Click, Click, Click

We’ve all experienced annoying little clicks and creaks on our bikes. You know, like the kind that happen each time the crank comes over the top at 2 o’clock. I often hear people talk about tightening crank arms and checking bottom brackets when this happens, but odds are it’s a pedal. See, many of the pedals we commuters use, particularly those such as the low-end models from Shimano or the touring pedals from MKS, contain the cheapest bearings on our bikes. They’re the most likely to run rough, and they’re also the most likely to click and creak. If you find one of your pedals making noise, it’s usually a simple matter of disassembling the pedal, cleaning, and re-packing with Phil (be careful to make note of how it came apart and don’t lose any ball bearings). The MKS pedals are particularly simple to overhaul, one among many reasons I prefer them over Shimano pedals, some of which require special tools to adjust.

23 Responses to “Click, Click, Click”

  • Brad says:

    I have a bad creaking on some Shimano 545’s. They go bad about every two years and I have them overhauled for about $50 but this time, there are three distinct creaks every time I stand up and and two with hard pedaling leaving one per revolution during normal cycling.

    It sounds to me at least as if the bearing race has finally had it so I’m going with new ones. I’ve noticed that bike shops don’t seem to like pedal overhauls. Even though these are $100 pedals, they come with the same cheap bearings as the 520 series. The only problem is that I can quickly destroy the spindle on the higher end pedals when pulling trailers so I just stick with the click and when it gets bad, well, see above.

    Good post and true to life.

  • bongobike says:

    Yep, dry pedals are a major source of noise. Most pedals come with very little grease from the factory, and they are adjusted too tight. Nowadays whenever I buy new pedals I always disassemble them, pack them with gobs of grease and adjust them so they spin smoothly with no play.

    But another source of creaking is your Brooks saddle. I have a B-72 that creaks whenever I have to pedal hard. Usually a few drops of thick oil on all the nuts will solve that problem.

  • Tom says:

    I have the 2 o’clock click that you can feel in your right foot. I just replaced my pedals (with MKS RMX “sneaker” pedals) because I read the same thing.., check pedals first. Since the crank bolts are tight my BB is the likely culprit. I have “semi-cartridge” BB, not sealed, so maybe it just runs a little rough.

    Velo Orange has some very nice sealed bearing pedals, which is an alternative to the loose ball bearing kind in most platform pedals.

  • Alan says:

    @bongobike

    “But another source of creaking is your Brooks saddle. I have a B-72 that creaks whenever I have to pedal hard. Usually a few drops of thick oil on all the nuts will solve that problem.”

    You said it! Both of my B-67s are so bad I gave up and just live with it. I think the springs add to the problem; the B-17s I’ve owned over the years haven’t been nearly so noisy.

  • Dave says:

    Before overhauling pedals, I would also check the seat post. I’ve encountered on several occasions a creak or click that was cured by removing, cleaning, and greasing the seat post. Plus, it’s a good idea anyhow to prevent stuck seat posts.

  • Alan says:

    @Dave

    Most definitely; be sure it IS the pedal before taking it apart.

    Alan

  • Zach says:

    Need to check play in the freehub or freewheel as well. I went down the same path last week. Bottom bracket, crank arms, chainring bolts, and pedals, only to find that my shimano freehub was a little sloppy causing a little creak. A little creak can be irritating.

  • Mitch says:

    Good post, Alan. In my experience even waterproof grease eventually gets washed out from the rains and requires repacking. If I didn’t otherwise really like my MKS Grip Kings, I’d have gotten rid of them long ago. My ideal pedal would be a Grip King with grease port and/or better seals.

  • bongobike says:

    Brad, I suggest switching from SPDs to Crank Bros. I did, and the Crank Bros. are SO much better, both in terms of float, cleat release, etc. AND bearings. They sell a complete overhaul kit for all their pedals with easy instructions that even a caveman could follow (where have I heard that before?). No need to pay $50 to a shop to overhaul them. The kit is like $15 and you can do it yourself a few in minutes.

  • Adam says:

    “I’ve noticed that bike shops don’t seem to like pedal overhauls.”

    In my previous wrenching experience, I’ve worked on VPs and Wellgos. They aren’t much fun to overhaul, and those were the most common types I remember seeing.

