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I know there are about a million questions on here about creaking while pedaling, but I haven't seen one that relates...apologies if I missed one. I bought a 2011 BMC Streetracer SR02 last year; shortly after I got it I removed the Shimano 105 it had previously, and replaced them with a mix of SRAM Rival and Red (Rival shifters and derailleurs, 2012 Red GXP crank). Since I got the bike last February, I've put about 6k miles on it (both the chain and cassette were replaced ~2 weeks ago).

A little over a month ago, I started noticing a creaking/clicking when pedaling, typically beginning when I was about 3 miles into a ride. Nothing was changed on the bike before it started. The creaking occurs about once per pedal revolution (around 6 o'clock on both sides) and stops when I get out of the saddle. It occurs regardless whether my hands are on the bars. I've worked on the bike myself and taken it to my LBS, but we're both running low on ideas.

  • All the chainring bolts were replaced.
  • BB was swapped out with a new one.
  • Red crankset was removed, regreased and re-installed.
  • Red crankset was swapped out for a non-creaky 105 crankset.
  • Pedals were swapped out.
  • Chain and cassette were replaced.
  • Saddle was swapped out.
  • Seatpost was cleaned/greased.
  • Seatpost was swapped out.
  • Wheelset was swapped out for a newer one.
  • Headset was removed, inspected and cleaned.
  • Bottle cage bolts tightened.
  • Front derailleur braze-on bolt checked/torqued.
  • Rear derailleur hanger screws checked/torqued.
  • Wheel skewers swapped out.
  • Replaced the headset cartridges.

And yet, the creaking continues. At this point, I feel like I'm pretty much out of ideas (short of calling a priest...). I'm almost positive it's coming from the BB area, but I also know the sound could be coming from anywhere in the bike, given all the tubes.

Is it the frame? How would I check to see if it's the frame, rather than one of the components? Any thing else I could be missing?

Update: I had a chance to play around with the creakiness when I rode last night (with different skewers in the wheels). It seems like the source of the issue is somewhere in the cockpit area. If I don't have my hands on the bars, the creaking is no different than when I have both hands on the bars. However, it seems that if I put one hand on the bars and shift my weight to that side, the creaking seems shift to that side as well. When I got back from the ride, I put a layer of grease on the part of the stem that attaches to the bars, and I'll check if that made a difference on a ride later today. I'm not sure that will be it, but that would make it easier.

Update: Finally fixed! Following a group ride last week, we looked over the bike in a last ditch effort to solve the creaking. Things seemed in order, but the mechanic greased the seatpost clamp and the bolt attaching the front brake to the frame. He also noticed that the stem bolts (where it attaches to the fork) were stripped. Following the greasing, I briefly rode the bike, with no change in creaking. The next day I replaced the stem with a newer one and went for a ride. The creaking persisted at the beginning of the ride, but disappeared partway through the ride after an extended climb out of the saddle. >170 miles later and the creaking hasn't returned. I'm not sure which of the last three solutions finally did it (greasing the seatpost clamp, the front brake bolt or the stem) or whether the grease just needed more time to filter in, but I'll take it.

Hopefully no one runs into this issue in the future, but if they do, I hope this saves them the trip down the rabbit hole.

  • You ride clipless? Consider the shoes. My shoes creak every now and then. Tightening the cleats eliminates the creak. – Carey Gregory Jun 10 '15 at 20:58
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    I was going to suggest - you've replaced almost every part on the bike except the frame - could it be a crack or bad weld flexing? Last thing to change is the rider - swap bikes with someone for a while and see if it still creaks. You ride alongside each other and listen to your own bike with someone else riding. – Criggie Oct 8 '15 at 20:54
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Creaking when only in the saddle - I would check the saddle? A drop of oil into the where the saddle rails fix to the seat can alleviate. But if you are sure it is not this - then perhaps try isolating the noise by using the bike on a static trainer and pedalling. If you remove the chain from engaging with the chainset - it would isolate the noise to the chainset / BB only.

  • I tried that already - both by oiling the saddle and by swapping out saddles entirely. That's a great idea to put it on the trainer and try to replicate the noise, while removing/swapping parts - I'll give that a try tonight. Thanks! – altomnr Jun 9 '15 at 16:38
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One thing I don't directly see mentioned that I have done is put a thin layer of grease on the crank spindle where it contacts the bearings. This cured the creaking issues that I had on a previous bike.

Not sure if you switched the skewers when you tried switching out the wheelset, but I have also heard of skewers causing weird creaks. The only other thing I have had problems with was fork/headset creaking but if you are convinced its coming from the BB it may not be worth looking at.

  • Yeah, I took out the crankset and re-greased the whole thing (including the spindle), plus I also replaced the entire crankset/BB with a Shimano 105 one to no effect. I have not replaced the headset, but I cleaned and re-greased it without effect. I was thinking it might be the fork, since it's half-carbon/half-aluminum, but then wouldn't it creak more when I got out of the saddle (climbing/sprinting)? I have not swapped skewers, but I will definitely give that a try. Thanks for the suggestion! – altomnr Jun 9 '15 at 16:54
  • Are you using carbon spacers with your headset? They can be a source of creaking. – itsthejash Jun 10 '15 at 17:22
  • Nope - I don't have any spacers on this bike; just crown-stem-cap. – altomnr Jun 10 '15 at 17:43
  • I'd pull it all apart and put a thin layer of grease on all the contact points in the headset. . .bearing to frame/race, stem, and cap. – itsthejash Jun 11 '15 at 13:18
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Wow this sounds like a beast.

Since it seems like you've pretty much overhauled or replaced everything on the bike, I would guess that it's one of these two things:

Your frame might be developing a crack. I would inspect the BB area for a hairline crack. And I would try pulling (with my hands) on the cranks to try to replicate the sound in a controlled environment.

It could have something to do with your clothing. Shoes, maybe? Just a crazy guess, 'cause it sounds like you've tried everything else.

  • Yeah...I've been chasing this around for the last month! I was able to replicate the creaking at home by pushing down on the crank arm (either one), but the creaking could still be coming from the head tube area, as that's under an increased load during the power phase of the pedal stroke as well. Would a hairline crack be visible through the paint? – altomnr Jun 10 '15 at 18:18
  • I'm not sure if a hairline crack could hide under the paint... I guess you should assume that it could. At this point I would remove everything but the cranks from the frame, and try pushing on the cranks again. You know that the problem isn't the cranks or BB, because you've swapped them out. If it still creaks, the culprit has to be the frame. – BSO rider Jun 11 '15 at 0:26
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Decided to answer my own question (with the update), since none of the previous answers specifically addressed the solution (through no fault of their own).

Following a group ride last week, we looked over the bike in a last ditch effort to solve the creaking. Things seemed in order, but the mechanic greased the seatpost clamp and the bolt attaching the front brake to the frame. He also noticed that the stem bolts (where it attaches to the fork) were stripped. Following the greasing, I briefly rode the bike, with no change in creaking. The next day I replaced the stem with a newer one and went for a ride. The creaking persisted at the beginning of the ride, but disappeared partway through the ride after an extended climb out of the saddle. >170 miles later and the creaking hasn't returned. I'm not sure which of the last three solutions finally did it (greasing the seatpost clamp, the front brake bolt or the stem) or whether the grease just needed more time to filter in, but I'll take it.

Hopefully no one runs into this issue in the future, but if they do, I hope this answer saves them the trip down the rabbit hole.

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