DIY Bike Mechanic – Creaky Drive Train


Ok, so I ride bicycles. Somewhere between riding to go to the grocery store in downtown, and dedicated riding in a bike group. According to my Strava page, I’ve ridden around 4000 miles in the last 4 years exactly. (I only started riding, and recording rides as of Aug 2013) So, you get the picture, I’m out riding bikes a bit, but not that much.

Now, those 4000 miles have been shared between 4 bikes.

  1. Β A GMC Denali road bike, which I rode all through mid 2014.
  2. A Diamondback Century 1 2015 which I rode when I tried fixing my third bike’s derailleurs on my own. This was ridden for a few months in 2016, at which point I decided to sell it to just own a single bike.
  3. A Diamondback Century 2 2014, which I ride post 2017 Feb on and off, and also rode in 2015. In early 2016 I tried fixing this bike, and ended up not riding it for several months.
  4. A Diamondback Podium Vitesse Campagnolo EPS bike that I ride only very occasionally on account of it being a Carbon bike.

I think I can delve into how trying to repair the derailleurs didn’t work very well for me, but I’ll keep that for another day.

In my skillset is patching a tube, replacing a tube, replacing a tire. πŸ™‚ Even on a bike without a quick release. (Ok, not that big of a deal.)

I’ve fixed broken spokes as well.

  • The learning in that process (2013), was that the tool to remove the cassette were many, and I bought one or two wrong ones before buying the third right one! Oh well!
  • I also learned that spokes for 700c tires were different based on the depth of the rim. This when I walked into the shop, asked him for 700c spokes to the bike mechanics bewilderment, and then walked out with it only to come home and find out that the spokes were short! I then had to walk back to the shop with a spoke from the wheel, and get it matched.
  • I also learned that removing the cassette with a small lever is really really hard. Again having to walk back to the bike shop to request the mechanic there to remove the cassette for me.
  • I learnt that you can order a quick release set of the internet, but when it arrives, and you go and inspect your hubs, you find they are not hollow, and you cannot use the QR set. I have the QR set to this day. πŸ™‚ I can use them now, but I haven’t had the need to use the spares yet. The ones on my bike are just fine.

Fixing brakes, tightening the cable, replacing the brake pads are all things I can do. Nothing out of the ordinary. The only gotcha here is some brands – Tektro has a tab you can pull up to remove your tire fully inflated. Campagnolo doesn’t have this. At least not on the Athena brakes I have.

Removing the seat, adjusting it, lubing it, are all things I can do. I even own 4-6 Nm torque bits πŸ™‚

A few things I don’t fancy doing,

  • Adjusting the drive train. I somehow didn’t get the hang of the derailleur systems on my Shimano 105 bike. I get it conceptually, but I just couldn’t manage to fix it correctly. Try after try. You need to have a lot of patience, and I just couldn’t manage to get it right! I took it to a bike shop, only to have the mechanic tell me the cables were under-tensioned!
  • Bearings! I haven’t yet touched any of my bearings, and for good measure.
  • Cables! If I had to replace a derailleur cable, I’d do a poor job. Brake Cables, I think I might be able to manage.

With that out of the way, my latest problem, and trying to fix it!

A creaky Drivetrain

My drivetrain is creaky – producing a grinding noise! I’ve been trying to isolate the noise, but it’s hard. It also appears only under load, making me think it is the bottom bracket. You’d think the Bottom Bracket and the Cranks are all standardized, and quite simple. You’d be wrong!

I also made sure to test all the usual suspects –

  • In the process found my outer chainring to be slightly loose, but nothing that was causing the noise.
  • My bottle cages had come loose and were rattling – fixed it. Didn’t fix the creaky drivetrain obviously.
  • I’ve checked my seat, my pedals and my chain and cassette – they all look fine.
  • The bottom bracket itself doesn’t have any play in it, and rotates freely when not under load. I give it a spin, and can manage to make it turn 6-8 times freely without any binding.

Well, I guess opening it up may hold some clues.

I managed to find a nice helpful Park Tool video online about the types of cranks, identified my BB-4000 FSA Omega to be a ‘Self Extracting type’ with a retaining ring, and managed to remove it with just my pedal wrench! Hooray! Next onto see if I can service the bottom bracket and get rid of the creaking.

Here are the two Park Tool Videos. Thanks Park Tool guys! I just ordered a bunch of tools from you as a thank you for the instructional videos. πŸ™‚ (Now that I think about it, maybe that was the goal, other than being helpful of course. Nothing nefarious – all good!)


Bottom bracket

Here’s an FSA Video to remove a BB-30 MegaExo bottom bracket,

From the looks of it, I will need a bottom bracket removal tool! At least this one’s supposed to fit Shimano, FSA and Campy, or so it says.

Ah, more tools. Cups and all – much fun!

At this point, I have to see if I can service the BB. If not, I want to consider the possibility of moving to a different BB/ Crank system – preferably the Shimano 105, and HT2 BB. I’m definitely not buying a spare FSA bottom bracket.

It’s shitty the number of BB standards there are!

  • English BB.
  • BB-30. Go away!!!
  • PF-30. Pressfit.
  • BB-86
  • BB-92

A more detailed video from GCN,

Ok, onto reading up on BB’s then.


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