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  1. #1
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    Troubleshooting a climbing creak...what have I missed?

    I have a 2008 Trek 1.2 size 58 cm with the triple chain ring. When I am out of the saddle and hammering a hard climb, I get this loud creaking noise that happens only when my left foot is at the bottom of the stroke- in other words when all my weight is on the left side of the bike. The noise sounds like it is coming somewhere below or behind me, but hard to tell for sure and it does seem to happen more when I am in the lower (larger diameter) gears in the back when there would be more torque applied to the rear wheel. I am not able to duplicate the noise on the trainer because I have got to really be jamming hard. So I'm hesitant to take it into the LBS only to have the dreaded "could not duplicate" outcome. Anyway, this is what I have tried to trouble shoot this noise:

    -Made sure aheadset is snug and tight
    -Lubed and tightened all water bottle cage and spare pump connections
    -Lubed all the points where the spokes over lap each other
    -Checked brake pad clearance
    -Checked cleat-pedal fit
    -Checked derailleur and drive train clearances and adjustments
    -Tightened both front and rear skewers
    -Made sure seat post was tight

    So what am I missing??

    When I first got the bike, there was a clunking noise coming from the bottom bracket during all pedaling. I took it back to the LBS and the mechanic said the bottom bracket nut needed tightened- wasn't tightened properly at the factory. Anyway, I'm not too familiar with bottom bracket mechanisms, but the BB does seem to be snug and is free of all other noise so I don't know if that is just a coincidence or part of the problem now.

    Could this noise be from the crappy stock wheels that came with my 1.2? Or could this just be normal noise from the frame flexing? I do notice that if I apply enough pressure to the rims with my hands, they do make some noise. Just not sure if its the same noise that I am hearing when all my 220 pounds comes crashing down on the left pedal.

  2. #2
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    You may find the following links helpful in tracking it down:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/creaks.html

    AND

    http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=123

    It's usually just a matter of patiently removing, cleaning,
    re-lubing, and re-torquing fasteners until it quiets down.

  3. #3
    Zweckentfremdung enigmagic's Avatar
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    Chainring bolts, saddle clamp.

    But yeah, Sheldon covers this.

  4. #4
    lungbuster estabro's Avatar
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    It could be the wheels. Check spoke tension. I had a creek that would appear the same as yours. I swore is was coming further back, but it was caused by a spoke that was very loose. Low-end Bontrager wheels suck.

    Also might want to check torque on crank bolts and pedals.

  5. #5
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    And chain-length and wear. That did this to my new Trek. Somehow the NEW Trek had a chain that was not.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  6. #6
    Zweckentfremdung enigmagic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    Somehow the NEW Trek had a chain that was not.
    Did you figure out what happened with that?

    Sounds a bit sketchy..

  7. #7
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Obviously somewhere down the line - someone either wanted a new chain and did a five-finger discount - but was nice enough to give his old chain for the cause. Or Trek themselves ran out of chains and either Trek or the shop I got it from made the swap.

    My money's on the shop. They turned out to be crooks and idiots.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  8. #8
    Peace and bicycle grease! une_vitesse's Avatar
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    I just had a custie come in with a similar noise coming from his bike. outboard bottom bracket cups were loose. if this is the case in your situation, have the shop face your bb shell and reinstall the cups with loktite 242.
    Ross Mt Hood
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  9. #9
    GranitCurbVia53x11Sprint Todd Richards's Avatar
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    check that the rear skewer is tight

    if that's not it borrow another rear wheel to see if it could be spokes or hubshell
    I once ate 11 Lobsters, no kidding. Dean Compact Ti 'Cross with Chorus; Merlin Agilis with D/A 9 speed; Basso SS; Litespeed Obed XTR 9; Cannondale SS MB rigid disc w/studded tires for snowmobile trails.

  10. #10
    GranitCurbVia53x11Sprint Todd Richards's Avatar
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    check that the rear skwer is tight.... if that's not it borrow another rear wheel to see if it could be the spokes or hubshell
    I once ate 11 Lobsters, no kidding. Dean Compact Ti 'Cross with Chorus; Merlin Agilis with D/A 9 speed; Basso SS; Litespeed Obed XTR 9; Cannondale SS MB rigid disc w/studded tires for snowmobile trails.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by une_vitesse View Post
    I just had a custie come in with a similar noise coming from his bike. outboard bottom bracket cups were loose. if this is the case in your situation, have the shop face your bb shell and reinstall the cups with loktite 242.
    I think that was what needed tightened when I first got the bike. The mechanic, a stout burley fellow, said he cranked it down as hard as he could. Is it possible it could have worked itself loose?

    And what are the shell and cups?

  12. #12
    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    Yes, Bottom Brackets sometimes work themselves loose. But usually Italian threaded ones, not like yours.
    The shell is the round part of the bike that the BB threads into.
    The cups are the right and left parts of the BB that thread into the shell.
    Facing the shell means using a tool to evenly flatten the sides of the shell.

    Removing pedals, regreasing threads and torquing back on, was something I didn't see on your list. If you haven't done so already, you could try this next. It has worked for me.

  13. #13
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    Last night I did check the the bolts that attach the cranks. I don't know if I would call them loose, but I was able to tighten them with just a standard length allen wrench. So I torqued them down as hard as I could int he absence of a torque wrench...

