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  1. #1
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Creaking bottom bracket/eccentric/crankarm, Any ideas?

    Over the past few rides our tandem has developed a creak/squeak on the right side. It happens on every down stroke of the right pedal. The odd thing is that the bike is quiet at the beginning of the ride and the noise develops after about 10-15 miles. I have Phil Wood bottom brackets with square tapers, DaVinci cranks, a Bushnell eccentric and Speedplay Frog pedals. I have tightened both the eccentric and the crankarm fixing bolt but the problem persists. I probably going to take the bike back to the shop anyway, but I thought I'd ask for any ideas/suggestions anyway. Thanks.

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Having the exact same set up on our tandems, I would do the following in the following order as a process of elimination:

    1. Easiest to do. Try a different set of pedals. If the noise goes away, see #2, below. However, note that you may or may not have the equipment/materials needed to service your Speedplays.

    2. Most Likely: Inject some grease into your Speedplay Frogs. I'm not sure why, but every pair I've owned has had at least one pedal (usually the one on my dominant leg) that developed a repetitive "click" that you can hear and feel on every pedal stroke within just a few hundred miles of use (Yes, even our new Frogs have needed grease with only 400 miles). Routine relubrication has always mitigated this problem. This would have been #1, except that a grease injector *** and CRC Marine bearing grease is needed for this service and, well, not many Speedplay owners have this stuff at home.

    3. Not the next most likely, but at least you can do it yourself: Follow Bushnell's instructions for removal and reinstallation of the eccentric, making sure you do a thorough job of cleaning the eccentric and shell before relubricating.

    4. Next most probable. Remove the cranks and retorque both bottom bracket adjusting rings/cups. While this is more likely the source of any noise not coming from the pedals -- assuming the eccentric has been tighted up to the torque spec -- this service is tough for the average home wrench too because, once again, it requires some specialized equipment; a pair of Phil Wood BB removal tools.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 06-09-08 at 05:09 PM.

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    materials

    What frame material? Are your PW rings alloy or stainless steel?
    no signature

  4. #4
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Tandemgeek:

    Thanks. You seem to have zeroed in on the pedal as the source of the noise, even though that was my last choice because of the nature of the sound - it is more of a creak or squeak, not a click. I have Frogs on my single bike and will trade pedals to see if that fixes the problem. Considering that the tandem and four single bikes all have Frogs (for a total of six pairs), it will definitely be worth the money to get a grease injector. I have a small grease *** for automotive Zerk fittings - can I replace the tip with a needle tip or will I need a whole new dedicated injector for this job?

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    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfcas View Post
    What frame material? Are your PW rings alloy or stainless steel?
    Steel frame. Steel rings.

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    I am betting crank arms - BB axle connection. Remove, lube, re-install to specified torque. Pedals usually don't make a creak unless they are really loose.

    Try a static (not moving) test. If you come up with a test that reliably produces the noise, then you are halfway there.

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    I have a small grease *** for automotive Zerk fittings - can I replace the tip with a needle tip or will I need a whole new dedicated injector for this job?
    Anything that has a needle tip will work. The CRC lube that Speedplay uses/recommends comes in a 3oz tube, so any 3oz grease *** will work. When sold as "Speedplay" tools/lube the price is 3x what you'd pay for the same tools/lube from Ace hardware, e.g., $6.00 for 3 - 3oz tubes at Ace vs. $15 at Colorado Cyclist.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-09-08 at 12:07 PM.

  8. #8
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    FWIW I ran into a similar problem and it turned out to be my SPD shoe

  9. #9
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    Just went through the same deal shorly after replacing the BB's on our C'dale. Natually I was convinced it was the new BB or was comong from the Crankarm/spindle interface.....however.... it turned out to be the left side Shimano PD M540 SPD pedal assembly.

    Bill J.

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    Last year my tandem developed a very loud creak, on one part of the pedal stroke, and I couldn't identify its source. The setup is a ti road frame, with Truvativ tandem crankset & Isis bottom brackets. The stoker crankset has an extra chainring on the left side for a child stoker kit, and that kit was installed at the time. So I finally decided that the source of the noise was my bottom bracket & crank. Changing pedals, removing, cleaning, re-installing the cranks, the BB, and the eccentric seemed to have cured the problem. A few rides later we are powering up a short hill, when I hear 2 loud "clunk" noised come from the stoker crankset, and the we were suddenly unable to pedal. We both get off, and inspect the crankset (not too closely though), and can't find anything amiss; the pedalling rotation had freed itself as mysteriously as it momentarily frozen. So we get back on and ride, but in less than a mile, that loud creak is back, and it still sounds like it's coming from my crankset.

    So, when we got home, I put it on the repair stand, and start testing, inspecting, etc. That's when I discovered how close we had come to a long walk home. The 2 chainrings on the stoker's left crank were secured by only one chainring bolt. 2 chainring bolts were missing entirely, and the others were loose, and almost completely unthreaded. The "clunk" noises were probably a bolt falling out and getting caught in the chain as it rotated around the crank, or temporarily wedged. By the time we got off the bike, it was nowhere to be seen. I had "fixed" the original creaking noise by tightening the timing chain a little, which stopped the stoker crank chainring on which it travelled from creaking. Lesson learned: check all chainring bolts often. If you hear a mysterious creaking "down there" check the chainring bolts too. Actually, the chainring bolts on the captain's crank and the stoker's drive side crank have always stayed factory tight. But the one's that I installed to accomodate the 2nd chainring on the stoker's left crank gradually worked themselves loose.

