What Causes Bicycle Clicking Noise When Coasting?

Let’s face it; the last thing you would want when coasting is a clicking sound from your bike. Since you are not pedaling, you don’t expect such an unusual sound. So, what causes a bicycle clicking noise when coasting?

It might come as a surprise, but the clicking sound is often a result of tensed bike pawls. When the tension is greater, the pawls, which are spring-loaded components of the bike hub, fail to catch, and the resultant effect is the clicking sound.

Note, however, that while a tensed pawl is mostly the reason behind a clicking bike sound, sometimes the noise indicates an issue with the chain, brake, cassette, or any other component.

If any of these parts are not adjusted and lubricated, then your bike could produce a clicking sound when coasting.

I’ll discuss all the factors that may be why your bike produces a clicking sound, plus what you can do to stop it.

Let’s start.

what causes a bicycle clicking noise when coasting

Primary Cause Of A Bicycle Clicking Noise When Coasting – Tensed Bike Pawls

Generally, the pawls run across the ratchet teeth. As a result, they spin when the bike moves. So, the pawls will still spin when coasting as the cycle is in motion.

Usually, the pawls are designed to catch to enable you to maneuver the bike smoothly. When there is tension, the spring-loaded components become free, and so they fail to catch.

The effect, in this case, is a clicking sound. Overall, the pawl position shouldn’t be too high to prevent it from hitting hard.

The Solution?

In as much as the clicking sound is annoying, you cannot do much about it. Your primary option is to take the bike to a mechanic to have the pawls’ tension adjusted.

If you decide to replace the pawls, consider the DT Swiss 3-Pawl Service Kit.

Secondary Causes Of A Bicycle Clicking Noise When Coasting

Also, your bike could be producing a clicking sound due to a problem affecting any of these components:

1. Bike Chain

After a tensed chain, a problem with the bike chain is the commonest cause of a clicking sound. This problem is easy to diagnose since the clicking directly comes from the chain.

Here are some possible reasons for a clicking bike chain:

  • Dry chain

Your bike chain needs greasing to work smoothly and avoid rust. If the chain is dry, it’ll produce a clicking sound and will likely wear out in due time.

The Solution?

Learn to lubricate the bike chain as often as possible. However, ensure the chain is clean before greasing it.

If you are looking for high-quality chain oil, consider the Muc-Off Dry Chain Lube. This biodegradable chain lubricant suits all bikes and promises to reduce bicycle noise when coasting.

Muc-Off Dry Chain Lube
  • Misaligned chain

If the chain is misaligned, you can expect it to make a clicking sound. Sometimes, the misalignment may be due to a wrong-sized chainring or wheel.

The Solution?

Take your bike to a mechanic to realign the chain if you cannot do it.

  • Chain rubbing against the front derailleur

This doesn’t happen often but can occur if the front derailleur misadjusts. If the chain rubs against the front derailleur, it’ll produce a clicking sound.

The Solution?

Adjust the front derailleur, and in the process, you’ll adequately reposition the chain.

  • Worn out chain

Bike chains wear over time, with a majority of them lasting 2,000-3,000 miles. Once you surpass 3,000 miles, your bike chain is likely to be less effective.

But still, it could also wear down because of low maintenance, aggressive cycling, or riding high-gear.

The Solution?

Just get a new bike chain from Amazon. That’ll stop the bike clicking when coasting.

If your bike is a 6-speed or 7-speed hybrid, cruiser, or comfort bike, consider the Schwinn Bicycle Chain.

bicycle noise when coasting

2. Derailleur Pulleys

If your derailleur pulleys are unoiled, they are likely to make a clicking noise when coasting.

The Solution?

Take out the derailleur pulleys and grease them. Make sure you grease each pulley before reassembling.

You can use the 3-in-One – 10038 Multi-Purpose Oil to grease the components. It works on any moving part of the bike. Plus, it lubricates, cleans, and prevents corrosion.

3. Brakes

The brakes are another sensitive part that can produce a clicking sound due to vibration. It happens if the brake pads are loose or worn out.

The brakes could also be dirty or ungreased, thus causing bike clicks when coasting.

The Solution?

