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Is the perfect set up drivetrain silent?

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Is the perfect set up drivetrain silent?

Old 08-09-21, 09:04 PM
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rsbob 
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Is the perfect set up drivetrain silent?

May be a stupid question but I never knew one could be absolutely silent until I rode my “new” 2012 bike 300 total miles. It has an Ultegra group set and when I pedal it makes absolutely no sound. My 2020 bike also with full Ultegra makes what I would consider the ‘normal’ mechanical sound which I have heard on all my bikes for decades. So, brain trust, is my 2020 bike not dialed in or is the 2012 bike an anomaly?
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Old 08-09-21, 09:23 PM
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I've had fairly quiet drive trains and others that were a tad more noisy, but nothing seemed out of sorts.
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Old 08-10-21, 03:00 AM
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I love a quiet bike. Some bikes and set ups seem to be impossible to get there. I am presently working on a carbon fiber frameset that I have never been able to get to an acceptable level of quietness. I believe the carbon fiber is a root cause for that. Having said that, I have managed to quiet down the drive train considerably by installing new internal cable/housing, chain, cassette, Shimano chain rings, different tire/tube set up. It is mostly 5700 components with an FSA Omega crankset/bb. Switching to Shimano chain rings really helped. I just received a new Shimano PF BB for bb86 and am going to pull the FSA and mount a Tiagra 4600. 48/34, crank set. I am hoping that will quiet the drivetrain even more. I think the cf transmits all the vibration/noise in a way the it kind of reverberates throughout the frame.
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Old 08-10-21, 04:35 AM
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Are you using the same chain lube on both? Just to rule that out.
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Old 08-10-21, 04:56 AM
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I dislike using superlatives, therefore: all other things being equal, a quieter drivetrain is probably better than a noisier one, since the sound is generated by converting mechanical energy to sound. Efficiency losses due to noise are likely miniscule compared to other sources of mechanical inefficiency (IANAE - I am not an engineer), so I wouldn't worry about some drivetrain noise.

Once the bike is set up properly, the thing to notice is a change in drivetrain noise (type or volume), not necessarily the absolute volume. We've all run across the rider with the grinding/squeaking drivetrain, so just don't be that guy.
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Old 08-10-21, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
I dislike using superlatives, therefore: all other things being equal, a quieter drivetrain is probably better than a noisier one, since the sound is generated by converting mechanical energy to sound. Efficiency losses due to noise are likely miniscule compared to other sources of mechanical inefficiency (IANAE - I am not an engineer), so I wouldn't worry about some drivetrain noise.

Once the bike is set up properly, the thing to notice is a change in drivetrain noise (type or volume), not necessarily the absolute volume. We've all run across the rider with the grinding/squeaking drivetrain, so just don't be that guy.
Sawdust in car gearboxes makes them quieter, but it's not very mechanically efficient. Using a thick oil based lube on a chain will have a similar effect, but again it's not very efficient. Straight cut gears are much noiser than helical gears, but they are more efficient. So mechanical noise and efficiency are not necessarily related. So I kind of agree with you here. I wouldn't worry about drivetrain noise and it doesn't imply that your silent 2012 drivetrain is more efficient. It's probably just heavier and a bit less resonant through the frame etc.
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Old 08-10-21, 05:58 AM
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If quietness is the benchmark, then the best drivetrain would be a belt drive fixie. How is that gonna work for everyone?
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Old 08-10-21, 06:09 AM
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It’s probably irrelevant for riding efficiency. The energy in actual sound is typically small. If your drivetrain generated one watt of acoustic energy, you’d experience an SPL of nearly 110 dB at your riding position and NIOSH would recommend you ride no more than two hours per day due to the impact on your hearing. More realistic noises would probably be less than a milliwatt.

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Old 08-10-21, 06:31 AM
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+1 quiet bikes

My favorite bike to ride is my fixed gear Wabi. It basically makes no sound at all, none. Squirt lubes my chain on that bike. It makes sneaking up on other riders a fun and entertaining thing to do.

Back in the day we would hunt-down freewheels that were really quiet, and, pay more for those. Regina's were especially quiet. Steel bikes with the right equipment and drive train are still really quiet. Carbon fiber bikes sound like a guitar playing bike sounds. I could never ride one because of that.

Yeah, I guess I'm weird in that respect, but I don't care. Quiet is the way to go for me.
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Old 08-10-21, 06:43 AM
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I'll sometimes get a little mechanical noise if I've gone too long since I last cleaned and lubed my chain and cassette. I clean them and lube them and the sound goes away. That is counter to what I would otherwise assume; it seems the dust + lube should muffle the sound and make it quieter, but it doesn't. Clean and freshly lubed is quieter on my bike.
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Old 08-10-21, 06:45 AM
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Tinnitus.... All my bikes are silent. My world? Not so much... Enjoy the sound of the chain noise.
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Old 08-10-21, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
May be a stupid question but I never knew one could be absolutely silent until I rode my “new” 2012 bike 300 total miles. It has an Ultegra group set and when I pedal it makes absolutely no sound. My 2020 bike also with full Ultegra makes what I would consider the ‘normal’ mechanical sound which I have heard on all my bikes for decades. So, brain trust, is my 2020 bike not dialed in or is the 2012 bike an anomaly?
Some bike frames transmit noise more than others. I once had a titanium bike with a 9 speed Campagnolo Chorus drivetrain that was always a bit noisy no matter what sort of adjustments or lubrication I used. The frame developed a crack and I replaced it with a Look KG381 which is a frame constructed with shaped carbon fiber tubes bonded into aluminum lugs. With exactly the same components, drivetrain noise almost disappeared, the only change was the frame material and construction. Not knowing what bikes you are talking about I can only speculate that there is something other than the components on your bike that accounts for more drivetrain noise on one bike than on the other but I suspect that frame design is a big factor
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Old 08-10-21, 07:20 AM
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My two magnesium framed bikes are quieter than my carbon bikes. I don't ride the steel or aluminum often enough to compare. My material science background isn't the best but the propagation and attenuation of sound varies by material. And, it helps if the chain is clean and properly lubed and the hanger is aligned properly, too. Worn out chains, rings, and cassettes are noisy
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Old 08-10-21, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by 308jerry View Post
Tinnitus.... All my bikes are silent. My world? Not so much... Enjoy the sound of the chain noise.
Ditto. Never thought of that, maybe that's why I thought my bikes were so well tuned! Surprised we still have to deal with it--must be a million and one "remedies" on the web!!
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Old 08-10-21, 08:13 AM
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Love a quiet bike. A silent 2012 Ultegra setup isn't an anomaly.

