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Old 10-01-12, 09:29 AM   #1
el nicho
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Suggestions to Uncover a Mystery Creak/Squeak (i.e. please help!)

Hey Everyone,

I purchased my first road bike at the beginning of August and starting to understand why the guy sold it to me so cheap. It is a Trek Madone 5.2 with Dura-Ace cranks, & Velocity wheels. I know very little about bike mechanics and have had a very hard time getting a squeak issue fixed. I feel like I need to give the mechanic at my LBS some more direction or things to fix, because he hasn't figured it out yet.

The issue with the bike is a squeak that sounds like it is coming directly from the cranks. The squeak will not happen when the bike is cold - it must heat up...typically between 5-10 miles into a ride. The squeak only occurs when I am pedaling in the middle gears at a high cadence, and the squeak is directly caused by my pedal stroke (if I'm not pedaling, its not squeaking). Also, it is not just the left or right pedal - both cause the squeak. If I put the bike in a low gear or pedal slower, the squeak goes away. If I put the bike on my kinetic road machine, I cannot produce the squeak. So far I've taken it in to my LBS 5 times - here's a run-down of each visit:

Visit 1: Said my chain was old, replaced the chain. Next ride, still squeaking.
Visit 2: Said my rear hub was loose, tightened hub. Next ride, still squeaking.
Visit 3: Took apart bottom bracket, re-greased, put it back together. Next ride, still squeaked.
Visit 4: Mechanic did nothing. Told me to try a different rear wheel; I borrowed a wheel from a friend, rode 20 miles all out, no squeak whatsoever.
Visit 5: Took in my rear wheel, they tightened the spokes & hub. They said the wheel is in perfect condition, they would not recommend I buy a new rear wheel because absolutely nothing is wrong with it. Next ride, squeaked once again. Back to square 1.

Before Visit 6 happens, can anyone offer some ideas on things for the mechanic to try? This guy is not an idiot - he has been recommended by multiple guys in town, but can't seem to fix my squeak.

Other things I've tried on my own that have not worked:
-Switched pedals from shimano to eggbeaters
-Switched saddles
-Tightened my seat post
-Loosened my rear brakes all the way
-Tightened the screws on my cranks

Thank you for any suggestions, advice, opinions, etc.
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Old 10-01-12, 09:43 AM   #2
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oh man that's brutal. my recent creaking was my BB, which needed replacing. I once had a worn or bad BB and one mechanic just tightened it but it was trash and I found out on a long ride the next time out. so I brought it another mechanic who replaced it. problem solved. not everyone knows everything.
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Old 10-01-12, 09:50 AM   #3
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Does it squeak when you're out of the saddle?

The fact it stops squeaking with another wheel should be pretty telling IMO. I'd say the squeak returning when you put the wheel back doesn't put you back to square one at all; that's a pretty big lead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by el nicho View Post
Visit 1: Said my chain was old, replaced the chain. Next ride, still squeaking.
Visit 2: Said my rear hub was loose, tightened hub. Next ride, still squeaking.
I'm not sure your mechanic is all that great; those two things would certainly not be high on my list of things to try. Of course, if your hub was loose, I'd tighten it anyway, but I'd be bloody amazed if that caused a squeak. Same for the chain, it should only have been replaced if it was worn, and merely lubed if it wasn't.

It's not until visit three that he actually begins to try useful things to eliminate the problem. Pretty lame, IMO.
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Old 10-01-12, 09:54 AM   #4
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Remove, lube and reinstall your seatpost. Since it's a carbon frame, use assembly paste instead of actual grease.
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Old 10-01-12, 10:01 AM   #5
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I guess the wheel could be a red herring... these noises can be an epic mission to silence.
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Old 10-01-12, 10:04 AM   #6
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I've had some weird squeaks/creaks come from the quick releases. Try taking them out and regreasing them. Also put a drop of oil in the cam.

I'll second the back wheel suggestion. If you can remove it and it goes away, that's telling.

But the more I think about it, I'll bet it has something to do with the quick release or the cassette. I'd have the cassette hub and quick releases regreased and reinstalled. When you're pushing hard and fast in a higher gear, that's where you'd get the most flex in both of those.

Of course, the another option is that you simply have a squeaky bearing in your rear hub. After pedaling away for a while, the grease warms up, thins out, and you get the squeak...
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Old 10-01-12, 10:07 AM   #7
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Suggestion one - find a different mechanic to diagnose it. You have not said (and it's important) how often the squeak occurs, but the things he has tried apply to different squeak rhythms. See Sheldon's page Creaks, Clicks & Clunks. Chain - sound occurs less than every crank rotation, but same number of rotations of a given chainwheel (chainlinks/chainwheel teeth). Hub - per wheel revolution or irregular, cranks/pedals - once per crank revolution, if irregular still often at same point in rotation. Bottom bracket - once per crank revolution or irregular.

