Where is the ghost?!
I have been on cycling community forums for years. Recently, I have come to know a common problem that every rider is facing. It is something like that when they are riding; their bike feels like it’s dragging. It seems like there is something invisible behind your bike consistently pulling you back. But where is that invisible ghost?
Well, it’s difficult to tell where the ghost exactly is. But I can assure you that it’s nowhere but on your bike. Sounds horrible?
Yes, it is. But you have to understand there are many rotating parts in your bike. It’s quite possible that they will be corrupted after a time. And when you ride with corrupted rotating parts, the bike will feel like it’s dragging—still confused? Read the post to the end. I hope you will be clear about it.
Why my bike feels like it’s dragging
It happens because the rotating parts of the bikes are not functioning well. Derailleurs, wheels, the chain, and the bottom bracket are the rotating parts of your bike. When they get misplaced, rusty, or worn out, your bike feels like it’s dragging.
Anyways, before getting a solution, you must know where the root of the problem is. That’s why I have explained the possible reasons for the bike dragging problem. Let’s dig into it.
- Freewheel: In most cases, the bike dragging problem occurs because of a corrupted freewheel. Sometimes, it’s worn out inside, so there creates a resistance that keeps it from spinning. Other times something stucks between the cogs, and it can’t rotate freely. Thus, the bike dragging problem can appear.
- Misplaced Derailleur: After the freewheel, bike dragging happens most for the misplaced derailleurs. When the derailleurs are not in place, the chain rubs with the cogs or chainring. That’s why dragging problems appear when the derailleurs are not fine-tuned.
- Bottom Bracket: Another reason why the bike drags is jammed bottom bracket bearing. When the bearing is damaged inside, you cant peddle smoothly. Thus, it feels like that the bike is dragging itself.
- Front Wheel: It’s not always necessary that the bike drag from behind. Sometimes you can get a push from the front. It happens simply because of the bad bearing of the front wheel.
How to prevent bike dragging problems
You don’t need anything special to prevent bike dragging problems. What you need is just to follow the regular maintenance routine. Also, make sure your maintenance routine includes the following tasks.
- Cleaning: Most of the time, bike parts get rusty because of dirt or grime on it. That’s why the bike needs to be cleaned after every ride. Also, precise cleaning is a must in every maintenance routine. Lastly, a professional bike wash is good to get twice every year.
- Lubrication: Lubrication is a vital job to do for the smooth functioning of bike parts. After cleaning the bike, apply lube to all bearings and chains. But make sure you don’t over-lube them. Overlubbing causes even more damage to the parts. So be careful.
- Tuning: Before going for a ride, you have to check if the derailleur is shifting smoothly or not. If you do it before every ride, it can help you to avoid unpleasant incidents. Moreover, you can fix these errors with minor adjustments.
Advanced solution to bike dragging problem
By taking preventive measures, you can avoid bike dragging to some extend. But, the bike can still drag after it. So, you need to locate the problem and then rectify it to eliminate the bike dragging issues. However, go step by step to do the job.
Step-1: Identify the problem(s)
To solve a problem, you must know precisely where the problem is. Same for the bike dragging issue. As it creates from various parts, you should check the entire bike and identify which part(s) is responsible for the problem. However, to observe the bike, you can hang it to a Repair Stand.
- Firstly, check the freewheel. For that, rotate the rear wheel. Then, hold the pedal so that you can take the bike to the coasting state. Now listen to how the freewheel sounds while coasting. If there is a gentle skipping noise, the freewheel is OK. If the freewheel is creating unusual noise, there is a chance that it is worn out inside.
- Secondly, see if the gearing is working well or not. Start with the rear derailleur. Rotate the pedal and shift the chain from the highest cog to the lowest. If it shifts fast without rubbing, then the derailleur is alright. Now check the front derailleur in the same manner. If it is shifting smooth and the chain is not rubbing with the cage, the derailleur is placed correctly. However, slow shifting, double shifting, rubbing, or stuck chain is symptoms of the misplaced derailleur.
- Thirdly, you need to see if the crank bearing is good. For that, remove the chain from the front derailleur. Then, rotate the pedal and listen carefully. Is there any skipping noise? If not, the bottom bracket is in good condition. Otherwise, the bearing is damaged inside and needs to be restored.
- Fourthly, check the front wheel. It’s pretty simple to do. Just rotate the wheel and check if it is spinning smoothly or not. If there is resistance or uneven revolution, the wheel is held by a bad bearing. Also, conduct the noise test if you can.
Step-2: Rectifying the faults
After identifying the problems, I think it won’t be too difficult to rectify them. Even then, I am explaining what to do.
- Firstly, you should start with the freewheel. Remove the wheel out of the bike. Then separate the freewheel from the wheel with a Freewheel Removal Tool. If the freewheel is dirty, clean it precisely and reinstall it again. In the case of the worn freewheel, you have to get a new Freewheel to replace it. Follow my Freewheel Maintenance guide to do the job perfectly.
- Secondly, after you get the freewheel fixed, see if the rear derailleur is aligned correctly. The chain should be parallel to the cogs. Otherwise, fix the bent hanger, readjust the limit screw setting or use the barrel adjusted as necessary. For more details, you can check out my Rear Derailleur Adjustment guide.
- Thirdly, fix the front derailleur. For that, align the derailleur cage straight and parallel to the chainring. For achieving optimum cable tension, use the barrel adjuster. If it gets right, that’s cool. Otherwise, advanced troubleshooting is mandatory. Read my Front Derailleur Adjustment guide for limit screw setting and index adjustment.
- Fourthly, if there is a bad bottom bracket bearing, repair it. Before that, lubricate the bottom bracket and see if it gets fixed. Otherwise, open the bottom bracket with a BB Tool. Then, clean the bearing and reinstall it. If the BB bearing is damaged severely, replace it with a new one. To do it correctly, go through my Crank Bearing Maintenance guide.
- Lastly, check the front wheel too. If the wheel bearing is damaged, change it. For that, loosen the quick-release and uninstall the wheel from the bike. Then, remove the axle nut. Now unscrew all the locknuts and washers, and the bearing is revealed. Restore it, and you are all done.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my bike feel sluggish?
Same as dragging, sometimes the bike feels too slow or sluggish. It happens mostly for rubbing brakes or flat bike tires. So, the brakes need to be adjusted, and tires need to be inflated if you want to ride fast.
What slows a bike down?
Usually, a bike slows down because of screeching or skipping of the chain. Because of wear and tear, cog teeth get broken. Thus, stretching or skipping appear. And literally, the bike slows down.
Does a heavy bike slow you down?
Yes, a heavy bike can slow you down. Though it has an insignificant influence, it slightly slows down the bike. A lightweight bike runs even faster if it has an aerodynamic design.
A speedy and smooth riding experience is what you want. For that, you must get rid of the “ghost” that is pulling you back.
To dispose of a ghost, you need to become a priest. But, to eliminate the dragging problem, you don’t need to be a professional mechanic.
You can do it with basic knowledge of bike maintenance. If you don’t want all those hassles, there are always bike experts to help you out.
However, if you want to DIY the repair work, I am here to help you. Read this post top to bottom. You will get to know why your bike feels like it’s dragging. Also, I have described the DIY way to fix the dragging problem. You can give it a shot.
Anyways, I hope you can ride without any barriers.