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Clicking or Creaking from Titanium Gears on Record 11sp Cassette

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Clicking or Creaking from Titanium Gears on Record 11sp Cassette

Old 03-25-20, 02:37 PM
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robertorolfo
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Clicking or Creaking from Titanium Gears on Record 11sp Cassette

Hey everyone, hope you are all healthy and relatively sane. Like some of you, I'm taking advantage of this inside time to do a little bike work. So yesterday I installed a new set of wheels, along with a brand new 11 speed cassette on a bike that had already been using something very similar. Everything went well, but I'm getting a strange clicking or creaking noise when I pedal hard in the lowest three gears (the ones that are titanium and grouped together on a Record cassette). Here are the details:

What came off: a Campagnolo 11sp Chorus cassette (12-25), installed new roughly 300 miles ago. It was installed along with a new at the time Record 11sp chain (so it also has roughly 300 miles) with a used Chorus group. The setup had been running silently and flawlessly.

What was put on: a Campagnolo 11sp Record cassette (12-25), with the existing 300 mile Record chain. Just the slightest tweak made to the rear derailleur barrel adjuster, but otherwise it was shifting almost perfectly from the start.

The issue: When standing up hard on the pedals in any of the lowest three gears (the titanium gears, 25-23-21), I a slight clicking sound in the three o'clock position of both pedal strokes (which I realize is the most powerful position). It almost sounds like the spokes are pinging a little. And it happens in both the large and small chainrings, but only in those three gears. Now, to rule out other variables, I did the following: the same exact effort in any of the lower gears (the regular steel sprockets) and not a sound. So I'm fairly certain it isn't the wheels, cranks, BB or anything else. And, again, with the Chorus cassette everything ran dead quiet.

From the research I have done so far, it looks like this isn't completely unheard of for the titanium cogs on a Record or Super Record cassette. Has anyone else experienced this? I've also heard that it could possibly get better with time (break-in), and that a drop of light oil on the rivets of the 3-cog titanium group could help. Any other ideas?
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Old 03-25-20, 02:48 PM
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Did you grease the cassette splines? I personally do not prefer to do this, but many mechanics do. If these surfaces are dry, that may be the cause.

Creaks can be brutal to diagnose. But since you only made one change to the bike, it would make sense it's the new cassette. I have an old XTR cassette that creaks under load in the large cog on our tandem and I, too, assume it's one of the cog rivets. But it's rare that I hear it, so I've never worried about tracking it down and trying to resolve it. Yes, try lube. And if that solves it, you've found your source. And if it is the cassette, perhaps discuss with the seller for potential remedy.
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Old 03-25-20, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by LV2TNDM View Post
Did you grease the cassette splines? I personally do not prefer to do this, but many mechanics do. If these surfaces are dry, that may be the cause.

Creaks can be brutal to diagnose. But since you only made one change to the bike, it would make sense it's the new cassette. I have an old XTR cassette that creaks under load in the large cog on our tandem and I, too, assume it's one of the cog rivets. But it's rare that I hear it, so I've never worried about tracking it down and trying to resolve it. Yes, try lube. And if that solves it, you've found your source. And if it is the cassette, perhaps discuss with the seller for potential remedy.
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I know there are a lot of different opinions about whether or not to grease the cassette splines, so I just wiped on a very thin film with my finger. Really minimal. I might try adding more, but I'm not sure that is the culprit.

And yes, I think putting a little oil/lube on the rivets of those cogs is the next thing to try. As for reaching out to the seller, everything functions fine and there is no noise under normal load, even in those gears. I can certainly live with it, and even use it as no frills power meter.
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Old 03-25-20, 03:12 PM
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Might be your cranks clicking....the bearing connected to your crank is seated in the BB cups. It's possible that it is moving slightly causing the click when you get on it. If you are familiar with installation and removing, I would pull the cranks and check the pre-load spring to ensure it didn't get cockeyed...re-grease the BB cups, torque your crank back on...set the retaining ring and try it out.
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Old 03-25-20, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
The issue: When standing up hard on the pedals in any of the lowest three gears (the titanium gears, 25-23-21), I a slight clicking sound in the three o'clock position of both pedal strokes (which I realize is the most powerful position). It almost sounds like the spokes are pinging a little. And it happens in both the large and small chainrings, but only in those three gears. Now, to rule out other variables, I did the following: the same exact effort in any of the lower gears (the regular steel sprockets) and not a sound. So I'm fairly certain it isn't the wheels, cranks, BB or anything else. And, again, with the Chorus cassette everything ran dead quiet.
I've had annoying clicking from a PowerTap wheel due to its freehub pawls needing fresh grease and a slightly sticky link that made no noise with the same cassette on another wheel.
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Old 03-25-20, 03:47 PM
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Are you using a torque wrench to set the cassette lockring? Just curious.
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Old 03-25-20, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Might be your cranks clicking....the bearing connected to your crank is seated in the BB cups. It's possible that it is moving slightly causing the click when you get on it. If you are familiar with installation and removing, I would pull the cranks and check the pre-load spring to ensure it didn't get cockeyed...re-grease the BB cups, torque your crank back on...set the retaining ring and try it out.
And this is when we fall down the rabbit hole...

