The Squeak

ZigguratDTThe powers that be requested that I write a story or come up with some topics to cover in the bike mechanic area.  Let me begin by saying that I am a full time year round bike commuter.  I detail cars during the day and at night and on the weekends I am a bike mechanic/ wanna be long distance touring junkie.   Today’s story is entitled “The Squeak”

The day was a great one.  I had just sold off my car and was headed down the rabbit hole of full time commuter.  I decided that I needed a cheap commuting bike that I wouldn’t shed too many tears over if say a wayward alcoholic wanted to take it for a spin and not bring it back.  In the small city I live in there are few choices when it comes to bike shopping, Walmart, Dunhams, Kmart, Craigslist.  I chose Walmart and picked out a shiny new Genesis 29er for two hundred dollars.  I had all sorts of plans for the bike and lots of miles of commuting were also in there.

For just about anyone else the bike would have served its purpose well, getting ridden on the weekends a mile or two.  The trouble started when I got serious about this bike riding thing.  I never really intended on becoming the all obsessed bike riding and wrenching freak.  Honestly, it just kinda creeped up on me like a bad cold or foot fungus!  When the bike rolled over about five hundred miles problems started to arise.

First it was the front fork that felt like a wet noodle when you hit any bump off camber and made me wish I had a helmet,  hockey pads, and a life insurance plan when I rode it.  That was predictably replaced with a fork worth the total purchase price of the bike.  Then came the rear hub, grinding like a rock crusher in a gravel pit and was replaced with a new wheel that weighed half of the stock one.  Then the bottom bracket started making the telltale sound that a cup and cone bottom bracket makes when it’s dirty.  These were all normal problems that were a joy to fix.

I can’t remember when the squeak started.  All I remember was hearing this rather rhythmical sounding squeak when I pedaled.  No big deal right?  Wrong, I am obsessive compulsive when it comes to my bikes and those of my friends.  A squeak, rattle, or grind is cause for a full roto rooter exam!  To say it mildly, that stuff drives me NUTS!  The bike was put in the repair stand [ the first of many times] and the sound disappeared!  I would scratch my head, swear at it and start trading parts with one of my other bikes.

Can you see where this is going?  Yes, by the end of this adventure the entire drivetrain had been swapped out, the frame inspected for cracks, seats swapped, new seatpost, seatpost changed, and on and on!  Still this squeak persisted!  During one of these borrowing of the parts episodes I even talked myself into calmly walking the bike over to my neighbor and politely asking him to run this demon squeaking p.o.s. over repeatedly!  One day after work when I had the bike in the repair stand for the thousandth time I just happened to grab the drive side crank arm and gave it a jerk.  The damned thing made a clunk!  I kept jerking on the arm and finally found out the problem.  After all the grief, the drive side bottom bracket cup was loose.  In the repair stand it made no noise but when my tuby butt was pushing on the pedals it was enough force to rock the cup in it’s threads causing the squeak.

The moral of the story is that it is an adventure to the loony bin sometimes to solve a problem with your bike!  As a bike mechanic, I hope you have many quiet, squeak free miles!


About Steve Sulkowski

My name is Steve Sulkowski and I own Huron Bicycle Repair in Bad Axe, Michigan. I started working on my bikes to keep them working properly. That turned into a home based repair business that keeps me very busy. Connect: YouTube | Google+