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Questions about creaking noises (and torque)

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Questions about creaking noises (and torque)

Old 09-07-11, 07:41 PM
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Questions about creaking noises (and torque)

I ride by myself, so I don't have another bike to compare mine to, but I have some questions about creaking noises. My bike is an aluminum CAAD 10 by the way.

First, is some amount of noise normal? Or should the bike be dead silent other than the chain and rolling of the tires?

My bike creaks in multiple locations. The first is at the handle bars, and it is particularly noticeable when going up hills. In fact, sitting here at my desk, I can put pressure on each side of the handle bars and hear a "tick".

The second creak I just noticed today, and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from until I stood up and the noise quit. It turns out it is either coming from the carbon seatpost or where the saddle is attached to the rails. I'm not sure from which it stems, as I can only get it to creak under a lot of pedaling stress.

And finally, the last creak I notice is when I go really fast (like down a hill), and this is the one that scares me.

I assume most of the creaks come from things not being tightened enough -- or maybe they are too tight. The bike has torque values specified on it for each component, but I don't have a torque wrench, so I err on the side of "I don't want to crack this thing".

The worst case if I undertighten is creaking noises (nothing's so loose that it'd fall apart). The worst case if I overtighten is stuff exploding while I'm bombing some descent.

I know a lot of you all do not own a torque wrench, so how do you manage the correct tightness for everything?
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Old 09-07-11, 07:58 PM
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First, al frames transmit noise more than any other material. Second, use a torque wrench to tighten things but apply grease first. Check manufacturer web sites (saddle, stem, bar, setapost, etc.) and they will tell you how must pressure to use.
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Old 09-07-11, 08:04 PM
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It's not road noise I'm hearing -- it's components moving and clicking under slight pressure, and it's making me kind of nervous.

I managed to get rid of the clicking noise near the handlebars by tightening that (5mm) hex nut in the top cap. I had to really exert some pressure, so I'm somewhat concerned that it might be too much.

Dang it. I hate spending money, but I'm going to need to order a torque wrench aren't I? Does anybody know a place that sells a cheap but well-performing set?
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Old 09-07-11, 08:09 PM
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The clicking noise near the handlebars is the headset being loose. Do a search on loose headset to see how it's adjusted. But basically you loosen the stem bolts (both) and tighten the hex nut until you feel resistence when you turn the bars, and then back off a little. Then tighten the stem bolts.
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Old 09-07-11, 08:27 PM
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Okay thanks! Why are the stem bolts loosened first? I just tightened the hex nut 1/8th of a rotation (or less) and that made the clicking go away.

Also, is it possible to tighten any of this stuff too tightly by hand? (Including stem bolts, hex nut, seat post nut, seat saddle nut, etc...) To give you an idea of how much I'm tightening these things, if I went all out and tightened as hard as I could physically manage, they would go another half turn or even a full turn. In other words, its firm but where I could still tighten further with some effort.
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Old 09-07-11, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven
The clicking noise near the handlebars is the headset being loose. Do a search on loose headset to see how it's adjusted. But basically you loosen the stem bolts (both) and tighten the hex nut until you feel resistence when you turn the bars, and then back off a little. Then tighten the stem bolts.
+1 don't just reef on the bolt in the cap, which is what post #3 sounded like, loosen the stem on the steerer tube first just like this says.

For the seat, use the "carbon friction paste", which is essentially lapping compound, prior to tightening. I went light handed on mine, carbon post in alum frame, and it constantly creaked and slowly slipped down. Took it to the bike shop, had them torque it, so I could feel how tight the recommended torque felt. It was a great deal tighter than I expected.

Other creaks get tricky. I end up frequently checking bottom bracket tightness and crank bolt tightness cause they may creak as they loosen, and loosing one of them on the road is unpleasant.
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Old 09-07-11, 10:45 PM
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You may need to grease the clamping area of the bar, saddle rails, pedal threads etc. I've had creaks cured this way
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Old 09-07-11, 10:56 PM
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i think you should take it to your LBS and have them service it. I had creaking in my head tube...

I know i can fix a lot of things on my own but they tend to find things I miss and fix them along with the rest and usually dont charge me extra.
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Old 09-08-11, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Runner 1
Okay thanks! Why are the stem bolts loosened first? I just tightened the hex nut 1/8th of a rotation (or less) and that made the clicking go away.
With the stem clamped to the steerer tube, it can't slide down to take up any clearance space you are trying to take out. The bolt on top of the steerer serves to pull up on the fork and push down on the assembly of the spacers and stem to secure the whole assembly. By not letting the stem slide, you increase the tension on the steerer tube, but don't apply that tension to the whole assembly, just the stem.
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Old 09-08-11, 06:46 AM
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I got some crazy noises in my headset and I took it to my LBS and they pulled the whole thing apart and greased the bearings and checked for problems. None found and the creaks were gone. Two rides later the creak is back. I went in yesterday and asked them what I should do. Buy new bearings? Replace spacers? No solid answer. Anyone? Bueller? I refuse to be the creaky guy in the group, help
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Old 09-08-11, 10:00 AM
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The perfectly tuned bicycle will be nearly silent.

That said, LOTS of things can make a creaking/popping sound and it seems like you're always chasing one down if you pay close attention to your bike. BUT the people who are always hearing some little sound are the ones with the quietest bikes in the end.

This guide may help: https://www.jimlangley.net/wrench/keepitquiet.html

Some noises I've recently seen on my bike or my wife's:
-chainring bolts dry (some grease and correct torque)
-left crank arm fixing bolts (grease and correct torque)
-carbon seatmast/topper creaking (needed assembly compound and proper torque)
-rear wheel spoke tension (bring it back up)
-her shoelaces hitting the crank (tuck them in)

And yes, you need a torque wrench on modern bicycles. Parts are so minimalized for weight now that correct torque is more important than ever. You don't have to spend $200 either. https://www.craftsman.com/shc/s/searc...=torque+wrench Make sure you get one in a low enough range to be useful. 5-14 N-m is common on bicycles. The 25-250 in-lb models would be fine. Just be sure to properly convert units before using.

Last edited by nhluhr; 09-08-11 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 09-08-11, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Runner 1
Dang it. I hate spending money, but I'm going to need to order a torque wrench aren't I? Does anybody know a place that sells a cheap but well-performing set?
Is $15 cheap enough?

You'll need a set of 1/4" drive hex sockets to go along with it.
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Old 09-08-11, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by lunacycle
Is $15 cheap enough?

You'll need a set of 1/4" drive hex sockets to go along with it.
i have this one from harbor freight and its a very VERY subtle click in the handle, not really a noise feels more like somethings shifting, at least thats how my felt but that could be, because what i was torquing down was just about the lowest torque on it...
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Old 09-08-11, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by tcwayne
I got some crazy noises in my headset and I took it to my LBS and they pulled the whole thing apart and greased the bearings and checked for problems. None found and the creaks were gone. Two rides later the creak is back. I went in yesterday and asked them what I should do. Buy new bearings? Replace spacers? No solid answer. Anyone? Bueller? I refuse to be the creaky guy in the group, help
Grease your front QR skewer. Lots of times noises on bikes aren't coming from where you think they are. Also grease ( or CF assemby paste, as the case may be) on thejunction of the handlebars and stem.
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Old 09-08-11, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Runner 1
Dang it. I hate spending money, but I'm going to need to order a torque wrench aren't I? Does anybody know a place that sells a cheap but well-performing set?
I got this one at NAPA for ~$20. https://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/C...006395373&An=0
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