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I have an awesome Ridley Noah carbon frame, fitted with Athena Campag 11sp groupo.

Recently it's been making a lot of creaky and "pop" noises as I ride up hills (putting more force on the crank arms).

I turned the bike upside down one day and noticed the same "pop" or "click" sound when I tried to jiggle the crank arms a little.

Could it be the UT bolt inside the hollow crank centre is loose?

I could not find any cracks or hairline cracks on the frame itself (but I could need an xray to see).

Any suggestions appreciated.

Thanks

  • Do you hear the clank just by pressing the crank with both brakes engaged? – Rilakkuma Mar 4 '15 at 5:39
  • I was once told it's a "feature" in UT. The shop tightened the bottom bracket and the noise disappeared, only to come back after a while (though not as loud anymore). Go figure. – mkataja Mar 4 '15 at 11:24
  • No. The noise happens when ever I change to the start of the top 3 rear cassette sprockets (the last three biggest ones) and I put load on the pedals as I pedal up hills around 12deg elevations. – Fandango68 Mar 5 '15 at 23:33
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This is a big question.

Clicks and creaks can be related to a good many things, sometimes the crankset and / or the BB, sometimes not.

Do the simple stuff first.

Check:

  • The cassette lockring is properly tight - it does need to be at the correct torque, usually marked on the lockring iteself, typically 40 nm.
  • If it's a Campag wheel, that the end pieces in the axle are tight ... two 5 mm allen keys, one in each end, locked clockwise relative to each other.
  • The rear QR is tight - if it's some super-lightweight, titanium job, replace it with something less fragile from a reputable maker like Campagnolo or Shimano
  • Check the chainring bolts are correctly torqued. If Campag they use a T25 Torx key and should be at 8 - 10 nm.
  • Ensure that the pedal threads are greased and that the pedals are tightened to around 16 nm in the cranks.

Once you have looked at these areas, then the BB needs a look. First question - is it press-fit or screw-in type cups? From here on in, you are mostly looking at shop processes using the correct tools. Don't try work-arounds, they are very variable in their results.

First, drop the cranks off.

Remove the BB cups / press fit adaptors.

Measure the BB shell and check it is tolerance for width and if press fit, diameter.

If it's screw in, check that any movement you might have felt or seen is not a breakdown of the bond between the threaded BB insert and the frame itself - this can and does happen and it is not easily repairable in most cases.

If the BB insert all looks tight and immobile, chase the threads. If possible without touching the carbon, face the BB shell so that the cups are definitely coming up against flat, square surfaces.

Re-fit the cups with grease, Loctite 247 or copperslip on the threads and tighten to between 16 & 24 nm. Loctite requires lower tighteneing torques.

Reassemble the UT bearings into the cups with plenty of grease in the cup itself. Ensure the clip on the RH cup is fitted. Ensure the wavy washer is in place. Ensure that the central bolt is locked to between 42 & 60 nm.

If press bit BB, is it true BB30 or BB30 PF or some other variation?

If it's true BB30, remove the adaptors, clean and degrease everything, and refit the adaptors with Loctite 641. Reassemble the bearings and cranks as if with screw-in cups (see above) once the Loctite is dry (normally 24h) and see if it creaks. If the cups were the issue, this will fix it. Campagnolo have always recommended Loctite on their press fit cups but the recommendation has been largely ignored.

If it's BB30 PF or some variation on the same, the adaptors will be pressing into a carbon base not alloy, so they again need to be taken out, everything degreased a suitable activator (Loctite 7649) is applied to the carbon and the adaptors are then refitted with Loctite 641. Reassemble the bearings and cranks as if with screw-in cups (see above) once the Loctite is dry (normally 24h) and see if it creaks. If the cups were the issue, this will fix it.

There are a vanishingly-small number of riders for whom UT is just not the right system - some are so untidy in their pedalling style that they can side-load the whole assembly and induce an odd click or creak, but for 99.999% of users, proper and careful assembly and taking the steps outlined above will cure any and all noise.

HTH!

Graeme

Head Technician

Velotech Cycling Ltd, Campagnolo Main UK Technical and Service Centre.

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  • Question @Graeme, which direction do I need to turn the crank lock bolt to dismantle the crankset? It's Athena Campag 11sp black carbon Ultra Torque. – Fandango68 Mar 16 '15 at 2:23
  • All fixed. The bearings were the only thing that needed regreasing and reset tighter onto the seal rings. Also I suspect the UT cranks were not tightened to specific torque requirements and came slight loose over time causing one of the teeth to pop in and out so to speak. I re-tightened the lot properly and no more sounds! Thank you – Fandango68 Apr 23 '15 at 1:27
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In the past I have experienced a similar 'clicky' / 'creaky' sound when pushing for more torque on the pedals. I didn't have a campagnolo bottom bracket / chainset but I do have a square spindle bb.

For me I needed to tighten two things:

  1. Tighten the crank onto the bottom bracket spindle. Sometimes the crank can become loose, especially if recently fitted. This may be more frequent with the square spindle types as well. Guide / more explanation

  2. Tighten the bolts that hold the chain wheel onto the crank. This may be the culprit if the 'clicks' are quite a high frequency sound. These don't need to be super tight, but they can make noises if they are loose.

Other times, I have had noises like this from my spindle being slightly dented or even my crank being slightly bent (not sitting on the spindle correctly). These would then have to be replaced.

Creaking sounds that happen at a consistent time (the same place on each pedal rotation) sounds more like a crank issue.

Its definitely worth trying these kinds of solutions before going for anything more expensive.

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  • Thank you for your suggestions. I will try them out after work today and let you know. I didn't think of the chain ring bolts, but yes that could be it too. – Fandango68 Mar 5 '15 at 23:32
  • No problem, and do! I am curious as to what the problem is. – dafyddPrys Mar 6 '15 at 9:33

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