My clicking Venge is finally back, sans “clicking”. Assenmacher’s Cycling Center, my local shop has worked tirelessly to get it right over the last two months on rain days. Three months ago or so, just eight months after I bought the bike, it developed a mild ticking that sounded like it came from the crank but as anyone who has had an annoying noise pop up on their bike, they all sound like they’re coming from the crank. When I first reported the problem, the owner of the shop offered to work on it through rain days so I wouldn’t miss a ride. Whenever rain was expected, I’d drop the bike off and they’d work on a few new possible issues. We looked at the cassette body, where the spokes cross on the wheel, the bottle cages, the steering assembly was taken apart, cleaned and put back together, the entire bottom bracket/crank assembly was disassembled, cleaned and repacked, the chain was replaced (that one was at my request, even though the original chain has a few months left on it), the derailleur assemblies were looked at, the seat post/saddle assembly was cleaned and reassembled… Folks, the shop completely tore the bike down and rebuilt it trying to figure this out. We even swapped out the wheels, front and rear, to make sure it wasn’t in the wheels.
Finally, I dropped the bike off yesterday to leave it overnight. Rain was in the forecast on Wednesday but it was clear that it would only be cool and cloudy but I was so desperate to get this resolved, I opted to drop it off anyway and ride my backup bike (though I opted for a dirt road mountain bike ride instead – I needed to get some miles in on the dirt bike). When I showed up yesterday afternoon to see if a culprit had been identified, they were no closer. Matt (the owner) and I disassembled the crank again and decided to try plumber’s thread tape where the left crank arm joins with the drive assembly – now that showed some temporary promise! I got two silent revolutions out of the crank before the ticking started again – we were getting close. That’s when we decided to start looking at the crank itself. It turned out that they had a 54 cm model on the floor with the exact same crank assembly. Rather than waste more of his money on the bike, I stuck around and swapped the old crank for the new one from the 54. Sure enough, the bike was silent. Then I took my old crank and put it on the new 54. There was the clicking again. Then we decided to isolate the exact offending part, so I put the old left crank arm on the new right crank/chain ring assembly on my bike… No clicking. Then the new left crank arm on my right crank assembly on the new bike… Clicking.
It was the right drive assembly where it joined with the left crank arm.
Now, before you guys get any ideas, the chain ring bolts have been disassembled, cleaned and lubed twice, and then done a third time with lock-tite just to make sure it wasn’t the chain ring bolts. When we took the crank assemblies back apart, the splines on my old right side showed us something… The lube that we’d applied on the splines was black, even though the crank had been through less than 50 revolutions which meant there was movement when torque was applied to the assembly (shown below from a different FSA BB30 crank assy):
See the splines on the right (with the two washers on them), and how they mesh with the left side crank arm? The wear was showing in the valleys of the right side.
On getting all of this straight the owner of the shop contacted the proper folks and was asked to send the assembly in for inspection. This, believe it or not, is a problem because that means I’ve got a bike with no crank in the peak of the season. I assumed, of course, that I’d simply get the new crank off of the new bike and we’d be good, right? Well not exactly because then the shop’s got a bike that was on the shelf but can’t be displayed any longer. Technically my bike is supposed to be sitting in shop limbo until FSA and Specialized figure this one out before sending me a new crank. Thankfully, my local shop is awesome and they opted to give me the new crank so I can still ride while this mess gets sorted by the powers that be… Now, I’ll refrain from comment, disparaging or otherwise, about this until more is revealed because I’m sure neither FSA nor Specialized have any idea how much time went into tracking this down but I will say this; Dude, I paid a shit-ton of money for that bike. It’s under warranty and we went to extreme lengths to rule everything else out. I can’t imagine having to leave that bike at the shop until they get their part figured out, nor can I imagine that they’d take more than ten minutes to figure out, “hey, this crank crapped out”. More later.