Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Mystery creaking/ticking sound on pedal revolution

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Mystery creaking/ticking sound on pedal revolution

Old 07-29-20, 12:50 AM
  #1  
cprobertson1
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Posts: 37

Bikes: Peugeot First-Rider 2000, Freego Wisper (Pedelec)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Mystery creaking/ticking sound on pedal revolution

Good morning folks!

I've got a mystery creaking sound that I can't seem to track down, which is synced up with the power on each stroke, but much more noticable on the left stroke.

I've had a look at Sheldon Brown's page on mystery-noises but I've not had much luck tracking it down yet.
  • Occurs at any gear combination, suggesting it may not be the chainrings (being a cheaper set, they are welded and riveted together as well)
  • Louder under heavier loads.
  • Starts with the left pedal downstroke, and progresses to both pedal strokes as power is increased.
  • Doesn't appear to be caused by the chain rubbing against front deraileur (I'll pop the chain off and confirm that tonight)
  • My best guess is that something is up with the crank set - grabbing the left pedal and pulling perpendicular to the axle causes the creaking.
  • The pedals themselves don't seem to be the cause, as I can cause the creak by pulling on the crank arm.
  • My second-best guess is that the bottom bracket has been overtorqued and loosening off/reinstalling it will help

Things I'm going to check tonight unless anyone has any better ideas:
  1. Remove left crank and look for signs of wear
  2. Check for creaking by applying force to the axle directly with no crank
  3. Remove right crank and chainrings and repeat step 2
  4. Remove, clean and reinstall bottom bracket (it's a new bottom bracket with <400 miles on it)
  5. Repeat step 2 again
  6. If it persists, install a different bottom bracket and repeat step 2 yet again
  7. If it persists, look for cracks in the frame
Does anyone have any other suggetsions on what it might be and how I might go about testing and fixing it?

Last edited by cprobertson1; 07-29-20 at 01:05 AM.
cprobertson1 is offline  
Old 07-29-20, 02:54 AM
  #2  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 11,708

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 184 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3719 Post(s)
Liked 1,326 Times in 872 Posts
Check the simple stuff first. Like the chain, cassette/freewheel cogs, rear derailleur pulleys, etc. Even if they appear clean stuff can get lodged in crevices -- a pebble or twig -- and cause a regular thunk with every pedal stroke.

I've sorted out pesky thunks just by poking a stick between each chain link to dislodge debris, as well as between each cog, and removing the rear wheel to inspect the inner facing rear derailleur cage plates and pulleys. Often bits of tough grass, string, fishing line, etc, wind around a pulley and that stuff is almost invisible unless I remove the wheel and checked with a flashlight while wearing reading glasses. Sometimes it's a bristle from the cleaning brush I used last time! Or shredded Scotch-Brite abrasive pad torn off the sponge and wrapped around a pulley axle.
canklecat is offline  
Likes For canklecat:
Old 07-29-20, 03:58 AM
  #3  
Amt0571
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Catalonia
Posts: 570

Bikes: Canyon Grand Canyon AL SL 8.0, Btwin Ultra 520 AF GF, Dahon Mu P27, Triban Road 7

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 224 Post(s)
Liked 87 Times in 58 Posts
Originally Posted by cprobertson1 View Post
Good morning folks!

I've got a mystery creaking sound that I can't seem to track down, which is synced up with the power on each stroke, but much more noticable on the left stroke.

