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  1. #1
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    "Click" sound on each crank rotation: cause?

    Any "Car Talk" fans here? This one is for you!

    For two years now I've been trying to track down the cause of an intermittent "click" that I hear on each rotation of the cranks when under significant load, which I can only reproduce while riding. I don't have to pedal very hard, but I can't do it with my hand on the stand. This is a 2000 Lemond Zurich, double chainring, original Ultegra components but chain replaced a couple of years ago. Probably around 10,000 miles on the bike.

    Each time my right foot starts to rise (or left foot starts to descend) while pedaling with some effort, I hear a "click." Here is what I have done to try to track it down:

    Shift between chainrings: No effect. Clicks on either chainring.

    Shift among rear cogs: No effect. Clicks on any gear.

    Inspect front derailer: Doesn't appear to be rubbing.

    Stand off of seat: No effect; doesn't appear to be seat post.

    Let go of handlebars; No effect; doesn't appear to be stem or bars.

    Loosen and re-tighten all chainring bolts: No effect. Everything seems tight.

    Replace pedals with spares: No effect. Not the pedals.

    Bottom bracket regular maintenance overhaul at bike shop: No effect.

    Believe it or not, I seem to hear this problem more on hot days than cool days....

    Any ideas are appreciated.

    -Steve

  2. #2
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    Check your shoes/cleats?

  3. #3
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deep_sky View Post
    Check your shoes/cleats?
    Good idea that I hadn't thought of. You may be on to something - in hot weather I wear one particular pair.

  4. #4
    Senior Member walnutz's Avatar
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    Weird, I've been having this problem lately, and I basically went through the same process of elimination that you described. Gonna take it to my LBS pretty soon, see what the mechanic tells me.

  5. #5
    cab horn
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    We fix a lot of "noise" problems on customers bikes - 99% of the cause is a headset/bb/seatpost seat problem. Retorquing bolts is not enough. You need to take apart everything and regrease as appropriate for example.

    Crank + BB area

    1) Regrease, retorque chainring bolts
    2) Regrease, reinstall pedals
    3) Remove bottom bracket, clean and regrease threads + shell threads

    Do the same for fork/headset area. Grease and retorque all stem binder/faceplate bolts and top cap bolts etc. Do the seat/seatpost area s well.

    This is usually effective for 95% of the bikes we get.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  6. #6
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Cleaning, re-greasing and re-tightening the pedal threads fixed it.

  7. #7
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    I have the same problem. It just started today. I have a brand new sram chain with powerlink and i think it might be that link although im not sure.

    I did 40 miles yesterday in the pouring rain. I took the day today to clean the bike and i took the chain off....degreased everything and put some new RockAndRoll lube on. cleaned up the rear Derail and jockeys really well and all joints on the front on rear were hosed down with a spray teflon grease. I get on and click click click. It is either that $40 chain+powerlink or i got crap in my pedal axle and i need to rebuild those. They are cheapy Welgo clipless SPDs.

    It seems to happen at the same point in the crank rotation which makes me think it cant be the chain....

    driving me crazy though

  8. #8
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    That's correct, it cannot be the chain, as the same point on the chain hits a particular point on the drivetrain every (# of single links in chain)/(# of chainwheel teeth being used) revolutions of the crank - somewhere around 2 rev's of the large chainwheel. It also cannot be anything in the rear of the bike, as those parts are never turning the same rate as your cranks (unless you have 1:1 gearing).

  9. #9
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    In the past, it was a loose chainring bolt on my bike; re-tightening all the chain ring bolts made it go away. Another time it was a seat post - cleaned and re-tightened to fix that. This time it was the pedal bolt/threads.

  10. #10
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    im still fighting this one. I rode 24 miles and click click click. It happens when the right foot come up just before it gets to the top of the stroke.

    I tore it all down today.

    No tight chain links and my p-link is fine
    swapped out pedals........still there on completely different pedals.....platorms without cleats to rule out my shoes and cleats
    tightened crank arms......still there
    removed chain and spun cranks....cant feel anything strange....smooth as butter....no play in BB
    Broke down and completely tore apart the BB...regreased everything and retorqued everthing down.....still there.
    happens when im on or off the saddle
    tightend the stem...just in case....still there
    removed wheels and put them back on to make sure they were straight in the stays......still there.

