Finding that Maddening Click

Make sure the front quick-release is tight. It's a source of creaking.

All the new-fangled parts and materials on today’s bikes have drawn me into a long and painful learning process when it comes to finding creaks, clicks, and squeals.

Finally, after a couple of months trying to figure out a clicking noise that happened only under load, I found the culprit — a slightly loose front quick-release. How I found it is revealing.

I put one foot against the left crank arm and pressed on it while holding the bike with both hands at seat and handlebar. Suddenly I heard the tell-tale click, only it was in the front of the bike and not at the bottom bracket as I thought!

I tested the quick-release and sure enough it was just a tad loose. After tightening, I took the bike for a spin. No more clicking. Dissimilar metals (aluminum dropout and steel quick release) don’t help matters.

Now I’m not saying all clicks are caused by the quick-release. In my situation the bike is only months old, so it would be odd if something were amiss with parts. Read on for more possibilities.

I had found Jim Langley’s treatise on squeaks and creaks, but didn’t read it carefully. He mentions the quick-release. Jim should know. He was the technical editor at Bicycling Magazine, 1989-99.

Now what about this occasional annoying bird chirping sound? It’s not the chain or tension rollers. I replaced the chain and re-greased the rollers. I’ll figure it out…eventually.

3 Responses to “Finding that Maddening Click”

  1. Slonie Says:

    One time I had a terrible creak that I was SURE was my bottom bracket… But was actually a single loose chainring bolt. I figured it out by noticing that the noise didn’t occur when the chain had been dropped.

  2. jj Says:

    It seems almost everyone thinks “the noise” is in the bottom bracket area-and it usually isn’t- seatpost, saddle rails/seat clamp, cleats, stem/handlebars-all a source of “the click.”

  3. equake Says:

    Luckily I am spared a squeeking or ticking sound most of the time. But a couple of years ago I traced a squeeking sound to a shimano ultegra casette, two or three legs of the “spider” which holds the biggest three chain rings had broken. Must have been all that pushing up alba road. 😉

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