As for your 2020...I'd give it a good cleaning, lube, tuning and compare the chains (and chain wear) between the two bikes. Also try to localize where the 2020 sound it coming from..and compare.
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Old 08-10-21, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
My material science background isn't the best but the propagation and attenuation of sound varies by material.
Yes. And there will be additional effects from the complexities of the frame shape, such as reflection and transmission at interfaces like lugs or tube joints. And probably complicated types of vibrational modes of the frame. Eek.

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Old 08-10-21, 08:59 AM
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When freshly lubed, my 2005 Giant OCR Composite 1 (full carbon/Ultegra components/FSA BB) is silent. I only hear the tires on the road unless a little cross-chaining is going on. When I hear chain noise in gears where the chain is straight, I know it's time to clean and re-lube.

On a freshly paved road at slow speeds, the bike was so quiet I started to hear a ping on every rotation of the front wheel. Took me weeks to figure out that the spokes were "rubbing" against each other - producing the ping noise. Going faster - or on a rougher road, the tire/road noise was loud enough to cover up the "ping" noise.
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Old 08-10-21, 09:13 AM
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Silence is the goal, but I understand that a metal chain moving across rotating metal teeth is going to involve friction, and therefore noise. But a well-adjusted and lubricated drivetrain can minimize this, so I maintain the moving parts meticulously. I reap the rewards when I'm gliding along, hearing only my tires on the road. That's my happy place.
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Old 08-10-21, 09:20 AM
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A maintained, cleaned, lightly lubricated drive train will be its quietest. There are a number of variables that were discussed above.

If you want a quiet drive train, ride fixed.

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 08-10-21 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 08-10-21, 10:19 AM
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Unfortunately I’m over-the-top obsessive with drivetrain noise. Because all of our drivetrains are 8 speed spacing, except one 7 speed freewheel, my logic is that any idiot can make a drivetrain quiet with that much space between the cogs.

I will build whatever cassette range I want if I can’t buy one that way. With full length cogs it is pretty easy. But I have one bike, with a new but not precise downtube index shifter, that I have returned to multiple times. When swapping out spacers that vary by .1mm (.004”) that is pretty far out there.

That said, it is a bit relative to the conditions someone is riding in. If I’m out in a lot of traffic, which is happening less these days, and I hear noise, it has to be pretty significant. If I’m on a mtb on a trail away from everything, that is where the quiet is really noticeable.

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Old 08-10-21, 12:37 PM
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Lots of the noise you often hear from folks is probably maladjusted RD's or untrimmed FD or cross chaining with the FD rubbing the cage.

A fairly straight chain line on a drivetrain that isn't totally trashed, nasty, and rusty will usually be pretty quiet if adjusted properly.

The interaction of the whole system with the wind and the tires on the tarmac are usually all that I hear. Even to the point you can hear minor changes in tarmac CRR as you go over the surfaces.
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Old 08-10-21, 12:49 PM
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Yea but aside from the noise, did you have a nice ride?
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Old 08-10-21, 01:10 PM
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- 8,9,10 speed drivetrains are quieter than 11,12 speed drivetrain
- steel frames are quieter than carbon ones
- long chainstays make quieter bikes than shorter ones
- smaller cassettes are quieter than larger cassette
- it is usually quieter to use the same chain/cassette combo from the same manufacturer (especially for 11,12 speed drivetrains)
- often times, cheap hubs are quieter than expensive hubs because cheap hubs use thicker seals, thicker grease, less engagement points, all these make for a quieter hub.
- and carbon frames, plus carbon wheel, always amplify sound. All these new school aero frame with bulbuous downtubes act as great sound resonators!
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Old 08-10-21, 01:44 PM
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Depends on the noise.

A gentle clackeyclacketyclackety as the individual rollers of the chain meet the root of the cassette teeth is not indicative of any problem, but noises that are periodic based ono your cadence - clicking, grinding, snapping - are more likely to be caused by some actual problem.

The harmless sound of the chain is also dependant on the type of lube - I find very thin lubes like Tri Flo to be considerably noisier, while the chainsaw bar oil I use when I have a rusty chain and nothing else to put on it seems to dampen the noise and make the whole system quieter.
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Old 08-10-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Are you using the same chain lube on both? Just to rule that out.
yes. Pedro’s synthetic
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