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I have a DT Swiss ARC 1400 Dicut 63 rear wheel. It has a Shimano rear derailleur 11 speed LIGHT (ASL11) freehub body and I have an Ultegra 11-28 11-speed cassette. After a few weeks it started to creak under power. Very noticeable uphill. I applied Park Tool Polylube 1000 lubricant to the freehub body and the noise stopped. However, it returns after every 200 miles or so. I'm getting pretty sick of removing the cassette and reapplying the grease every week or so. I ride in good conditions. No rain.

Is Polylube 1000 the best choice? Is there another technique to solving this issue that lasts more than 200 miles?

3 Answers 3

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There should be no significant movement between the hub body and the cassette. Because of that, lubricant choice should not make any difference. The very fact that applying lubricant temporarily makes the noise go away means that there is too much relative movement between parts which are not supposed to move. Not only it sounds annoying, it may well shorten life of the freehub body by gouging its splines.

The only real use a lubricant should have there is to prevent corrosion. What I can suggest:

  1. Make sure you tighten the cassette to a torque specified by the manufacturer. It is typically a high value (40 Newton-meter or so), and it really makes difference.
  2. Check tolerances of the hub's and the cassette's splines. Are splines wide/high enough to fully engage with their counterparts? It might not be easy to do without high-precision tools. But if you have a component with poor interface tolerances, it will be hard to alleviate this without swapping the components. You might be able to compensate the gap between them by filling it with thin metallic shims (people have used sewing nails, paper clips etc.), but there are no guarantees that it will be possible or even work.
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I have chased these noise gremlins (when loaded up while climbing) on an 11-28 Ultegra 11-speed cassette a number of times. Correctly torqued cassette lockring, clean surfaces, clean, fresh, and properly lubed chain, etc. did not cause the noise to cease. It became more noticeable when I went to a 50mm deep carbon wheel from a shallower aluminum one (the carbon wheel seemed to "broadcast" the creak a bit more). Eventually I noticed that the creaking was very pronounced on the three largest cogs (28-25-23), and became non-existent when shifting to the 21. Since the 28-25-23 cogs share a common carrier in the cassette, it became clear that the noise was somehow related to that. I added a drop of penetrating chain lube (T-9 in this case) to the ten rivets that hold these three cogs to the carrier and the creaking noise mostly went away. It returns after 100-200 miles, but at least it confirmed that the rivets are getting just loose enough that under load they creak, a problem that has developed over time (7,500 miles) as it was quiet when it was new. The drops of lube arrests the problem temporarily.

If your issue is the same, it can be verified in that the creaking mostly or completely goes away when shifting from the 23 to the 21 cog, and can also be temporarily remedied by a small bit of lube applied to the ten rivets holding the 28-25-23 cogs to the carrier. This can be done carefully with the bike laying on the drivetrain side, or with the wheel removed. It also assumes that you do not have a plastic spoke guard preventing direct access to the rivets.

If this proves to be the cause of the noise, the only long term remedy is to replace the cassette. Maybe another longer-lasting product could be applied (loctite? that would wick into the rivets) but I have yet to try that.

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This is all very interesting. I recently replaced a freehub on an older Neuvation wheel. It creaks under pressure and I did notice a slight throbbing recently. Seems like my issue may be related to the pawls not being long/tall enough to fully engage with the slots in the hub. Could/probably is a machining issue on the pawls.

When it first started, I took it apart to see if I could tell what the issue was. Everything was clean, so I put it back together hoping for the best. It doesn't seem to be the end of the world and I use this wheel mostly for commuting, but the unnatural sound is super annoying.

I just discovered that you can buy pawls/C-ring spring sets for ~$10: https://www.google.com/search?q=shimano+freehub+pawls&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS979US979&oq=shimano+freehub+pawl&aqs=chrome.0.0i20i263i512j69i57j0i512j0i22i30j0i390l4.6696j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

This could be the way to go!

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  • Hi, welcome to bicycles. For now this is just a post about your hypothesis; please come back and update this with your finding so it's clear if this is or is not a solution to the question.
    – DavidW
    Jun 20, 2022 at 16:24

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