In the last few weeks a creaking sound has developed somewhere in the stem/stem extender/ steerer tube assembly. I noticed it when going over bumps, but only when my hands are on the handlebar. Riding hands free there is no creak. I managed to recreate the sound while stopped by gripping the handlebar and frame and pulling up and down on the handlebar. I suspect it is coming from the stem extension (Delta brand). I loosened the stem extension bolts, twisted it a few times then retightened the bolts. The sound was reduced but not gone. I don't have a torque wrench yet so I was hesitant to reef on the bolts too much. I did notice some friction/squeaking while tightening the bolts and am wondering if they should be greased.

Looking for advice to solve this problem. This is a recent problem, the handlebar/extender setup has been like this for years without issue. Any info would be appreciated. enter image description here

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    Welcome to the site - this is a well written and illustrated question, and that helps a lot. Aside - why does your bike need this quantity of extra height here ? I'm wondering if the bike is far too small, or is it a medical need ?
    – Criggie
    Jul 15, 2023 at 10:38
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    I don't like being super hunched over I find it very uncomfortable. This change made me like the bike again. Jul 15, 2023 at 14:23
  • There's no need to be "super hunched over" with a normally set up hybrid bike. This combination of extremely high rise and fairly long stem is definitely taking it too far to the other extreme, and looks just scary. If you find that comfortable it's a tell-tale that you should be riding a larger bike. Jul 15, 2023 at 23:40

2 Answers 2


Take apart. Clean all contact surfaces (inner/outer) until perfectly clean. Wipe with alcohol.

Clean and regrease all bolts. Reassemble.

(Optionally) Stop by your local bike shop and ask for a torque wrench to tighten the bolts.

Repeat the steps above as needed. Expect it to start creaking again in a few months. There's a lot of force going thru the extender.

  • Thanks for that. The only part I'm hesitant about is retightening the headset I'm worried about not getting the tension right as that isn't a set amount of torque but based on objective feel when turning the forks, correct? Jul 15, 2023 at 14:26
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    Can't tell you for sure. Your headset looks modern so I would guess its threadless? In that case there will be one preload bolt down the middle of it (done by feel until there's no more play). All the pinch bolts seen in the photo (on your stem and extender) should have recommended torque rating printed next to them. Jul 15, 2023 at 20:04
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    @ArtGertner correct - it should have an enormously long bolt going from the top cap, through the extender, to the bike's original star nut down inside the steerer. It comes with the extender normally.
    – Criggie
    Jul 15, 2023 at 22:38
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    @ArtGertner I followed your instructions. I also regreased the headset bearings. Upon further inspection I believe now that the extender was a red herring and not the cause of the creak. Before dissassembly i rocked the bike forward and backward with the brakes on and noticed a litttle bit of play in the headset. I think that with wear the headset bearings no longer had enough tension on them. I tighened the preload bolt as you instructed. The creak appears to be completely gone. Bought a torque wrench for this process, glad to have a new tool. Your comments were very helpful thanks. Jul 17, 2023 at 1:13

I have found that there is an additional problem to fork extenders and installation causing noise; the trough bolt tensioning of the headset bearings is often substandard and made from mild steel. The added tension stretches this bolt and can even break. A sign of this problem is tightness when screwing up or down. The answer is to invest in a good quality high tensile replacement and ensure a quality grease is used in assembly.

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