If your bike sounds like you just bowled a strike every time you ride, there’s probably something wrong. The knock is one of the worst sounds, but is usually a pretty simple fix. Checking your bolts should be part of your regular routine. When checking bolts, it is critically important to abide by the manufacturer’s torque specifications, especially with carbon. Loose bolts can cause your bike to make unnecessary noise, but more importantly, can be extremely dangerous.
A few bolts that are known to come loose and cause noise are the headset top cap, derailleur hanger bolt, and linkage bolts. Keeping these torqued down to the proper specification will help keep you safe and your bike silent.
Another source of knocking that is easily fixed is cable housing. Using cable ties, or zip ties to hold your cables together will prevent the cables from knocking against each other. Also, making sure that your housing is zip tied securely to the frame will stop them from smacking and rattling.
Few things sound worse than your chain bouncing off of your chainstays or chain guide. If you are running a chain guide and are tired of hearing your chain rattling around inside the guide, you can line the inside of the guide with the soft side of velcro to eliminate the noise.
Another solution that we can thank the bike industry for is the invention of the clutch derailleur. The clutch mechanism holds tension on the chain, which reduces noise and helps prevent chain drops. Over time, your clutch may start to wear out, but most derailleurs have an adjustment screw, which allows you to increase the tension that the clutch puts on the chain.
In an effort to protect your frame from metal on metal contact (or metal on carbon), installing a chainstay protector will prevent scratches and reduce noise.
The only slap that is worse than the chain slap, is the sound of a rock smacking into your downtube. As your front tire rolls, it can kick rocks up, which is why a downtube protector is a great investment. It prevents cosmetic damage, while also reducing the terrible sound of a rock hitting your frame.
Having a bike that rips quietly through the trail truly enhances your riding experience and allows you to keep your focus on the trail. Whether it’s chain slap, or knocking from a loose bolt, your bike will be eternally grateful when you fix it. Taking the time to do simple maintenance or apply these tricks will reduce noise as well as extend the life of your bike. Take care of your bike and it will take care of you!