A bike can develop some annoying noises: cracking, creaking, rattling or even squeaking. The reasons for this are often very different and sometimes difficult to pinpoint. Bottom bracket, crank, fork, handlebars, saddle – creaking can be caused by a number of different issues, and has ruined many tours. However, the underlying causes of disruptive noises are often quite easy to remedy. We’ll help you locate the source of creaking on your bike and fix the problem.

The better you take care of your bike, the less noise it will make. This translates to cleaning, greasing and checking screws and bolts regularly. Sometimes there is just a bit of dirt in the wrong place, or a screw is tightened incorrectly. First and foremost, however, you have to find out where the noise is coming from. It's best to do this with someone who listens to the bike when you sit or stand on it.

Cleaning and maintenance products stand ready to clean a mountain bike.
Cleaning and maintenance products stand ready to clean a mountain bike.

Dirt can be the cause of your bike cracking.

Dirt has accumulated between the frame and the installed bottom bracket. The dirt is being removed with a cloth.
Dirt has accumulated between the frame and the installed bottom bracket. The dirt is being removed with a cloth.

Annoying grinding sounds can often come from between two contact surfaces. Therefore: Clean and maintain your bike regularly!

A mechanic tightens the chainring on the crank with a torque wrench.
A mechanic tightens the chainring on the crank with a torque wrench.

Your bike creaks despite exemplary care? Check that the screws are correctly tightened.

Search for the Cause: What's Creaking?

You can easily isolate where the noise is coming from by listening to its rhythm and when it occurs. Here are a few key questions:

  • Does it creak in rhythm with the rotating wheels or the crankset?
  • Is the noise still detectable when you stop pedalling?
  • Does the noise occur when you sit on the saddle? Or maybe when you stand up?
  • Does it still creak when you pedal off the saddle?
  • Does it stop when you pedal hands-free?

 This way helps you determine where to look more closely: at the drivetrain (bottom bracket, crankset, pedals, chain, gears), at the cockpit (headset, handlebars, stem, fork) or at the saddle or seatpost.

Before you start tightening the hardware, you should first give your bike a thorough cleaning. This way you can have a better overview of any damage and have more fun assembling.

General Guidelines for the Workshop:

  • Only perform DIY maintenance on your bike if you are sure of what you’re doing!
  • Having the correct tools at hand is a prerequisite. Use a torque wrench for carbon components and all other parts that come with a torque specification (Nm)!
  • For low torques (up to 5 Nm) you should use thread locking fluid.
  • For higher torques, you should grease the hardware.
  • Since carbon parts are clamped with relatively low forces, we recommend using assembly or friction paste. Grease does not belong on the clamping surfaces here.
  • Look carefully at all the parts you disassemble! Cracks, dents or scratches in the wrong places can affect the fit and cause noise.

Pro-Tip:
Change only one parameter at a time – this helps you to stay organized and methodical.

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Step 1: Creaking at the Front of the Bike

Step 1: Creaking at the Front of the Bike

Creaking at the Handlebar Clamp in the Stem

If you have identified the cockpit as the cause, first check the clamp between the handlebars and stem. To do this, remove the handlebars, clean the contact points and reassemble everything. When tightening the clamp hardware, ensure that the stem plate is positioned evenly and that the specified torques are applied.

Creaking at the Handlebar Clamp in the Stem

If you have identified the cockpit as the cause, first check the clamp between the handlebars and stem. To do this, remove the handlebars, clean the contact points and reassemble everything. When tightening the clamp hardware, ensure that the stem plate is positioned evenly and that the specified torques are applied.

Creaking at the Steerer Clamp in the Stem

If the creaking didn’t originate at the handlebars, the stem on the steerer tube is another place to look. Loosen the Ahead cap and then the stem. If your bike is hanging in the work stand, you should be careful that the fork does not fall out downwards. You can secure it to the frame with a strap before removing the stem. Now clean the stem and any spacers that may have been installed and then reassemble everything. The specified torques must also be observed here.

