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Bike Creaking When Pedaling Hard: Causes & Solutions

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

bike creaking when pedaling hard

Have you heard your bike creaking when pedaling hard? If yes, then you should know that this isn’t something to take lightly.

It could possibly be a sign that your bike is suffering from a dry chain, dirty bearings, or loose components. This mostly happens when the bike is frequently used in harsh conditions.

But don’t fret, because problems like this can always be solved. Want to know more details? Just continue reading!

Reasons the Bike Creaks When Pedaling Hard

A bike clicking when pedaling doesn’t automatically mean that the chain is dirty or dry. While that is the most common reason, there are other possible causes too.

Here are some of the other reasons why your bike makes clicking noise when you pedal:

1. A loose crank


A loose crank is known to be the most common reason for a bike squeaking. When a bike is used, the part that gets the most pressure is the crankset. Because of this, there may be times that loose bolts or greaseless parts here wiggle and make noise.

2. Loose ball bearings


Another cause of that annoying bike noise when pedaling is your wheel bearings not being tight enough. Often, you’ll identify that this is the problem when, aside from the clicking noise, riding your bike feels a little more wobbly than usual.

3. Loose derailleur bolt


When it comes to derailleur bolts, you should remember that all bolts may become loose once in a while, so it’s always good to check. If you believe this is the cause, you may notice a rear derailleur clicking. Another sign that you have a loose derailleur is that you may have trouble shifting gears.

4. Loose pedals


This is a problem that if not fixed, doesn’t only give you stress with irritating noise but can really put you in danger.

So, if you hear some squeaking and feel that your pedals aren’t as snug as they should be, that’s a call for help and you should check the screws and bolts right away. The typical torque for securing these parts is 360 inch-pounds.

5. Unsecured bottom bracket


A creaking bottom bracket is due to loose bearing cups or lockrings. Sometimes, age or dirt may cause this component to make noise during rides as well.

Remember that most bottom brackets of bicycles last for 1-2 years only. If you’ve had your bicycle for longer than that period and it’s a MTB bike frequently going uphill, you already know that it’s exposed to harsh conditions.

In this case, your bottom bracket creaking should be obvious when the crank arm moves.

How to Fix?

1. For dry and dirty chains


The way to resolve this is by getting a rag and wiping your bike chain until it’s squeaky clean. You can even wash the whole bike while you’re at it, so wipe off the bike seat and bike wheel too.

It’s good to get a firm brush, such as a toothbrush, and thoroughly dust the chain links of the bicycle.

Next up is to add lubrication. Simply apply a chain lubricant and remember not to use too much. With enough greasing, your squeaky bike chain will be resolved.

2. A loose crank


A loose crank can be resolved simply. All you need to do is to disassemble the bolts and lubricate the threads with a product like ParkTool’s Polylube 1000. Then, fasten them as tightly as possible. If the crank keeps loosening up, it may be distorted and need replacing.

3. Loose ball bearings


Loosen and unscrew the bolt nuts. Then, assess if your axle cones have the perfect distance from the ball-bearing cup. If the setup is right, the wheels will move freely and there will be little to no friction on the ball bearings.

So, tighten the cones when the axle is too wobbly and loosen them if you have the opposite problem. Go for 1/10 turn at a time.

4. Loose derailleurs


These are the torques for some derailleur components. You should keep them in mind while securing the fasteners:

  • Front clamp, brazed-on mount, shifter cable pinch bolts, hanger-frame bolt – 5 Nm
  • Pulley wheel bolt – 3 Nm
  • Derailleur to hanger – 8 Nm

You may also check out this video for steps on adjusting the limit screws.

How to Adjust a Rear Derailleur – Limit Screws & Indexing

5. Loose pedals


To tighten the pedals, the number one step is to turn the right pedal in a clockwise motion and turn the left pedal the opposite way. If there’s something wrong with the pedal, such as an unsmooth turn or some type of resistance, undo your rotation and redo it again.

Related guide: Step by step to take the pedals off a bike.

6. Loose creaky bottom bracket


First, remove the crank bolt using a wrench. Thread your crank puller onto the crank arm and turn the puller clockwise to take out the chainrings.

Next, pick a spline tool that matches the inner splines of the bottom bracket. Rotate the device towards the front of the bike frame to tighten both bracket cups.

Frequently Asked Questions


What noises do bikes make that may signify a problem?

The most common squeaky sounds you should look out for is the sounds of rattles from the handlebars, bike gears clicking near the pedals, a swishy rubbing noise from the brakes, squeaky suspension due to lack of lubrication, and clunk noises from the chain.

Is the loud ticking sound when I pedal hard a problem with the chain?

According to Reddit users, it is more likely that the problem may come from the bottom bracket. The sound happens when something is not aligned the right way.


A bike creaking when pedaling hard? It isn’t as normal as you think. When out of saddle, make it a point to check everything, from the wheels, pedals, to the rear skewer bike section, and be thorough.

It doesn’t always mean you should get a new bike part right away as most of the problems that cause squeaky bicycles can be resolved. With the help of this article, now you know what to be vigilant about & how to fix them!

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