The Ms got a new road bike not long ago with an Oval Concepts 527 wheelset. She has a persistent clicking noise coming from the front wheel after only a thousand or 1500 miles, and I can't quite diagnose it. Any ideas would be appreciated. It's definitely the front wheel (Oval already replaced the rear wheel for two snapped spokes in 400 miles): it clicks rhythmically and at a rate proportional to the speed, and is unrelated to the drivetrain. The wheel does spin freely, so the noise doesn't seem to be related to anything causing a drag.

Here's what I've tried so far:

  • checked wheel in truing stand: it's not out of true and has no appreciable bumps on rim or tire (stock Vittorio road tires 700x25C)
  • checked magnet to sensor distance on cyclocomputer: it's about 5mm
  • tightened magnet
  • swapped sensor out entirely
  • "plucked" the spokes to compare tension: they're all pretty close
  • took off the plastic reflector
  • put bike in stand and checked for tire contacting forks or brakes: plenty of clearance

Some additional information: it takes good ears to hear the click when the wheel is off the ground and spinning freely, but when there's a rider it's audible from several feet away. If I stare at the hub while spinning the wheel v-e-e-r-y slowly, it looks as though it clicks every time one of the Oval logos comes around the top of the hub.

I'm thinking perhaps too little grease in the hub, or maybe an out-of-round bearing, but wonder if it's something that won't necessitate a trip to the LBS for warranty service. Your thoughts welcome and thanks.

  • A hub needing grease at 1000-1500 miles seems pretty normal to me. I don't think it's a warranty issue, just normal maintenance. Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 15:39
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    You mention the logos. Any chance a logo on the rim is rubbing on a brake pad? Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 15:40
  • 1
    One surprising source of noise is a loose piece of plastic or metal left inside rim from manufacturing. Does it make a sound if you shake the rim?
    – ojs
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 16:06
  • Possible dupe of bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/49159 and bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/45312
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 23:25
  • @ojs excellent point, but at high speed any debris will be held against the outside of the space. At some slow speed a small object might move enough to make a tick, but it could also move around inside the rim and not always be in the same place relative to the logo.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 23:47

2 Answers 2


So its a click once per wheel revolution. That suggests its not bearing specific cos they rotate a lot more per wheel rotation. I'm suspicious of race damage in the hub roughly even with the logo as you noticed, and a slightly loose bearing such that theres not enough preload on the bearings.

Some things to try

  1. Does it click if you spin the wheel backward by hand? This is hard to test while riding, but you could pull the wheel and install it flipped. Be careful while riding in this state.

  2. Can you find another wheel - borrow one off another bike or another person. Just confirm that a different wheel doesn't click. Confirmation is handy.

  3. While the wheel is off, clean and examine the front dropouts and fork legs for damage, chips or cracks, Its pretty unlikely but the wheel is off anyway.

  4. Next would be to open the wheel hub and remove the bearings. If they're sealed cartridge bearings then play with them and see if you can feel a click at any point.

    If they're loose balls in a cup/cone then clean out all the grease with a solvent and look hard at the race's track under a strong light. Anything that looks bad, is bad. Specifically spalling (where bits break off the running surface) smearing (where the bearings are dragging around not rolling) or galling means replacement time.

This is a car bearing but the concept is the same. This example is terminal, but your bike may have the mearest hint of a lump or hole.

BTW: The click will be adding drag, but sound takes very little energy so its not enough to notice.

  • How exactly do the bearings 'rotate a lot more per wheel rotation'? Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 2:01
  • @ArgentiApparatus assume a 1/4" front wheel bearing, 6.35mm across. It has a circumference of ~19.9mm. A random cone has a cross section of ~11 mm so 34.5mm. That ball bearing will rotate 1.7 times while the wheel rotates once. So for 1000 wheel rotations, the bearing will have rotated about 1700 times. Sorry for vagueness in answer.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 10:06
  • @ArgentiApparatus also, there is more metal in the cup than in the cone - the wear is often more evident on the cone than on the cup because there is more metal to spread the wear over. Same how your preferred comfort gears wear out in a cassette and the chainring lasts a lot longer because there is more metal to spread the wear.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 10:08
  • @scmrak If you rebuild the hub, it may be worth just replacing all the bearings with new no matter how they look. A set of bearings should be under $5 and will absolutely be under $10 of most currencies.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 10:09
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    When the LBS replaced her rear wheel, we heard the mechanic mutter that he's had "nothing but trouble" with these wheels. On the other hand, my Mavic Ksyrium Elites have 17,000 miles on them and are still darned near bulletproof. They're on their second frame! I took the wheel off, pulled out the QR skewer, and just shook the sucker in a quiet room - I can hear a faint clicking when it moves in certain directions. I'm gonna go with spokes, especially since it sounds like it noise comes from the rim instead of the hub. Thanks, all
    – scmrak
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 18:07

I have the same problem with rear hub in a brand new 527. Bike mechanic told me the design of the wheel set is extremely poor and the weight of the rider is flexing the wheel causing the spike heads inside the hub to rub against the inner piece of the hub.

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