Creaking at the Steerer Clamp in the Stem

If the creaking didn’t originate at the handlebars, the stem on the steerer tube is another place to look. Loosen the Ahead cap and then the stem. If your bike is hanging in the work stand, you should be careful that the fork does not fall out downwards. You can secure it to the frame with a strap before removing the stem. Now clean the stem and any spacers that may have been installed and then reassemble everything. The specified torques must also be observed here.

Creaking at the Steerer Tube or Headset

Another source of creaking noises can be dry, dirty, loose or too tightly pre-tensioned headset cups. To access the cups, first loosen the Ahead cap and the stem again and pull it off. Now you can remove the upper headset cup and carefully pull the fork downwards. With the fork removed, you can now have a better look at the upper and lower bearing cups of the headset: do they run silky-smooth or rather rough? If a headset with bearing cups is installed, these must be firmly seated. If the bearings are rough or the cups are loose, we recommend replacing the headset. Also check that the crown race is firmly seated on the steerer tube! Moisture and grime tend to accumulate here – make sure to use plenty of grease during assembly. If you install a (new) headset, use the appropriate tools so that the bearings and the frame are not damaged.

Creaking at the Steerer Tube or Headset

Another source of creaking noises can be dry, dirty, loose or too tightly pre-tensioned headset cups. To access the cups, first loosen the Ahead cap and the stem again and pull it off. Now you can remove the upper headset cup and carefully pull the fork downwards. With the fork removed, you can now have a better look at the upper and lower bearing cups of the headset: do they run silky-smooth or rather rough? If a headset with bearing cups is installed, these must be firmly seated. If the bearings are rough or the cups are loose, we recommend replacing the headset. Also check that the crown race is firmly seated on the steerer tube! Moisture and grime tend to accumulate here – make sure to use plenty of grease during assembly. If you install a (new) headset, use the appropriate tools so that the bearings and the frame are not damaged.

If you have cleaned everything and found no damage, you can reassemble the fork, headset and stem. When installing the stem, you have to readjust the bearing clearance of the headset. We'll show you how to do that here:

Special Case – Suspension Forks

If the creaking has still not disappeared after checking these parts, it is also possible that the steerer tube in the crown of your suspension fork is creaking. This should be professionally checked in any case. Please contact our service department or the fork’s manufacturer directly.

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Step 2: Creaking in the Middle of the Bike

Step 2: Creaking in the Middle of the Bike

If the noise occurs when moving the crank, the causes are often in the area of the saddle clamp or in the drivetrain. To determine if the noise is coming more from the bottom bracket or from the saddle, check if the noise occurs when sitting down and standing up. It could be caused by one of the clamps on the saddle or the seatpost. If it also creaks when pedalling while standing up, it is probably coming from the bottom bracket or the chainrings.

Creaking at the Seatpost Clamp

Checking the frame clamp on the seatpost is one of the easiest things to do. There are two possibilities here: either the noise is coming from between the clamp and frame, or between seatpost and frame. Dirt is often involved in both cases, so the magic formula also applies here: first clean and then reassemble with grease or assembly paste, depending on the material. If the seatpost has noticeable play in the frame despite a correct diameter or even slips in the frame by itself, it is best to use assembly paste. Stick with the specified torques when tightening the clamp!

Creaking at the Seatpost Clamp

Checking the frame clamp on the seatpost is one of the easiest things to do. There are two possibilities here: either the noise is coming from between the clamp and frame, or between seatpost and frame. Dirt is often involved in both cases, so the magic formula also applies here: first clean and then reassemble with grease or assembly paste, depending on the material. If the seatpost has noticeable play in the frame despite a correct diameter or even slips in the frame by itself, it is best to use assembly paste. Stick with the specified torques when tightening the clamp!

Creaking at the Saddle Clamp
The head of the

seatpost can also make cracking and creaking noises. Since this area on bikes without fenders is right in the mud or splash of the rear tyre, dirt is often the cause here. The best thing to do is to disassemble the entire saddle mount and clean everything thoroughly. You can lightly grease metal saddle rails before assembling. With carbon you should use assembly paste. Make sure to pay close attention to the necessary torque as well as tightening in the case of several screws or a cone clamp.

