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Old 10-28-12, 11:21 AM   #1
TrojanHorse 
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Annoying "chirping" sound from my bike

I've had a very faint repetitive noise from my bike for a little while but never really loud enough to hear it, if that makes sense. Yesterday I was riding and it seemed more noticeable, like a squeak (only not so high in pitch) so I'm calling it a chirp. It seems to be occurring at the same period as a wheel rotation so my initial thoughts are that it's related to a wheel bearing. I can NOT replicate the chirping sound (it's pretty faint while riding too) on the repair stand. It occurs whether I'm pedaling or not and whether I'm seated or not. I could be mistaken but it only seems to be noticeable when I get going, so 15 mph +.

The bike's a 2007 carbon Spec. Roubaix and I have 3 year old Easton EA90SL wheels on there with a couple thousand miles on them. Maybe 4.

I've been perusing youtube looking for maintenance videos but aside from checking hub preload (mine seems to be fine) and switching out freehub bodies, I'm not really finding anything relevant. I believe the hub bearings are sealed cartridge bearings, so I'm not sure there's any maintenance I could do on them anyway.

Any ideas on what I can check? I realize troubleshooting somebody else's noises over the internet is nearly impossible, just looking for ideas on what I can check.

Thanks!
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Old 10-28-12, 11:49 AM   #2
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Worn bearings tend to make noise at any speed but it is possible that the noise only rises to an audible level when at speed. But because the wheel rotation is fairly rapid at 15 mph, I would expect the noise to have changed to a screech (constant noise) and not be heard as a repetitive sound. Also, relating to wheel bearings, I would be surprised if rider weight made a significant difference in bearing operation (which is preloaded within the hubs). I would think you could eliminate wheel bearing wear by examing them off the bike. (Checking for smoothness of operation and any lateral or vertical play.)

Sometimes a wheel spoke can loosen and create noise. Even if the wheels appear to be true, check the spoke tension by squeezing pairs of spokes and working around the wheels. Also check that the wheels are seated squarely in the frame and that the rear wheel isn't touching the chain stays. Look for sidewall damage, puckering of the tire, or anything unusual.

Just some thoughts. Good luck.
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Old 10-28-12, 12:27 PM   #3
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Look for an old stethoscope , to listen to specific parts of the drivetrain,
as you turn it.
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Old 10-28-12, 12:39 PM   #4
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Sounds like a bird may be living inside your frame...

You're either gonna have to draw it out with smoke, or accept him as your new friend.
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Old 10-28-12, 12:59 PM   #5
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Gnosis - it occurs whether I'm pedaling or not, so I'm ASSUMING (you know what they say) that it's not the crank or parts related to the crank. Same thing with the seat post - I've seen some crazy noises that originate with the seat post.

I didn't even think about spokes. I'll take the wheels off tonight and see if I can't figure any more out.

My cat doesn't appear to pay any attention to my bike so I'm presuming it's not a bird.

I just went for a short ride with my son and again, no noise at lower speeds.

It's a very faint noise but I'm a little OCD about drivetrain nose so it's bugging me.
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Old 10-28-12, 01:07 PM   #6
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Brake pads?

I had a chirp on my bike when out with a cycling instructor and he said immediately that it was a brake pad which needed toeing in correctly which he did for me.
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Old 10-28-12, 01:26 PM   #7
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I don't think it's the brake pads - the chirp occurs even while braking or not braking and I actually flipped that little level to open the brake pads and make sure they weren't rubbing.

The wheels look incredibly true (still) and the tire isn't rubbing on anything either.
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Old 10-28-12, 02:31 PM   #8
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Hi,

Noises like (that happen at exactly the same place in the wheel rotation) this are usually a loose spoke. Ride slowly and turn your head to the right or left to see if it is the front wheel or rear wheel. Once you determine which wheel, rotate it and pluck each spoke. It should become (pretty) clear which spoke is loose.

Cheers,
Charles
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Old 10-28-12, 05:08 PM   #9
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Quick test: pump up the rear tire. If the sound goes away, then the problem was the tire rubbing against the frame somewhere at the stays.

I am suggesting this, because it's the only scenario where the sound appears only while the bike is ridden: the rear tire will widen a bit, just enough to rub against the frame.

If there are other scenarios where such repetitive sound (unrelated to pedaling) will appear only while the bike is ridden but not on the repair stand, I would like to learn about it/them.

EDIT: cplager just mentioned another scenario where noise from wheel rotation happens while rider is on bike - loose spoke(s). OK, thanks.

Last edited by wroomwroomoops; 10-29-12 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 10-28-12, 05:15 PM   #10
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by wroomwroomoops View Post
Quick test: pump up the rear tire. If the sound goes away, then the problem was the tire rubbing against the frame somewhere at the stays.

