A bottom bracket is a vital component of a bicycle. But they can become loose and creak as they age. So how can you repair a squeaking bottom bracket?
In this article, you will learn what a bottom bracket is, why it can make noise, and how to repair a creaking bottom bracket so you can keep your bike operating smoothly.
To reduce bottom bracket creaking, clean the threads on the frame and bottom bracket thoroughly, then re-grease them. Teflon tape on the threads can help with stubborn cartridge bottom bracket squeaks. Then, reinstall with a drop of green Loctite on the threads. Finally, use a lubricant on the threads.
The bottom bracket (sometimes called the BB) is a bicycle component that connects the crankset to the frame, allowing the crankset to rotate independently of the frame.
The bottom bracket is generally threaded but can also be pushed into the bottom bracket shell of a frame – the sleeve that links the tubes to the frame’s front triangle.
Bottom brackets require bearings to allow rotation and are typically considered service items. Some can be fixed or rebuilt. However, most modern designs are designed to be replaced rather than repaired.
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
Why does my bike make a creaking noise when I pedal?
That squeaking as you cycle could indicate that your bike has a dry chain or bearings. Cleaning and lubricating your chain is an excellent place to start with any strange noise, but if that doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to replace some bearings or the whole unit.
The first thing you have to do is identify if the noise is coming from your bottom bracket. This is going to be a process of elimination. You’ll have to listen to different parts on your bike to see if you can replicate the noise and isolate it.
Sit on the bike’s top tube, squeeze the front brake, and rock it back and forth. You might be able to make the front brake caliper or headset creak.
Bounce on the saddle to determine whether it creaks, suggesting a problem with the saddle, seat post, wheels, or suspension parts.
Next, grab the front and rear wheels at the top and rock the wheel from left to right while gripping the saddle with your other hand.
Finally, listen to the bike to see if you can pinpoint the source of the squeak.
Below are tips to repair or fix a creaking bottom bracket.
Remove your bottom bracket
The first step is to remove the bottom bracket. You can do this with a set of tools or a bottom bracket wrench. Here’s a great post from park tools on how to remove a bottom bracket.
Clean the threads
Clean the threads on the frame and bottom bracket well, then re-grease them.
Use some Teflon tape
Use Teflon tape on the threads to stop obstinate cartridge bottom bracket squeaks. Then, reinstall with a drop of green Loctite on the threads.
Bottom brackets with a press fit are more difficult to service. First, you’ll need the proper removal tool. Then you’ll need a proper bearing press tool, which can cost anywhere from $80 to $240. Given how rarely you’ll need to work on your bottom bracket, you might be better off bringing your bike to your local bike shop.
Finally, because press-fit bottom brackets aren’t meant to be reused after removal, you’ll need to get a new one. Before fitting it, you’ll also need to use a press-fit retention compound like the one from Park Tool.
If everything else fails, look at the bottom bracket region again. Inside, check to determine if the bottom bracket shell is within specification and not ovalized. Do you see an aluminum inlay in your carbon frame? The two’s link may have been severed. If this is the case, you may be required to return the frame to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.
If you want even more tips, watch this video called “How To Fix A Creaking Bottom Bracket Or Cranks” from the Global Cycling Network YouTube Channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about fixing a creaking bottom bracket.
Is the bottom bracket worth upgrading?
Usually, if both chainrings and the bottom bracket are worn out, you might as well upgrade to the new setup rather than buy all the parts for your old one.
What happens if the bottom bracket is loose?
The most common symptom of a loose or worn bottom bracket is rhythmic creaking with each bike. This is because the crank-and-spindle interface comprises eight splines (ridges that keep the spindle in place), creating more surface area for a better fit. In addition, the bearings tend to be better sealed and last longer.
Can I use any bottom bracket?
The bottom bracket you buy is up to what kind of frame you have. Certain frame materials and drivetrain options only support one type of bottom bracket.
What are bottom bracket spacers for?
Bottom bracket spacers adjust the spindle position to add extra clearance or fine-tune the chain line. For example, if your inner chainring is too close to the chainstay, you can add spacers to move the crank outward just a bit. They are great if you want a perfect chain line on a fixed-gear bike.
What is the most common type of bottom bracket?
There are two main bicycle bottom brackets in today’s market: threaded and press-fit BBs.
Bottom brackets are one of the essential parts of your bicycle. When shopping for a new bottom bracket, ensure it is of the best quality materials. The bottom bracket should also fit your bike without causing any noise or additional friction when pedaling.
If you have tried to fix the creaking issue but failed, we recommend getting help from a professional mechanic first. They will be able to spot any hidden issues and offer solutions accordingly!
This article covered a bottom bracket, why it makes a creaking noise, and how to fix a creaking bottom bracket. Here are some key takeaways:
- The bottom bracket is a bicycle component that connects a bicycle’s crankset to its frame.
- Bottom brackets are grease-filled pivots in your bike’s frame, connecting it to its pedals.
- Your bike might also creak under load or when you’re pedaling hard.
- A worn headset can creak and pop any time it is adjusted, such as when riding in the aero position.
- The crank arm of the bicycle is the main and most important part that connects to the pedal.
- There are steps you can follow to repair or fix a creaking bottom bracket.
- Cleaning and lubricating your chain and the bottom bracket is usually an excellent place to start with any weird noise.
So did we cover everything you wanted to know? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on maintaining a fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.