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Creaking Carbon Frame

Callum Hunter's picture

By Callum Hunter - Posted on 16 October 2013

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Hi guys,

I currently ride a carbon fibre LOOK 996 and am having some mechanical/ frame issues. After repairing a knock that had developed in one of the rear pivot points, it has now developed a severe creaking sound from what appears to be near the bottom bracket. Dad's a mechanical engineer by trade and we've had the entire back of the bike off with all bearings been replaced and even with the fitting of a higher spec bottom bracket. It primarily becomes vocal whilst pedalling, and very slightly when the rear suspension is under load.

Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated as I don't really want it failing any time soon or when I'm out on a ride.

Callum Hunter
Under 19's

[Mod. moved to MTB gear]

Rob's picture

It's probably your rear skewer Eye-wink

... kind of joking, but kindof being serious. Creaks are not always obvious. Check anything that can move, like your seatpost, headset, etc. Grease up everything or if it's carbon on carbon (is your post like that?) stuff like Ritchey Liquid Torque helps stop movement and creaking.

I take it you did liberally grease up the pivots and threads on the BB when replacing, and also the crank drive when inserting into BB, and also retaining nut?

ptpete's picture

i just recenlty rebuilt my carbon road bike, which had major creaks all over.
After stripping the head seat and regreasing the bearings, then stripping the bopttom bracket and regreasing threads upon rebuilidng... all the creaks have stopped.

best of luck with your creak searching.

Brian's picture

I just had the shop solve a creak for me. It ended up being the autosag body of the rear shock. It took quite a bit to solve it.

jp's picture

My carbon hardtail has been creaking, particularly under heavy load (up steep hills). Bike shop swapped my rear wheel and that solved it... So they are now servicing the rear hub, replacing bearings. It really sounded like it was coming from the bottom bracket.

Oldernslower's picture

Maybe strip, clean and reassemble bottom bracket - make sure you grease everything that needs to. Had this prob on a couple of bikes and this fixed the BB creak.

Magnum9's picture

Try some different pedals just to rule those out. I had an annoying click that I swore was coming from the bottom bracket but it was the pedals.

Discodan's picture

I replaced a BB chasing down a click that turned out to be pedals

Brian's picture

I've also had where the saddle clamp was bound to the carbon post was noisy so a new post fixed it.

Basically, creaks can come from anywhere and its such a pain trying to locate and fix Eye-wink

Barnsy's picture

Rear cassette can be a sorce of hidden creaks.
Try swaping out the wheels with someone else's as a trial.
Seats can creak where the rails enter the body, a little light lube can fix this.
Good luck. Just do one thing at a time till you pin it down.

Brian's picture

Also, is it noisy when pedaling while seated and standing? If it is then this rules out the seat post and saddle.

Callum Hunter's picture

thanks for all of you speedy suggestions, however most of them have been ruled out as the wheels are effectively brand new, the seat post isn't carbon and we also checked replaced the bottom bracket, as well as checking the pedals and the cluster. its most definitely a carbon flex or carbon on carbon noise. interesting, I took it for a blast around Marrinup today and it was especially bad, but after going through some muddy puddles, the noise packed up, but then started again on the dry mundabiddi back into dwellingup. we've checked out the bottom of the bike at the pivot points/ all other points which move but theres no contact or friction that we can detect. also, its whenever im pedalling whether it be dancing up a hill or just cruising along the flats. the only time it doesn't make noise is when im just spinning my legs with basically no power on the pedals going downhill. ive sent an email to LOOK cycles asking their opinion as well, but thank you for all of your suggestions and any more will be gratefully accepted

hawkeye's picture

My roadie started creaking a couple of weeks ago pedalling out of the saddle.

I stuck it in a fluid trainer and hammered for a bit and was able to confirm the source of the creaking. I'd recommend trying this since if you can replicate the noises you stand a much better chance of tracking the source down by touch with a second set of fingers whike you pedal.

In my case the news was bad ... terminal failure in the top tube near the head tube that was not economic to repair. But it quickly saved me wasting money on bike shop labour chasing the impossible.

Andy Bloot's picture

Fox forks have been known to creak and the sound travels deceptively
But if it stops when wet, well....
other than that, I feel your frustration
Creaks are the most annoying thing on a bike

pharmaboy's picture

If you ve recently replaced the bottom bracket and it's press fit - that's the most likely problem.

Some manufacturer s for good reason recommend loctite for the press fit interface

ashley g's picture

Hey Callum, you need to lube your seat and handlebars(or anything similar) even if not carbon. Basically it could be anything, but creak = lube it up!

Zoom's picture

You need to lubricate the inside of your rear shock. It's the rubber seal squeaking.

mikethebike's picture

Which is the best lube to use? I've been told lithium or marine grade grease.

CyclinAl's picture

I've had the problem twice with my carbon frame and I found the trick is to isolate the movement that generates the creak. The problem being that carbon frames really reverberate noises, which means the creak is more likely to come from the area where the frame has the best accoustic characteristics, rather than being the source.
I found the best BB testing movement is to put say, the right pedal at the bottom, put your weight on it and tilt the bike to the left (About 20-30 deg).
Sit back gently and reverse the pedal position gently, taking care to exert as little pressure on them as possible.
Now, put your weight on the left pedal and tilt your bike to the right.
If there's any creak in your BB, it'll sound when you reverse the movement.
At least you can eliminate one possibility.
Judging by your descriptions, I don't think it's the Head Set. But just in case, that was the other problem I had and I found the best way to test was:
Lock the front brake.
Keeping some downward pressure on the bike, "rock" it back and forth within the range it's able to move. Any problem in the HS will sound.
Good luck!

Epic29er's picture

all my bikes make strange noises. They get the once over at my LBS before any major event and they work perfectly. She'll be right.

Zoom's picture

Rub a bit of grease on the bottom part of the rear shock where it slides in and out of the top part and if the noise goes away for a while then it means there is no lubricating grease left inside the rear shock. Takes 20 seconds to try.

Aids's picture

I had a creak in my front headset that drove me mad until I tightened my seatpost!

Rusta's picture

Had the same problem, thought it was my BB/Pivot bearings. End up greasing the back wheel dropouts and problem solved.

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