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My bike suddenly started creaking and squeaking very loud, and moreso the more pressure I put on the pedals. Then the pedals got stickier and harder to turn until I couldn't turn them at all. This was all in the space of 5 minutes. Cleaned the chain as it was a bit gunky, and I can turn the pedals with the bike upside down, but it's quite hard work. The chain's not overly tense anywhere as far as I can tell. The wheels turn fine.

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  • So you can turn the crank and drivetrain but the pedals themselves aren't rotating freely? – ebrohman Jan 10 '16 at 14:59
  • By pedals I meant cranks...just picking up the terminology! The pedals spin fine. I cleaned it which has helped get things moving again but it still feels like there's unusual resistance – Becky Jan 10 '16 at 15:15
  • Most likely a bearing in the crank fractured. Pull the crank and inspect. – paparazzo Jan 10 '16 at 15:30
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    There's various things you can do to try to diagnose the problem, for example taking the chain off the ring, then seeing whether the cranks turn freely. But it sounds like you don't know a lot about bikes....would you not be better just taking it to a repair shop? – PeteH Jan 10 '16 at 16:43
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    Regardless of the cause, the symptoms you describe indicate that there's something seriously wrong, and it would be unwise to attempt to ride the bike until it's fixed. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 10 '16 at 19:44
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PeteH has implied it, but sounds like something has gone drastically wrong in a bearing somewhere. I'd suggest you remove the chain from the front chainring and try to spin the pedal crank. It should turn easily, with no side-to-side slop.

If not, check the rear wheel for the same, it should not feel gritty or notchy, and should not have sideways movement.

Depends on your mechanical inclination if you want to try fixing this, or give it to a LBS (local bike shop). Related: I'm reasonably competent at bike stuff, but I got them to reinstall my front deraileur properly because after three goes I still couldn't get it right. Took the shop an hour and cost me $52, which was a good trade-off IMO.

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It could however be something as simple as the axle has slipped in the rear dropout and one side of the tire is rubbing against the chainstay. Might want to check this first before you embarrass yourself in front of your LBS.

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