How to Fix Bike Creaks & Noises from A Bottom Bracket

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.

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Thumbnail for A Blog Post how To Fix Bike Creaks & Noises from A Bottom Bracket

What is a bottom bracket?

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.

There are two main bicycle bottom brackets in today’s market; threaded and press-fit BBs. Here are some threaded bottom brackets available online.

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.

How do you find a creaking bottom bracket without tools?

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.

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 do you fix a creaking bottom bracket?

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

  1. 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.

  2. Clean the threads

    Clean the threads on the frame and bottom bracket well, then re-grease them.

  3. 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.

What if you have a press-fit bottom bracket

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.

A video called “How To Fix A Creaking Bottom Bracket Or Cranks” from the Global Cycling Network YouTube Channel.
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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.

Conclusion

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:

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.

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

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Written by Bradley Knight, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Bradley, and I've been riding fixed for years. I love all the joy and pain that comes with this unique style of cycling and the passionate community that drives it. If you love fixed-gear bikes, this is the place for you.

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Edited by Jordan May, Staff Editor

Jordan is a seasoned editor with over seven years of experience. His passion for writing and storytelling started when he was a teenager, spending countless hours reading books and creating his own stories.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Brooklyn Fixed Gear is your source for fixie, single-single-speed & track bike content. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions to regarding fixed-gear cycling.

What is a fixed-gear bike, and how is it different from a regular bike?

A fixed-gear bike, also known as a fixie, is a type of bike that has a fixed rear wheel, which means that the pedals are directly connected to the rear wheel. Unlike a regular bike, a fixed-gear bike has no freewheel, so you cannot coast or stop pedaling while riding. This means that you must constantly pedal while riding a fixed-gear bike, and you can slow down or stop the bike by resisting the pedals with your legs.

Why don't fixed-gear bikes have brakes

Fixed-gear bicycles, or "fixies," often do not have brakes due to their simplicity and minimalism, which allows riders to control speed through pedaling resistance. This brakeless design reduces the bike's weight, making it more maneuverable while connecting riders to the tradition and culture of track cycling. However, riding a fixed-gear bicycle without brakes can be dangerous, particularly in urban settings with traffic and unpredictable conditions, so many places require bicycles to have at least one functioning brake by law. It's a good idea to have at least a front brake installed for safety if you're considering riding a fixed-gear bike.

What are the benefits of riding a fixed-gear bike?

Some people prefer fixed-gear bikes because they are simpler and require less maintenance than bikes with multiple gears. Fixed-gear bikes also provide a more direct connection between the rider and the bike, which can make for a more responsive and enjoyable riding experience. Additionally, riding a fixed-gear bike can help improve your leg strength and pedal stroke.

Are fixed-gear bikes legal?

Fixed-gear bikes, also known as "fixies," are generally legal in most countries. However, local laws and regulations may require bicycles to have certain safety features, such as brakes, reflectors, or lights. For fixed-gear bikes, some jurisdictions require at least one functioning brake, typically a front brake, to be considered road-legal. It's essential to check the specific laws and regulations in your area to ensure your fixed-gear bike complies with local requirements. Keep in mind that riding without brakes or necessary safety features can be dangerous, and it's always a good idea to prioritize safety when cycling in any environment.