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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 07-09-12, 06:19 AM   #1
DCwom
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Creaky stoker crank

We've developed a creak (not a squeak) that seems to come when the stoker pushes down on the right pedal, the noise begins after about 5 mins of riding and persists the rest of the ride. Everything seems tight but something has to be moving to cause this noise. The last time I took apart a bottom bracket was 35 years ago and I remember chasing ball bearings all over my parents garage, so I'm trying to rule out other possibilities first (plus I don't have a crank puller).

So far I've ruled out pedals, Any ideas?

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Old 07-09-12, 06:47 AM   #2
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Seat rails, seat post and rear skewer are also a possibility. The frame seems to transmit these noises making id'ing the source difficult at times. I had a really bad BB creak on my single that turned out to be a skewer that wasn't quite tight enough.
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Old 07-09-12, 08:05 AM   #3
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So far I've ruled out pedals, Any ideas?
Remind us what year / model tandem you're riding these days.

Also, what brand / model of rear hub do you have and what type of bottom bracket?
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Old 07-09-12, 08:34 AM   #4
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Burley Tamberello (aluminum) 2006-ish, the bike was built up as a hybrid by Mel @ Tandems East so I can't say if the components match the Burley Tamberello factory configuration. I don't know the hub of BB manufacturer.

The noise is not present when the stoker clips out an only the captain pedals, this leads me to think it is specific to the stoker drive train.
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Old 07-09-12, 11:49 AM   #5
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OK. Let's take a different tack on this then...

Is the noise present when your stoker stands and pedals out of the saddle? If not, it's probably the saddle to seat post connection. Take it apart, clean and then reassemble using Loctite and set to the correct torque. But, while you're at it go ahead and do the same thing to her handlebar interface with the stoker stem, the mid-section of the stoker stem if it's adjustable, and the clamp at your seat post. No sense in leaving that stone unturned before getting into the drive train.

If there's still a creaking noise when stoker rides out of the saddle and it's only on the right pedal stroke, check the chain ring bolts and make sure they're all snug.

If that doesn't solve it you have two other places to look, assuming you've already addressed the pedals:

- One is the rear hub. If it hasn't been serviced -- and most of them are easy to service -- pull the cassette carrier from the hub body, clean, lube and re-assemble. If it's a White Ind hub you'll need to loosen and then re-set the pre-load cap. DT-Hugi just pull apart. Those are the only two that come to mind at a modest price point that will sometimes have that kind of a noise. DT's more so than White Ind.

- The other is the bottom bracket and, yes... If you don't have self-extracting bolts then you'll need a crank puller or you can simply replace the crank bolts with self-extracting bolts and pull the crank that way. Could just be the crank to spindle interface. ISIS and other splined interfaces are very prone to creaking after X-amount of miles. Square taper can also get that way, which is why it's always a good idea to service the bottom end of your tandem every few years / few thousand miles. Bear in mind, different types of bottom brackets require different types of cup wrenches so it may be more cost effective to pay a trip to the LBS where they'll have all of the various different tools that might be needed.
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Old 07-09-12, 12:53 PM   #6
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OK. Let's take a different tack on this then...

Is the noise present when your stoker stands and pedals out of the saddle? If not, it's probably the saddle to seat post connection. Take it apart, clean and then reassemble using Loctite and set to the correct torque. But, while you're at it go ahead and do the same thing to her handlebar interface with the stoker stem, the mid-section of the stoker stem if it's adjustable, and the clamp at your seat post. No sense in leaving that stone unturned before getting into the drive train.
Good point to try the standing thing on the next ride to see what happens. I did manage to wedge myself into the stoker position in the garage and I noticed the same kind of creak from the handle bars when I was giving them a good flex, however this is probably not the source as my wife tends to ride without holding on a lot and the creak is now pretty consistent even with light pedal pressure.

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If there's still a creaking noise when stoker rides out of the saddle and it's only on the right pedal stroke, check the chain ring bolts and make sure they're all snug.
I didn't think about loose chain rings, another thing to check, although I'd think captain only power would still make the creak.

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If that doesn't solve it you have two other places to look, assuming you've already addressed the pedals:

- One is the rear hub. If it hasn't been serviced -- and most of them are easy to service -- pull the cassette carrier from the hub body, clean, lube and re-assemble. If it's a White Ind hub you'll need to loosen and then re-set the pre-load cap. DT-Hugi just pull apart. Those are the only two that come to mind at a modest price point that will sometimes have that kind of a noise. DT's more so than White Ind.

- The other is the bottom bracket and, yes... If you don't have self-extracting bolts then you'll need a crank puller or you can simply replace the crank bolts with self-extracting bolts and pull the crank that way. Could just be the crank to spindle interface. ISIS and other splined interfaces are very prone to creaking after X-amount of miles. Square taper can also get that way, which is why it's always a good idea to service the bottom end of your tandem every few years / few thousand miles. Bear in mind, different types of bottom brackets require different types of cup wrenches so it may be more cost effective to pay a trip to the LBS where they'll have all of the various different tools that might be needed.
We've got over 2000 miles on the bike since we purchased it 3 years ago and we've ridden a lot of miles on stone dust rail-trails (plus a ride or two in the wet). Maybe I should bite the bullet and go through a BB inspect/maintenance routine on both BBs anyway, even if I don't fix the creak I'll have piece of mind that the BB is ok.

Thanks for the tips!
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Old 07-09-12, 02:03 PM   #7
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Creaks do travel and are hard to pin down. One thing to consider are rear hub bearings. It was last on my list so of course that was the problem. Easy to check if you have a spare rear wheel. If no spare wheel then not so easy to check. Mine felt smooth when turned by hand but changing them did the trick.
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Old 07-09-12, 07:29 PM   #8
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If you can reproduce the noise in the garage, have an assistant use a stethoscope (could be as simple as a stick with one end in the ear and the other on suspect areas on the bike) while you make the noise appear.
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