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Video: Bike maintenance Pt 6 – How to cure your bike's creaks and squeaks

Annoying noises from your bike can ruin a ride and be a sign of something more sinister here's how to find and fix what's causing the problem

Many's the cyclist who has been driven to distraction by a super-irritating creak or squeak emanating somewhere from their bike. On a long ride it can turn in to torture partiucularly because it can be frustratingly hard to figure out which bit of the bike is actually making it – often the sound isn't coming from where you think it is. 

In the sixth of our cycle maintenance videos Cycle Surgery chief mechanic, Andrew Brown talks us through how to track down many of the most common causes of these uncalled for creaks and squeaks and most importantly shows you how to fix them once found.

The whole series of our bike maintenance videos is available now on Youtube to help you get to grips with the essentials of keeping your bike running efficiently all year round. 

How to Clean and Lube Your Bike for Maximum Cycling Efficiency
How to Get the Best from Your Bike's Brakes
How to Keep Your Bike's Wheels Round, Tight and True
How to Adjust Your Bike's Gears for Maximum Shifting Performance
How to Choose the Right Gear Ratios for You and Your Bike
How to Cure Your Bike's Creaks and Squeaks
How to Choose and Set Up the Right Tyres for Your Bike's founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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Steve K | 2 years ago

This probably needs a link to Peter's crank thread.

TheBillder | 3 years ago

Interesting, but I'd add:

Go at it in this order: safety, ease, diminishing probability.

On carbon frames or components, check for cracks first. This is for safety and can save of time - replacing a carbon handlebar can be faster than tracking down a creak which is only known to be at the front end. You can't prove that there are no crack issues but the inspection doesn't take long.

If a long seat post is set right at the bottom of its range, it may interfere with the seat tube (there's a bottom stop on one frame I worked on). This can creak even when out of the saddle.

Check QRs as well as all the bolts and try swapping components if possible to narrow things down (e.g. if you think the problem is the front wheel, swap with a friend and see if the noise changes or goes away). Even get someone else to ride the bike if the noise might be shoes or cleats or fit- specific; I found the seat post noise above by test riding the bike as my legs are a bit longer than the owner's and the noise vanished when I put the saddle up).

BB wear might be better and more easily checked with the chain off but the chainset still in place - you can spin the unladen cranks and get a good feel for rumbling and play.

I'd also (and perhaps this is ocd or lost in the edit) torque bolts in diagonal order, getting them all tight-ish but not fully torqued, and then finishing in diagonal order.

McVittees replied to TheBillder | 2 years ago
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My carbon Vitus had been suffering with terrible creaking from the BB, so I replaced it with an Wheels Manufacturing thread together bb. Stopped creaking for a few miles then started again.  Refitted with a 'better' (thicker) grease. Same result. Then went down the loctite 609 route - still creaked. Hmm.  Greased, pushed and pulled the skewers, pedals, seatpost, saddle, cassette, wheels cleats, pedals and handlerbars to ensure they all couldn't be the source of the infernal creaking. They weren't.  

So, finally decied to buy a Hambini BB in a last ditch attempt to fix creaking without resorting to purchasing a new frame...and...silence...

...for about 30 miles and then worse than ever.  I did notice though that my headset was a bit notchy. 

A month later convinced wife to let me order a new bike on the C2W scheme (any frames i wanted costed the same at retail as a bike on C2W).  While waiting for it to arrive I decided to replace the Vitus' headset bearings - why not?  One hour ride: no creaking.  Three hours commuting: no creaking.  Wife's face - no smiling.

Hoping creak will return so I can stop getting the hard stares.

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