Tech Spotlight - Identifying and Correcting Rear End Creaks

Feb 24, 2014
by Nate Collins  
*Please Note the Following - Clutch tension cannot be reset or adjusted on the type 2 systems which were released after this write up. While the outer assembly looks identical, the inner system is not the same and the rear dérailleur clutch will be compromised.



Pinkbike and BikeCo.com are excited to bring back the mechanical “how-to’s” with the new Tech Spotlight articles that you can expect to see on the last Tuesday of every month. Joe Binatena, BikeCo’s owner and world class mechanic, will help walk riders through a variety of tasks, from basic jobs to more advanced work that you'll be able to read about in the future. We aim to provide readers with a gauge on difficulty and risk for these projects, and also encourage you to post any questions in the comment section below when it comes to things that need more explaining.





Identifying and Correcting Rear End Creaks


Mystery creaks are annoying to you, those you ride with, and pretty much anyone else within earshot, and they're also typically an audible warning that something is prematurely wearing. In this write up we touch on creaks common to the rear derailleur system, including the derailleur linkage, hanger interface, modern dropout, hub axle, thru-axle, and in extreme cases, the SRAM Type 2 clutch system.

Note on the SRAM Type 2 creak: Here at BikeCo we noted clutch creak on the initial run of Type 2 rear derailleurs. SRAM has revised their assembly procedures since then, however, and the clutch noise has not been a problem for quite some time. If your clutch is creaking we suggest utilizing a professional unless you are extremely confident in your abilities. The Type 2 clutch is not intended to be user serviceable - they’re not going to warranty something that you over-tightened and cracked. Check all of the other suspect creak areas before diving into this job.

Difficulty: medium - special tools and materials required, and a good understanding of the task is required.
Risk: medium - disassembly and reassembly of small parts.

Tools for the Job:

• selection of hex wrenches
• selection of torx wrenches
• torque wrench
• high quality grease
• thread locker (Loctite Blue 242 for metal interfaces, 425 is approved for plastics)
• bearing retainer (liquid and paste types)



Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Axles - This is a very common area for mystery creaks, especially for riders who have to take their wheels off for transport or repairs. Correct axle torque is critical for a bike to work correctly, and you also need to insure that the cam system is lubricated and working properly. A dirty or poorly lubricated cam will feel as though it has tension but it might not be loading the system properly. DT Swiss axles are available as replacements for many systems, and they eliminate the cam design altogether. We've also seen axles tolerances that aren’t perfect for an exact frame system and thus never provide the required torque, although this is quite rare. These situations arise when the threaded portion of the axle bottoms out (runs out of threads) too early, and it can sometimes lead to premature axle failure. The axle above shows fairly substantial movement on the cam side. In a worst case scenario this can lead to a stress riser on the axle which could cause failure.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Creaks from multi-piece hub axles also are hard to diagnose - When examining the axle, wear was noted in the area of the hub / axle interface. We expect to see this causing more noise than a one-piece setup, and many hub manufacturers are now utilizing multi-piece inserts to provide maximum compatibility. Removing the insert, we noted wear on the inner and outer shaft that confirmed that it is moving ever so slightly. These particular wheels are often changed from bike to bike, so we flared the insert using a rounded head bolt and vice. The flare provides more “bite” into the hub system while still being relatively easy to remove. Professionally, with a stack of these inserts at our disposal, this isn’t a bad way to go. However, if we were having the same issue on our personal wheels, instead of flaring the inserts we would utilize a retainer paste. Retainer paste (essentially a bearing retainer compound) designed for aluminum will eliminate the motion and can still be driven out if needed, and is a better solution for the average rider.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Derailleur hanger / dropout / rear triangle interface - This is an area that often gets overlooked while chasing creaks. This particular assembly consists of three components: the derailleur hanger, the dropout body, and the threaded dropout insert (not shown). If you suspect movement, or just want to be thorough on your build, you'll want to provide the components with a bit more bite. If there is no substantial wear, blue thread locker provides added traction without becoming too difficult to remove. If you have substantial wear issues there are more aggressive options, however, each more aggressive step will make the eventual removal more difficult. Don’t forget to use thread locker on the hardware before you reinstall. Checking these bolts is important, as they tend to be a bit harder to get to and are therefore often overlooked during bolt checks.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Standard derailleur maintenance should include lubricating the pivot points - If you don’t have a needle tip for your lube bottle, dabbing lube onto a zip tie is a great way to navigate the lube where you want it without making a mess. Bolt check your derailleur to insure a proper interface - Joe shows how to use a fork axle to gain leverage in a pinch, but be careful not to over-torque. We have noticed that the new eleven speed derailleurs require this service more often than their ten speed speed counterparts - it could be the offset upper pulley adding torque to the system. Taking the time to lube the pivot points will go a long way to your on trail enjoyment. We suggest being aware of what lubes you are using on the pivots as some feature a composite makeup that may not play nice with certain lubes. We recently contacted SRAM to ask if they had a suggested lube for this and at the time they did not. MRP has an interesting page on their website in regards to which lubes they suggest to be used with their composite parts, and it wouldn't hurt to use that as a rough guide.

