6

My steel BSO has developed a creaking sound when I apply the front brake. I only hear it when I am beginning to brake, when there's not a lot of pressure being generated. I can recreate this sound by pushing the front wheel back with my hand, imitating braking pressure.

All the sound happens while I'm going from no braking to very light braking. Going from very light braking to very hard braking makes no noise.

I'm pretty sure the sound is either coming from the frame's head tube or the fork tube. I have inspected the frame and fork crown. No visible cracks.

I replaced my very weak front brake recently, and I have been enjoying doing stoppies and stuff. Could this have started a crack somewhere? And if so, where is it most likely to be?

Edit:

After following some of the advice you guys offered, I have further narrowed it down.

I do not have a suspension fork. My headset is not loose. The wheel is not the source of the creak.

I have found that the fork tube is also not the source of the creak, based on the way the sound behaves when the bars are turned one way or the other.

I am almost certain the noise is coming from the frame.

Follow Up:

I got it welded, and I haven't had problems since.

  • 1
    I would be very surprised (as would you, I guess) if you have somehow broken the frame. There are many ways that brakes (and wheels) can make noise, in addition to noises from the headset, handlebars, and other pieces of the bike in that general area. And if you have a front shock then that would be a likely source of noise. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 12 '16 at 22:41
  • 3
    Is your headset loose? – Batman Jun 12 '16 at 23:52
  • Is it a threadded or threadless headset? – Criggie Jun 13 '16 at 1:34
  • 1
    (If there's a front shock then my money is on that.) – Daniel R Hicks Jun 13 '16 at 2:04
  • @Criggie It's threaded – BSO rider Jun 13 '16 at 19:35
7

You need to isolate this noise to identify the cause.

Its great that you can duplicate the noise without having to ride. Try these suggestions to help narrow down the cause.

  1. squeeze the rear of the front wheel and the downtube together with your hand. This will replicate some of the stopping forces on your headset.

We know the brakes show the problem without being the cause.

  1. take the front wheel off and push/pull the fork tines/legs back towards the downtube. You might prefer to use some light rope in the dropouts and pull the ends back towards the bottom bracket.

This removes the wheel as a possible source. Also eliminates the brakes and brake mount.

  1. hold the top tube between your thighs, the down tube between your calf muscles. Hold the tops of your bars and push away from you. This duplicates the previous test but from the other side of the headset.

You should not hear any clicks or clunks, and you should not feel any movement.

  1. finally wrap an ungloved hand around the top of the headset where the steerer goes into the frame. You should not feel any motion between the steerer and the frame, other than rotation of the steering.

The fix will likely involve removing your stem and handlebars, and cleaning/regreasing the ball bearings in your headset. Then adjusting them to be Just Right. At the moment I think they're too loose.

Hopefully you've caught this problem before the bearing races have been damaged.

2

My frame is cracked. There's a small crack that's forming on the bottom of the down tube, about half an inch away from the head tube weld.

I noticed it because the paint on that spot came off (due to flexing I suppose).

The noises are becoming more pronounced. I guess I'll try to get it welded, and if that doesn't work I'll just replace the frame.

  • Happened to me too, in that same place... It's where the tube joins the lugs, and it seems to be common, seen it in other bikes. Take a look at the questions around here about taking care of a steel frame – gaurwraith Sep 19 '16 at 17:28

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