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I got an Shimano R7000 groupset and have the following problem:

After degreasing my chainrings (54 – 36) and the cassette (28 – 11), the drivetrain makes normal noise. However after around 30km, the rear cassette (or chain?) begins to make noise in the lower gears. It is very noticable in the 36 - 28 (the smallest gear), 36 - 25 (2nd smallest gear), and 36 - 23 (3rd smallest gear) combination. Interestingly, the 36 - 21 or any higher combination does not produce the crackling sound.

I made a video which illustrates the behavior. I‘m starting in the 36 – 21 combination which makes normal noise. When shifting in a lower combination, you can hear the crackling sound. At the end, I shift back in the 36 – 21 combination which is totally fine.

Questions:

  1. Does anybody experience a similar behavior when the drivetrain is dirty?
  2. Is there anything to fix this crackling sound?

Additional information 2019-07-09:

  • Indexing: I don‘t think the indexing causes the crackling sounds, because i experimented with the barrel adjuster and it had no effect on the crackling sounds - it only effected my shifting
  • L-limit screw: Is set correctly (see photo below)
  • Derailleur cage: In my eyes, it seems a little bit bent. It is the normal position of a Shimano cage? (See photo below)

my derailleur position


Additional information 2019-07-30:

  • I changed the chain, no effect. Can the spokes produce such a pinging sound? If yes, how can I check spoke tension?
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    Sounds to me like the derailer needs adjusting. (Stupid question: Did you relube everything after cleaning?) Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 17:11
  • Yes, i did relube the chain and the jockey wheels. When the drivetrain is fresh (degreased and lubricated), no crackling sounds exists. It only makes noise when the drivetrain is dirty.
    – piptoma
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 18:50
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    Did you remove the chain during the cleaning/re-lubrication? If so, check it very carefully for a loose quick link if you used that, or if you used a pin check that the pin used to rejoin the chain is still properly in place. If either the quick link is not fully closed or a pin is protruding a bit, eventually instead of making noise as it whacks something as it goes past, it might actually catch something solidly and wreak havoc on your drive train - or worse. It's not a likely cause, but the consequences can be catastrophic. Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 20:46
  • @AndrewHenle No, I‘ve never removed the chain when cleaning it
    – piptoma
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 5:14
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    It does kinds look like the cage is not aligned properly, although I'm not sure if it's a little bit of wide-angle lens effect making it seem that way, Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 19:24

4 Answers 4

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After two years of trial en error i got the culprit: The last three cogs of the cassette come as a trio. This trio touches the back of the body at designated areas (see left side of picture below). When I apply a little grease on all of these areas before putting on the trio (see right side of picture below), the crackling sound disappears.

Grease on the hub where the cassette touches the back of the hub body

After a few hundred kilometers, the crackling sound reappears, presumably because dirt and grime make their way between the cassette and these areas. I then remove the cassette, clean it and put it together like described.

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  • The first batch of the new Shimano microspline cassettes at the XTR level had a thin plastic shim that should go behind the cassette (the shim was designed into the XT and SLX cassettes and XTR CS-M9101 revision, but the initial CS M9100 were already in production when that decision was made, so they shipped with the shim as a loose part part). Since you’ve narrowed it down to the back of the cassette, it might be worth trying something similar. It might be a more permanent solution than degreasing your cassette every 2-300 km
    – Pisco
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 14:36
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    I have had this same problem with an Ultegra 11 speed 11-28. Noisy/pingy sounding in the 28-25-23 cogs, and goes nice and quiet in the 21 cog and smaller. Much more noticeable when climbing/loaded up. The Ultegra cassette has the same common carrier for the three biggest cogs, like your 105. I am approaching this a little differently. I am putting a drop of lube on each of the ten rivets holding the three cogs to the common carrier (carefully lay the bike on the drivetrain side and I can access the rivets). It seems to quiet the noise for a bit. I will look at your strategy as well.
    – Ted Hohl
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 4:50
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It sounds like your derailleur indexing is bad. The 'crackle' is the chain trying to climb the shift ramps on the next largest sprocket then falling off.

