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I recently got a Wahoo Kickr Core. All working great, except the drive train is a little noisy.

I thought the easiest thing to do would be to try the cassette from my bike wheel on the trainer. The noise is pretty much gone now, much quieter at least.

The issue is though, I don't know how to fix things long term. I want the drive train to be quiet for both the bike wheel and the trainer. As I see it, I have a few options:

  1. Buy a new cassette and chain, fit it so that both trainer and bike have new chain and cassette

  2. Move the quiet cassette from the bike wheel to the trainer as needed

  3. Have a separate chain for the trainer and the bike

Both 2 and 3 seem like a lot of hassle. That really only leaves me with 1. What I'm wondering is, am I missing something? Is there a common fix for this problem? Would appreciate any help

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    Just to get the obvious out of the way: The trainer’s cassette is compatible? Shifting works well and the chain is in line with the sprockets?
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 26 at 7:40
  • @Michael yeah shifting works well and, add fat as I can tell, everything lines up. One thing that's a little odd maybe is that the derailleur hanger moves inwards as I tighten the quick release Commented Jan 26 at 8:44

2 Answers 2

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It is a known issue that mixing cassettes and chains of different wear states often creates noise, simply because the chain doesn't fit as well on the cogs if you have an old cassette with a new chain or the other way around.

I assume you are using the cassette provided with the Kickr (or a new one bought for trainer use) and your wheel's cassette has some miles in, together with the chain.

Based on Michael's comment above: I am assuming that a compatible cassette is used (Kickr's official addon-cassette is 11-speed Sunrace one with 11-28T) - and you tried if adjusting the derailleur makes any difference.

So, as you suggest, using a matching chain/cassette combination will of course help. I also run a Kickr Core and relegated an older cassette before end-of-life to my trainer as part of a wheel change. I settled into a rhythm where I tend to use a used chain from the road season and finish it up on the trainer with the already-used cogs, in most cases, this works fine. Simply because I have a used chain on a used cassette and that somewhat matches up, at least for my riding with 1 chain/season, this has worked pretty well for the last 2-3 years.

(Of course, respect excessive wear to avoid running down components quickly)

Besides the obvious: If you are (mostly) riding on the indoor trainer you could also use a thicker lube because there is no dirt ingress, so you can get away with using something "stickier" without grit sticking to your drivetrain. I find that normal oils often run quieter than dry lubes (and last longer).

Last, but not least: If you are using the trainer for workout purposes and not so much for free-riding: Noise is also dependent on chainline (the straighter, the better). So, if you are doing workouts where the trainer dials in the resistance, no matter the current gear, you can opt to ride in a gear that gives you the least noise, in the middle of the cassette.

If the noise issue only exists for you: Noise-cancelling headphones and a podcast have also worked well for me. ;)

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  • This sounds like a good way to go; I haven't yet tried adjusting the derallieur (I've wanted to avoid that as it works well on the road). My bike is an 8-speed, I'm using the trainer as it came (with the cassette on) so it may be that some adjustment to spacing is needed. Commented Jan 26 at 8:47
  • @OliverRadini Can you double-check what kind of cassette or how many sprockets it has? As I said, Kickr officially provides just an 11-speed cassette and that won't deal well with 8 speed under no circumstance. If that is the case, you definitely need a compatible/matching 8-speed cassette and that needs to be fitted with the correct amount of spacers.
    – DoNuT
    Commented Jan 26 at 8:52
  • Might be that chain/cog wear isn't your problem but rather compatibility and my (generic) answer is mostly wrong.
    – DoNuT
    Commented Jan 26 at 8:53
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    I bought the trainer from zwift with the 8 speed cassette fitted; definitely 8 speed. The spacer that's on there was prefitted as well, though, so it might be that it's worth me messing around with that a little Commented Jan 26 at 9:37
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    @OliverRadini That sounds OK, then. If the shifting is fine, don't adjust too much, 8-speed shouldn't be too sensitive to adjustment, anyway. Might be different wear states but also keep perceived noise in mind - in real-world-riding, wind noise covers this up a bit and a little noise is probably acceptable as long as you don't run any wild combinations with a totally elongated chain on fresh cogs. Maybe, a new chain to match the trainer cassette isn't the worst idea when you plan to keep the bike in for winter months and then go back to the one that's grooved in with your street setup^^
    – DoNuT
    Commented Jan 26 at 9:48
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I’m not sure how much wear causes chain noise.

One thing I can say is that Shimano engineers its chains and cassettes to work together. The performance-level drivetrains, e.g. 11 speed 105 and anything higher, run quietly if you’ve lubed the chain. They also shift well.

If you use a third party chain or cassette, the drivetrain will be less silent and it will shift less well. My wording is clunky but intentional. I assume that the drivetrain shifts well enough and that it’s not unbearably noisy. You may find that you can get used to the noise. If not, then using Shimano chains and cassettes together is one solution.

I’m less familiar with this, but different lubes may damp sound differently. This is why DoNuT recommended a thicker lube. By straighter chainline, he means that if you are doing structured workouts in erg mode, try to keep the chainline straight, e.g. big ring and 5 or 6th biggest cog, or small ring and 3rd smallest or so. In my experience, you only get more noise towards the extremes, e.g. big ring and largest 2 or 3 cogs.

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