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Mysterious Ticking Solved at Last!

kfergos2010-04-28 17:52:47 +0000 #1
Here were the symptoms:

1. Arrhythmic ticking. It ticked all the time when I pedaled, but not in any particular rhythm (once per pedal-stroke, for example).

2. Ticking stops when pressure on pedals lets up. If I pedaled without putting any downward pressure on the pedals, the ticking went away.

3. Ticking increases in volume over time. The longer I rode trying to ignore the ticking, the louder it got, until I swear it was drowning out traffic around me. People on the sidewalk turned to look and see what that weird noise was!

4. Ticking is worse on uphills. I later determined this was really a pressure-on-pedals thing.

5. I replaced the entire drive train (a separate issue) and it kept ticking as always.

6. Ticking seemed to happen only from the 12 o'clock to 5 o'clock position as the crank went around. I suspect this is a pressure-on-pedals thing, too, and if I pedaled in circles better I'd've heard it all the time.

I took my bike in to the LBS, described the symptoms, and let them test ride it. Of course, it didn't tick at all, so I went away without it fixed and feeling somewhat irritated. The ticking resumed almost the instant I rode off. I repeated this cycle several times, but the LBS never identified the problem.

Then I flew to Seattle for the STP. This involved breaking the bike into little bits. After I reconstituted the bits into a bike in Seattle and had a local LBS eyeball it, the ticking disappeared. I rejoiced at riding the 205-mile STP in relative quiet. But after I got back to Boston, rebuilt it again, and had my normal LBS look at it, the ticking returned with a vengeance. I have suffered through two months of increasingly loud, irritating ticking until finally I described the issue to my LBS one more time.

They diagnosed it as a bottom bracket issue. It doesn't seem to have any impact on the bike's safety or ride quality (aside from the drive-you-insane aspect), and I plan on selling this bike when my new one comes in, so I settled down to live with the ticking for another month or so. But honestly the prospect made me twitch. However, I called my mom, whose bike had been exhibiting the exact same symptoms as mine, and told her my LBS attributed it to the bottom bracket. My mom said maybe, but that she'd just been to a bike shop where they...

Before I go any further, do you have a guess what the problem was? If not, here's the spoiler.

...started to take off her pedals to check the bottom bracket. The pedals were cross-threaded, and the mechanic refused to do any more work since he was concerned he'd damage the pedals and cranks more (he hadn't done the original work on the bike). Interestingly, after her pedals were adjusted, my mom's bike stopped ticking.

Huh. So this morning I decided to try removing and cleaning my pedals, just in case. Nothing else had worked, and I was desperate. I wrestled the pedals off, wiped down the threads, re-greased them, and put them back on. Then I rode to work... in silence. It was like getting a whole new bike (minus the paying thousands of dollars thing); I could've jumped for joy, only I was clipped in.

Simply unscrewing and cleaning the pedals has saved my sanity! Hooray!

Aggie_Ama2010-04-28 18:08:12 +0000 #2
Okay, that settles it, my pedals are coming off! I have the same clicking and already had a bottom bracket service about 800 miles ago. Got a project for the evening me thinks.
GLC19682010-04-28 18:18:59 +0000 #3
Did you happen to do a search on this forum about ticking noises? I ask because I had the EXACT same thing happen to me on my road bike a little over a year ago. I even bought a new bottom bracket and it didn't solve the problem. After I tried removing and regreasing the pedals, it went away. Haven't heard it since (so I put my old BB back on and returned the new one).

I know how incredibly annoying that sound was though. I'm glad you finally got relief!
kfergos2010-04-28 19:07:17 +0000 #4
GLC1968 - D'oh. I didn't even think of it, and that's such an obvious thing to do, too. To think I could've figured this out months ago, and saved some of that sanity that's seeped away with each tick!
maillotpois2010-04-28 19:44:54 +0000 #5
"What is that mysterious ticking noise?"

Video From YouTube:(link)
BleeckerSt_Girl2010-04-28 20:05:50 +0000 #6
This is actually very common. And it's not just from the pedal threads, but it can also happen inside the pedal axle- where their are little bearings.

If you take the pedal apart and clean/lube those bearings, the ticking will disappear as well. My issue was with the bearings- and the symptoms included a feeling of the clik snapping on the balls of my feet, as though someone was snapping their fingers against the ball of my one foot with each pedal stroke. Incredibly annoying! What a relief when we figured it out and fixed it.
Flur2010-04-28 20:04:25 +0000 #7
OMG! This has been driving me NUTS! Now I just have to figure out how to get Crank Bros pedals off and back on again...
kfergos2010-04-28 21:08:26 +0000 #8

Originally Posted by Flur

OMG! This has been driving me NUTS! Now I just have to figure out how to get Crank Bros pedals off and back on again...

Mine are Crank Bros. eggbeaters. My normal bike tool has an Allen wrench fat enough to fit in the pedal shaft. After that, it's just a matter of following my favorite pedal-removal instructions: (most of the way down the page) and not cutting my hand off with the gears on the big chainring.

maillotpois - I'm glad my ticking cause wasn't the same as in that video!



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