bike maintenance real life cycling

Glorious, mechanical, Italian-made silence

Wilier Zero 9

I’m not a neat freak. I’m not compelled to store my cycling kit alphabetically, or iron my cycling socks, or line up my drink bottles in the cupboard in order of height. What I am a bit particular about is my bike.

I won’t ride a dirty bike.

Not because I’m trying to be enigmatic, or because I’m following The Rules, but because it spoils it. On a clean bike, with fresh legs, I feel like a cyclist. The bike can be splashed with mud, grit, and grime ten yards down the road, just as long as when I left the house it was clean.

I can hear you now, thinking: “…bit OCD that”.

But it’s not. OCD is a mental illness. I just like a clean bike. Although I try not to judge, I can’t help but inspect the bikes of my riding companions pre-ride. If they’re dirty, I hardly ever say anything, but a fact is a fact.

“It’s their bike…” I have to remind myself.

The same applies to a noisy bike. I like to hear the swish of tyres on tarmac, the gentle click-click of a clean and greased chain, and the satisfying ‘clunk’ of a well indexed gear change. But if my ride is accompanied by any combination of clicks, clanks, squeaks, or creaks that aren’t supposed to be there, that will also ruin my ride. A noisy, rattling bike is not right, and it needs to be made right. Simple as that.

Apart from anything, a quiet bike is faster. If not actually, then at least theoretically.

The problem with bikes is not only that they get dirty, but that they are made up of several dozen components which are capable of clicking, clanking, squeaking, or creaking.

If the noise comes with every pedal stroke it ‘feels’ like it’s coming from the bottom bracket, but it probably isn’t. If the noise stops when you stand up it’s probably coming from the seat post, but it might not be. If the noise gets louder when you increase the torque it could well be your wheel bearings, but there’s no guarantee.

Then there are the pedals, the cleats, the chain-ring bolts, the jockey wheels, the cassette…

After riding with a persistent click for about two months this year, and systematically checking every possible cause, I’d concluded that there was a fundamental defect with the frame. I checked the warranty and was steeling myself to send it back to the Wilier factory in Italy for god-knows how long, to get god-knows what result.

And then I found a bolt I hadn’t checked – part of the front derailleur. It seemed a long shot but I removed it, cleaned it, greased it, and tightened it back up. I then swung a leg over my bike, expecting to have ruled out another possibility from the tedious list of possible culprits. Only to be met with…


Glorious, mechanical, Italian-made silence.

9 comments on “Glorious, mechanical, Italian-made silence

  1. I agree with you on the clean bike and particularly the silent bike. All out of place noises to be hunted down and eradicated! But I’ve always thought too that a clean bike is a quiet bike. Maybe it’s the process of the clean that has the best chance or removing unwanted noise.

    Any do you mean ‘assembled in Italy’ or ‘made in Italy’? Truly I don’t know about where Willier frames are made but as my Taiwanese bike mechanic keeps preaching to me, most manufacturers have their frames made in Taiwan or China and assembled elsewhere. We know Giant makes frames for brands too in Taiwan as does Merida. Pinarello – mostly Chinese frames? Bianchi – Chinese or Taiwanese frames? Specialized – frames by Merida in Taiwan. Trek – mostly Asian frames. Canyon – Asia of course. It’s the manufacturing value that brands can’t ignore.

    Sorry for heading off track but tangled web in manufacturing stories interests me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right – a clean bike and a quiet bike generally go hand in hand. I try not to judge but…man!…imagine turning up for a ride on a filthy bike! That’s not for me.

      As for the tangled web of frame manufacture tangents are always welcome, and you’re quite right – I was using Italian-made in the broadest sense of the word. My usual mechanic – a Wilier and Campag man to his very core – tells me the frames are manufactured in Asia, but design and assembly is done in house in Italy.

      So… a bit of both

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alastair

    I’m with you on the noise. If there’s a noise that’s not supposed to be there I’ve got to track it down. I have often been convinced that the noise is from the bottom bracket or chain and spent countless hours fiddling, dismantling and rebuilding only to find the noise still there. I’ve tracked down my latest noise, it was a creaking noise that appeared when putting weight through the handlebars when out of the saddle. I found this website: which helped me think of some other potential reasons for the noise. It ended up being a bit of lacquer or outer covering of the fork that had bubbled around the dropout on the left side. I rubbed it off with a bit of sandpaper and greased it, noise gone!
    Unfortunately I’m not as good at keeping my bike clean! But life gets in the way. I have little enough time to ride or resolve annoying noises without cleaning my bike before every ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean, it can be hard to fit in a bike clean before every ride, but surely a wipe down with a damp rag? 😉

      It genuinely amazes me the sheer number of different sources of creaks and noises


  3. Just promise if you stumble over the pond near us never, ever, ever, ever (and a few more) look at my poor steed. Seem to go OK though.


  4. An interesting source of noise is carbon shoe soles on carbon pedals. I ride with Time atac carbon pedals on my 09 and my Sidi MTB shoes with carbon soles frequently give ourt a slight creak when pushing hard up hills. My Shimano shoes with fibreglass/carbon soles don’t do this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Finding the source of that creak can be very, very frustrating! But when you get it… bliss! =)


  6. Pingback: The sound of silence | ragtime cyclist

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