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This noise started after I washed my bike (using only a garden hose) last winter. It's intermittent and I have zero control over when it happens or how loud although pounding the front wheel on the pavement while riding sometimes makes it stop briefly. The pitch is so high that I can't tell where it's coming from, but I think it's the front. It sounds like something scraping, like a scratch/screech/squeal kind of noise, not a pop/ding/gong kind.

The noise is unchanged when I ride with no hands, standing up, no feet, pedaling or coasting. I think that rules out every moving part on the bike except the wheel bearings.

The back bearings are recessed and appear to have better dust caps. Since it sounds like the noise is in the front I've pulled the dust caps, pryed the outside seal off each bearing and tried to smear fresh grease into them.

It didn't work. The noise was aweful for more than half of a 3 hour ride yesterday. I just can't take it any more. What am I missing?

When greasing a "sealed" bearing do I really have to pound it out of the hub and add grease on each side?

Is there some other moving part to check?

EDIT: I forgot to mention the bike was purchased new in late August 2022 and only has 2,800 miles. It's way too soon for bearing problems. I can also rule out the brakes because I've had issues with brake noise before (these are my first disk brakes) and the sound is different. Neither brake seems to be rubbing at all.

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  • Can you hang the bike up, and methodically go over it spinning parts? May not show the noise if the bike isn't carrying a load, but being beside the bike, and closer, lets you hear direction better.
    – Criggie
    Oct 12, 2023 at 23:11
  • Good work on isolating and testing different parts by coasting, etc. Try temporarily flipping the front wheel in the fork. You won't have any front brakes, but the bearings will spin backward and the noise should change/vanish.
    – Criggie
    Oct 12, 2023 at 23:13
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    the sound is always the same I think but it's really high pitched. I think it's near the edge of my hearing range which is how I've tolerated it for so long but also makes locating it and saying for sure if/how the sound changes under different conditions very difficult.
    – user66598
    Oct 13, 2023 at 0:46
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    Other than hitting the front wheel on the pavement the only trick I know that sometimes makes the sound go away is to speed up by 2-3 mph. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because of shifting my weight to the back by accellerating, but for whatever reason that sometimes makes the sound stop for a minute.
    – user66598
    Oct 13, 2023 at 0:48
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    I suggest borrowing a different front wheel for a ride. This will tell you if it's indeed the wheel that is making the noise. However, wheel bearings are not expensive so consider having them changed anyway. Cheap bearings do not have an excellent lifespan or much resistance to water ingress but are usually what's used on basic bike wheels
    – Noise
    Oct 13, 2023 at 7:43

2 Answers 2

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If your sealed cartridge bearings have suffered damage from wear, or rust, or impact then replace the whole sealed bearing cartridge on both sides.

There is generally no way to salvage once they get damaged. Replacement is the best option.

The only time I'd bother servicing sealed bearings is if they're not available at all.

2500 miles isn't a great lifespan for bearings, but maybe that's all this set has to give.


The other possibility is light brake rub on the rotor. Try backing off the brake pads and see if the noise goes away - this is difficult on hydraulics.

Another option is to remove the rotor, flip the front wheel, or unbolt the caliper from the fork and lash it up out of the wheel. Lack of brake means this is unsafe to ride on the road at all, but quietly up/down a driveway or in a quiet park may be enough to make the noise.

OR when riding on a quiet road and there's no noise, try very lightly feathering the brake lever. If the noise starts with a tiny movement, then its likely rotor rub. Temporarily dump some clean water on your rotor while out on a ride, and see if that stops the noise for a while.

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    I can't flip the wheel because of the way it's dished. The spokes hit the caliper. That's ok tho because I'm nearly certain it's not brake noise. I can lean over the handlebars while riding and see space on both sides of the disk between it and the pads. Holding the brake just enough to make it rub creates a different noise.
    – user66598
    Oct 13, 2023 at 15:46
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    The only other bike I have with 700c wheels is an e-bike with bolt-on axles. This gravel bike has thru axles and I don't think I can switch them easily. If the bearings are cheap I'll just replace them. I assume I'll need the replacement bearings and possibly a tool of some sort. I saw online that you can replace bearings by using the old ones as a "press" and tapping it gently with a hammer. So maybe I don't need a tool? The bearings say "XERO-18307" and "Perfect Your Ride" and have two circle X logos. Will any 18307 bearing work?
    – user66598
    Oct 13, 2023 at 15:51
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    fyi, if I need to buy a tool I'll probably try to find it on aliexpress (china), but for bearings I'm thinking I should go for higher quality and purchase from a US retailer. Then again they look easy to change so maybe I'd be better off getting multiple chinese sets for the price of one that's higher quality. I've been rebuilding cup and cone bearings for the last few decades so I defer to someone with more experience on this point.
    – user66598
    Oct 13, 2023 at 15:57
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While trying to ride with my head inside the frame's triangle (to determine which wheel the sound was coming from) I happened to put my hand on the water bottle. The sound stopped instantly and completely!

It turns out the noise was my water bottle the entire time and all I had to do was put electrical tape on the inside of the bottle cage. I found the solution from this blog post: https://fitrecovery.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/how-to-fix-a-creaky-squeaky-water-bottle-cage-in-less-than-30-seconds/

I use Bikase's adjustable ABC Cage with a 2L stainless steel vacuum insulated Camelbak bottle (and a hydration tube adapter). The cage is adjusted as large as it goes to fit that bottle, so I wonder if others are unlikely to have this problem and it's unique to my setup. I didn't notice a correlation between how full the bottle was and the noise. Just FYI for anyone else dealing with this.

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  • Excellent work! Remember to mark this as the Accepted Answer because this is what worked for you..... while I try and work out how you ride with your head in that position !
    – Criggie
    Oct 20, 2023 at 0:05
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    I'm not sure how to do that unless you mean clicking the check mark to the left of the answer. I just clicked it but it doesn't say what it is. Riding like that is super hard, it's like touching your toes on one side with the other leg bent. I almost went off the road several times. I think the lesson I learned is double check any accessories when I'm hunting down a noise that I've been unable to quiet after multiple attempts. That should work better than riding in crazy positions, trying to locate sounds by ear.
    – user66598
    Oct 20, 2023 at 1:50
  • That's the one - thank you.
    – Criggie
    Oct 20, 2023 at 3:00

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