Have you ever been riding your bike, and asked yourself: “Why does my bike click when I’m coasting?”. Then you wonder to yourself: “Why am I talking to myself?”.

Well, I have dug into that question! The bike clicking, not talking to yourself. Can’t help you much with that second one.

While many people either don’t think about it, others may even think their bike is damaged! However if the bike is clicking when coasting, you are hearing the bike pawl.

What is the bike pawl?

It’s all well and good knowing that your bike isn’t broken, and it is meant to click, however let’s really look into why the bike pawl makes this clicking noise.

Most people have used a socket wrench at some point, and the pawl works exactly the same as a socket wrench.

On the inside of the socket wrench (and bike pawl) you will find a bunch of ridges and then a fork that lays in that ridge. You move the socket in one way, it clicks, and you move it in the other way it catches and you are able to get leverage.

Drawing of how a pawl works

Above you will find a drawing I did of a pawl. Yes, it’s terrible, but I think it gets the point across.

You will find the arrows in the middle pointing at the pins that will catch. When you pedal counter-clockwise, they catch and allow you to pedal. Pedal clockwise and they are able to slide freely and not catch, this is when you hear the clicking.

Why do some bikes click louder?

There are a couple reasons why some bikes may be a bit louder!

The main reason is likely because the tension on the pawl is a bit higher than what you are used to. This tension causes it to hit harder, making it click louder.

How to stop my bike from clicking

Honestly there isn’t really a good way to stop your bike from clicking when coasting. The pawl is something that is needed, so that your pedals don’t have to be moving while you coast.

Because of this, there really isn’t a way to keep your bike from clicking.

That said, the upsides way outweigh the downsides when it comes to these mechanisms.


So there you have it! The clicking in your bike comes from a little known component named the pawl, and it keeps your bike running well, and keeps you from having to pedal constantly.

Enjoyed reading this article? You might find this article about why bikes have spokes interesting as well!