I've had a look at Sheldon Brown's page on mystery-noises but I've not had much luck tracking it down yet.
  • Occurs at any gear combination, suggesting it may not be the chainrings (being a cheaper set, they are welded and riveted together as well)
  • Louder under heavier loads.
  • Starts with the left pedal downstroke, and progresses to both pedal strokes as power is increased.
  • Doesn't appear to be caused by the chain rubbing against front deraileur (I'll pop the chain off and confirm that tonight)
  • My best guess is that something is up with the crank set - grabbing the left pedal and pulling perpendicular to the axle causes the creaking.
  • The pedals themselves don't seem to be the cause, as I can cause the creak by pulling on the crank arm.
  • My second-best guess is that the bottom bracket has been overtorqued and loosening off/reinstalling it will help

Things I'm going to check tonight unless anyone has any better ideas:
  1. Remove left crank and look for signs of wear
  2. Check for creaking by applying force to the axle directly with no crank
  3. Remove right crank and chainrings and repeat step 2
  4. Remove, clean and reinstall bottom bracket (it's a new bottom bracket with <400 miles on it)
  5. Repeat step 2 again
  6. If it persists, install a different bottom bracket and repeat step 2 yet again
  7. If it persists, look for cracks in the frame
Does anyone have any other suggetsions on what it might be and how I might go about testing and fixing it?
If your BB is press fit, my guess is it'll be the BB / frame interface. I have 2 press fit bikes: one started to creak after 18 months, the other one creaks like mad since new. This can't be solved without removing and reinstalling the BB (and replacing it, as they're not supposed to be reusable after removing), or replacing it with a thread fit one. I'm planning to buy a thread fit BB for my mountain bike as it drives me nuts. I'll probably keep my road bike BB for a while as it's not that bad yet.

In any case, reassemble the chainring bolts and the crankset with a bit of grease. I have had creaks come from this 2 places before. Make sure it's not the seatpost or the saddle too. Try riding a short distance without the seatpost to be sure.

Last edited by Amt0571; 07-29-20 at 04:05 AM.
Amt0571 is offline  
Old 07-29-20, 06:04 AM
  #4  
cprobertson1
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Posts: 37

Bikes: Peugeot First-Rider 2000, Freego Wisper (Pedelec)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by Amt0571 View Post
If your BB is press fit, my guess is it'll be the BB / frame interface. I have 2 press fit bikes: one started to creak after 18 months, the other one creaks like mad since new. This can't be solved without removing and reinstalling the BB (and replacing it, as they're not supposed to be reusable after removing), or replacing it with a thread fit one. I'm planning to buy a thread fit BB for my mountain bike as it drives me nuts. I'll probably keep my road bike BB for a while as it's not that bad yet.

In any case, reassemble the chainring bolts and the crankset with a bit of grease. I have had creaks come from this 2 places before. Make sure it's not the seatpost or the saddle too. Try riding a short distance without the seatpost to be sure.
I can't do much right now as I'm at work - just popped the chain off there and I believe I've narrowed it down to the crank set. It's a UN-55 BB, and pushing/pulling either crank arm causes the creaking, even with the chain removed. Since both sides are coupled via the axle, that makes me think either the cartridge is failing (unlikely) or its a little loose in the frame. It's also possible that both crank arms are loose and creaking, but I find that unlikely. As you said, seatpost may be to blame as well - if the frame is flexing when I apply force it might be creaking. I'll pop it off tonight and see how things go.

If it is a loose BB, I hope the threads are alright =/ It's been cycled about five miles so far and will need another 2.2 miles to get it home from work; alternatively I can leave it here and bring all my tools in tomorrow... which doens't sound very fun.
cprobertson1 is offline  
Old 07-29-20, 06:39 AM
  #5  
Amt0571
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Catalonia
Posts: 570

Bikes: Canyon Grand Canyon AL SL 8.0, Btwin Ultra 520 AF GF, Dahon Mu P27, Triban Road 7

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 224 Post(s)
Liked 87 Times in 58 Posts
Originally Posted by cprobertson1 View Post
I can't do much right now as I'm at work - just popped the chain off there and I believe I've narrowed it down to the crank set. It's a UN-55 BB, and pushing/pulling either crank arm causes the creaking, even with the chain removed. Since both sides are coupled via the axle, that makes me think either the cartridge is failing (unlikely) or its a little loose in the frame. It's also possible that both crank arms are loose and creaking, but I find that unlikely. As you said, seatpost may be to blame as well - if the frame is flexing when I apply force it might be creaking. I'll pop it off tonight and see how things go.

