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Daily Archives: October 13, 2022

Why Does My Bike Make a Whisk-Whisk-Whisk Sound… But It Stops For A Bit After I Coast Before Starting Again?

I diagnosed a fun one Friday morning when our tandem started making the whisk-whisk-whisk sound (I almost went with whoosh-whoosh-whoosh, but there’s a tinnier “whisk” to it) off the back of the bike during our ride.

I didn’t know exactly what it was, immediately. At first I thought a disc brake rotor was rubbing, but the sound stopped after we coasted, rounded a corner, and resumed pedaling. Almost a mile later it started whisking on us again. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, right then, the nature of the problem. It wasn’t a big enough deal to head straight home, either, so we rode on.

The cassette body dries out… so has to be removed, cleaned and lubed. It’s simple, easy, and takes about ten minutes. If you have the right tools… and your wheel lugs don’t tighten with cone wrenches that you don’t have because what home-based garage bike mechanic has cone wrenches, let alone two of the same size! (Nowadays they tighten with 5 mm Allen keys).

Well, in my case I was lucky, but more on that in a minute.

I pulled the rear wheel after putting the rear seat post in my stand. I shifted to the small cog in the back and released the wheel so I could take it inside. I pulled the cassette and looked at how the axle was put together… and that’s when I discovered the cone wrench problem. All of our road wheels have Allen key accessible axles so I’ve never bothered amassing a cone wrench collection. I was dead in the water and figured I’d take the wheel in to use one of the shop mechanic’s wrenches. I gave the nut a little spin and to my shock, it was loose. No wonder the wheel was making that weird noise! I took the axle apart the best I could, cleaned and lubed everything, hit the pawls with some light chain lube and put everything back together using a pair of small but effective needle-nosed pliers to tighten the nut that required the cone wrench (without question, unorthodox, but it’ll do).

Had the same problem with my Ican rear wheels, my Vuelta Corsa rear wheel… and now the tandem rear wheel… it’s a bit of a theme, and should be expected when you’re putting thousands of miles a year on a bicycle.

The tandem wheel is perfect once again, and though I’ll unquestionably have to tighten that thing up with a couple of cone wrenches at some point, it’ll do for now.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s bonus seat post creak! It’ll be a hoot!