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Odd noises from my bike

Old 08-01-16, 10:41 PM
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Lightchop
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Odd noises from my bike

I got a new trek 1.1 road bike at the end of May. Have ridden it pretty hard, just under 1,000 miles which includes a couple centuries, one was a fondo in the mountains where it took some abuse. I've treated it ok - meaning I clean it, remove gunk from cassette / deraileurs, and add some lube every 200 miles or thereabouts.

Recently, I've begun to hear some creaks coming from either the crank or rear of the bike. They are not in any rhythm, nothing to do with crank position or cadence. But I do believe it's only when I'm cranking it, hard or normally. Most obvious when pushing hard at a start. It's gotten much more frequent, I hear something every few seconds on average.

It's killing my confidence on the bike, and has me wondering what happens if the bottom bracket fails - which I presume would suck!

I've inspected for compromised / broken parts - it's an aluminum frame. All looks good. And without load, like on my bike stand, I can turn the crank no problems, no noise.

One oddity I have spotted - if I apply horizontal pressure to the back wheel, there is a little give. Not enough to come close to touching a caliper, but there is some there. Almost like the cassette isn't wide enough, or something similar. I did get a new cassette probably 500 miles ago. I've removed / attached the rear wheel many times over the past month so I'm fairly confident it's attached well.

The sound - imagine a chipmunk chewing aluminum every once in a while. Sometimes a click, more often a clunk or creak. Sometimes once, sometimes a few times in succession. I imagine it as the noises you'd hear when a large metal structure is under stress.

Is this what a worn chain sounds like?

What could this be? I'd love to be able to solve this without hitting the LBS.

It's really a bad sensation when you're riding and fear your bike might collapse. I'm 250-ish pounds, so I fear the bike is stressing under my weight.
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Old 08-02-16, 12:02 AM
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Ah the fear of unknown noises! Been there, got the t-shirt.

Can you get a spare wheel to try your bike with a different wheelset? My guess is you have a wheel/spoke issue. It's highly unlikely you already have a BB issue.

Other things to check - skewer tension, headset tension (lock the brakes and try to rock the bike back and forth - you should have no noticeable movement in the headset area), pedal bolt tension, chainring bolt tension...

If you are still on the stock wheels, take them to the shop and get them trued and retensioned. (by the way, what do you mean horizontal pressure... at the rim or at the hub?)
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Old 08-02-16, 04:16 AM
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I chased a mystery creak for almost 3 weeks... turned out to be the chain ring bolts. They tension on them was fine but i hit them with a little spray lube and the noise disappeared, my to my relief!
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Old 08-02-16, 07:13 AM
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Tighten where the seatpost clamps to the saddle.
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Old 08-02-16, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Lightchop View Post
I got a new trek 1.1 road bike at the end of May. Have ridden it pretty hard, just under 1,000 miles which includes a couple centuries, one was a fondo in the mountains where it took some abuse. I've treated it ok - meaning I clean it, remove gunk from cassette / deraileurs, and add some lube every 200 miles or thereabouts.

Recently, I've begun to hear some creaks coming from either the crank or rear of the bike. They are not in any rhythm, nothing to do with crank position or cadence. But I do believe it's only when I'm cranking it, hard or normally. Most obvious when pushing hard at a start. It's gotten much more frequent, I hear something every few seconds on average.
If you don't want to take it to your LBS do this: Make sure your rear QR skewers on your wheel are tight. If that doesn't fix it, buy a small Torque wrench, look up the correct torques for all bolts on the bike and make sure they are all tightened to spec.
It's killing my confidence on the bike, and has me wondering what happens if the bottom bracket fails - which I presume would suck!
I doubt it's your bottom bracket given that the Trek 1.1 has a square taper BB. Those are solid as a rock. You probably want to make sure that the crank bolts are sufficiently tightened though.

I've inspected for compromised / broken parts - it's an aluminum frame. All looks good. And without load, like on my bike stand, I can turn the crank no problems, no noise.
Unsurprising!
One oddity I have spotted - if I apply horizontal pressure to the back wheel, there is a little give. Not enough to come close to touching a caliper, but there is some there.
This is true of all wheels, some will be worse than others, but still. Stock wheels are typically junk though, and the Trek 1.1 is a low end bike, so you have to remember that the wheels aren't going to be the greatest, especially under 250lbs. That said, I doubt they're the source of creaking.
Almost like the cassette isn't wide enough, or something similar. I did get a new cassette probably 500 miles ago. I've removed / attached the rear wheel many times over the past month so I'm fairly confident it's attached well.
This sounds like a red herring to me. I doubt very much you need a new cassette.
The sound - imagine a chipmunk chewing aluminum every once in a while. Sometimes a click, more often a clunk or creak. Sometimes once, sometimes a few times in succession. I imagine it as the noises you'd hear when a large metal structure is under stress.
Popping often is a result of you seatpost bolt not being sufficiently tightened. Also pedal bolts. See my earlier comments about torquing up all your bolts.
Is this what a worn chain sounds like?
No.


