No one likes a noisy bike. We did a deep dive to get things silent.
Noise pollution. It’s a thing and while there are many laws on what noise you can make when, there are none on how noisy your bike can be. Some people don’t care, but for those that do we have this instalment of Getting Dialled all about the tips and tricks we know on getting your bike as silent as possible.
Silencing your bike is hardly on your mind unless you have a very loud bike, but once you start paying attention to the little details, there is no escape. Once you start paying attention, there’s rattling, ticking and ploinking everywhere. Mainly from the chain slapping the paintwork on your high end frame, but also from the cables inside your frame and other components that could and should be tighter.
Let’s tackle the cables first. Depending on your frame manufacturer, some frames are equipped with internal liners or guides, while others just have the cables floating in there. You won’t have any trouble telling what your frame is like, as the cables will rattle loudly inside the frame if there is no protection.
There are several different solutions, but the cheapest and most effective I have come across so far are Nerf darts. Yes, those things from the Nerf guns. You can also go for the official Jagwire Internal Cable Dampeners but you can find the darts anywhere and they’re dirt cheap too. Just cut off the tip, slide them over your cables and push them into the frame. If you don’t want to remove the cables you can even cut them lengthwise and use some tape to stick them back together again. Add as many as needed to stop the cables from making noise.
Sometimes cables are not hitting your frame or forks, but just against other cables. You can keep things tidy with some zip ties, or do a more thorough job and use shrink wrap used in electric wiring. You do have to slide these over the cables so it will involve bleeding your brakes and adjusting your derailleur. You can find it at any good DIY store and make it shrink to size with a hairdryer.
Chain guide / Chain
Next up is, if you have one, the chainguide. They do a great job on keeping your chain from falling off, but as they are made from hard plastic to prevent wearing out, they tend to make a lot of noise. Velcro tape is your friend in these situations. There is a ‘hook’ side and a ‘loop’ side on velcro. You’ll only need the softer loop side.
Cut a piece of the loop side velcro to size, and attach it to the inside of the chainguide. Make sure to cover both insides of the guide. Best use the thinnest velcro you can find for this too, because you still want some room for the chain to move.
Although the Shimano Shadow RD+ system stopped a lot of the chain slap, most noises are chain related. Good news is the bike manufacturers have paid attention the past few years and it’s more and more common to see a bike come out of the box with a proper chainstay protector. Bad news is, they don’t always cover all the spots where the chain hits so this is where a product like Ridewraps chainstay armour comes in handy.
This mega adhesive rubber tape can be cut to any size needed, and will dampen and protect from even the worst chain slap. Make sure to not only cover the chainstay, but also see where there is any possibility of chain slap on the seatstays.
Ex-World Cup racer Chris Kovarik teamed up with mechanical engineer Jaan and developed the STFU device. A rubber coated plastic guide that wraps around the chainstay. Available for DH, Singlespeed and Enduro/XC setups this will definitely silence your ride and help with chain retention if you are not using a chain guide.
Of course there can be a plethora of different causes for a noisy bike. Most of them are related to how much love and cleaning you give your ride. Worn out chains, badly adjusted gears and dust and dirt build up can all cause creaking noises.
When trying to locate where the noise is from, I always try to see if it is related to wheel rotation (spokes, tires), pedal rotation (cranks, chainring), pedal stroke (pedal axle, bearings) or maybe chain related noises. Also don’t forget saddles can get noisy when dust gets between the bolts and it can never hurt to remove the seatpost for a clean and service every now and then.