    It feels like it is a deeper tick....not somthing hitting somthing on each revolution


    any other ideas?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Sundance89's Avatar
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    This is a long shot, but it just happened to me. I had a terrible clanking sound that had me pretty concerned because I just recently upgraded my pedals, crank arms, and BB. I did all the checks as you did (although you didn't say you tightened down your chainrings too - just the BB).

    Anyhow, crazy thing on my end. The bottom tab on my water bottle holder broke so the bottle that was on the down tube was resting on the bottle on the seat tube. May have not been too bad with plastic bottles, but I have Klean Kanteen stainless steel. Eeeyeah. I didn't notice because I would just blindly snatch them off and put them back on without hardly looking. The saga only lasted a couple hours though before I picked up on it. But the lesson is, sometimes our minds go to the most complex possibilities unnecessarily.

  12. #12
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    i checked my chainring bolts.....still there.

    It isnt somthing loose in the frame rattling around. It is definately somthing clicking on each revoution. It was fine...then i did 40 miles in a heavy down pour for 2.5 hours. Now it clicks....

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  13. #13
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
    Cleaning, re-greasing and re-tightening the pedal threads fixed it.
    Hee-hee! I had the same problem and exactly the same solution nearly 20 years ago. I've documented it in other posts.
    Jeff Wills

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  14. #14
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scale View Post
    i checked my chainring bolts.....still there.

    It isn't something loose in the frame rattling around. It is definitely something clicking on each revolution. It was fine...then i did 40 miles in a heavy down pour for 2.5 hours. Now it clicks....

    Thanks for the suggestions.
    What frame? What kind of BB?
    Did you remove, clean, grease, and reinstall the chainring bolts? (Although, from the rotational position of the click I bet it's some tiny play in the bottom bracket mechanism.)
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  15. #15
    Senior Member ClarkinHawaii's Avatar
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    Your knee (or other) joints?

  16. #16
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    Grease the quick releases or try another set.

  17. #17
    My own worst nightmare
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    I've had a sliiiiiighly loose derailleur hanger cause a once-a-crank-rev click. Even fooled the LBSes; everyone was looking around the "front" end of the driveline. On a whim, I put an allen wrench on the der hanger cap bolt, and it turned aprx. 1/6 turn. No more click.

  18. #18
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Try this trick. A lot of times, the solution requires some quantifiable numbers, rather than just yes/no, all-or-nothing, black & white qualifiers. Also record the torque used to install the crankarm-bolts.

    I fall in between the dry-vs-grease camp when it comes to the spindle-to-crankarm interface. I prefer to use a little oil there. I've found that it really does quiet down creaks and noises in cases where the crankarm doesn't quite fit the spindle perfectly even though the proper torque was used (such as crankarms that have been ridden after the bolt had wiggled loose).

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    I would give Danno's trick a try (multiple layers of teflon tape on the BB threads). Also, one last thing that hasn't yet been mentioned is to make sure that the end of your front derailleur cable isn't bent outward and contacting the crank arm on every revolution. That has been a problem for some.

  20. #20
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    Hey, this thread is right up my alley, I'm having a similar problem. Rather than start another one, if no one has any objections, I'll post it here.

    I have a new TA Carmina 24/356/48 crank on Rivendell Bombadil frame. BB is a Shimano UN54 w/1mm driveside spacer. I friction shift a 7sp. FW.

    I've also had clicking sound from the start, it's one click or two very closely timed clicks. Metallic sounding.

    I didn't know where in the drivetrain it was coming from, so I first changed the FW. Still clicks.

    Then I changed pedals. Still clicks.

    The chainring bolts are tight, as I had just installed them, but I checked them again. Still clicks.

    Took out the UN54, applied teflon tape to the threads and around the non-DS body. Still clicks, but didn't seem as quickly to do it at first, but after a ride it was fully back clicking.