The steps shown above should eliminate most of your mystery rear end creaks, although there are some other areas to review: spoke tension, hub bearing condition, cable routing (especially as suspension articulates - typically more of a snap than a creak, though) and suspension pivots. All of those noises use your rear triangle like a tuning fork, something that can make locating them difficult at times.




Identifying and Correcting Type 2 Derailleur Creaks


Views: 12,543    Faves: 4    Comments: 3


If you have watched the video above and confirmed that you do indeed have a Type 2 clutch creak, this is how we would proceed. SRAM does not offer this service as part of its maintenance PDFs, and if you break something you are likely purchasing it. Proceed at your own risk, but we would recommend taking your bike to your local shop if you have any doubts about your abilities in regards to this job. Remember that this service is not to increase or decrease tension, but to eliminate noise.



Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Step 1 - Note the position of the clutch pressure assembly as it is originally assembled. In this case we had a scratch we could use as a timing mark - you may want to make a small mark in ink. Also, note the approximate depth from the plastic housing, and feel the amount of tension on the pulley arm for reference. All of these points will help you reassemble the clutch appropriately. Too little tension negates the clutch’s value, but too much tension will prematurely wear the internals and risks cracking the plastic housing. Start by removing the clutch dust cap. Loosen the assembly with a T55 torx - note that there is thread locker on the assembly, and be aware not to over torque and crack the assembly while breaking it free. Once the threads are fully disengaged you can pull the assembly out with pliers. Using a T25 remove the rear derailleur from the hanger. Joe shows you how to do this without removing the derailleur from the bike, but first timers should pull the derailleur off the bike for ease of service.

Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Step 2 - Lock the pulley arm in position and remove the stop screw from the pulley arm as shown in the top set of photos. Carefully unwind the pulley arm tension. After releasing the spring tension using two Allen keys, loosen the pulley arm bolt assembly. DO NOT LOOSEN THE ASSEMBLY UNDER TENSION. If you are particular on torque, you can utilize your wrench to measure ft/lbs. Since this is not a SRAM procedure, we have not found published torque numbers.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Step 3 - The spring assembly shown in the upper left image is next to come out. Note that first generation springs would come out bone dry, although this spring is well lubricated right from the factory. Tap out the roller clutch assembly, but be careful to not let it go airborne when you do so. It is critical that you understand the orientation of the roller clutch for the system to operate: the clutch catches in one direction, creating tension. In the opposite direction, the shaft will rotate freely in the roller. Use your memory, a video, a photo, sketch, or whatever it takes to remember which way it is oriented.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Step 4 - Clean the existing grease from the housing, spring, and roller clutch. We like to use Red Devil grease to re-coat the surfaces, and it's key to make sure to avoid getting grease in the threaded internals where you will later be applying thread locker.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Step 5 - It's time to re-insert the roller clutch assembly. You may need to give it a stiff push it get it back into place, and you will feel a slight click when it sets in. Re-install the spring system. Make sure the spring tail enters the retention slot in the derailleur body (follow the dashed lines in the photo above). Use blue thread locker on the pulley arm bolt. Insert the opposite spring tail into the pulley arm hole and carefully wind the derailleur. Remember, you wind with the spring, not against it. Begin to tighten the pulley arm bolt into the clutch’s threaded assembly. Do not let go of the assembly, as it's under pressure.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Step 6 - Carefully engage the pulley arm lock and then torque down the pulley arm bolt. Using blue thread lock, re-install the pulley arm stop bolt into its threaded hold.


