Swoosh, Creaks and Other Odd Noises While Riding
HOW TO DIAGNOSE NOISES YOU MAY HEAR WHILE RIDING YOUR BIKE
Posted by Lisa Caterbone
February 28, 2017
I woke up on Sunday morning to a beautiful day. The weather was not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. My idea of a perfect riding day. I immediately put on my kit, filled up my water bottles, grabbed my keys and cell phone and pumped my bike tires up with air to head out and enjoy the day. Cycled out of my garage and in a few pedal strokes I heard a creaking swoosh sound. WHAT?!
Anyone who has ever ridden knows that sounds on your bike can be a complete mystery. In fact, they can drive you insane if you let it! I heard the noise and it sounded like it was coming from my crankset. Then, it sounded like it was coming from the front wheel. No… it’s the right side pedal! UGH!!!! Where is this noise coming from?
I stopped, pulled over and decided to investigate. I did recently load my bike up in my car and took off the front wheel. Maybe it’s the skewer. I’ll tighten it and try again. Swoosh…creak…swoosh…creak. UGH! It’s still there! What is it and where is it coming from?
I stop, pull over and investigate again. I push my front brake and put pressure on my headstock… is it loose? No… seems pretty normal. I get off the bike and take a look at my pedals and crankset. Seems to be tight, no movement of any kind here. Ugh… I’ll get back on my bike and just try to enjoy my ride. After all, it was a beautiful day and I didn’t want to spend it jumping on and off the bike. I’ll figure it out again when I get home.
Well, as it happens…. as I was pedaling along, I ran into my good friend Alex. Alex happens to be a genius cycle mechanic so naturally the first thing I ask him is if he hears the noise and if he knows what it is. (Yeah, I know.. I couldn’t let it alone.) Alex doesn’t really hear it. Figures. It’s like taking your car into the mechanic and you swear there’s a noise but they can’t seem to replicate it. LOL. That being said, we talk about it, he listens, he watches me ride up the road. He suggests that maybe it’s the skewer. My thoughts too! He jumps off his bike and loosens and re-tightens both the front and rear skewers. By this time, we have reached the top of the hill and there’s a left and right turn only. Alex was going right, I was going left. He generously offers to help me out if I still hear the noise and to call or text him to let him know. He does suggest that I test to see if the noise is happening when I am out of my saddle. At this time, I’ve only tested it while seated. And if it does, he said it’s most likely the wheel skewer has worn out and to purchase a new set. That makes sense… so we say our goodbyes and I ride on.
Swoosh, creak, swoosh, creak. Annoyed, but determined to figure this thing out, I do exactly as Alex suggested. On the next climb, I get out of my saddle and pedal on. Guess what… NO SOUNDS! So… by process of elimination, we know it’s probably not the skewer then. If it was, the noise would still be there. So now what? It’s only happening when I’m seated, so I decide the next place to look is my saddle area. I pull over, jump off my bike and open up my toolbag. I tighten the seat post collar, and the saddle to the rails. Jump back on and guess what. NO NOISE! Hallelujah! The heavens have opened up and I heard the angels sing from above! Now I can ride in peace.
The moral of the story is… when you hear a noise that just doesn’t seem right. Try to investigate all areas of the bike. Test to see if it happens when you’re sitting, when you’re standing, or both. Then, try to figure out from there what parts to tighten or focus on. Sometimes you may need a local bike store mechanic to figure it out or fix it. No shame there. But, if you do hear a noise that is not common to the operation of the bike, don’t avoid it. You want to make sure the bike you’re riding is safe and road ready. In my case, it was just an easy tightening of the saddle. It could be something more serious, but either way… make sure you look into it. Don’t let a noisy bike ruin your ride.
Check out these free online resources to help aid in finding solutions to your noisy bike:
Check out these Maintenance books on Amazon.com:
These are just a couple, but it will get you started.
Good luck and may the heavens take care of any bike noise you may be hearing so that you can ride with a smile and enjoy your day.