else is in order. It won’t be long before you’re fully fluent, and the whisper of your bike’s wheels on the road is like music to your ears.



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