This one just happened to me on Saturday… Entirely out of the blue. Friday’s ride it was fine, Saturday, squeaky.
You’re riding along and you notice a squeak when you pedal, forward or backward, and it’s driving you up a f@cking wall (or you don’t even notice it till someone asks you why your bike is so squeaky). While riding, you think it’s coming from the back of the bike but you’re not entirely certain…
What do you do?
A) Panic, bikes aren’t supposed to squeak! You take a shortcut back home, throw the bike in the car and immediately take it over to the shop. On arriving, they inform you that they’ll have it figured out and fixed next week, sometime.
B) Clean and lube the chain. When that doesn’t do it, you figure skip it, the universe has given you a squeaky bike so you’ll grow to love it’s squeakiness. You also blame yourself for thinking a squeaky bike into being and forcing the universe’s hand. (LOL)
C) Take your dirty steed to the power wash. Obviously the dirt on the frame is making the bike squeak. You liberally blast the hell out of every nook and cranny of the bike and let it air dry, only to find that now everything on the bike squeaks so you refer to B.
D) Don’t panic. Finish your ride strong, shower, eat, take a nap and bust out the lube and cleaning products after you’re refreshed.
The answer, quite obviously, is D.
Bikes don’t squeak unless there’s something wrong. Bike components are now vastly complex wonders of modern technology but when put together on a bike, they’re insanely simple.
In my case, the squeakiness when backpedaling gave the problem away instantly. After my shower, lunch and nap, I took the bike into the spare bedroom (yes, it’s carpeted and no that does not scare me or mean a blighted, bespeckled carpet), flipped it upside-down and operated the crank forward and back and isolated the squeak – rear dérailleur, confirming my suspicion. I removed the chain and wheels (this is not necessary, I wanted to clean and lube the chain and wipe down the bike anyway) and then I removed the dérailleur pulleys. Now, you have to make sure that the proper pulley goes back in it’s proper place and in its proper direction (it’ll have an arrow that points out the spin direction). Clean all of the crap and grime off of each pulley, and for high-end components, all of the tiny pieces. A drop of T-9 or another light bicycle lube as needed and put everything back together. You’re good to go. The heavy grease/bearing lube is not recommended here because it can attract and hold grime.
As others have pointed out in previous bike quiz posts, this should be a part of your yearly maintenance but if you did that, you wouldn’t have needed this post, now would you?
Lapsed time: ten minutes unless you go whole hog like I did.