If the brake pads are loose, have them adjusted properly. But if they are worn out, replace them.

You can find the best bike brake replacements on Amazon.

Remember to clean and grease the brakes with a perfect lubricant.

But if you are looking for the best brake sets for an MTB, road cycle, or BMX, you cannot go wrong with the Wake Bike V Brakes Replacement Set. The set comes with v-brakes and brake pads.

4. Pedals

Though you are not pedaling, the pedals will make a clicking sound when coasting if they are loose.

The Solution?

Tighten the pedals correctly to prevent them from moving about when coasting. That’ll stop the bicycle clicking noise.

5. Spokes

If the spokes are loose at the intersection or crossing each other, they’ll rub each other, producing a clicking sound.

The Solution?

Grease the spokes intersection point if that’s where the problem is. And if the spokes are loose, adjust them. But if they are worn out, it’s a good idea to replace the entire wheel.

Bicycle Clicking Noise When Coasting

Other Causes Of A Bicycle Clicking Noise When Coasting

Your bike could also be making a clicking sound because of:

1. Loose Presta Valve

If the Presta valve is loose, there is always the chance that it’ll produce a clicking sound when coasting.

The Solution?

Consider tightening the loose Presta valve. However, don’t over-tighten it, as you’ll have a hard time getting it out when fixing a flat tire.

2. Bike Stem

Though rare, the bike handlebar can also produce a clicking sound if the stem is cracked. So, check for such a sign.

The Solution?

Your choice is to replace the handlebar stem.

3. Loose Headset

If the headset is loose, it could produce a clicking sound when coasting.

The Solution?

Adjust the headset to ensure it’s not wobbling again. That’ll stop the clicking sound when coasting.

4. Loose Cassette Cogs

If the cassette cogs are loose, don’t expect the bike to coast smoothly.

The Solution?

Adjust the loose cogs using either an adjustable wrench or a cassette lockring tool. But in case the whole thing appears complicated, take the bike to a mechanic.

5. Rubbing of the Front Reflector

If the brake’s cable rubs against the front reflector when casting, the contact may result in a clicking sound.

The Solution?

Reposition the brake cable to ensure it doesn’t rub against your bike’s front reflector. You can also try oiling the reflector head to prevent friction and clicking in the long run.

6. Ungreased Seatpost

Sometimes, the seat post may produce a clicking sound if it is ungreased.

The Solution?  

Just grease the seat post if that’s the problem, and the clicking will seize.

Closing Thoughts

You now know what causes a bicycle clicking noise when coasting. You can now use my guide to stop your bike from producing that annoying noise.

That’ll help you ride smoothly without fearing for something worse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What could be the cause of my bike making a clicking noise?

As a longtime cycling enthusiast, I’ve definitely encountered the clicking noise phenomenon in bicycles. From my experience, a clicking noise usually indicates that your bike’s chain is attempting to move up or down a gear on the rear cassette. Picture this: it’s a subtle yet very distinct click that you’ll often hear if you’re cycling fast or going uphill and putting more stress on the gears. It’s your bike’s way of telling you that there are issues with gear alignment or potentially wear and tear within your drivechain. Still, it’s always best to consult with a bicycle mechanic for professional advice, as some bicycle issues can be complex to diagnose and fix correctly.

Why does my crank click when I pedal?

What an interesting question! As someone who has spent decades cycling and even working in a bike repair shop during my college years, I’ve had many instances of dealing with crank issues. A clicking noise originating from your crank could mean a lot of things. Most often, it’s caused by how forcefully you’re pedaling – aggressive cycling can lead to these sorts of clicking noises.

That being said, there's a host of other potential issues: derailleur pulleys could be out of sync, Presta valve nuts might be loose or damaged, cassette cogs can often cause clicking, and pedals or the bottom bracket (an essential part of your bike's anatomy) might have come loose. Sometimes you might even find that unstable brake pads are the culprit.
Because of these many potential issues, I strongly recommend taking your bike to a professional bike shop if the clicking persists, to ensure you don't accidentally damage your bike further.

Remember, try not to ignore the persistent noises your bike is making – they're often an indication that something needs to be adjusted, fixed or replaced. Happy cycling!