Sound Advice For Your Bike

The three annoying sounds every bike inevitably makes, and how to stop them

Posted: 23 November 2009

Squeaky seat

Your peaceful ride is interrupted by a distracting sound coming from somewhere on your saddle - like a
broken spring in a mattress. 

The problem

Your seat and seat-post clamp bolts may not be properly lubricated. 

The solution 

Remove your saddle from your post and treat the saddle bolt or bolts, depending on your type of seatpost (A) and seat rails (B), with a small amount of grease such as Park Tool PolyLube. Then remove the seat-clamp bolt and grease not only the bolt, but also where the clamp makes contact with the frame (C). Before you put it back together, apply a light layer of grease inside the seat tube. If you have a carbon frame, use a carbon-prep paste such as Syntace's Friction Paste. Grease may damage clear coats or cause the composite laminate to swell. 

Creaking bottom bracket

Every time you turn the cranks when you pedal, you hear the sound of someone walking on ancient loose floorboards. 

The problem

Your crank bolts, chain-ring bolts or bottom bracket aren't properly torqued, or your bottom bracket shell is dirty. 

The solution

First, tighten the crank bolt (using the tool required for your crankset), then move on to tightening the bottom bracket and the chain-ring bolts. If that doesn't fix the creak, remove the cranks and bottom bracket, then clean the bottom bracket shell with a clean cloth and Finish Line Speed Degreaser. Apply a generous amount of grease inside the shell (D), reinstall the bottom bracket and cranks, and tighten everything up. 

Screeching brakes

You hear a sound like fingernails scraping a blackboard whenever you squeeze a brake lever.

The problem

Your brake pad and rim surfaces have a buildup of dirt on them. 

The solution

Remove your wheel. Using a clean cloth and Finish Line Speed Degreaser or plain alcohol, clean both sides of the rim. Then, with a flat file or a piece of medium-grit sandpaper, lightly scuff both brake-pad surfaces. Before reinstalling the wheel, make sure your pads are properly aligned - the front of the pad should touch the rim (E) before the rear hits (F). 

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