If it is a loose BB, I hope the threads are alright =/ It's been cycled about five miles so far and will need another 2.2 miles to get it home from work; alternatively I can leave it here and bring all my tools in tomorrow... which doens't sound very fun.
If it's a square taper BB, dissassemble the cranks and remove the BB. Assemble it again using a bit of grease on the threads and crankarms. It's also possible that the BB has loosened itself and it's moving inside the frame shell. I've had that happen before. If you can't feel the movement when pedalling you won't have issues cycling 7 miles with a slightly loose BB. I have cycled more than 50 miles with a loose BB where I could feel the movement and threads were ok when I was able to tighten it.
Amt0571 is offline  
Old 07-29-20, 08:18 AM
  #6  
dsbrantjr
Senior Member
 
dsbrantjr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Roswell, GA
Posts: 7,573

Bikes: '93 Trek 750, '92 Schwinn Crisscross, '93 Mongoose Alta

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1159 Post(s)
Liked 550 Times in 396 Posts
DO the easy things first. Try swapping your pedals with a known-quiet pair, preferably platform type to eliminate shoe/cleat noise. Clean and grease both male and female threads first.
dsbrantjr is offline  
Old 07-30-20, 12:47 AM
  #7  
cprobertson1
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Posts: 37

Bikes: Peugeot First-Rider 2000, Freego Wisper (Pedelec)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
DO the easy things first. Try swapping your pedals with a known-quiet pair, preferably platform type to eliminate shoe/cleat noise. Clean and grease both male and female threads first.
Will do!

I ended up procrastinating last night - I'll get right into it tonight though!
cprobertson1 is offline  
Old 07-30-20, 05:57 AM
  #8  
andrewclaus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Golden, CO
Posts: 1,843

Bikes: 2016 Fuji Tread

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 325 Post(s)
Liked 96 Times in 77 Posts
The left side BB "adjustable" cup is often plastic, and sometimes there's a few mils of play between it and the cartridge. It's unlikely there's any shell damage. This happened to me once and I fixed with with a shim made of foil chimney tape.
andrewclaus is offline  
Old 07-30-20, 07:48 AM
  #9  
_ForceD_
Senior Member
 
_ForceD_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 1,389

Bikes: Several...from old junk to new all-carbon.

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 600 Post(s)
Liked 145 Times in 96 Posts
I’m a +1 for BB being loose. Recently two of my bike had a “creaking” that was resolved by simply snugging up the BB (both sides).

That being said ... I had a friend who once had a “ticking/creaking” issue. Finally discovered it was his heel hitting the excess front derailleur cable and it flicking against the frame.

Dan
_ForceD_ is offline  
Old 07-30-20, 09:51 AM
  #10  
Retro Grouch 
Senior Member
 
Retro Grouch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: St Peters, Missouri
Posts: 29,936

Bikes: Catrike 559 I own some others but they don't get ridden very much.

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1450 Post(s)
Liked 357 Times in 219 Posts
"Creaking" says "bottom bracket" to me too. If you bought that bike to me, I'd pull the bottom bracket re-grease the threads and torque it back into place. Dsbranjr's idea to replace the pedals with a "known quiet pair" is another good idea..
__________________
My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.
Retro Grouch is offline  
Old 07-30-20, 10:46 AM
  #11  
cprobertson1
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Posts: 37

Bikes: Peugeot First-Rider 2000, Freego Wisper (Pedelec)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
"Creaking" says "bottom bracket" to me too. If you bought that bike to me, I'd pull the bottom bracket re-grease the threads and torque it back into place. Dsbranjr's idea to replace the pedals with a "known quiet pair" is another good idea..
My moneys on the BB as well. I can get it to creak with no pedals or chain by pulling on the crank arms at various angles - just about to take them off and get all up in the bottom bracket. Will report back either later today or early tomorrow depending on whether I get it sorted 😆
cprobertson1 is offline  
Old 07-30-20, 12:04 PM
  #12  
cprobertson1
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Posts: 37

