Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Killin' The Creaky

Creaking bikes are the bane of a bike mechanic's existence. Well, one of the banes of his existence. Bike mechanics have lots of banes of their existences. Kids trying out bells, ringing them incessantly on a busy Saturday, that's a bane. Kids crying in the shop anytime. Kids....basically bike mechanics hate kids. They hate installing training wheels and baby seats. Baby trailers are their worst nightmare...

but creaking does suck.

I'll ignore a creak on my own bike until it begins to drown out the Danzig on my ipod. Oh, did I mention that I ran my ipod through both the washer and the dryer? Yup. I was sitting upstairs going "what the hell is that awful clunking?" My ipod dying a horrible death, that's what it was. For a few days afterward I would walk around saying "God! I can't belie—no, no I can believe I did that. I'm an idiot, it was only a matter of time." And that's why the creak that developed on my new bike the, Superfly with the XXs was really buggin' me, no ipod to mask the noise. I hate working on my own bikes, free time is riding time, but this was too much to take, the creak was ridiculous.

This isn't a creaky bike, it's a pretty flower, a Lady Slipper to be exact.
I love seeing Lady Slippers on a ride.

Now listen up, cuz I'm wicked technical and shit. I'm like the love child of a three way between PVD, Todd Downs, and Lennard Zinn. But I'm pretty sure any one of those three dudes would claim that the other two were responsible for my creation. Hey! It's really not as abstract as it sounds. When those guys use the term "making babies," they really mean "building babies," because they are more than capable of doing so. Mecha-Babies.

The Bottom bracket is the guilty party when it comes to the crime of creaking 99.99999 and a one percent of the time. I always start there, no mucking about, just pull it out, re-grease it and re-install. I go nuts when I have to stand by and listen to anyone in a shop telling a customer "Hmm, let's see...maybe it's the pedals...let's tighten the pedals and see what happens. Oh, it wasn't the pedals, hmm, well maybe it's the saddle rails, oh, nope, not the saddle rails, oh well, how about the chainring bolts..." It makes me want to take a socket wrench with a BBT-22 on the end, smash him in the head with it, and then pull out the bottom bracket, grease it and re-install it like he should have to begin with.

Wow, I never get all angsty about mechanical stuff, it feels kinda good.

But here's the funny thing, it wasn't the BB on the Superfly that was all a-creakin', not this time. I had taken out the BB more than once, greased the living hell out of the crank bolt, the spline on the crank arm and BB spindle. The Truvativ system that Sram XX uses is not one I have put through the paces, so I had no idea what part of the assembly might have been causing the ruckus. Today I even went out and bought some plumber's teflon tape, always a sure fire way to kill the creaky, not that I usually have to go that far on my own bikes. "You need the tape for gas or water?" "Neither, it's for a bike." Whoa, was the guy at the hardware store impressed. No, no I don't really think he was.

So I T-taped the living bejesus outta that mammer jammer and...


You have got to be kidding me! OK, process of elimination, we're going deep, we're going thorough, when we're done the only thing that could be causing this is either a some issue with frame construction (like the old internal tabs on a creaky, creak Cannondale. Fuckers) or a crack. I noticed my King Cage (not a sponsor, just awesome) was just kissing the band clamp on the front derailleur. So I spaced that out with a couple presta valve nuts, those little knurled round guys. Still creaky. I pulled off the front derailleur and applied some carbon assembly compound to the clamp (like I should have to begin with). Still a-creakin'. I applied grease to the inside of my seat collar and more assembly compound to my carbon seatpost. Oh ya, still all creaky. I even hit the saddle rails with some loctite while I was at it, it works, when that's the problem, but that wasn't the problem.

I went after the rear wheel, and that's when I noticed something — when I squeezed the crank arm to the chainstay with my hand, an action that should have produced creaking if the creaking were indeed emanating from that region, but it didn't. Now we were getting somewhere...I said "Rear wheel, what do you want from me!" And the my rear wheel said "Hey vagenius, try using a different quick release, maybe one that's not all wiggly and stupid, and made out titanium." "Naw rear wheel! What kind of asinine crap is that, that ain't...gonna...work?"

It did work. It was a fifteen second fix all along.

And this. This is a Dunkin Donuts in Medford, MA that is closed because of the water main break. If you held your breath and ran from one Dunkin Donuts to the next, you could traverse all of Medford Massachusetts easily. Seeing a closed Dunkin Donuts on a Monday afternoon in Medford is like seeing a Chick-fil-A open on a Sunday anywhere.
(That one's for you McQueen.)




mkr said...

Does the SupaFly use full carbon dropouts? I've found that it's nearly impossibly to get a good QR/dropout clamp with full frickin carbon ones, and thus they creak like a banshee, though a banshee actually wails I think. My new C-dale carbon road bike developed a mad creak after the second ride. I think it was the fork/headset/spacer/stem interface, all of which are carbon.

dougyfresh said...


my cannondale's waterbottle bosses rattle. The two in the downtube near the bb where no one in their right mind would put a water bottle. but i love the bike.

Bullitt said...

Heh. thanks. Wish my creak was that easy...uhg.

rick is! said...

damn you and your "picture through wheel looking at water" pic. I took one exactly like that yesterday that I was going to post. ahh, who cares, nobody will actually see it anyway...

the original big ring said...

the Cypripedioidea (or how you brutishly called it - the 'lady slipper') is the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island.

stick that in your creaking pipe and smoke it

zencycle said...

I had a creak in the bottom bracket of my IF for a whole summer before I figured it out. Turned out to be titanium frame with aluminum bottom bracket. I tried coating with different lubes, even plumbers tape, still creaky. I remember reading some Zinn article from 100 years ago that antiseize compund works well for most creaking parts. I didn't have any, so I made some home made anti seize compound: thin coating of pedros syn-lube on both surfaces, then sprayed with enough powdered graphite to coat the parts. Hasn't creaked since.