Road bike with Shimano Tiagra 2x9 compact drivetrain makes a continuous random pattern of quiet squeaky noises (like birdsong) when the bike is leaning against a wall and the pedals are rotated backward. Forward rotation of pedals creates less, but similar noise. Rotating the wheels with pedals stationary does not make noise. The noise is not periodic with each pedal rotation, but its tempo increases with the rotation speed. Occurs in all gears about the same.

I wiped and lubed the chain and jockey wheels, without taking the jockey wheels out of the rear derailer cage. The noise remained about the same or slightly quieter (placebo?). Took apart derailer cage and jockey wheels, cleaned and lubed. Individually the jockey wheels did not squeak after that, but I did not check before the process. Reassembled drivetrain squeaks as before.

The chain has about 500 km on it, length of 12 links is 12 1/8 inches according to my inaccurate tape measure. The cogs and chainwheels have a lot more km, but don't look worn compared to new replacements.

Rear derailer cage looks slightly rotated outwards (not inwards as from a crash or dropping the bike on itsright side) from the top, but looks straight from the rear ground level. The rotation axis is thus vertical, not horizontal. Shifting is fine, so I have not fixed what ain't broken.

Crankarms Shimano Tiagra. Not sure about the bottom bracket, but the circle between crankarm and frame has "BC 1.37x24 road FA" written on it. Giant OCR1 2008 bike, probably has standard components. There is no sideways play in the crankarms. I tested the bottom bracket according to Park Tool and there is no grinding or rumbling.

I took the rear wheel off and spun the cogs - no noise there.

Any other suggested solutions to the noise besides taking the jockey wheels out of the derailer cage for lubing, or replacing chain/cogs?

  • 3
    Remove the chain and spin pedals. If its still noisy, it the BB.
    – mattnz
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 8:49
  • 2
    No noise without chain, pedals spin silently. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 8:54
  • 2
    Good problem description. You've proved its not the BB or the freewheel, and that it happens under no/low load situation. Now to eliminate more things. Split the chain at the master link,and take it out of the jockey wheels. Reconnect chain around cassette and chainrings. Can you replicate the bird song noise - may not even need to join chain. Then try the same with the chain through just one jockey wheel only (in the direction it would normally go.) You're trying to isolate where the noise is, and where it isn't. If this is inconclusive, you may need to try another chain.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 9:35
  • 4
    Wait what, am I missing something? Why has everyone ruled out the derailleur jockey wheels? In all likelihood they are the cause, and they'd usually be the very first thing to check? The whole "birdsong" thing is very much characteristic of a problem with the jockey wheels.
    – Lachlan
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 10:14
  • 2
    Lots of superfluous detail in here, I'm afraid. Next time the bike is leaning against a wall, kneel down and manually check where the noise is coming from
    – PeteH
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


I suspect the jockey wheels are the culprit. You said you lubed the jockey wheels without removing them. Likely the bearings or bushings didn't get lubed sufficiently this way.

Typically you will need to remove them and clean and lube the bushing or pry the dust shield off of the bearing so you can clean and lube the cartridge bearing (depending o the derailleur). If you are dealing with a cartridge bearing you need to take care when prying of dust shields so you don't damage them.

When reassembling the derailleur ensure you use loctite (blue 242) so that the derailleur doesn't do a RUD (Rapid Unplanned Disassembly) at a later point in time.

  • Took apart derailer cage and jockey wheels, cleaned and lubed. Individually the jockey wheels did not squeak after that, but I should have checked before also. Reassembled drivetrain squeaks as before. Hope it doesn't RUD on me, it's my first time doing this. I didn't have Loctite, just cleaned the threads before reassembly. Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 1:35
  • @SanderHeinsalu - if you don't have loctite you should periodically check that the bolts remain tight. In all likelihood they will be fine. If you still have squeaking you will have to carefully listen and track down the region of the bike making the sound.
    – Rider_X
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 14:11
  • I'd get some blue loctite from your local hardware store. It's essentially for bike maintenance as many bolts and nuts need it to be retained properly -- too much tension and they either crush carbon or bind a bearing; too little and you RUD.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 9:07

Lubricating the chain and cassette so much that they dripped oil, spinning the pedals many times while doing it, then wiping the excess oil off with a rag stopped the squeaking. The cause of the squeak remains unknown. The oil got into a lot of places.

  • Thank you for the closure. Feel free to mark this as the Accepted Answer by clicking the tick/check box to the left.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 9:02

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