Creaky McCreakBike

bike on stand

Hmm. For the past week* or so, my bike has been getting increasingly creaky. It was all right – I knew what the problem was, I just hadn’t got around to sorting it out. The front chain ring is bent and that was making the chain rattle through the front derailleur on every pedal stroke. I’d taken it to the bike shop and supposedly was waiting for a new front ring, but sourcing one is proving difficult as apparently my gears are a bit retro and that makes tracking down a replacement a prolonged process. We’d talked about upgrading the gears but apparently that’s not worth it and I should just get a new bike, but I love my bike and don’t want to replace it, so I was prepared to wait. A few creaks here and there are nothing, after all, even as the odd creak became a steady volume of noise that at least means I no longer have to ring my bell when cycling on Bigtown’s many shared use paths.

However, as the volume of creaking grew, it was beginning to get embarrassing. On our summer rides, even the guy who turns up on a bike that’s been falling apart for three years was beginning to comment on it. Creaking up the hill on Thursday, on the way back from the veg plot I resolved to act. If it was the front derailleur that was causing the problem, then I should just remove it. It isn’t as if I use it much. And it was a simple enough task even for someone of my mechanical ineptitude. Indeed, I managed it this morning, taped the loose gear cable to the bottle cage and set off down the hill on what I hoped would be a blissfully silent bike.

It’s still creaking.

I’m now baffled. Of course, it’s one of those things that only occurs when you’re riding the bike – put it up on the stand to have a proper look and the chain runs as smoothly and silently as oiled silk. Take it off the stand and ride it around and the noise starts. Clearly something that only happens when I’m sitting on the bike. Which makes me wonder if it’s the frame.

Suggestions for fixes – preferably ones that don’t involve buying a new bike – in the comments please.

*And by week I mean month. Or longer, but don’t tell the bike cruelty people

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23 Responses to Creaky McCreakBike

  1. stcleve says:

    Your saddle rails? Undo the clamp apply some grease to rails in the clamp area. Retighten.
    The last time I had a creak I couldn’t find it was a split in the head tube. 😀 Could be new bike time.

  2. MJ says:

    Loose bottom bracket?

  3. JC says:

    It’s possibly your bottom bracket, if you only hear the noise when the pedals are turning. Tightening the cups is often enough to stop the creak but it may need a service or even replacing (not expensive). Local bike shop will be able to sort this out very quickly if it is the BB.

  4. disgruntled says:

    @Stcleve – that is my fear, I have heard similar stories but there’s nothing obvious …

    Hopefully it is the bottom bracket, which is a job for the bike shop I think

  5. Andy in Germany says:

    My first reaction would be to tighten the Bottom Bracket as well: that’s a neasy nd quick job for the Bike shop.Replacing shouldn’t be too much either.

    That said, my brooks springs creaked for a while, and then stopped. I don’t know why.

    My an Xtracycle creaks like a sailing ship in a storm all the time, so I may not be tthe best person to be commenting…

  6. disgruntled says:

    so basically *anything* can make your bike creak …

    • D. says:

      Yep! And, the thing that might be causing the creak doesn’t have to be where the creaking noise appears to be coming from (as the creak can travel around inside the hollow frame). Great, isn’t it?

  7. anniebikes says:

    Creaky bikes are very annoying, but often difficult to diagnose! Good luck.

    I have had a creaky bike for a year. Replaced the bottom bracket -still had the creak. Replaced the seat-still creaky. I think it’s my rear wheel – loose spokes, but the bike still gets me places and I’m putting off what I suspect is the inevitable, new rear wheel.

  8. commuterjohn says:

    It could even be your pedal bearings, they make some awful creaking noises when they are on the way out. Considering the mileage you do and the hills your climbing your pedal bearings can easily give in causing a noise which won’t show when the bike is on the stand. Does it stop when you freewheel? If you get hold of each of the cranks when the bike is in the stand or upside down is there any sideways movement? If there is then that is your bottom bracket bearings.
    If you keep mostly to your centre chain ring when your riding you are putting a lot of undue strain on your gear train, change down a ring and save you and the bike.

  9. neil says:

    I am no expert but it sounds like it only creaks under load, so I would suspect bearings in the various places already suggested.

    Talking of bearings, my peddle has nearly fallen apart. Rode to the shop and the pedal jammed on the way back. Seems to have come apart and I can see the bearings.

  10. jbucky1 says:

    Sometimes a good way to help find a noise is to get someone to support you while you slow simulate cycling, applying body weight to different areas. Standing sitting holding etc. then try and isolate areas to focus down on the issue. Good luck. And yes i agree with others probably bottombracket

  11. Ian says:

    Random thoughts based on causes I’ve seen

    Check the frame for cracks.
    How old are the pedals and bottom bracket? Maybe repair or replace time?
    Try regreasing pedal threads and crank bolt threads
    Is it every gear, or just one?
    Wheel hub bearings wearing out?

  12. Sally, you should check those cranks are not stamped FC-CT90, FC-M290 or FC-MC12. If so, do not ride. They were recalled due to multiple failures. Could be source of creaking too. Also, always, always change pedals first before doing anything more to solve creaking. Pedals are source of half of mystery creaks we have at the shop.

  13. This is the crank recall notice… http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/1997/CPSC-Shimano-Announce-Recall-of-Bicycle-Components/ It was global and still current and honoured by the UK distributor.

  14. disgruntled says:

    Pedals and bottom bracket got replaced to sort out the last creak (which was more of a click). Possibly that was a while back though! It would be nice to have a non creaking bike – although it’s still more of a rattly creak than just a creaky creak, if that makes any sense. I will check the pedals first though

  15. meltdblog says:

    If you’ve had enough force to bend the chainring then you may have unseated the crank or the chainrings. Along with the above suggestions for the bottom bracket try tightening up both the crank arms and the chainring bolts?

    I’d not recommend using the bike without a derailleur, dropping off the chain while in motion can be quite violent! Using a meaty adjustable spanner you should be able to bend the chainring back into shape so the chain clears the derailleur, then avoid using that ring until its replaced.

  16. disgruntled says:

    Update! The bike shop have tightened the chainring bolts, which has helped a lot and it’s booked in for a proper service next week.

  17. a ct cyclist says:

    Hi, I think pedals and bottom brackets should be serviced after 4 years of riding. I don’t think I would use the shop who diagnosed a bent chainring and can’t find a replacement, what kind of chainrings are they anyway. Replace a whole bike because of a bent chainring? Get a different shop or mechanic.

  18. a ct cyclist says:

    I guess I should refreshed the page before posting my comment. I hope they get your faithful old steed purring like a kitten.

  19. Autolycus says:

    A couple of simple possibilities (or at least, the ones that have happened to me and were simple to deal with):

    1. Loose or broken spokes?
    2. Grit in the joint where the seatpost sits in the frame?

  20. welshcyclist says:

    Now you have a bike like mine, I could never adjust the front derailleur, and as a consequence I disconnected it, and only use the middle ring on my triple crank. This suits me fine, but my bike creaks, and I can’t for the life of me figure out the cause. It annoys me, because I like to be as quiet as possible on my commute to and from my work, as sometimes I get to witness sightings of the natural world kind. Have a look at my last post at http://www.welshcyclist.wordpress.com . Sadly, I don’t post very often, probably because of all the creaking I create. Cheers.

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