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Clunk under load

Old 03-22-15, 08:04 PM
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Clunk under load

Sometimes when I'm coming off a stop or sprinting, I notice a nice big "clunk" from the drive train of my bike. I also feel the clunk. It definitely feels like the chain has slipped or something, but when I look down, nothing looks like it has slipped. The chain is still on the same chainring. And usually when this happens I'm on the smallest cog out back, and the chain is still on the smallest cog.

What could this clunk be, and how can I fix it? It's pretty annoying to be standing up and sprinting only to hear and feel a big clunk. A bit unsettling at high speed, to say the least.
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Old 03-22-15, 08:14 PM
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What's the condition of the chain? IF its stiff or a rivet joint is sticky it'll get stuck in a bent position and suddenly flatten out when it gets enough pressure on it (such as exiting the top of the rear duerallier). It might be dirt building up at the rivet joint between two links (is the chain clean?), or someone who separated the chain didn't take the time to reassemble it properly and two links are rubbing/sticking at the joint (find the sticky joint, and either 'flex' it sideways or try to spread the outside link by putting a screwdriver blade in the open area and twisting sligthly to expand it by a few thousandths.
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Old 03-22-15, 08:23 PM
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Last time I had something like that, it was a loose cassette lockring.
It would "clunk" every time the upper chain tightened up.
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Old 03-23-15, 07:40 AM
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Could it be the source of the squeak you think is the lubed chain, by any chance? Or are you absolutely certain the squeak is the lubed chain, as you've stated?
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Old 03-23-15, 11:34 AM
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Check the wear of your cassette, particularly the problem cog. Also check for chain wear. That can happen when the chain can't properly mesh with the cog teeth any more and it tends to happen on the small cogs.
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Old 03-23-15, 04:39 PM
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Maybe ... your freehub is on its last legs? One day you'll be out in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden your freehub won't "engage" and you'll be spinning freely but not going anywhere.

But from my experience, the clunk goes on for a month or two before that happens.
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Old 03-24-15, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
Check the wear of your cassette, particularly the problem cog. Also check for chain wear. That can happen when the chain can't properly mesh with the cog teeth any more and it tends to happen on the small cogs.
All the teeth on the cassette cogs look pretty good. The cassette has very few miles on it (less than 1000). My new chain is coming today. I'll clean the cassette and install the new chain and see what happens. I'm 99% sure it's the chain - probably a stiff link like you guys say.

Yesterday when I was out I had the clunk problem several times. It was super annoying and rather disconcerting. But after a while, the clunk went away. I suspect that the constant spinning helped work the lube into the parts that needed it the most.
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Old 03-24-15, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
Check the wear of your cassette, particularly the problem cog. Also check for chain wear. That can happen when the chain can't properly mesh with the cog teeth any more and it tends to happen on the small cogs.
All the teeth on the cassette cogs look pretty good. The cassette has very few miles on it (less than 1000). My new chain is coming today. I'll clean the cassette and install the new chain and see what happens. I'm 99% sure it's the chain - probably a stiff link like you guys say.

Yesterday when I was out I had the clunk problem several times. It was super annoying and rather disconcerting. But after a while, the clunk went away. I suspect that the constant spinning helped work the lube into the parts that needed it the most.
Yeah, could be the chain. You can check for stuck links easily enough. However, if there are no stiff links and the wear level is within spec the next thing I'd check is this:

Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Maybe ... your freehub is on its last legs? One day you'll be out in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden your freehub won't "engage" and you'll be spinning freely but not going anywhere.

But from my experience, the clunk goes on for a month or two before that happens.
Indeed. Before my XT m770 freehub failed at ~3500 miles I had several intermittent issues that were extremely similar to the "clunk" OP is describing. One of the freehub pawls chipped and would occasionally lodge in a position that would prevent proper ratchet engagement. This would cause the chain to pull which would cause the "clunk" dislodging the broken part thereby (temporarily) restoring function to the hub. When it finally failed completely it was very sudden and the bike was unrideable.

