bike maintenance

The sound of silence

I wrote recently about the nagging annoyance of a noisy bike, and that sweet relief that comes once you finally diagnose and fix it – glorious, mechanical, Italian made-silence.

Now, before you start recommending a good therapist, or singing the praises of the Samaritans, don’t worry; my bike is still (at the time of writing) exhibiting nothing noisier than the pleasing click-click of a well-greased chain, and the whoosh of finely tuned wheels on smooth tarmac.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same of the bike of one of my regular weekly riding partners. The irony is that, of all the cyclists I ride with, this guy is the one who most resembles ‘the mechanic’. His bike is always well turned out and finely tuned and, unlike many of us, he replaces or repairs parts when they show signs of wear, not when they’ve just failed.

In short, his bike runs like clockwork.


Having recently spent an evening replacing his gear cables he was waxing lyrical about the pleasing ‘clunk’ of his gear changes, and rightly so. But the moment was soon ruined. Not a hundred yards down the road a barely perceptible squeak/creak, in time with his pedal strokes, appeared. As each mile passed, the squeak/creak got louder and creakier, and my friend’s brow furrowed.

We attempted the usual mid-ride diagnosis. He rode comically one leg at a time, he stood and pedalled, he pedalled gently and then forcefully, he wrestled with the handlebars, he checked the fastenings on his saddle bag, and he fumbled around with his shoes, before concluding, “It’s the bottom bracket…”

“Nah, it’s the pedals,” I countered.

“Could be some play in the chain-ring bolts,” he mused.

“Or the cleats,” I said, “my money’s on the cleats.”

“Bottom bracket!” he confirmed, nodding, to convince himself.

“Is it your knees?” I suggested.

“Squeak-creak-squeak-creak,” said the bike.

Now, I almost always bow to his knowledge in matter of bike maintenance, but my experience tells me that any noise in time with the pedal stroke sounds like the bottom bracket, but rarely is.

Either my theory is wrong, or my mate is wrong. Reputations are hanging in the balance.

You could cut the tension with a knife.


5 comments on “The sound of silence

  1. Ooh, a little grit in the bottom bracket perhaps? Can’t wait to learn the final problem.


  2. For me it was the bottom bracket!


  3. If we got 5p (ok, let’s make it 10p since the sterling’s worth shit these days) for every time someone erroneously thought that the noise came from the BB, we’d be in early retirement 🙂

    I had one such episode this past weekend. Click, click, click, once every chainset revolution.

    For a quick test, I put on the other pair of shoes and went for a spin around the neighbourhood. Silence.

    Liked by 1 person

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