Ridden to death

Ever been through one of those bicycle maintenance episodes that leaves you wishing you hadn’t bothered/had just bought a new bike/had taken up jogging instead of cycling?

Mine started three weeks ago with a new headset. I tend to ride my bikes/components to death. The headset on my trusty 10-year-old Scott CR1 had died and been reincarnated four times over. Off to my local shop (Bicycle Works, Edinburgh) I went. On the way there my chain snapped.

The next day I went to pick up the bike and Andrew, Bicycle Works’ guru/owner, advised me to bin my wheels immediately. The rims’ breaking surface was worn to the point of near-non-existence.

“I knew they were bad,” I said, “but I tend to ride my bikes/components to death.”

“Ride them any more and it’ll be your death,” came the reply.

New headset fitted, I bought some new wheels, and a new chain, and a new cassette.

My old bike rode like it was new. For the first 40 miles. The next 40 were a hideous noise of creaking and crunching and clicking.

Back to Bicycle Works. New front derailleur, new rear gear cable, extra spacer to cope with riding 10 speed on a dished-for-11 wheel. Things were better. I could use all my gears, the bike was rideable, but the drivetrain was still a little noisy for my liking.

I bought a new chain, a KMC silver to replace the rattly Ultegra. The next day’s ride were 70 smooth, perfect miles of mechanical zen, despite the monsoon rain.

Where the fuck is that creaking coming from?

The next ride was hideous, creaking and clicking with every pedal downstroke like my bottom bracket was trying to tear its way out of the carbon fibre. I removed it, checked it, regreased and replaced. Still hideous. I thoroughly degreased and re-lubed my chain. Still hideous. I replaced the worn big chainring. Still hideous.

Last resort before crying my way back to Bicycle Works/buying a new bike/taking up jogging was to
try different pedals. I replaced the almost new, month-old Keos with a pair that were five years old and ready for reincarnation as something more useful. Not hideous. No click. No creak.

Old pedals out, I cleaned and regreased the threads on the new pedals’ axles and returned them to the cranks. Still not hideous. Clicks and creaks still gone.

So, the moral of this long and drawn out story is, if you have a mysterious clicking and creaking then you have my sympathy. No, persistence, that’s the moral. No, leave it to Bicycle Works, that’s the real moral, or better still, buy a new bike instead of riding an old one to death. Or failing all that, take up jogging instead. And should you still hear a creak then not to worry, it’s probably just your knees.