Gravity Nelson Mechanic Ben Hall came up with this simple guide to diagnosing and locating annoying creaks on your bike. Check it out.
Like anything which makes a creak or a groan, there is a cause and if left unchecked it can get worse. Whether that be your car, body or bike. It is better to find the source of the problem sooner rather than later. Here are a few ways to diagnose what is going on, and locate where it is.
The headset, this is a pretty common site for that creak which you hear when climbing up hill or when compressing the front suspension quite hard. Sounds more like a ticking noise. A lot of movement and force goes through this area, and a lot of dust can collect up inside the headset. Sometime it can also be from over tightening of the top cap nut, which causes the bearings to get overloaded, essentially squashing them…. not good.
How to Test: hold the bike by the front of the frame with the front wheel off the ground and rotate the handlebar left and right listening for “clicks and ticks” from the headset.
How to Solve: remove the stem and open the headset caps and bearings, check the bearings for smoothness and clean, repack lightly with grease if needed, reassemble and carefully judge tightness of the headset stack when reinstalling the stem.
The bottom bracket! This little thing in our frames that we usually just take for granted, takes an absolute hammering. The amount of revolutions it goes through, and all of the force that goes through the crank spindle goes through those bearings, its also right in the firing line for dust and crud to get into. A telltale sign this thing is dry or worn out, is creaking when pedalling, sounding rumbley when spinning the cranks by hand. It might be that the threads are dry (which is common in brand new bikes) and just need a clean and re-grease, or the bearings have just worn out, and also over tightening cranks reduce bearing life.
Pivot bolts! All of our full suspension bikes have different linkage types (VPP, DW, Horst, ABP, Evolink) have pivot bolts, duhhhh. There is a lot a movement and stress that go through here, especially on these Nelson descents. The signs to hear out for, is creaking when compressing the rear suspension, when riding. There isn’t a lot of movement in pivot bearings, so they can become seized, this can happen through use, riding in all weather conditions, over tightening of pivots, and loose pivots. The pivots cold also just be dry and need cleaning and re-greasing.
Seat clamp rails! This isn’t really commonly looked at, this along with a dry BB and headset can make your bike sound like a bag of spanners. We move around a lot on our saddle, and dust and dirt likes to settle around here. It is usually heard can seated pedalling and gets worse when climbing. Also, not tightening the seat clamp bolts enough can cause the saddle to slowly migrate under load. A clean and a dab or grease can work wonders.
If you guys and gals feel competent doing this and have the tools at home, go for it. If you get stuck flick us a message and some pictures of whats going down. Or, once our current situation has changed come and see us back at the shop.
Hopefully these little gems help. Let us know what you think, or if there are any at home mechanics tricks and tips you want to know.