Creaking at the Saddle Clamp
The head of the

seatpost can also make cracking and creaking noises. Since this area on bikes without fenders is right in the mud or splash of the rear tyre, dirt is often the cause here. The best thing to do is to disassemble the entire saddle mount and clean everything thoroughly. You can lightly grease metal saddle rails before assembling. With carbon you should use assembly paste. Make sure to pay close attention to the necessary torque as well as tightening in the case of several screws or a cone clamp.

Creaking Pedals and Cleats

Pedals also get a lot of dirt and are exposed to the elements without protection. A lot of dirt accumulates here, and the thread is often wet, making it prone to creaking. Often it is enough to simply turn the pedals out of the crank, clean everything and re-grease the threads. Pay urgent attention to the direction of the thread: the left pedal has a left-hand thread. It is best to always use pedal washers.

Creaking Pedals and Cleats

Pedals also get a lot of dirt and are exposed to the elements without protection. A lot of dirt accumulates here, and the thread is often wet, making it prone to creaking. Often it is enough to simply turn the pedals out of the crank, clean everything and re-grease the threads. Pay urgent attention to the direction of the thread: the left pedal has a left-hand thread. It is best to always use pedal washers.

A second checkpoint is the pedal bearings. They not only bear your weight, but are also exposed to heavy loads, especially on mountain bikes, when you jump or crash. Just check the horizontal bearing play and test how the pedals turn. If there is a lot of play (1-2 millimetres of movement) or the pedals are difficult to turn, this is a sign of defective or worn pedal bearings. Now you have three options:

  1. If there is a case for warranty (such as a defect, e.g., heavy play or wobbling of the axle) within the guaranteed period, contact our service department.
  2. If the cause is wear (e.g., rough or sluggish running) and you have a pedal whose bearings are easy to replace, a repair is the best course of action. You can do this yourself or ask our customer service to do it for you.
  3. If neither works, you will need new pedals.

Our guide will help you determine which ones are the best for you.

With clipless pedals, creaking can come from the connection between shoe and the cleats or the clip-in mechanism. If the cleat does not sit properly on the shoe, it can move there. To fix this, you usually just have to tighten your cleats again. If the cleats are badly worn, they may no longer sit securely in the pedal – then they can grind and crunch or pop out of the pedal unintentionally. As a last resort, you should probably get new ones. Most mechanisms in the pedal also tolerate a little oil now and then.

With clipless pedals, creaking can come from the connection between shoe and the cleats or the clip-in mechanism. If the cleat does not sit properly on the shoe, it can move there. To fix this, you usually just have to tighten your cleats again. If the cleats are badly worn, they may no longer sit securely in the pedal – then they can grind and crunch or pop out of the pedal unintentionally. As a last resort, you should probably get new ones. Most mechanisms in the pedal also tolerate a little oil now and then.

Creaking Chainrings

When you pedal, you are putting an incredible amount of power into the chainrings. If the chainring bolts are not one hundred percent tightened, even a slight play can quickly cause creaking. The dirt from the front wheel does the rest. Here, too, it usually helps to remove the chainrings, clean them and reinstall everything. With direct mount chainrings and / or carbon cranks, the torque is decisive! A little grease in the places where metal meets metal often helps wonders too. For chainrings with a traditional four- or five-arm mount, it can be smart to use new chainring bolts. Newer versions often have hex or Torx sockets on both sides and are much easier to fit and remove.

Creaking Chainrings

When you pedal, you are putting an incredible amount of power into the chainrings. If the chainring bolts are not one hundred percent tightened, even a slight play can quickly cause creaking. The dirt from the front wheel does the rest. Here, too, it usually helps to remove the chainrings, clean them and reinstall everything. With direct mount chainrings and / or carbon cranks, the torque is decisive! A little grease in the places where metal meets metal often helps wonders too. For chainrings with a traditional four- or five-arm mount, it can be smart to use new chainring bolts. Newer versions often have hex or Torx sockets on both sides and are much easier to fit and remove.

