Anyone can learn to fix their own bike chain, and more importantly, you can do most repairs with essential tools and knowledge. It’s always alarming when your bike makes a noise it shouldn’t, but noticing it is the first step to fixing the problem.
Typically, the sooner you catch an issue, the easier it is to fix. Why does your bike chain make noise in high gears?
The most common cause of bike chain clicking or squeaking noise in high gear is lack of tension. Leaving your chain too loose will wear on parts of your drive chain causing damage. Check if the chain is rubbing against the cage of the front derailleur or if there is dirt or rust in the rollers of your chain.
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Why Does My Bike Chain Make Noise In High Gears
Although the most common reason for a bike chain to make noise is tension, there are other possibilities as well.
For example, it can rub on other parts, or the chain might be dirty or damaged. I’ve collected the top seven reasons why a bike chain can make noise in high gears so you can easily troubleshoot at home.
The list below explains each problem and what part needs repairs to correct it.
1 – Tension Issues & Stretching
When the tension is off on your bike chain, it can cause all sorts of different problems. Leaving it loose will wear on other parts of your drive chain, and that causes more damage.
Moreover, many bike riders don’t realize that you should change your bike chain altogether every two thousand miles.
However, it can be tough to gauge exactly when it’s time to change a chain since they don’t wear out evenly.
No two bikes or riders are the same, and even the most careful and conscientious maintenance won’t prevent your chain from stretching out over time.
I recommend getting a Park Tool Chain Checker from Amazon. Every time you perform routine maintenance, you can use this simple tool to see if your chain is stretched out.
- This tool quickly checks chain stretch and wear it will determine if a chain is good or bad
2 – Dirt or Rust
Sometimes the problem is much simpler than you think. A dirty chain can make funny noises, and those sounds might be more noticeable in a higher gear.
Most likely, a dirt-related sound that gets louder as you go up in gears is caused by friction from going faster.
As Roadbike Basics explains, “Pedaling normally in a lower gear means that you will go at a lesser speed, but with greater torque. It’s great for when you are accelerating from a stop or going up a steep hill. Pedaling normally in a higher gear means you will go faster but with lower torque. This is good for going out on a flat road or even downhill.”
Rust can have a similar effect to dirt. The difference is in how you clean them off. Dirt is usually a surface-only issue that can come off with soap and water.
Meanwhile, rust often requires a rust remover and can eat into your chain, causing significant damage. You may need to replace a rusty chain, but a dirty one only needs some elbow grease to work normally again.
3 – Needs Lubricant
A dry chain is never good. Bike chains need lubricant to function and turn properly. Plus, lubricant helps protect your chain from rust and, to a lesser extent, dirt.
Removing old grease and dirt will allow you to get the most out of a freshly greased chain and reduce how frequently you need to lubricate.
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4 – Rear Derailleur Limit Screws
There are three screws on the rear derailleur. The H or high screw adjusts the outer limit, while the L or low screw adjusts the inner limit for your chain. The screw in the middle, known as the B screw, will change the angle.
Derailleur Screws Use
|Screw||Direction||What It Affects||What Changes When You Turn It|
|H||Clockwise||Outer Limit||The derailleur moves to the left|
|H||Counter||Outer Limit||The derailleur moves to the right|
|B||Clockwise||Angle||The derailleur moves back & down|
|B||Counter||Angle||The derailleur moves forward & up|
|L||Clockwise||Inner Limit||The derailleur moves right|
|L||Counter||Inner Limit||The derailleur moves left|
5 – Rubbing Front Derailleur Cage
Fixing a chain that rubs your front derailleur cage in high gear is surprisingly simple. Locate your barrel adjuster and turn it clockwise. That’s all it usually takes to create the necessary gap to prevent rubbing and noise.
6 – Worn Cogs & Chains
When cogs and chains get worn down, they can create noise. So long as you are doing regular maintenance on your bike, you should be checking the cogs and chains anyhow.
If you haven’t inspected them in a while, then this is where you should start.
Helpful Tips To Know About Bike Chain Noise In High Gear
The first step to fixing a problem is always identifying it, and when your chain makes noise, there is always something wrong.
It’s not normal for bike chains to make a different sound in high gear. Luckily, once you know there’s a problem, you can take steps to remedy it before it gets any worse.
Here are more helpful tips to know about bike chain noise in high gear.
- Never ride a bike that’s making a weird chain noise in high gear. Since higher gear means you are typically going faster, you don’t want to risk your chain breaking at high speed.
- Another possible, though the less likely cause of a chain noise in high gear, is a bent derailleur cage. The fix for this isn’t quite as simple as a chain adjustment, but you can check out this video for tips on how to fix it at home.
- If the chain is clicking when you shift gears, you may be able to fix the noise by simply adjusting the cable’s tension that runs from your shifter to your rear derailleur.
Once you’ve heard the sound a bike chain is making in high gear, you’ll be able to identify the problem faster if it recurs in the future.
Whether you self-repair at home or opt to have a bike shop fix things for you, most chain fixes are relatively quick and straightforward.
There are some exceptions, such as an irreparably bent rear derailleur cage since it can take time to get the necessary replacement parts in to fix a bike when they aren’t already in stock.
Luckily, you’ll often find that the only reason your bike chain is making a noise in high gear is that the tension is off slightly.