Saturday, 25 August 2012

Dealing with squeaks, rattles and other irritating noises

Although I know how a bike works and appreciate a nice smooth running bike, I'm not always quick to react when something might be wrong.  I should know better and yet I don't want to become a bike nerd and get preoccupied with the mechanics too much.

Nevertheless a new noise started on my bike and gradually became louder over the last 100 miles.  At first I thought (and hoped) it was nothing more than my keys rattling in the saddle bag.  I eliminated that along with making sure nothing else was rattling in the bag.  The rattling, ticking noise continued and seemed to get louder.  I knew it was nothing to do with the pedals, bottom bracket or the chain as it was there all the time.  It didn't seem to be affected by the road surface (i.e. smooth Hertfordshire or rough Buckinghamshire) and I was starting to think it might be connected to the rear hub, as that it where the noise seemed to be coming from.  I ignored it for a little, wishfully hoping it might fade away but I knew that was stupid of me to be in denial.  Get a grip Doug.

I took the back wheel out having checked there was no obvious side-to-side play.  I turned the axle and to my delight it was as smooth as it could possibly be (BTW these hubs are Miche RG2 as recommended by the LBS and they're brilliant).  I checked a few other things and was still puzzled.

Then I remembered an old trick I learnt back into the 1980s about this.  IN fact it is what any cyclist should do before going for a bike ride:

  1. Lift the bike up off the ground, by about 10cm.
  2. Let go and drop the bike onto the floor and listen.
  3. Does it sound right?  Does it clatter and rattle?
  4. If it does, repeat dropping the bike but perhaps one wheel at a time until you find the problem
  5. Feel the tyres to make sure they are as hard as they should be and be confident you haven't got a puncture.
  6. Go for your cycle ride
Had I gone through these steps myself, I would have realised instantly a mudguard stay was rubbing against the rear pannier rack.  Fixing it took five seconds, that's all.  If only I'd done that first, instead of cycling for 100 miles and almost talking myself into buying new bearings etc for the rear hub.

Isn't life a bit like this sometimes?  We can go through life with little niggles and we can hope they'll go away. They rarely do on their own and procrastinating often leads to the issue becoming worse still over a period of time.  All too easily we can be our own worst enemies and yet it doesn't have to be like that at all.  Once again I hear myself say "Get a grip Doug".

Hey, what about you?  Do you stay on top of those niggling rattles on your bike (and maybe in life) or deal with them promptly.  I'd love to hear a few views on this..... please leave a comment below for me.

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