Creaking Bottom Bracket

Bottom brackets tend to creak due to lack of lubrication, too much dirt or wear. Just remove the crank and check if the bearings still turn easily. If they’re running sluggish and rough, the noise could be coming from the bottom bracket. Another reason can be the bearing cups screwed or pressed into the frame – in this case it usually helps to reinstall them with plenty of grease.

Creaking Bottom Bracket

Bottom brackets tend to creak due to lack of lubrication, too much dirt or wear. Just remove the crank and check if the bearings still turn easily. If they’re running sluggish and rough, the noise could be coming from the bottom bracket. Another reason can be the bearing cups screwed or pressed into the frame – in this case it usually helps to reinstall them with plenty of grease.

Special Case for Press Fit Bearings: Even silky smooth-running press fit bearings can creak in their socket. Then you have to press them in again. You need special tools and to proceed carefully to avoid damaging the frame. This could be a job for your trusty local bike shop.

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Step 3: Creaking at the Rear of the Bike

Step 3: Creaking at the Rear of the Bike

Special Case for Full Suspension Bikes

Creaking in rear triangle suspension is often difficult to locate. An indication of the cause in the rear triangle is that the creaking only occurs when the suspension is compressed. So, hop on your bike and bounce the rear end! If you hear a noise, it is probably coming from your rear end. The prerequisite for this is, of course, that you have already ruled out the sources of creaking on the saddle and seatpost.

Proceed as follows and check after each of the five steps whether the creaking sound has disappeared:

  1. First check whether the shock itself has play. Does it move when you lift the wheel slightly and set it down? Are the air pressure / SAG or steel coil preload set correctly?
  2. Check that all hardware on shocks, rockers and joints are tightened.
  3. If this does not help, first remove the shock and check the bushings for play. These small parts tend to get a lot of wear and can be swapped out quickly.
  4. If the creaking is still occurring, disassemble the individual bearings of the rear triangle and check them for smooth running. Bearings that no longer run so well should be replaced with new bearings. To do this, measure the old bearings or ask the manufacturer which ones you need.
  5. When assembling, pay attention to torque, avoid dirt and do not be stingy with grease!

Noisy Cassettes

The cassette can also make noise when it’s not fitted properly. If the cassette is not installed positively and with the correct torque, it can come loose and creak on the freehub body. Often a little grease or assembly paste between the freehub and the cassette is enough. Also make sure that the thread of the lockring is free of dirt.

Noisy Cassettes

The cassette can also make noise when it’s not fitted properly. If the cassette is not installed positively and with the correct torque, it can come loose and creak on the freehub body. Often a little grease or assembly paste between the freehub and the cassette is enough. Also make sure that the thread of the lockring is free of dirt.

Creaking Spokes

If the spoke tension in the rear wheel is too low, the spokes can emit a sharp creaking noise. You hear this especially in the lighter gears on the big sprockets. Tighten the spokes accordingly or take the rear wheel to a workshop that has experience with this.

Creaking Spokes

If the spoke tension in the rear wheel is too low, the spokes can emit a sharp creaking noise. You hear this especially in the lighter gears on the big sprockets. Tighten the spokes accordingly or take the rear wheel to a workshop that has experience with this.

Axles and Hubs

The hub and its axle can also cause noise. First check whether the quick-release skewers, screw-in or thru-axles are tight. If the bike has play when the axle is fixed, the hub bearings are probably worn out and need to be replaced. Pay attention to the torques here as well; an overtightened thru-axle can severely distort the frame or fork.

Axles and Hubs

The hub and its axle can also cause noise. First check whether the quick-release skewers, screw-in or thru-axles are tight. If the bike has play when the axle is fixed, the hub bearings are probably worn out and need to be replaced. Pay attention to the torques here as well; an overtightened thru-axle can severely distort the frame or fork.

Final Tip: Thoroughly wipe away any excess grease! When you have put your bike back together after hopefully eliminating any creaking, clean of any excessive grease from the bearings and screws. This prevents unnecessary dirt build-up and prevents you from accidentally smearing grease on yourself.

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