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Home » Bike Quiz » Bike Quiz:  What is that Squeaky Sound, and Why is Backpedaling so Sluggish?!

Bike Quiz:  What is that Squeaky Sound, and Why is Backpedaling so Sluggish?!

March 2015
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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.

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9 Comments

  1. Got a bad squeak from the rear cassette when climbing steep, steep hills in low gears, had new rear wheel bearings fitted recently so it’s back to the bike shop for this one.

  2. Never ever use a pressure washer on a bike. Not as though I am speaking from experience or anything. If it squeaks, use lube and not WD40.

    Went to my favorite bike shop last night as they were having a special night with vendors. Got some great info but hell if I did not fall head over heals in love with the Shamino Di2. If the missus will not let me buy another bike, maybe she won’t notice the new gear on an existing bike?? Until the credit card statement comes in. LOL

  3. Yes, of course “D” is the right answer, but why do I prefer “B”? I’m sure I’d *want* to turn the bike over but that book in the corner beckons me to the cozy chair instead and suddenly I’m curled in a ball reading a great book! Then, two days later, I’d get back on my 20-year-old (please read retro) mountain bike again. Once again, I’d hear the squeaking and I’d give him a let pat on his back and say, “That’s okay, ol’ fellow, we all have our squeaks.” Then I’d do what I’ve been doing for he last 10 years: put in the earphones, crank the tunes, and start off into the wind. That way, when I come home, I’ll fly on top of the wind and my bike will sing along with his charming and wonderful off-tune voice! 🙂 (So far, I love your blogs.)

    • bgddyjim says:

      First, thank you and second, there’s always a touch of truth in my humor. Fortunately for me, I am hate music when I ride (too dangerous) and I just can’t stand a squeaky bike. I have a buddy whose bike ticks every time he climbs a hill. He seems to do alright with it but I’d spend HOURS trying to figure that one out (though it’d likely only take ten minutes). Just the way I am. In the end it’s all about being happy and out there. Whatever works.

  4. Sheree says:

    I’m an (a) kind girl except there’s no need to panic. I’ll ride over to my LBS and the owner aka #Motoman, a brilliant mechanic, will fix it pronto so I can resume my ride.

    • bgddyjim says:

      My local shop is like that too. I believe we are the exception… Although, come to think of it, your mechanic has his own hashtag? Yeah, that’s next level awesome right there.

      Either way, I try to go a little over-the-top with the answers to make them humorous.

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