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Why mtb chains vibrate | how to reduce noise and damage

New mountain bikers often face this kind of problem but in most cases, it’s not a problem but a pattern that happens to everyone, and if you are worried your bike might have a problem or its starting to cause a problem, In most cases that’s not the case so you can put your mind at ease but if there is a problem I will show you the ways in which you can fix these issues.

If you are new to mountain biking it’s no wonder you might be thinking there can be a problem with your bike, while it’s good to be cautious but its nothing serious hopefully.

SO let’s go over the possible cases when you might be hearing the noise.

  • chain vibrating and making noise when riding fast
  • chain vibrating when riding it on terrains full of roots and gravel
  • chain vibrating at a slow pace but working fine at high speed

In most cases, these can be the scenarios when you might be noticing the chain vibrating and clicking or circumstances related to what I mentioned above.

If you are facing it in the first 2 cases then your bike is just fine you don’t need any maintenance, if it’s the third case then there is a problem but that’s a very minor one as well.

So for the first 2 cases if your bike is in fact new then hearing noise from the chain or seeing it vibrating is normal even if you are riding at high-speed new bikes components need time to bed in just like the brakes and since the components bed in almost all of the problems disappear.

If your case is the third one your chain is making noises and clicking even at a slow speed then you just need to remove some chain links from the chain, you can do it easily with a chain tool even at home the chain is probably longer so gears are not shifting properly and the noise you hear is due to the excessive chain length as well.

Why does mtb chain click when you are riding it :

If you are hearing a clicking noise when you are riding your mountain bike then there can be some problems with it that you can fix yourself at home or on track.

Troubleshooting the clicking sound in the chain

  • check if the chain is the right length
  • check if the derailleur is not bent
  • error on your ends(double gear changing or changing gears at wrong times)
  • weight on bike

In most cases, these are the problems that mostly cause clicking or chain chucking noises here’s how to check and fix them.

Check the chain length if you are not sure how to measure it and don’t want to just pick up the chain tool remove some chain links and try riding it this is a trial and error process and the most effective one.

Mtb chains are kept loose on purpose for them to roll on the biggest cog so don’t remove too many chain links.

If the chain length was just fine then it most probably you bumped your bike somewhere and got your derailer hanger broken or derailleur bent in this case sit right behind the bike and see if the derailleur lines up straight with the smallest cog or gear like this

sit right behind the bike and check if the derailleur lines up with the smallest cog

if it doesn’t then give it a gentle push and make sure it horizontally matches the first or the smallest cog.

If it’s fine then let’s move on to the third step.

Human error :

If you are fairly new to mountain biking or new to gearing systems it’s very likely that there is no problem with the bike but it’s because of you or your way of riding here are some of the mistakes that you might be making when riding your bike.

  • changing too many gears simultaneously
  • climbing or riding downhill in the wrong gears
  • changing gears at the wrong timing

If you are doing these things then I think you already know where the clicking and crunching sound is coming from in your bike.

If the fault was on your end I think you should get some help you can get the best advice from the people on the trails since I don’t know what kind of area you ride in you can also try the trial and error way as well.

Does loose chain cause vibrations :

Almost all of the vibrations are from chain slaps or chain vibrations its very common for mountain bikes to do this due to the extra size of the chain because mountain bikes have more gears than road bikes or any other type of bike.

There’s also the factor of the trail mountain bike is an offroad sport and of course, you will be riding through mud gravel roots jumps curves and all kind of trails that’s a given and the chain slaps or chain vibrations are common it’s not an issue specific to you.

If you think in your case the vibrations are more than others then you can try removing some chain links and try that if your chain starts crunching it’s getting harder to change gears I would highly recommend you to put the chain links back.

Does bike speed cause noise in the bike chain :

bike speed does cause the chain noise, mainly because of the chain slaps chains tend to be longer specially in Mtb and when you are riding at higher speed in lower gears the chain slaps with the chain stay and you can constantly hear the chain noise coming from the bike.

It also causes the bike scratches and paints loss on a bike as well.

How do you reduce chain noise on a mountain bike: 

There are several ways to reduce chain noise from a mountain bike, the chain noise mainly happens because the chain slaps on the chain stay so basically you need something to cover the chain stay in doing so you can reduce the chain noise.

There are some dedicated products for that as well, but thats just extra cost here are some ways you can do it yourself.

  • helicopter tape
  • electric tape (better)
  • foam coating

I dont recommend foam coating very much it is the most effective way but chances of it ripping too soon are great and not to mention the foam and tape may get in the sprockets or chain damaging your bike or even causing you to fall.

The most effective are helicopter tape or transparent tape basically its a transparent tape that doest peel of your paint when trying to get it off of the bike there’s also electric tape that is much more thicker than transparent tape and will give a much more smoother experience overall.

Other ways to reduce chain oise and vibration :

Chain catchers or chain guides are a pretty decent as well they are made mainly for the purpose of keeping the chain from slipping off of the cogs but you can utilize them for reducing chain vibrations or noise.

Its not the most effective way but it is there in case you had like to give it a try, chain catchers are basically used to restric the chain’s movement keeping it on track and in doing so the tighten the chain a little as well both serve to reduce the vibration and noise.

Do older chains make more noise :

Older chains donot cause more noise the noise is mainly from the chain slaps so it has nothing to do if the chain is older or newer, ven if they made a differenceit would be too little to even notice.

can you replace chains with something else :

Chains can be replaced with something else you might get suprised but there are some brands that use belts instead of chains although that seems pretty nice but thats not a very effective alternative for chains.

Belts are pretty effective they even last longer than chains in some cases but they are not effective in mountain bikes because of the gearing system.

If you run a single cog mountain bike than the belts may work out for you they have a little bit less rolling resistance than chains but that being said if you were using chains before and now you had like to shift to belts it may cost you alot since all of the rear wheel system may have to come off to install the system that supports belts.


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