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A few days ago I began hearing a clicking noise coming from the crankset and I can also sense a slight hitch when the right crank is at its upmost position just when it's about to go down.

The interesting thing is that it only happens when pedaling. When i have the bike on the stand I cannot reproduce this no matter how hard I pull and bend the cranks in whatever direction.

I have already taken the cranks off and on again and re-tightened them but without any change. I am afraid that it could be the bottom bracket itself. Unfortunately I don't have the tools to tighten it or take it off.

I have already checked this page, but could only so far to get the cranks checked: http://sheldonbrown.com/creaks.html#bottom

The bottom bracket is a Truvativ model.

The chainring is a Thimano model and has only one chainring (nexus hub shift in the back).

Is there anything else I could do or check for?

edit: I think I've tracked it down to be the bottom bracket. If I have the cranks at a certain position and bend them inwards, the clicking is quite noticeable even when not pedaling.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've had a similar clicking experience. Not really varying under different load, nor at a certain position of crank arms. Everyone I asked said to me it was the ball bearings in the bottom bracket. I pulled the BB out, spinned it in my hands, heard all sort of creaking sounds coming out of it - as if it was full of sand. Bought the new one, installed it: et voilà, no clicking.

Bottom bracket was two years old with about 4000 km on it (FSA if I'm not mistaken).

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There are multiple components that can contribute to a clicking or grinding sound in your drive train in addition to the bottom bracket, including the chain, the pedals, the derailleur and the rear hub. That said, the symptoms you describe seem to indicate a problem with the pedal bearings or the bottom bracket.

Here are my steps for troubleshooting the bottom bracket:

  1. Pull your cranks laterally. Do they move?
  2. Remove the chain from the chainrings and give your cranks a good spin; listen for any unusual grinding noise or little clicks.
  3. Hold the down tube or seat tube while spinning the crank and see if you can feel grinding or vibration through the frame.

Any of those indicate that you need to service or replace your bottom bracket. That is not a particularly hard task, and if you have been removing or tightening the cranks you likely only need one or two special tools that you may not have. Replacing or repairing bottom brackets is a common task, so it may be worth it to you to pick those tools up. Here are some bottom bracket service instructions:

Cartridge Type Bottom Bracket Service

Cup and Code Bottom Bracket Service

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The clicking could be coming from where the pedal joins the crank-arm (with the noise sounding as pressure is placed on the pedal at the top of the stroke). I've had this before, tightened the pedal slightly and no more clicking.

Similarly, I was never able to generate the correct forces to make it click unless I was on the bike riding

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thanks, ill try that, though it feels like the hitch is rather coming from the area of the bottom bracket rather than the pedal. –  clamp Jun 18 at 13:06
    
I thought the same the first time something like this happened to me... Before I started doing my own servicing I even paid to have the BB replaced to try to fix my noise! –  Stamfordone Jun 18 at 13:08
    
It may not be right for you, but if someone searches it will be one potential solution, let me know how you get on! –  Stamfordone Jun 18 at 13:09
    
@clamp Because metal transfers energy really well, it wouldn't be surprising that it felt like it was coming from one place but was actually coming from another. In my experience, a rhythmic click that you can feel is usually from the pedals. It could also be the pedal spindle itself rather than the bolt that attaches to the crank arm. Check to see if the pedal wiggles at all. If it does, the spindle is your culprit. –  jimirings Jun 18 at 13:10
    
ok, i checked the pedals, but they are tight! but i could infact isolate it to the bottom bracket. see my edit. –  clamp Jun 19 at 9:32

The clicking, only under load and always at the same point of the stroke, can be due to:

  1. A bad pedal. I've had this a couple of times.
  2. The crank arm slipping on the crank. Generally if you've been riding it this way for more than 100 miles or so the crank arm (and possibly the crank) will have been permanently damaged, but tightening the fixing bolt may work, and I've always wondered if one couldn't use a shim (cut from a pop can) to "save" a worn arm in this situation.
  3. The BB cartridge is shifting inside the housing, because the cups are not tight enough. This problem is annoying but probably not a structural issue, though eventually the cups could wear to the point that it gets worse.
  4. A loose chainring.
  5. Something somewhere else on the bike that simply clicks as the frame flexes.
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