I have some third party SPD pedals that have worked for years. Recently the drive side pedal is creaking/grinding. I don't know what it is.

Anybody have a clue how to fix this? What should I try?


2 Answers 2


Noises can sometimes be easy or other times difficult to identify the cause. You gave some good info on trying to narrow this down.

Over time a shoe can break in a bit, and along with cleat wear, sometimes the wear and tear will result in noise. Even the pedals will wear some, so worth looking at as well.

Things to try:

  • Try clipping in the shoe (while not wearing it) and visually investigate/inspect if there is any contact with the shoe bottom on the pedal. This happened on one of my SPD systems once and my remedy was to add a couple of bike fit cleat shims between the cleat and the shoe. The shims typically have an angle to them for a bike fit, so I chose two identical shims and reversed one so the angles cancelled each other out, resulting in a flat shim (made from two angled shims). This added shim raised my shoe a very small amount, but enough to eliminate the shoe to pedal contact and silence the noise.

  • Try checking to see if your cleat is tight/not moving. A cleat that is not firmly affixed could create noise, and it could be the cleat moving that is causing it.

  • Try adding a little lubrication to the front and rear contact points on the pedal (on both sides, of course). I have used a bit of Teflon-based chain lube there with success. If a pedal is dry, it may be more prone to noise than if there is a little bit of lubrication where contact is made. Plus, lubricating the contact points should be part of regular/routine maintenance anyway to slow the wear of the pedal/cleat interface/system while improving engagement, cleat float, and unclipping performance.

  • Try checking if your cleat(s) may be worn. I know I rarely change my SPD cleats, but most of my riding is using a bike with other pedal systems (less time on the SPD equipped bikes). New cleats are not expensive, so worth a check.

  • Try checking if your pedals are just wearing out. Nothing lasts forever, and pedals take a bit of abuse, especially if conditions (rain, dirt/dust, mud) accelerate wear. You mentioned the pedals are third-party models, and they may or may not be up to years of use compared to a more main-brand product. Also check your pedal bearings! All pedals suffer some bearing play/wear over time. Can you feel any play in the pedal bearings (a little wobble or end to end play relative to the pedal axle)? Does spinning the pedal feel rough (it may not without a load on it but could be felt more if a load is applied - like pedaling). Some pedals allow the bearings to be serviced or replaced if worn and/or contaminated. If the pedal is the cause of the noise, and it is not a repairable cause, then you may need to invest in some new pedals.

  • Try a different pair of shoes (if available). If you have access to another pair of shoes, it can potentially narrow down the problem area further. Even if you do not have another pair of shoes, if a friend also has a pair shoes with SPDs on them, and they can fit/ride your bike, they can do this assessment for you (I offer this since SPDs are fairly common). If a different pair of shoes eliminates the noise, then pedal and bearing wear/condition can mostly be eliminated as a cause, leaving the cleat/shoe as the prime suspect.

Even with all these items, it can be a combination of factors that create the noise/grinding condition. This could mean that with your particular pedals, and your shoes/cleats, the accumulated wear of the entire system can be the culprit. From a cost (both time and money) standpoint, it makes sense to test the quicker and no-cost options first before making larger investments of time and money to resolve the noise/grinding.

  • 1
    I seem to remember using some grease before and that might have fixed it. I'm going to give that a try. I also bought some new shoe hardware so I can always just replace the worn part if it has reduced in size. The grinding grows with increased power. Thanks for the notes.
    – Rich_F
    Commented May 9 at 21:40

Turns out it was my seat rails, not my right pedal. The way I mount my seat clamp is around plumbing silicon around the seat rails, in order to avoid such noises.

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