Bikes: Peugeot First-Rider 2000, Freego Wisper (Pedelec)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Dissassembled and cleaned everything, got it all back together... and it seems to have gone... There was a bit of corrosion where the adjustment cup goes on the other side of the cartridge BB, and a bit of evidence that its been rubbing. There might have been a little creak when I pushed on it again after reassembly - I'll find out for certain tomorrow morning

--EDIT--

All sorted! Another ten miles on the clock and we're all good. As I said, if it returns my first suspect is the left-side cup on the cartridge BB, so I'll follow up on the advice of @andrewclaus and add foil tape.

The "little creak" I heard last night was caused by the chain flexing sideways when I applied force to it - it had ended up in a crosschain configuration when I reassembled it, but it sorted itself out as soon as I started pedaling and shifted into a straighter-chain configuration.

So, knock-on-wood, that seems to be it solved!

Thanks for all the help everybody! Much apprecaited!

Last edited by cprobertson1; 08-03-20 at 05:09 AM.
cprobertson1 is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 05:08 AM
  #13  
cprobertson1
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Posts: 37

Bikes: Peugeot First-Rider 2000, Freego Wisper (Pedelec)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
... The sound's baaaaaack!

Going to tape it up per @andrewclaus' suggestion in half an hour during the lunch break and report back. If that fails, I'll take a heavy-handed approach; start at the top and narrow it down, simpler-to-complex things as you guys suggested.

I'm still confident it's bottom-bracket related though, since it went away then came back again!

--EDIT--

I am now reasonably confident it's the threaded cup that goes on the left side of the cartridge on the bottom bracket (or the left crank). Adding a strip of aluminium tape to the inside of the cup sorted the creaking more-or-less instantly. Its still possibly the left crank (maybe I've overtightened it or had it on-and-off too many times) so I'll check that by taking it off an reinstalling it if the noise comes back (without touching the BB).

Last edited by cprobertson1; 08-03-20 at 05:57 AM.
cprobertson1 is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 08:03 AM
  #14  
mackgoo
Senior Member
 
mackgoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: San Clemente
Posts: 444

Bikes: 87 Bianchi X4, 96 Bianchi Ti Mega Tube, 06 Alan Carbon Cross X33

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 166 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 93 Times in 49 Posts
When you worked on the BB you must have had the rear wheel off? I struggled with a creek for a while, a while ago. It sounded like it was coming from the bottom bracket. I disassemble, assembled to no avail. It ended up being the rear QR. I put a little grease on the threads and drop outs tightened and solved.
Your play issue may really point to the BB, but it does seem every noise comes from the BB regardless of where it really is.
mackgoo is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 08:18 AM
  #15  
cprobertson1
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
Posts: 37

Bikes: Peugeot First-Rider 2000, Freego Wisper (Pedelec)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by mackgoo View Post
When you worked on the BB you must have had the rear wheel off? I struggled with a creek for a while, a while ago. It sounded like it was coming from the bottom bracket. I disassemble, assembled to no avail. It ended up being the rear QR. I put a little grease on the threads and drop outs tightened and solved.
Your play issue may really point to the BB, but it does seem every noise comes from the BB regardless of where it really is.
Not a bad idea - the rear wheel hasn't been off for about a month.

It's a bolted axle rather than a quick release, which, incidentally, is why it hasn't been off for about a month! It's due the monthly deep-clean though - so what I'll do is push that back by a week or two to see if the creak returns - at which point, if the diassembly/reassembly of the rear wheel and axle fixes the problem without me touching the bottom bracket which will help to rule it out as the source of the noise.
cprobertson1 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.