How nice is it to blend in with nature or cruise around the paths on our bicycles, taking in everything the outdoors has to offer? Smooth, easy riding – that is, except for that annoying creaking sound coming from our bike with every pedal stroke.
Now sometimes it is an easy diagnosis, with it being as simple as a loose bolt, but usually, no matter how hard we look, this elusive creaking noise can be much harder to find. It could be anything from our body movement on the seat, to that bottom bracket (the crank bearing supports), or, something even worse, a damaged frame (but we won’t go there).
Here are some simple tips on identifying a creak or isolating it through a process of elimination. Firstly, I would recommend having a good look over the bike with some allen keys, checking all the fasteners for tightness, as well as any wriggling parts such as front forks, forward and aft, wheels side to side, and seats and pedals for bearing movement. This may identify an area that will require attention sooner or later.
With everything all checked and our creaking still evident, I suggest we then have a closer look at the seat and post to check it’s secure. I would also remove the rear wheel and check the derailleur and hanger for looseness. Lastly, but by far not least, we go to the bottom bracket. I decided on this last as everything else was avoiding major disassembly. You can pull the cranks off quite easily and feel the bearings in the housing, otherwise known as the BB or bottom bracket. If they look rusty, dirty, wet, or feel rough when turning, I would suggest bearing replacement. However, in some cases it is possible to salvage the bearings through cleaning and re-greasing. In regards to the bottom bracket area, I have also had the drain hole at the bottom of the frame blocked, not allowing for water to escape, causing degradation of the bearing rather quickly.
These fixes are just some things that may not be obvious for bicycle drive line noise. There could be other issues, such as derailleur adjustment and jumping chains, but I presume these would be obvious. If you are unsure, I’d suggest getting a bike shop or bike mechanic to have a look.
Mark Brockwell – Masters MTB rider, Pushys Sponsored Athlete