    Once, in trying to find the source of a creak on my bike I finally turned to the mechanic who taught me. She figured out that it was friction between the drive side spokes. I put a drop of Phil oil on them and the noise was gone.

    More recently in diagnosing a click on my Miyata, I noticed that the left chainstay braze to the seatpost cluster had come apart, so I brazed it back together. But the click is still there (coming from my Brooks…I think). :)

    I think the worst part of this for me is how embarassed I feel when riding past or being passed by another rider. I sometimes stop pedaling or downshift to increase my cadence to make it quieter. Oh the shame.

  • Alan says:

    @Adam

    “I think the worst part of this for me is how embarassed I feel when riding past or being passed by another rider. I sometimes stop pedaling or downshift to increase my cadence to make it quieter. Oh the shame.”

    And here I thought I was the only one…. :-)

  • doug in seattle. says:

    Ha! I am also embarrassed by a noisy bike. The worst was coming home from a rainy camping trip that had washed all of the lube of my chain, making for an agonizingly squeeky chain. Agh!

    Back to pedals — I overhaul my MKS Tours frequently. Rather, I overhaul the left pedals over and over and have never needed to touch the right hand pedals. I usually wait until the pedal is totally seized up before I finally crack it open. Despite this cruel method of maintenance they’re always good-as-new afterward.

    One advantage of experience is that I no longer bring the bike in to the shop for mystery squeeks, as I can usually diagnose them myself. I hated it when I brought it and they immediately discovered that the drive-side click at 10 o’clock was the derailleur cable hitting it the crank.

  • Alan says:

    “I hated it when I brought it and they immediately discovered that the drive-side click at 10 o’clock was the derailleur cable hitting it the crank.”

    I hear you – been there…LOL. There’s nothing like red-faced embarrassment to hone your squeak-finding skills… ;-)

  • s0fa says:

    Pack pedal bearings with molybidium disulfide grease. It lasts an eternity and keeps things quiet.

    One major downside is it is messy to use. Wear gloves and don’t get it on your skin.

  • Derek says:

    bongobike – I really like the crankbros eggbeater pedals I have, but the Smartys I had could not be serviced. I would not recommend them

  • Doug P says:

    I had a creak that was coming from the front fork at the dropout! Apparently the interface of certain alloys can cause a creak there. A light coating of grease and it went away. That one wasn’t easy to diagnose!

  • bongobike says:

    Derek, you’re right, the Smartys cannot be serviced (not very smart). I have a pair. My favorites are the Candys.

  • Adam says:

    Lol. We can start a noisy bike support group…

    Speaking of noises, does anybody else still use adjustable cup and cone bottom brackets? Maybe I’m the only one.

    I remember trying everything to silence a specialized bb installed on a cannondale. I eventually just gave up on and installed a sealed Shimano one. Noises went away.

  • Andrew says:

    Hahah, I recently had a click at about 10 o’clock that was driving me nuts, and it turns out that my crank arm was just grazing my minipump. I thought all along it was my pedal, or worse my front derailleur cage (though whenever I checked it, it was trimmed properly…gah!).

    My Brooks B17 is definitely a creaky beast, though. I really need to lube it up, it’s getting annoying.

  • bongobike says:

    Adam, I put a cup and cone BB on my Koga Miyata out of necessity, when I decided to install an old Sugino crankset on it that takes an incredibly long spindle (it’s like 131mm long and they don’t make them that long anymore). So I yanked the cups and bearings off an old bike, found the right spindle miraculously in my parts bin and I was in business.

    Honestly, the old cup and cone BBs are a lot smoother and turn more feely, that is of course if they are high quality. I love them.

  • Tim says:

    Sorry to sidetrack this thread but I have to ask,I went to crankbros site to look at pedals.How do you know what to get? How do I know what I need? Does it matter? Thanks!

  • bongobike says:

    Tim, it depends on what kind of riding you do. If you ride fast road bikes, maybe you want the Eggbeaters, if you’re more into mountain biking or want a little bit of a platform, the Candy may be your model. If you’re into downhill bombing or just want a lot of support, you may want one of the models that have a huge platform.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Pedal Envy says:

    […] couple of weeks ago I posted about pedals and how they’re the most likely culprit if your bike is making little clicks and creaks. […]

 
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