  14. #14
    Senior Member Proofide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
    I took it back to the LBS and the mechanic said the bottom bracket nut needed tightened- wasn't tightened properly at the factory.
    This sentence caught my eye. If this type of thing is a common occurrence, you would hope the shop would make a habit of checking it before letting people ride off on a new bike. I was in conversation with a bike shop owner recently. It's actually the shop where I got my first bike in 1958, and they were well-established then. He's decided to go out of business and lease the shop. He's had a contract with Raleigh for many years, who now make their bikes abroad. In recent years, he says every bike that comes in has to be virtually dismantled and re-assembled if he doesn't want it to come back with constant problems, such is the poor quality of factory assembly as shipped. The labour costs for this are ruinous. I believe him, because I got a bike for my wife which was shipped in a cardboard carton, straight from the warehouse. "All you need to do" ran the blurb which accompanied it "is fit the pedals, turn the handlebars through ninety degrees and tighten them, and adjust the saddle." Yeah, right. I also had a bike through my hands which a friend had bought from some place other than a bike shop. The quick release front wheel was the wrong way round, and the bearings were painfully tight. Rear wheel bearings were tight also. The front derailleur was way out of adjustment, and its cable was routed incorrectly. Now, if I ever got a bike from a source other than an LBS, I'd routinely strip everything down, because they're also stingy with the grease at the factory.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    Proofide, welcome to modern America! I can't think of any product that isn't assembled overseas anymore and worth more than a fraction of its price in terms of quality.

    For the amount of money these bikes and their components cost, it really is dispicable that for the better part of $800 which I still consider to be a lot of money, the best I can get is bottom of the barrel components that are assembled in a Chinese sweat shop and need professional adjustment prior to use.

    My next bike will probably be a Cannondale, as they are made right here in the great Commonwealth of PA, but I'm sure even they have their share of foreign components.

    And yes, that LBS where I bought my bike sucks and I quit doing business with them not long after, but that's a whole separate story...

  16. #16
    Senior Member Proofide's Avatar
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    That being the situation, it's a compelling reason to go the classic and vintage route. Bikes and components which are still in good shape after several (sometimes many) years are a better bet than modern equivalents, unless you value the hype which often accompanies the latter. Since starting working on bikes again last spring, it's been a pleasure to take them apart and see "Made in England" on components. Obviously, these are older bikes. We used to make everything here, and it wasn't all heavy and low-end either.

  17. #17
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    Pull the seat, clean and lightly grese the seat post and reinstall. Sometimes the seat post can rub against the seat tube causing a creak.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post

    My next bike will probably be a Cannondale, as they are made right here in the great Commonwealth of PA, but I'm sure even they have their share of foreign components.

    Cannondale has, or is in the process of moving all bike frame production to Taiwan.

    http://www.stillmadeinusa.com/blog/2...to-taiwan.html


    If you want a frame made in the USA, there's no better way than to buy from a custom builder. . . and some can be had for around or even less than 1 grand from low-profile builders across the country.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garthr View Post
    Cannondale has, or is in the process of moving all bike frame production to Taiwan.

    http://www.stillmadeinusa.com/blog/2...to-taiwan.html


    If you want a frame made in the USA, there's no better way than to buy from a custom builder. . . and some can be had for around or even less than 1 grand from low-profile builders across the country.
    What's a good resource to find these builders?

  20. #20
    Senior Member Proofide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodway View Post
    Pull the seat, clean and lightly grese the seat post and reinstall. Sometimes the seat post can rub against the seat tube causing a creak.
    Surely only if the rider is seated? The OP said this happened when standing on the pedals. Otherwise, I would have suspected the saddle. One of ours creaks.

  21. #21
    Wilma!! Randallissimo's Avatar
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    I had the same problem yesterday, and found my left crank bolt loose. Tightened it on the road at a garage, and it stopped creaking and got me home. Now I am going put a torque wrench on it and really tighten it to spec.

  22. #22
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proofide View Post
    Surely only if the rider is seated? The OP said this happened when standing on the pedals. Otherwise, I would have suspected the saddle. One of ours creaks.
    Nope, mine was doing it recently. Creak while standing and mashing. I have not quite figured out the physics of it, but I know a cleaning and light lube fixed it. A long shot for the OP for sure, but I thought I woudl offer it up...

  23. #23
    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    ^Strange physics indeed. On a similar note: I was brushing my teeth the other day when the phone rang.

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Update for anyone who ever comes across this topic while searching for the similar problem... I believe I have solved the noise. After re-tightening bottle cages, headset, pedals, cranks, and every other fastener I could find with the noise still persisting, I took the wheels off, greased up the skewers, particularly the area where the skewer clamps the fork. Problem solved. Apparently even with the skewers tightened as hard as I could physically get them, there was still enough friction in the joint to cause noise when climbing hard and putting a lot of force up and down on the handlebars. Ridden about 100+ miles now and no noise.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverHills View Post
    Update for anyone who ever comes across this topic while searching for the similar problem... I believe I have solved the noise. After re-tightening bottle cages, headset, pedals, cranks, and every other fastener I could find with the noise still persisting, I took the wheels off, greased up the skewers, particularly the area where the skewer clamps the fork. Problem solved. Apparently even with the skewers tightened as hard as I could physically get them, there was still enough friction in the joint to cause noise when climbing hard and putting a lot of force up and down on the handlebars. Ridden about 100+ miles now and no noise.
    I have a similar click on my bike when standing or under hard efforts. Like your case, it was the mating faces of the frame dropouts and the wheel and skewer. A light coating of grease makes the noise go away.

    My philosophy for working on bikes is that every mating surface gets at least a light coating of grease. Nothing goes together completely dry.

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