A week ago I wiped out on some ice. When I got back on my bike I heard a new clicking that, as I rode, turned into clunking. It sounded random, not occurring according to a pattern, and it sped up as I pedaled faster. The only connection I made is that it seemed like it was related a bit to the roughness of the road.

I did a bunch of troubleshooting and figured out that it was the front wheel. The bearings were smooth, the disk rotor was clean and not scraping, the spokes were consistently tensioned. When I was squeezing the spokes, they made a noise where two spokes cross. You know the sound. So I decided to tighten the spokes and went for a ride. Noise persisted. So I decided to loosen the spokes. I made them really loose, like flopping-around-the-rim-goes-way-out-of-true loose. So I tightened everything back up to true, but not as tight as things were. The wheel is a lot quieter now, but it is still giving off some noise. Oh yeah, I lubed the nipples, so this isn't the pinging sound that twisted spokes sometimes make.

This is a double-walled rim, no eyelets. I do not see any bulges or cracks.

What else can I do? Do some wheels just make noise? (this is a cheap wheel - formula hub, generic rim, black spokes)

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    Wedge bits of leather (traditional) or some sort of thick, pliable plastic between the spokes where they "cross". But if the wheel is tubeless consider that something might have come loose inside the tire. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 22:07
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    It is also possible for a bearing cone to have come loose (cone and lock nut no longer tight together) and be tightening or loosening itself as the wheel turns. Or even with the two tight together, the axle or hub could be bent and the cone is turning in jerks. Generally you'd be able to detect these problems because the wheel doesn't spin freely, but disk brakes can confuse it a bit. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 22:10
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    One other possibility, on a standard design aluminum rim: It could be that the glued joint in the rim, where the two ends of the aluminum channel are joined to make a circle, has been "broken" to the extent that it can flex as the wheel turns. I've never actually seen this situation, but I would imagine that it could produce all sorts of sounds, both from the joint itself and from the spokes as they flexed irregularly. Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 23:36
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    @Criggie The OP has disc brakes, so this will mean disabling his front brake; he'll have to be super-careful when braking! Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 10:17
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    Does it make the noise spinning the wheel by hand (on a stand/upside down)? That would give you a way to test @criggie's suggestion easily.
    – Chris H
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 16:03

2 Answers 2


Well you won't believe this, but it was the seatpost in the seat tube. I replaced everything in the bike. Until the only thing left was the seatpost. And it makes total sense. The seatpost was totally dry. I figure it settled into one spot after a lot of years and the crash busted it loose, so the slight wiggling was creating a clunking that resonated through the bike.

The reason it was really hard to diagnose is that the bike is a fixed-gear so I can't coast. If I could coast I would have been able to realize that the noise didn't happen when my butt wasn't moving. But since my legs are always moving, I was always making the seatpost make the noise. I lubed the seatpost and the noise went away.


I suggest that you don't simply loosen or tighten the spokes willy-nilly. The wheel must be true at all times, or else it will be damaged during riding. The wheel gains its robustness from a near-perfect balance of forces in the spokes.

That said, I also think that your noise issue has to do with a damaged rim. If I were you, I'd replace the front wheel while I "dissect" the suspicious noisy wheel. Completely loosen all the spokes in a truing stand and see what the un-tensioned rim looks like.

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