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There is some chain noise on the two largest sprockets on my friend's road bike. It's not a skipping noise and not on a cross-chaining gear. Do you think it is ok to have noise on these sprockets or should it be completely silent like other sprockets?

It has 2 chainrings and 11 sprockets, and was configured that way when sold new.

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  • "when sold new": all bike shops I know offer one free of charge tune-up several weeks after purchase. The reason is that it is normal/certain for things to go out of tune after being ridden compared to factory new. (after that the period is many months and not free)
    – Vorac
    Aug 15, 2023 at 17:13

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I would go with a simple yes because largest cog usually means cross-chaining (or at least some angle in chainline), and the drivetrain is always a bit louder than with perfect straight chainline in the middle of the cassette.

So, if you ride big chainring and on the large sprockets, it'll usually be a bit noisier but you should still rule out other adjustment factors to be on the safe side:

  • The chain may rub on the front derailleur, this can usually be mitigated in the FDs trim position, so one click inward, in worst case a bit of tension adjustment
  • If it is really noisy and coming from the rear derailleur, a tiny bit of tension adjustment often helps for the chain to run smoother without impacting overall shifting
  • I would rule out the limit screw, if the limit is too tight, it would only affect the largest cog and probably shifts onto it, too
  • If you "can never get the adjustment right", i.e. always having noise or bad shifts in certain gears, no matter how much you try, it might still be a slightly bent derailleur hanger and the bike has been adjusted to compensate for that in most gears. (I had that too recently and mostly had a problem on the large cogs)

UPDATE

OP updated the question and stated that the problem doesn't occur in classical "crosschaining", so I assume this means on the small ring as well.

Small chainring/smallest cog might not be cross-chaining technically, but on the shot below you can still see the chainline compared to middle of the cassette, so it is still fair to assume that it can't run as smooth as straight in small/small. It doesn't sound unhealthy in my case but there is a difference, even when just spinning the crank on the workstand.

enter image description here

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    Now we know it's 2×11, this seems spot on
    – Chris H
    Jul 25, 2023 at 19:39
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    When you say "largest cog usually means cross-chaining" do you mean this is a cross-chaining situation even on small chainring?
    – Ender
    Jul 26, 2023 at 10:38
  • No, that would be "legit gear choice", small/small would be CC'ing the other way around. This is a good read, better than I could explain in my own words: wickwerks.com/support/crosschaining - in practical riding, it is mostly about avoiding gear combinations that could be achieved more "economical" by shifting on the other ring. However, it is riders choice, I also push over little bumps like that but never for extended periods....
    – DoNuT
    Jul 26, 2023 at 11:08
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    @Ender I've seen you updated the question with "no cross-chaining gear" which implies, your friend doesn't have the issue on the big ring. Tough one for me, the chain indeed isn't straight and interacts with way more teeth than in bigger gears while you are probably on a climb and riding rather slowly (no wind noise covering it up etc..), so some of it may be subjective due to that but the drivetrain will also be a bit noisier due to the angled chain, imo. What is normal and what isn't is hard to judge because lubrication, wear and adjustment come into play, here...
    – DoNuT
    Jul 26, 2023 at 11:16

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