At this point all you are going to get remotely is a bunch of guesses, especially if you provide too little information. We need to know:

What is the rhythm of the sound.
describe the sound as accurately as possible.
When did it start?
Do you recall any equipment changes, accident, particularly bad weather, etc that coincided with the sound starting.

Even with all that info it's best to have a skilled diagnostician with hands and eyes on the bike when faced with a stubborn problem.

p.s. Does it occur no matter what shoes you are wearing?
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Last edited by cny-bikeman; 10-01-12 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 10-01-12, 10:24 AM   #8
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It appears you've already isolated the source to the rear wheel; now you only need to determine what part of the wheel. IMO, the most likely source is the freewheel/freehub mechanism. Try a little lube in there and see what happens.
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Old 10-01-12, 02:05 PM   #9
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I think I'd try swapping the rear wheel AGAIN.
That should definitely confirm/deny a wheel/hub issue.
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Old 10-01-12, 07:56 PM   #10
el nicho
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Thank you everyone for the helpful responses - I intend to try all things suggested until the problem is fixed. When the bike isn't squeaking, its a great ride.

I went for a 30 mile ride tonight, averaged 21.5mph, and it wasn't squeaking as much as usual, but I think that is because it was the coldest ride I've been on since buying the bike. I'm continually paying attention to the sound and causes of the squeaking.

Based on these guidelines from an above poster:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
See Sheldon's page Creaks, Clicks & Clunks. Chain - sound occurs less than every crank rotation, but same number of rotations of a given chainwheel (chainlinks/chainwheel teeth). Hub - per wheel revolution or irregular, cranks/pedals - once per crank revolution, if irregular still often at same point in rotation. Bottom bracket - once per crank revolution or irregular.
It seems as though it is either a hub or bottom bracket squeak. It definitely occurs once per revolution. The squeak is definitely rhythmic - there are two squeaks per crank revolution...sort of a Wa-Wah sound (if you can imagine that from reading it!). The squeak is fairly high pitched and a buddy said it sounded like something was rubbing - or a friction based squeak.

Tonight once the squeak started, it doesn't stop as I'm pedaling along until I let up on my cadence - then immediately it will go away and not return until I am hammering on the pedals again.

I do not attribute this to any equipment changes, accidents, bad weather (although it was definitely more prevalent on a hot day than it was tonight on a cool 60 degree day) - the problem is I've had the bike only 6 weeks or so...it has squeaked the entire time I've had it.

As for shoes, I am very doubtful that it is the shoes - I checked to make sure my heels weren't rubbing against the crank shafts, and I recently changed both the pedals and cleats from shimano to crank brothers (squeaked before and after the switch) so I don't think the shoes are the issue.

Lastly, I agree that I need to try another wheel again. I may also go to the Velocity headquarters since they are local and see if they can offer any suggestions (no idea if they have mechanics there or if it is an office...but I intend to find out!).

Thanks again for the help.
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Old 10-01-12, 09:19 PM   #11
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Well, diagnosis is not a matter of following guidelines but rather following a logical process of elimination. I was not convinced the problem was isolated to the wheel by one ride, but I agree to try a different wheel again to make sure. It would not hurt to try your wheel on a different bike as well. If the sound disappears again the problem has most likely been isolated to the rear wheel.

I don't think the has to do with the turning of the wheel/cassette, which is at a different rate than the cranks, but rather some sort of side/torsional stress caused by your pedaling, as it is in time with crank rotation, which puts rhythmic stress on the chain, and through it to the wheel. I would focus on spokes at the cross, any mounted reflectors or spoke protector (yes I know - not likely on a Madone!) or some sort of rubbing on the cassette body from too-close clearance somewhere.

I had intended initially to think more about the absence of the sound on the trainer but neglected to do so. That also fits with the stress idea, as the rear wheel is not experiencing the side stresses of the road on that type of trainer, which supports the wheel at the axles while the tire rotates on a metal cyclinder. In fact, I think that information makes the cassette slightly less likely to be the culprit, as I don't see the difference in stresses being as great as for the wheel, but it's still possible.

Unfortunately with a used bike you are in a bad situation if you are still unable to isolate the cause, as a new wheel will run quite a bit. Onn other step you could try would be to swap out cassettes temporarily - your cassette must be in fairly good shape if the new chain has not caused additional noise or roughness.
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There's no such thing as a routine repair.

Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

If you think I'm being blunt take it as a compliment - if I thought you were too weak to handle the truth or a strong opinion I would not bother.

Please take the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!

Last edited by cny-bikeman; 10-02-12 at 05:52 AM.
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Old 10-02-12, 08:16 AM   #12
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Could it possibly be a spoke?
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