  11. #11
    Cyclist- Bike 'n a half
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    Our creak was the Bushnell eccentric. After about 2500 miles on the bike since new, it started creaking on the right downstroke. I checked the tightness of the eccentric and found it loose about a half a turn.

    I tightened it and the creak went away, but returned 40 miles later.

    I tightened it and the creak went away, but returned 40 miles later.

    I tightened it and the creak went away, but returned 40 miles later.

    I tightened it and the creak went away, but returned 40 miles later.

    You get the picture.

    With help from my bike mechanic/ tutor we completely dismantled the eccentric, cleaned it, greased it and put it back together. It hasn't creaked or loosened since and now I know how to do it myself next time.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post

    I have a small grease *** for automotive Zerk fittings - can I replace the tip with a needle tip or will I need a whole new dedicated injector for this job?
    Auto parts store will have the replacement needle tip. I got tired of changing tips so I just bought a Finish Line *** at the bike shop. Speedplay recommends service every 2000 miles or 3 months with waterproof bearing grease.
    I'm going through the same squeaky problem and I've done all of the above suggestions with no change. I've going to try a new bottom bracket unless anyone has any other suggestions. Our squeak is intermittent so it's very hard to isolate.

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    A few weeks ago, I had exactly the same problem:

    A creak on one side of the tandem, only when pedalling and it only started after 20-25 minutes of riding. After trying replacing the pedals, chains, regreasing eccentric and bottom bracket, the noise was still there.
    With the help of the search engine in this forum, I found some more information about creaks coming from the freewheel hub. So I went to disassemble the freewheel, cleaned and regreased it, and by now we already have over 500 km's of noisefree riding.
    So I would certainly check the freewheel as well.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justcrankn View Post
    I've going to try a new bottom bracket unless anyone has any other suggestions. Our squeak is intermittent so it's very hard to isolate.
    Tandems are freaky when it comes to chasing down noises, particularly when they are intermittent. Process of elimination is the key and needs to start on the bike while riding:

    1. What are we doing on the bike that's different when the noise is present vs. other times?
    2. Does the noise go away if we stand and pedal?
    3. Does the noise come on only when we are climbing?
    4. Can I make it go away by soft pedaling with one or both feet?
    5. Can I make it go away by changing my hand positions on the bars?
    6. Can I also "feel" the noise and, if so, do I feel it in my hands, feet, bum?

    As noted, while I have had a few eccentrics and bottom brackets that made noise, I'd guess that just as often as not it was a pedal or seat rails on a saddle that were the source of the noise. More recently, we had a terrible case of the creaks on our tandem and I was certain that it was coming from the stem interface with the fork steerer, bars, or headset because I could feel it in my hands and it varied with output effort. As it turns out, our frame does a great job of isolating road vibration and noise; however, it is very efficient at transmitting mechanical noises & vibration generated by parts that are attached to the frame: the noise was coming from the stoker stem's seatpost clamp.

    So, as much as possible, try to narrow your search on the bike and address as many things as you can that don't cost money to accomplish. When building or servicing your tandem, be sure to clean contact surfaces on seat rails, bar clamps, posts, etc.. and use friction agents (e.g., Tacx Dynamic Paste or FSA assembly compound) on carbon parts, grease on metals and alloys, as well as Loctite 242 on handlebar and saddle system bolts to keep those interfaces from becoming the source of annoying sounds.

    Make sure your hubs and freewheel mechanisms get periodic service per the manufacturers specs, which at a minimum is usually once per season and far more often for folks who put on high mileage or who ride in inclimate weather. Bottom brackets and headsets these days are very low-maintenance parts; however, low-maintenance does not mean no-maintenance. We have some friends who recently attempted to replace a rear bottom bracket from their '98 tandem that, as it turns out, has never been removed: no luck. It's now in the hands of their local bike shop and they are on day 2 of the bottom bracket removal effort.

    Anyway, don't feel like you are alone when it comes to chasing noises. Just try to be methodical in your troubleshooting to minimize the frustration and expense associated with attempts to make them go away.

    In closing, and back to the OP's issue, I key in on pedals as a potential source for drive train noise any time I hear 'Speedplay Frog' because we've used them for over a decade and have amassed 10 sets of the things: they're great and easy to service, but seem to want for lubricant far more frequently than any other pedal I've owned. Therefore, any time we have a noise coming from the crank area the first and easiest step I know to take is to hit the Frogs with a shot of lube. 9 times out of 10, that's all it takes.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 06-09-08 at 05:17 PM.

  15. #15
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    I finally fixed our squeaking bike. There was some paint in the eccentric shell (housing?). The grey paint perfectly matches the anti-seize I use. It took about 12,000 miles to develop this squeak.

  16. #16
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Creaking fixed...Turns out it was the stoker's seatpost. Lesson learned: Keep the the pivot points on a Tamer seatpost lubed and check the seat clamps as part of the general going-over before a ride.

  17. #17
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916 View Post
    Creaking fixed...Turns out it was the stoker's seatpost. Lesson learned: Keep the the pivot points on a Tamer seatpost lubed and check the seat clamps as part of the general going-over before a ride.
    I'm surprised; but then again, not really. It's amazing how sound migrates around a tandem frame, far more than it does on a single bike.

    I'm still chasing an intermittent creak that's in sync with pedal cadence on our tandem that seems like it's coming from the crank area but will most likely end up being in my seat post clamp / seat rail since that's about the only thing I haven't disassembled in the past week. I want to say that it usually takes me about 500 miles to get a new-to-us road bike or tandem sorted out so I'm hopeful that we're almost there with this one.

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