Before the freehub gave up I remember carefully turning it by hand and the clicks sounded off but I didn't understand why at the time. There would be an occasional double-click and sometimes it would stick or catch a little. My advice would be to remove the casette and carefully turn the freehub back and forth by hand, like a safecracker trying to open a vault, carefully listening and feeling for anything out of the ordinary. If everything is normal it should feel smooth and sound even.
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Old 03-24-15, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
Before the freehub gave up I remember carefully turning it by hand and the clicks sounded off but I didn't understand why at the time. There would be an occasional double-click and sometimes it would stick or catch a little. My advice would be to remove the casette and carefully turn the freehub back and forth by hand, like a safecracker trying to open a vault, carefully listening and feeling for anything out of the ordinary. If everything is normal it should feel smooth and sound even.
Thanks for the advice. I actually did this last week when I had a flat on my rear tire. I was spinning the cassette around a bit out of curiosity. From what I remember, everything felt normal. I didn't notice any resistance out of the ordinary, nor did I notice any unusual sounds. However, I will try this again when I get my new chain today and remove the rear wheel.

I also plan on removing the cassette and cleaning it since it's pretty oily and grimy. Is this recommended? Or should I just throw the new chain on?
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Old 03-24-15, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
[...]
I also plan on removing the cassette and cleaning it since it's pretty oily and grimy. Is this recommended? Or should I just throw the new chain on?
Eh, might as well. I usually remove mine every so often and give it a quick scrub with degreaser and a brush before rinsing it off and blowing it dry. Just gotta remember to tighten the lockring. I never forgot to do that, no siree
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Old 03-24-15, 10:53 AM
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Cleaner is almost always better. It will get a little oil on it from the chain. Most cassettes will clean up pretty good with a dry rag.
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Old 03-24-15, 11:22 AM
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I have noticed this sound as you have described. Somewhat more of a Kluck, Kluck, and just as aggravating as a chickens cluck. Each time I finally wound up replacing my freewheel even though it did not appear excessively worn. Both were Shimano 6 speeds with the 34T bailout that I use more than I would like to admit. I keep my freewheels and chain well lubricated and clean as I ride some pretty dusty roads. On both freewheels I noted that when spinning freely I did not hear a very loud clicking sound. This could be a wear indicator. These freewheels are not expensive ($20 USA) so replceing them is not a big issue with me...

Note: I have never worn out any other brand freewheel. How many miles did I put on my 74 Liotto running the cherished Regina Corsa...
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Old 03-24-15, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
Indeed. Before my XT m770 freehub failed at ~3500 miles I had several intermittent issues that were extremely similar to the "clunk" OP is describing. One of the freehub pawls chipped and would occasionally lodge in a position that would prevent proper ratchet engagement. This would cause the chain to pull which would cause the "clunk" dislodging the broken part thereby (temporarily) restoring function to the hub. When it finally failed completely it was very sudden and the bike was unrideable.

Before the freehub gave up I remember carefully turning it by hand and the clicks sounded off but I didn't understand why at the time. There would be an occasional double-click and sometimes it would stick or catch a little. My advice would be to remove the casette and carefully turn the freehub back and forth by hand, like a safecracker trying to open a vault, carefully listening and feeling for anything out of the ordinary. If everything is normal it should feel smooth and sound even.
I had two Formula freehubs fail.

The first was while on a long tour of Australia. For a month, I had an odd clunk. I even took it into a shop where they had a look over things, tightened things up, and told me they couldn't identify the clunk. Then about 3 weeks later, I coasted into the place we were staying for the night (happened to be Rowan's place) and kind of noticed that something didn't seem quite right but figured I was just tired. My cycling partner and I set off the next morning, and all I had was spinning ... no engagement. Thank goodness it happened there!! We were able to stay another night or two, and one of the shops in town had a replacement.

A few years later I was in training for a 600K randonnee, out on a long ride of some sort when I noticed the clunk. I recognised it immediately, cycled straight home, took the bicycle to the shop, and sure enough my second Formula freehub was on the verge of failing. Thank goodness I recognised it before going out on a lonely and remote 600K!!


