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15 Reasons Your Bike Creaks (and how to fix them...)

15 Reasons Your Bike Creaks (and how to fix them...)

A creaking bike might be one of the most annoying things in the world. So, in today's blog, we're going to troubleshoot those creaks thanks to pro bike mechanic Nic Vier. Nic will go through the 15 most common causes, starting with six you can probably diagnose at home.

1. Saddle

As you pedal, your backside moves on the saddle, which can cause a creak where the rails go into the saddle or where they clamp to the seat post. It can also creak if it's cracked or damaged. To diagnose, put some weight through the saddle while standing next to your bike and see if it makes a noise. If it does, check if the saddle is torqued up at the rails. If the noise persists, try applying some grease or spray some GT85 where the rails connect. If none of that works, it might be time for a new saddle.

2. Seat Post

A loose or dry seat clamp can also creak. Modern bikes with aero integrated seat posts and clamps inside the frame are particularly prone to this. Test it by putting weight through the seat post, ensuring it's not your saddle causing the noise. If it still creaks, mark the seat post's position, remove it, clean both the post and the frame, apply carbon slip, and reinsert, ensuring it's torqued properly. If the noise persists, check for cracks and consider a new seat post.

3. Handlebars

Handlebars can creak due to a loose stem clamp, cracked handlebars, or improper tightening of the levers. Diagnose by flexing the bars side to side. First, ensure your levers are tight. Next, loosen and clean the stem bolts, then re-tighten them. If the creak continues, inspect for cracks in the handlebars or stem. Tighten bolts sequentially to avoid misalignment and potential damage.

4. Stem

If your stem is creaking, it's often due to improper tightening or corrosion. Visually inspect for rust and clean if necessary. Tighten the stem bolts sequentially and ensure everything is torqued correctly. If the creak persists and you see visible damage, it might be time to replace the stem.

5. Chainring Bolts

Loose chainring bolts can mimic bottom bracket noises. Ensure they are tight. If you're confident in your mechanical skills, remove the bolts, clean the surfaces, apply grease or copper slip, and reassemble. Tighten properly to avoid further creaks.

6. Quick Release Skewers

Dry surfaces or threads on your quick release skewers can cause creaks. Remove, clean, and grease the skewers before reinstalling and torquing to the correct specification.

Next Steps: Using Spares

7. Pedals and Cleats

Worn or loose cleats and pedals are common creak sources. Swap out with spares if possible to diagnose. If swapping resolves the issue, you’ve found your culprit.

8. Shoes

Cycling shoes, though durable, can eventually crack or break. If you have a spare set of shoes, try using them. Even riding in regular trainers can help identify if your shoes are the problem.

9. Wheels

Wheels can creak due to issues with spokes, nipples, the rim, or hubs. If you have spare wheels, swap them out to see if the noise disappears. If it does, focus on servicing the hubs or greasing the nipples.

Advanced Findings: Possible Bike Shop Trips

10. Headset

A loose or worn-out headset will creak. Test by rocking the bike with the front brake engaged. If it rocks, tighten or service the headset.

11. Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket is a common creak source. Check for play by rocking the cranks side to side. If there’s play, service or replace the bottom bracket.

12. Cranks

Loose crank bolts or damaged cranks can creak. Ensure bolts are tight. If the noise persists, get the cranks checked by a professional.

13. Frame

If all else fails, inspect the frame for cracks. This is rare but possible. Look around the chainstays, seat tube, bottom bracket, and head tube.

Other Strange Noises

14. Chainrings

Worn one-by chainrings with a new chain can create a grinding noise. Replace the chainring if necessary.

15. Brakes

Contaminated or misaligned brake pads and rotors can squeal. Adjust the caliper and, if needed, replace the pads or rotor.

 

A big thank you to Nic for putting this together, and if you are interested in a high-end custom build, check out Back Yard Bike Shop

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