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I have recently gotten into commuting to work with a road bike. Once a month or so I will degrease, clean, and lubricate the chain. I change through all the gears to distribute the lubricant and wipe any excess from the chain when I am done.

The problem is that for the first 2 or 3 hours of riding after cleaning the chain, my bike is constantly making clicking+creaking noises. They sound similar to what one would hear if the bike was having trouble changing gears and seem to be coming from the area of the rear derailleur. I can "feel" the noise in pedals also. It seems to be most noticeable in certain gears on the rear derailleur (3, 5, and 6) but totally absent in others (such as 4).

After a couple hours of riding the noise goes away and the bike feels great. What is going on here?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Likely some coarse particles get in between the chain elements and also between the parts of the derailleur and the star wheels. After you cycle for a while those particles either fall out or get crushed into finer particles and thus the noise goes away.

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This sounds like it could be the case... when I look there are bits of sand between chain elements that might be causing the problem. I will get in there with a toothbrush next time and see if that helps! – jselzer Oct 21 '10 at 15:49

How do you lubricate the chain? The proper way (in my view) is to drip a drop of lubricant on each chain-link, and then cycle through all the gears. It sounds as if the lubricant is not yet properly distributed when you start cycling. How aggressively do you degrease and clean? Removing gunk, sand, dust, etc. Is necessary, but if you clean it really really thoroughly you might need to apply extra lubricant (and you could be overcleaning).

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I think this is a great comment. Proper lubrication for one and the concept of over cleaning the chain is spot on. I find people who soak a chain every time they clean it end up with shorter chain life and a noisier drive train. – tplunket Oct 21 '10 at 12:49
I think if anything I am under-cleaning and over-lubricating. This is still good advice though, and I will experiment with more lubricant if cleaning it more doesn't work out. Thanks! – jselzer Oct 21 '10 at 15:47

For cleaning the chain and derailleur, I use an old tooth brush. After lubrication, silence is king.

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