It may be that your derailleur indexing is badly adjusted. You can run through a rear derailleur adjustment process and see if this fixes the problem.

You should also check that your derailleur is aligned properly. The derailleur hanger can get bent so that the derailleur cage is not longer parallel to the rear wheel. If you pick rear wheel of the bike up and look down the line of the chain you can see if the cage is grossly out of alignment if it is not parallel to the chainrings. A bike repair shop can check and re-align the hanger.

Another possibility is that the chain is catching in one of the jockey wheels in the cage. If you hold the rear wheel off the ground and pedal manually you should be able to see this easily.

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    If the indexing was bad and the chain was trying go climb the shift ramps, would you not expect the ‚crackle‘ to be absent in the 28 (the lowest) cog? And would this hypothesis be consistent with the observation of the drivetrain is perfectly normal/silent when the chain and cogs are freshly degreased and relubed?
    – piptoma
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 18:40
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    @piptoma Can you make the problem go away on the 28 or two next smallest sprockets by adjusting indexing? If not, indexing is not the problem. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 19:18
  • No, the indexing is independent of the crackling.
    – piptoma
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 14:34
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    @piptoma. I see you have a bike stand. I'd try to replicate the problem on the stand turning the crank manually. You should be able to see what the chain is doing. Is it catching in the cage or is it trying to ghost shift to the next largest sprocket? Can you make the problem go away be manually twisting the derailleur to align it better? Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 15:32
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    I also tried replicating it on the stand, but the crackle only happens under heavy load (i. e. uphill). When inspecting the cage on the bike stand, it seems just fine and shifting performance is very good. Yesterday I noticed something interesting: I reapplied lube on my dirty chain and the crackle disappeared - only to return after around 40km. This got me thinking if my dry lube only lasts about 40km? As a next step I will clean my drivetrain and apply wet lube to test whether it's a "lubing"-issue.
    – piptoma
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 5:57
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After having the exact same symptoms as the questioner, I also struggled with the irritating creaking noise while using my 23-25-28 cogs of my 11-28 cassette for the past couple of years. Replacing the cassette did not resolve the noise. My symptoms were exactly what was portrayed in the questioner’s video.

The solution for me: I replaced the aluminum 11-speed freehub (DT Swiss) with a steel one. I initially did this to resolve a different issue (the gouging of the aluminum freehub by some of the cassette cogs, a condition visible in some of the pictures in this question/answers) - see How to prevent freehub body damage?. As a side benefit of this swap, the creaking that has been persisting in the 23-25-28 cogs has completely disappeared. The cassette was not changed, just the freehub (steel) and a fresh set of freehub bearings pre-installed.

It is possible that the aluminum freehub had some deflection under load when compared to the steel freehub. Another possible theory is that the new freehub bearings (steel) have a tighter tolerance than the bearings in the old freehub (these happened to have been ceramic bearings that came with the wheelset originally). Regardless, the change of one or both of these things completely resolved the incessant creaking. In fact, there is now a much more subtle noise that I can barely hear: when the gradient goes to 12% or higher I can barely discern a little bit of spokes tinging. It is very subtle, and only occurs during extreme stress loading, but I would never have heard that before making the freehub swap.

And a follow up with more than 1,000 miles on since the "fix" - NO RETURN OF THE ANNOYING CREAK.

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    I have a big hillclimb event that I do annually coming up on the calendar, and I am looking forward to a nice, quiet ascent this year.
    – Ted Hohl
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 1:38
  • 500-mile follow up: There has been no return of the creaking in the drivetrain following the freehub/bearing swap. Check this one off as a winner. Peace and quiet again.
    – Ted Hohl
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 19:03
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I'm going with the suspicion this just some form of front derailleur rub. It's only happening with combinations of the leftmost front ring and leftmost rear sprockets. The temporary relief obtained from lubrication is also consistent with rub. Frame flex is why it doesn't reproduce on the bike stand. Front-side cross-chaining issues are sensitive to frame flex, because the rings basically tilt relative to the plane of the bike's frame when you put your weight into the pedals. The hypothesis is easily confirmed or refuted with a simple front adjustment.

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