Where is that &*$#@ creak coming from?

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Where is the Creak coming from?

By Dave Batka

Where is the Creak coming from?

Noisy bikes drive me crazy. I’ve told people in group rides I wouldn’t ride with them again until they fix their creaky squeaky bikes. I make bike parts for a living and after millions and millions of parts produced, all to replace a worn out something, I have zero tolerance for creaky stuff. Fix your bike and keep it fixed I say.

Creaks aren’t easy to diagnose. Just because it seems a noise is coming from somewhere on the bike doesn’t mean it is coming from there at all. Noises resonate throughout bikes, especially with newer carbon fiber frames. Fiber acts like a bullhorn for noises.

When looking for the source of a creak, consider the following common areas:

  • Hubs Especially rear hubs. Creaks come from worn out bearings, hubs out of adjustment, worn out freehub bodies, and wheel movement. Check hubs frequently for obvious problems. Tighten skewers and check for play in the wheel, on the bike. Spin the wheel to see if the freehub body is moving freely.
  • Spokes Spokes loosen, wear out, and break. A loose set of spokes can really cause a lot of noise, especially when out of the saddle or under heavy load.
  • Seatposts and saddles Believe it or not a very common place for a creak. Make sure your posts and saddles are good quality and in good condition. Any problems at all and replace! I’ve been left stranded a multitude of times with a saddle or seatpost giving out a long way from home.
  • Bottom brackets Bottom bracket creaks can come from either a poor fitting bottom bracket, especially for press fit systems, or simply worn out bearings. Think about all the gunk and dirt and water that flies up from rides and it all hits your bottom bracket. I once ran over a bloated 35 lb dead racoon that sprayed dead guts all over the bottom of my bike. Talk about contamination! More on Bottom Bracket replacement and maintenance later on.
  • Pedals Pedal noise can often seem like it is emanating from the bottom bracket so good thing to check. Makes sure they are tight in the cranks and spin freely. Often pedal noises only come under load so sometimes riding is the only way to identify a pedal problem.
  • Other stuff Headsets. Handlebars. Cracks in frames. Not common but I’ve seen them all, over the years, causing creaks.
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