Check out the Best Fixed-Gear Bikes of 2022.

How to Fix a Creaking Bottom Bracket (Tips That You Can Follow)

In this article, you will learn what a bottom bracket is and how to repair a creaking bottom bracket so you can keep your bike operating smoothly.

If this post helps you, please share it!

A creaking bottom bracket is a common issue many cyclists face. A bottom bracket is a vital component of a bicycle. They can become loose and creak as they age. But how can you repair a squeaking bottom bracket the right way?

In this article, you will learn what a bottom bracket is, why it cracks, 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 of titanium frames.

Bicycle bottom bracket and crank. Source: adobe stock
Bicycle bottom bracket and crank. Source: Adobe Stock

What is a bottom bracket?

The bottom bracket 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. Your bike’s transmission would be unable to rotate without a bottom bracket.

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.

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 maintain or replace some bearings.

How do you find a creaking bottom bracket without tools?

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.

Now, listen to the bike to see if you can pinpoint the source of the squeak. It’s challenging to be specific here because your ears are located above the bike and roughly in the center.

Image of a red bike with a man holding it source: karolina grabowska pexels
Image of a red bike with a man holding it. Source: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

How to you fix a creaking bottom bracket

Below are tips to repair or fix a creaking bottom bracket.

Use a lock ring tool to loosen the bottom bracket. Turn the adjustable cup clockwise with a pin spanner until there is no more play but no binding in the bearings. Tighten the lock ring to secure the adjustment. Replace the bearings if the creaking persists. Inspect the race, which houses the ball bearings, for corrosion or other problems. If you locate any, you’ll need a new bottom bracket.

Cartridge and External Bearing Bottom Brackets

Use a sealed cartridge bottom bracket tool or an external bearing bottom bracket tool to remove this bracket. Clean the threads on the frame and bottom bracket well, then re-grease them. Use Teflon tape on the threads to stop obstinate cartridge bottom bracket squeaks. Reinstall with a drop of green Loctite on the threads. Finish Line Ti-Prep Anti-Seize Assembly Lubricant should be used on the threads of titanium frames.

Press Fit Bottom Brackets

Bottom brackets with a press fit are more difficult to service. First, you’ll need the proper removal tool, saving you around $40. 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, such as 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. Nobody likes changing frames due to mysterious creaks, so expect a lot of inquiries when you make that call.

Keep track of all your actions to reduce creaks, and don’t forget to be friendly. The person on the other end of the phone is not at fault, and treating a warranty representative with dignity is usually your best shot at resolving your problems.

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.

A 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. Besides getting something that matches the rest of the parts, you’ll also know you’re hammering on brand-new crankarms.

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?

To a certain extent, 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. There are two main bicycle bottom brackets in today’s market: threaded and press-fit BBs.

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.

Conclusion

Bottom brackets are one of the most essential parts of your bicycle. You must fix any creaking issues with professional help.

When shopping for a new bottom bracket, make sure it is made of the best quality material and designed according to international standards. 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 cracking noise, and how to fix a creaking bottom bracket. Here are some key takeaways:

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.
  • Cleaning and lubricating your chain is usually an excellent place to start with any weird noise.
  • There are steps you can follow to repair or fix a creaking bottom bracket.
  • 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.

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 put.

Helpful resources

Simple Ways to Measure a Bottom Bracket: 11 Steps
Articles about Fixed Gear and single-speed Cycling and Equipment 
Fixed-gear bicycle – Wikipedia

Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

Leave a Comment