I’ll be honest. I’m not sure whether this creaking sound is real or just in my head. I’m pretty sure it was real at some point. I’m also reasonably certain I have heard it in my sleep. So…do you hear it?
It’s like a tick-tick-tick sometimes. Other times it’s like a screen door in a Hitchcock film. Still others it sounds like someone quickly asphyxiating a hamster. Do you hear it? What does it sound like to you?
In my twenties I played in a band. We had a rehearsal space, but because we were poor, that rehearsal space was actually what the practice space people called a “drum room,” which is to say it was only slightly larger than a closet. And in that closet, I kept my Marshall half-stack, 125-watts of beautiful, cochlea-crushing noise. Our bass player had a speaker cabinet with a dolly permanently attached to its back, such was its heft, and our drummer beat his kit like the dead horse in a never-ending argument. It’s possible this creaking sound derives therefrom.
It’s possible there is no sound at all.
Of course, any cyclist who detects a creak, such as this, will immediately impugn his/her bottom bracket. Occam’s Razor does implicate the bottom bracket, but in discovering the source of many baker’s dozens of creaking sounds, it is shocking to me how often the culprit is not the butler, i.e., the BB. Here I imagine the closing scene from Scooby-Doo. The bottom bracket, finally cornered, pulls off a rubber mask to reveal the mild-mannered pedal bolt threads, the true culprit.
Having said that, the advent of PressFit bottom brackets, and their not so precise fitment to the frame are a constant and reliable source of creaking sounds. They are also the source of greatly increased demand for lubricants and also anti-psychotic meds.
Avid sleuths will angle their heads downwards, cocking an ear, rolling the pedals over carefully, gathering data. This creaking sound accompanies each pedal stroke (or every third one), and so it must, IT MUST, be coming from the crank if not the bottom bracket. This is when old friends Park Blue Grease and WD-40 appear on the scene. It stands to reason that a virtual carpet bombing of the lower half of the bike with any lubricant you have to hand should eliminate the problem, even if you’re not sure what the actual problem is.
To wit, here are some of the causes of creaking sounds that I have identified: Loose bottom bracket, loose chainring bolt, loose front derailleur clamp, over-tight water bottle cage bolt, cracked chainstay, cracked seat tube, moist chamois against saddle, loose handlebars, misaligned front wheel, neurotic insanity. Should you encounter your own creaking sound, check each of these before calling your beleaguered local bike shop. Insanity can be contagious.
Anyway, this creaking sound gets 0/10, no stars, no rotten tomatoes, or all the rotten tomatoes, or whatever. I look forward to a future when the whole bike is made from lubricant and/or highly lubricious materials. Or maybe, I’ll just eventually go deaf, and these things won’t bother me anymore, but will bother the socks off my riding companions, in which case, win-win.