I am suggesting this, because it's the only scenario where the sound appears only while the bike is ridden: the rear tire will widen a bit, just enough to rub against the frame.

If there are other scenarios where such repetitive sound (unrelated to pedaling) will appear only while the bike is ridden but not on the repair stand, I would like to learn about it/them.
The advice is sound. But a loose spoke will not create a noise on the stand either. Both of these effects need the riders weight.

Cheers,
Charles
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Old 10-28-12, 10:17 PM   #11
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maybe a loose bag or water bottle cage or light.
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Old 10-28-12, 10:53 PM   #12
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Old 10-29-12, 10:28 AM   #13
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it a small part of broken frame, you should check frame if it's all ok.
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Old 10-29-12, 11:12 AM   #14
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found 3 loose spokes by the valve stem on the front wheel but they're not super loose, just not as taut as the rest. I'll snug them up and see if that doesn't fix things.
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Old 10-29-12, 11:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cplager View Post
The advice is sound. But a loose spoke will not create a noise on the stand either. Both of these effects need the riders weight.
Good point, this indeed reminded me of one of my first ever bikes, that had a factory built wheel which developed a loose spoke in the front wheel, and that generated a noise while riding. I don't even remember what I did with that, it was so long ago. Probably the LBS guy tightened the spoke (I don't remember him putting the wheel on a truing stand).
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Old 10-29-12, 01:13 PM   #16
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You can safely ignore anything not directly attached to the wheel. There is no reason for any accessories or the frame to make noise in time with a wheel rotation, unless perhaps the tire or wheel is so out of whack as to cause vibration - obviously not the case here.

If the problem is stlll present after tensioning the spokes (they should all be checked - not just the ones that are noticibly loose) It's possible that it is related to the bearings but less likely. You would have to replace the cartridges, so it's best to eliminate other causes first. Substitution is always a good idea, so if possible switch out one wheel at a time. If you are able to isolate it to one wheel first remove any computer magnet attached and retest. In addition to tightening the spokes flex the crosses to see if there's a burr that has formed at any of the crosses from the spokes flexing when they are loose. When that first starts it can cause a sound similar to a squeak.
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Old 10-29-12, 09:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnosis View Post
However, as concerns your chirping issue, upon pondering your issue at greater length, it dawned on me that when my 2011 Trek 2.1 road bike was brand new, I also was getting a “chirping” issue that corresponded with my rear wheel’s rotation and the intervals between chirps grew farther apart as the rear wheel continued to slow.

As it turned out, it was the left side rubber dust cover on the Bontrager rear wheel that was making the chirping sound and after I used a small screwdriver to apply a bit of wheel bearing grease under the dust cover, the chirping sound was eliminated. That chirping sound was driving me crazy and it wasn’t something I expected from a brand new quality road bike.

The left side rear dust cover rotates with the rear wheel however, the locking nut and cone remain stationary, so the previously grease-free inside of the left side dust cover produced enough friction as it spun over those stationary components to produce the chirping sound.

I hope this proves more helpful.
I had the same thing occur on the front wheel of my now old Fuji Newest when it was new, except that it was a rubber dust cover on the front wheel. I put some oil on a q-tip and ran the q-tip around under the dust cover. No more chirp. 15,200 miles later and I have still have no chirp and have never done anything else to the dust covers on that wheel.
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Old 10-30-12, 12:01 AM   #18
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I'll also check to make sure your tube's valve stem is not rattling against the rim. I always use a little itty-bitty piece of electrical tape (about one inch length slit in the middle) to neutralise the possibility of my valve stem rattling against a rim.

You'll be amazed at how that little tape can quiet up a ride.
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Old 10-30-12, 04:34 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnosis View Post
As it turned out, it was the left side rubber dust cover on the Bontrager rear wheel that was making the chirping sound and after I used a small screwdriver to apply a bit of wheel bearing grease under the dust cover, the chirping sound was eliminated. That chirping sound was driving me crazy and it wasn’t something I expected from a brand new quality road bike.
I hate to be the "me too" guy, but yeah, I had that, too! Boy that was frustrating. I don't have other hubs with that kind of dustcover anyomre - partly because I'm replacing rim brakes with hub brakes on my bikes, and partly because I made a point of not using hubs with that sort of dustcover.

I don't even remember how I fixed the problem that one time. Some grease, at the interface between the rubber of the cover, and the hub, maybe.
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Old 11-01-12, 11:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnosis View Post
“chirping” issue reminded me of my “eeint, eeint” sound issue,
You gotta love the internet. Eeint?

Well, no noises on tonight's ride, so maybe spokes was it.

Thanks for the dustcap idea, I would never in a million years think to check something like that.
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