I like a quiet bike as much as the next neurotic guy. So the creaks and clicks in my 20 yo Cannondale T400 have been distracting. Like dental surgery.
I finally clear up the problem. Except it was problems, the plural. Plural recurrent actually, which was why it took a year to get through them all, and why the damned bike seemed haunted. The big tubes on this aluminum touring bike didn't help, they sent the sounds everywhere. Danged hard to localize, as is often true.
I went through a lot of diagnostics and replacements, which sometimes seemed to work but they the creak-click would return — though maybe with a bit different sound. In the end of day these were the obvious culprits:
- The seats: Swapping seats didn’t hep too much. Turned out I had swapped one mediocre old seat for another, both were stretched and creaky. I bought myself a nice (i.e. pricy) Fizik Antares R5 for my birthday and that creak went away.
- The damned Shimano Shimano PD-A530 SPD Dual Platform pedals: WTFShimano?! The worst pedals every made. Five years ago I compared Shimano’s surprising quality to Apple’s. Since then both brands seem to have gone on a bender. One of my creak-clicks was a bad bearing in the first pair I owned. I bought a replacement and they were defective out of the box. I returned those under warranty and 10 months later that one started a creak-click. Hard to diagnose because the seat was creaking too, but in the end these pedals were 80% of the problem. I’m debating switching to Crank Brothers for all of my bikes. Shimano sells a Deore XT dual platform pedal in Europe, but they are hard to find here. I guess I could try those, but I’m loathe to send Shimano any more money.
These were things I replaced that probably didn’t contribute to the problem.
- Seat post: For $25 I picked up a Nashbar replacement post that’s much nicer than my original single-bolt post. Didn’t make any difference but I wanted the better adjustment anyway.
- Bottom bracket bearing unit: This was because I couldn’t believe it was the pedals clicking - again. Original was 20y old, so probably not a bad idea anyway, but didn’t make any difference.
Old bikes are like old men. It’s usually not a weird and exotic disease, it’s more likely two or three common diseases that just coexist.