It's really a bad sensation when you're riding and fear your bike might collapse. I'm 250-ish pounds, so I fear the bike is stressing under my weight.
No doubt you are stressing a bike at 250lbs. This is why everything needs to be mechanically sound and correctly set up.
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Old 08-02-16, 09:06 AM
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You could take a peek at GCN on YouTube, specifically
,
, or


I've had the saddle creaking issue, and I think that I now have the cleats/pedals issue. Anyway, GCN is good stuff.
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Old 08-02-16, 10:30 AM
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common places

head set/fork race
bottom bracket it self
Cranks loosen
chain rings need lube or tq
both wheel drop outs
saddle to seatpost

pretty much lube EVERYTHING haha good luck!!
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Old 08-02-16, 10:38 AM
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Weird as it may seem. I traced a noise very similar to what you're experiencing to the saddle itself. The rails had gotten dirty had started squeaking. SOUNDED like the bottom bracket or cranks etc. Remember that the tubes of a bike frame echo a bunch and that can make it very difficult to track down a noise.
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Old 08-02-16, 10:48 AM
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I had a creak recently I looked and looked for for quite a while. It sounded like it was around the crank or pedal somewhere. I was sitting in my office one day looking at my bike for some reason when I noticed one of the screws holding the back rack on was completely loose. Tightened that up and no more creak. Hard to find sometimes.
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Old 08-02-16, 12:47 PM
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+1 on checking the skewer tightness.
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Old 08-02-16, 12:53 PM
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I myself have noticed an occasional pop or snap coming from lower down on my bike, always when I'm pedaling. However the noise went away since I cleaned my bike and cleaned and re-lubed the chain the other day.
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Old 08-02-16, 06:13 PM
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Wow guys, thanks for all the hints.

I went out during my lunch break, and made sure that pressing on/stressing the seatpost and stem, and BB all didnt re-create the noise. I tightened the crank bolts and ensured the pedal clips were snug.

I took the rear wheel off, and was surprised that the wheel was noisy by itself. Which is odd because cranking it on the stand didnt make the noises (at least I thought).

I put the wheel on a truing stand, spun it, and it just sounded horrible.

So took the cassette off. Back on the truing stand. Still horrible.

So began unscrewing the axel - this is further than I ever had been before. Got a glimpse of the ball bearings in there. So then tightened that whole thing up (with a wrench on both sides).

Back on the truing stand and its quiet.

As a bonus, when I put the wheel back on the bike, any lateral movement of the wheel that I had (when pressing the rim) is now gone.

Put the wheel back on the bike and rode it in the driveway. Seemed good. Just took it out for a 30 mile ride after work, started mostly quiet, but seems there might be a few gremlins left. Dont get me wrong, this certainly helped. I think now I can say the remaining creaks have a rhythm of some sort, maybe between 5 and 7 o'clock on the crank, occasionally.

Though I'm a bit concerned at what I've done. If I "freewheel" my rear wheel now, it now does not rotate terribly long. It used to go for maybe a minute after a light push while on the stand. Now the wheel comes to a halt pretty quick. Did I just overtighten the axel! ??? Is it even called an axel? (I presume thats actually the hub).

Ugh, the more I do, the more I am concerned I might be effing something up. I'm gonna check out those GCN video posts (thanks Patrick). And thanks to all for guidance, I've got a laundry list of things to keep checking.
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Old 08-02-16, 06:59 PM
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Go hence to the source of all wisdom and indulge:
Cone Adjustment
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Old 08-02-16, 07:10 PM
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When you were toying with the rear hub, did you add some grease to the bearings? It sounds like the cones are a bit too tight.
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Old 08-02-16, 09:31 PM
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Shoot. No I didn't add any grease. I'll loosen things up tomorrow. ill need to get some grease. My bike repairs to date have not required grease.

Thanks again. Definitely cone is over tightened. The newbie in me wonders why the cone is even adjustable in the first place!
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Old 08-02-16, 09:50 PM
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Now that you've done it once, get used to doing it forever. Setting tension on axles is always fun on a bun. A fraction too tight and it's notchy, a fraction too loose and the whole wheel plays side-to-side.

I am not sad that my current wheelset uses sealed bearings. My wife's wheels are still good old cup and cone. I just rebuilt her rear wheel this afternoon, as a matter of fact.
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Old 08-19-16, 07:00 PM
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So much has happened since I posted:
1) I took the wheel to LBS to have the rear hub replaced. I had them do a "tune-up" ($80). This was great, the bike came back looking nearly brand new. Brakes were tuned, it was washed, the wheel didnt creak. And thats about it. Felt new, except..... still a _bit_ of creaking
2) So 2 weeks later took it back to LBS for creaking. I watched them fix much of it. They removed / regreased the seat and seat post. They believe that was main culprit. They also removed the crank and BB. Regreased that.
3) In my attempt to isolate the noise, I had removed the bottle cages, and stripped the nuts. So they drilled it out and replaced the rivet nut (not as simple as it sounds).

I also tightened (over-tightened) the pedal clips. Have since put those back / loosened them up.

There is still _some_ creaking, but its much better. I no longer fear for my life while riding. Bottom bracket seems to be in no danger of causing an accident, at least.

I suppose my advice would be this: if you hear creaking, do the simple thing first and check the seat post and then the saddle rails (as fly7hotel said). Then make sure the wheels themselves dont make noise. Then take all the easy bits off your bike - cages, light mounts, etc, and ride it. Basically strip it down.

Then, take it to an LBS for a tune up
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Old 08-21-16, 11:24 PM
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Trek was known for a dry BB and it's got those holes in it, so it gets wet in there. I pull and replace the grease every year
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