    Took off the chain..... I rolled the bike down the drivewaym hopped on. With the pedals in the 9/3 horizontal position, I gently hopped on the pedals ... CLICK. In the 12/6 ... no clicks.Now I could produce the sound.
    at will. I'm assuming at this point it is not the rings, as their is no load on them at all without a chain. I'm assuming though......

    I replaced the UN54 with another, and installed a Problem Solvers UP-cup #54.... an AL replacement cup for the UN54. It's very nice, fits very very snug. I applied the same teflon tape inside the threads and the around the non DS body, as before. The clicking sound has decreased at this point. Upon one or two rides though, it was back at full sound.

    I've been riding it this way since. I've notice on the road the sound only comes in the 9/3 o'clock position +/- an hour. I can still reproduce it freewheeling by simply hopping on the pedal in that horizontal position. If, after that click(s), I spin the pedals one rotation backwards, I'll hear another click, even though my feet are just resting on the pedals, I'm not pushing them down. If I then make one rotation forward, there is not another click.

    In verbal terms it is a definite click, it is short and sharp..... as opposed to a creeeeek with a long E.... which is longer and more drawn out. I used my mp3 player attached to my leg to record the sound. It almost sounds like the sound of an indexed shifter.... a metallic click, even though it has nothing to do with shifting, nor do I have any indexed stuff on my bike .... it just sounds like that on the recording.

    I'm just scratching my head at this point .... this is out of my experience. Any more ideas would be really helpful to me , or sgogoodri.

  21. #21
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garthr View Post
    Then I changed pedals. Still clicks.
    .
    Did you clean the threads and put enough grease on them? That was my issue all those years ago- I rebuilt the crank set entirely on three consecutive weekends, chasing the creak. When I took the pedals off, they had some grease on the threads. It looked a little dry, so I cleaned them, put on lots of grease, and reinstalled. No more creak.
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  22. #22
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    found it....


    it was the fixed cup. never checked it on my regreasing job. Looked tight.....but i threw on differnet wheels today and it was still there. I brought it up on the stand again was was wiggling the bb at 3 and 9 o clock and tried again at 12 and 6 o clock with the drive side up and thought i felt somthing. I kept at it and sure enough......in the 12-6 spot i could feel it move. I popped off my drive side crank and the cup was loose. The cup on the fixed side of my bike seems to be reverse thread meaning as your crank turns forward that is the same way the cup loosens. im cleaning up the threads and going to try 3 wraps of teflon tape.....torque it back down and hope for the best!

    note: it was only loose or producing the strange click at the 12 - 6 posistion with the drive side at 12. I suppose had i rode it long enough i would have ended up twisting the loose cup out even farther and finding it that way but could have also damaged the threads. Glad i caught it early.

    thanks for all the help everyone!
    Last edited by scale; 08-15-10 at 04:38 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    Did you clean the threads and put enough grease on them? That was my issue all those years ago- I rebuilt the crank set entirely on three consecutive weekends, chasing the creak. When I took the pedals off, they had some grease on the threads. It looked a little dry, so I cleaned them, put on lots of grease, and reinstalled. No more creak.
    Jeff,

    Yes, the pedals were installed with liberal grease.

    You know , the only other wild card I can think of is this crank has self extracting bolts. They are snug, and installed with grease in the threads of the crank, but it is about my last possibility.

  24. #24
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garthr View Post
    Jeff,

    Yes, the pedals were installed with liberal grease.

    You know , the only other wild card I can think of is this crank has self extracting bolts. They are snug, and installed with grease in the threads of the crank, but it is about my last possibility.
    I hate self-extracting bolts. Generally, these are hex (Allen) head, which tends to limit how much torque can be applied to the bolt. They require a lot- 30 to 35 foot pounds. That's more than most people are comfortable applying with a standard 8mm hex wrench.
    Jeff Wills

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  25. #25
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scale View Post
    found it....

    The cup on the fixed side of my bike seems to be reverse thread meaning as your crank turns forward that is the same way the cup loosens.
    The right side cup is left-hand thread on the vast majority of bicycles made today. It's reverse thread so it will tighten while you pedal- look up "bottom bracket precession" if you want to know why.
    Jeff Wills

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