Since the problem began after changing just one component (the cassette), one would assume it's the cassette. But you're right, it could be sheer coincidence and the clicking is emanating from elsewhere. And new bottom brackets are NOTORIOUS for annoying creaks that return time and time again. So that's where I'd check first.

That said, I had an annoying creak years ago that I was determined to locate. I removed cranks and bottom bracket, reinstalled with ample grease. Removed and regreased all chainring bolts. Nope, still creaking! Removed pedals, pedal cages, greased all bolts and reinstalled with ample grease on pedal threads. Still creaking! Greased stem, handlebar clamp, steer tube, bolts, etc. Nope. Greased seat post and saddle clamp. Nope. It was the derailleur hanger...

That was quite the "treasure hunt!"
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Old 03-25-20, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Are you using a torque wrench to set the cassette lockring? Just curious.
I don't think this should matter, as long as the lockring is tight. Almost every other bike I work on has a loose cassette that was never properly torqued at initial assembly. Even then, creaking has never been a complaint with people bringing in bikes with un-torqued cassettes. But a non-tight-enough cassette does have a telltale sound. Hard to describe, but not a creak. That said, abetter question would be did you use grease on the cassette lockring threads and head?
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Old 03-25-20, 05:26 PM
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Thanks for the replies, guys. In order:
Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Might be your cranks clicking....the bearing connected to your crank is seated in the BB cups. It's possible that it is moving slightly causing the click when you get on it. If you are familiar with installation and removing, I would pull the cranks and check the pre-load spring to ensure it didn't get cockeyed...re-grease the BB cups, torque your crank back on...set the retaining ring and try it out.
As someone else mentioned, I didn't touch the cranks or BB, and they were dead silent prior to changing the cassette. And yes, they were used very hard prior to the change, so I would have heard that same noise. Just FYI, they are Ultra Torque english threaded bottom bracket cups (which I think are great in terms of ease of assembly and use).

Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
I've had annoying clicking from a PowerTap wheel due to its freehub pawls needing fresh grease and a slightly sticky link that made no noise with the same cassette on another wheel.
It's not a brand new wheel, so I guess it could have been insufficiently greased at the factory, but as mentioned it doesn't happen in other gears, only the Ti gears.

Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Are you using a torque wrench to set the cassette lockring? Just curious.
Yes, absolute. I'm one of those true torque wrench believers. 40 Nm and double checked on the click.

Originally Posted by LV2TNDM View Post
I don't think this should matter, as long as the lockring is tight. Almost every other bike I work on has a loose cassette that was never properly torqued at initial assembly. Even then, creaking has never been a complaint with people bringing in bikes with un-torqued cassettes. But a non-tight-enough cassette does have a telltale sound. Hard to describe, but not a creak. That said, abetter question would be did you use grease on the cassette lockring threads and head?
No, I didn't use any grease on the lockring, as it wasn't recommended (although there did seem to be a couple of spots of a dry, white substance in there.

Also, the best description of the sound might actually be a ping, like the way spokes sometimes ping after a wheel build or adjustment. But, again, I'm 99% sure it isn't the wheel because all the other gears are silent no matter how hard I get on the pedals.
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Old 03-25-20, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Might be your cranks clicking....the bearing connected to your crank is seated in the BB cups. It's possible that it is moving slightly causing the click when you get on it. If you are familiar with installation and removing, I would pull the cranks and check the pre-load spring to ensure it didn't get cockeyed...re-grease the BB cups, torque your crank back on...set the retaining ring and try it out.
I had a clicking problem with the exact same system as the OP and did exactly as jadoc described. I did not put any new parts on just removed the cranks cleaned bottom bracket real well and everything else. Greased everything well including the inner teeth of two sides of crank. I did not remove the bearing cups I just made sure they were tight. Put all back togethere with proper torque and so far no clicking!
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Old 04-07-20, 03:01 PM
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Just a quick update, if anyone cares:

Yesterday I finally got the chance to remove the cassette, at which point I put a drop of tri-flow in and around every rivet pin (on both sides of each pin), and I put a thin layer of grease on the freehub body/splines.