Both times, I also noticed a bit of extra wobble in the cassette. The first time I thought that's all it was ... but no.
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Old 04-17-15, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
Sometimes when I'm coming off a stop or sprinting, I notice a nice big "clunk" from the drive train of my bike. I also feel the clunk. It definitely feels like the chain has slipped or something, but when I look down, nothing looks like it has slipped. The chain is still on the same chainring. And usually when this happens I'm on the smallest cog out back, and the chain is still on the smallest cog.

What could this clunk be, and how can I fix it? It's pretty annoying to be standing up and sprinting only to hear and feel a big clunk. A bit unsettling at high speed, to say the least.

So I had this problem today. Turns out it was my rear derailleur. The derailleur was ever so slightly off alignment with the rear cogs. This caused every like 10th link to jump. Use the rear barrel to align the derailleur cog with the freehub cogs.

Also make sure there is no lateral give on your crank shaft.
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Old 04-18-15, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by trunolimit View Post
So I had this problem today. Turns out it was my rear derailleur. The derailleur was ever so slightly off alignment with the rear cogs. This caused every like 10th link to jump. Use the rear barrel to align the derailleur cog with the freehub cogs.

Also make sure there is no lateral give on your crank shaft.
It was just the cassette and chain. I ended up replacing the chain and the cassette. Everything is perfect now. I think that riding with the semi-dry lube (White Lightning brand) destroyed my chain and cassette. My chain almost never stopped squeaking with White Lightning semi-dry lube.
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Old 04-18-15, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
It was just the cassette and chain. I ended up replacing the chain and the cassette. Everything is perfect now. I think that riding with the semi-dry lube (White Lightning brand) destroyed my chain and cassette. My chain almost never stopped squeaking with White Lightning semi-dry lube.
Yeah, that's it. White Lightning destroyed your sh*t. Gotta be.
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Old 04-18-15, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Yeah, that's it. White Lightning destroyed your sh*t. Gotta be.
It was the semi-dry one. I can't speak to other formulations. But the semi-dry one could never really soak into the bearings and rollers. I think it was too thin and evaporated too fast. Only once when I soaked the chain in WL semi-dry and left it overnight did the squeaking die down just a bit. I think that's why the better chain lubes are pretty thick - so they don't evaporate before they have a chance to work into the rollers.
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Old 04-18-15, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
It was just the cassette and chain. I ended up replacing the chain and the cassette. Everything is perfect now. I think that riding with the semi-dry lube (White Lightning brand) destroyed my chain and cassette. My chain almost never stopped squeaking with White Lightning semi-dry lube.
WL is known as an excellent lube. Assuming you applied it as indicated (every couple hundred miles), I doubt that is your source of constant chain squeek.
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Old 04-18-15, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
WL is known as an excellent lube. Assuming you applied it as indicated (every couple hundred miles), I doubt that is your source of constant chain squeek.
Which formulation?
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Old 04-18-15, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
It was the semi-dry one. I can't speak to other formulations. But the semi-dry one could never really soak into the bearings and rollers. I think it was too thin and evaporated too fast. Only once when I soaked the chain in WL semi-dry and left it overnight did the squeaking die down just a bit. I think that's why the better chain lubes are pretty thick - so they don't evaporate before they have a chance to work into the rollers.
That's just wild, irrational speculation, and if I owned WL, I might sue you for libel.
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Old 04-18-15, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
Which formulation?
All WL is good stuff. The dry (self cleaning) and Epic (semi) have to be applied frequently. The wet is most durable but gets dirtier quicker.
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Old 04-18-15, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
All WL is good stuff. The dry (self cleaning) and Epic (semi) have to be applied frequently. The wet is most durable but gets dirtier quicker.
I applied the semi-dry one basically every day. The chain just wouldn't stop squeaking - hence how often I applied WL. And I don't ride that much on weekdays at all - maybe 4-5 miles tops. It's only on weekends when I really ride.

I did notice that once when I used a thicker oil and let it sit on the chain the squeaking subsided quite a bit. I don't know what brand this thicker oil was - it was in a generic, unlabeled squirt bottle at the LBS.
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Old 04-18-15, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
That's just wild, irrational speculation, and if I owned WL, I might sue you for libel.
You don't know what libel is.
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Old 04-19-15, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Deontologist View Post
You don't know what libel is.
Do you know what this is?
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