It was a little better, but not completely cured. I really have to stand up hard on the pedals to create the sound, and it seems slightly muted compared to before, but it's still audible. That said, under more normal riding conditions it's dead silent, and even pedaling quite hard while in the saddle can't provoke it. So I'm going to leave it alone for now, and let it break/settle in. I read somewhere else that this issue can eventually just go away with some break-in, and it's really not particularly annoying (I'm rarely standing up on the pedals in those gears anyway, since it's pretty flat in these parts). I guess I'll post a longer term update when the time comes...
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Old 04-07-20, 03:11 PM
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If you're happy with the slight improvement then please disregard. If not, I'd be curious to know what happens if you go back to the original set up? Does the ping go away?
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Old 04-07-20, 05:00 PM
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I've had a faint pinging from my rear hub that is only detectable in low gears for as long as I can remember - I run Chorus 12-23 10sp on a Rolf Vector Pro rear wheel, and have had the same setup (albeit with occasional replacement cassettes and chains) for ~16 years/>50,000 miles. It sounds like the spokes pinging, but I suspect that the only reason I can hear them in low gears (39x21-23) is that's the only time I'm going sufficiently slow for the noise to be detectable
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Old 04-08-20, 12:24 AM
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Both cassettes on the same wheelset or different wheelsets?
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Old 04-08-20, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by mwat View Post
If you're happy with the slight improvement then please disregard. If not, I'd be curious to know what happens if you go back to the original set up? Does the ping go away?
Yes, eventually I'll go back to my previous setup, and try to eliminate individual variables along the way. See below for more details.

Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
I've had a faint pinging from my rear hub that is only detectable in low gears for as long as I can remember - I run Chorus 12-23 10sp on a Rolf Vector Pro rear wheel, and have had the same setup (albeit with occasional replacement cassettes and chains) for ~16 years/>50,000 miles. It sounds like the spokes pinging, but I suspect that the only reason I can hear them in low gears (39x21-23) is that's the only time I'm going sufficiently slow for the noise to be detectable
Yes, that's exactly what it sounds like: faint spoke pings. But I'm 99.9% sure it isn't happening in the other gears, because I am "testing" them in exactly the same situation/speed. There are traffic lights and stop signs on pretty much every corner of my neighborhood, so I'm basically taking off from a standstill in every gear, and then really standing up hard on the pedals once I get rolling a bit (so I don't kill myself). I'm running 53-39 up front, and 12-25 in the rear, and no matter if I am on the big ring on the front, or the small, the noise only happens on the 25, 23 and 21. As soon as I go to the 19, it's dead silent. And I've tried all of these combos many times, always with the same results.

My Chorus 12-25 cassette, however, was perfectly silent in every gear.

Originally Posted by tFUnK View Post
Both cassettes on the same wheelset or different wheelsets?
Yeah, I'm sort of mixing and matching right now, so I did change the wheelset along with the cassette, and that's actually what I thought was making the noise at first (because it sounded like spoke pings). But if it was coming from the new wheel, there is no reason why it wouldn't happen in every gear. I'm basically able to put the same amount of power/torque through the wheel in the various gear combos, and there really is no hint of sound unless I'm in the titanium gears.

The wheels are Bora One's for a new build, but I was excited to try them out so I swapped them the Zondas I had on another bike. Since the new cassette was going on the new bike with the new wheels, I figured I would mount them together for convenience (both bikes are running 12-15 11sp cassettes).

So the next step is going to be re-mounting the Zondas on this current "test" bike, but with the new Record cassette. If the noise persists, that will pretty much confirm cassette. Of course I'll put the Chorus cassette back on again to double check, as that will mean returning to the original setup that was working without issue.
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Old 04-08-20, 10:30 AM
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I went through something like this a while ago. It turned out being the QR on the rear wheel, I put a little grease on the drop outs and checked the "pinch" of the QR.
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Old 04-08-20, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Yeah, I'm sort of mixing and matching right now, so I did change the wheelset along with the cassette, and that's actually what I thought was making the noise at first (because it sounded like spoke pings). But if it was coming from the new wheel, there is no reason why it wouldn't happen in every gear. I'm basically able to put the same amount of power/torque through the wheel in the various gear combos, and there really is no hint of sound unless I'm in the titanium gears.
Great, yeah, it will help you eliminate some things. I will say that the larger cogs will put more torque on the hub regardless of what chainring your on so it still could be due to the new wheel. You can do a quick spoke tension check just by feel and it might be obvious.
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Old 08-20-20, 01:48 PM
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In the interest of completeness, here is my long term update:

The noise is gone! After applying a tiny bit of grease to the spine and a few drops of tri-flow to the rivets, the sound got progressively weaker until it disappeared completely. Cranked really hard on those gears today just to double check, and it was quiet as can be. Guess it just needed a bit of break in (still less than 100 miles on it, mind you)...
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