Tech Spotlight - SRAM clutch fix

• Step 7 - Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Using Red Devil grease, we lubricate the center section of the clutch tensioner. Again, be careful to avoid greasing the threads. The method shown above of applying a dollop and spreading with an Allen is very effective for greasing internals. Carefully begin threading the cylinder into the derailleur body. Before completely tightening the assembly, apply a thread locker that is approved for use with plastic - most thread locker will degrade plastic - we use Loctite 425 for plastic assemblies. Carefully re-tension the system. You should return the cylinder to the approximate depth, orientation and torque it started at. Check the tension on the pulley arm, and you ideally you want the pulley arm tension to be how it was from the factory. Something to note: the pulley arm overall tension and the break away tension are different, with the break away tension (amount it takes to begin movement) is likely to be significantly lower than it was because you have just freshly greased the system. The overall tension to retain the chain as the pulley swings should be similar to stock.




We hope that you found tips in this that will help you better maintain your ride. If you made it this far, checking off your good cleaning habits along the way - awesome, you’re doing it like the pros. We will look forward to the next installment here on Pinkbike on the last Tuesday in March. If you have an idea that you would like to see on Tech Spotlight please email Nate@BikeCo.com to let us know what issues you’ve had that can’t seem to be solved and we will put Joe on the task.

Do you have a Shimano derailleur the needs its clutch adjusted?

www.bikeco.com


90 Comments

  • + 83
 There ain't no cure for my rear end creak...
  • + 67
 Have you tried changing your diet?
  • + 2
 Flip chips, drop outs, shock hardware, seat post, BB, mech, pivot bolts.. etc etc.. its in there somewhere.
  • - 8
flag driftmonster (Feb 25, 2014 at 6:05) (Below Threshold)
 head phones , thats how you fix the noises . that way you joeys wont even know im passing on the highside till im already passed you
  • + 23
 You guys did realise I was talking about my arse didn't you?
  • - 9
flag i-eat-dirt (Feb 25, 2014 at 6:33) (Below Threshold)
 i did Wink
  • - 1
 my bike creaks so much it could be a door in a horror movie
  • + 4
 Once I seriously reflected about selling my C'dale Rush Carbon because of 'bird's nest' in my rear swingarm. I managed to crack it before I could sell it, so the problem has gone... Big Grin
  • + 2
 Hardtail SS for the win!
  • + 36
 Love the tech posts, please keep em coming!
  • + 11
 Excellent right up for a very common problem, however I don't believe this is something any home mechanic should be getting their hands on, most people would not even know how to apply the thread locker properly.
  • + 0
 Agreed, it is a little more involved than changing a tube. However, PB do say "if in any doubt about your abilities" etc, etc. As long as one understands that the buck stops with oneself on this one....
  • + 1
 BB creaks due to PressFit BB's are probably just as common, if not more than these, thanks to srams plastic shells. Noticed sram was mentioned frequently in this article also. ... I thought it was an easy to understand article, other possible areas for rear creaks or noise are dry pivot in QR skewer, spokes, frame cracks, and hub seals, etc...
  • + 2
 You guys have it nailed. This write up became more of an identifier for the casual rider to take to a shop and say "HERE"... On BB - you nailed it too. This bike is getting a King at some point as the BB and my old Time cleats seem to be the very last noise makers on my test rig. Thanks for the comments!
  • + 12
 Welcome back Tech Tuesday!
  • + 10
 Thanks for the tips! My type 2 derailleur is still holding up but if it starts creaking I'll know where to look.
  • + 1
 If it's got miles and is holding up it will likely only be from the pivots - not the clutch (the first generation was a different story). The Type 2 clutch overall seems to hold much more tension than the Shimano counterparts
  • + 2
 I've always found that the 1st knocks on a new bike will come from the lower pivot bearings after 3 or 4 months. If you want your pivot bearings to last, pop the seals off and fill them with grease. The grease that they are supplied with is minimal and thin because those same bearing are rated for over 30000 rpm for other applications. By doing this my bearings last over a year now.
  • + 3
 We check every frame that comes through for loose pivots at build (or delivery of frame only sales). It is pretty shocking how many bikes come through with pivots loose enough to substantially affect ride quality and product longevity. Make sure that a quality resource inspects the initial build - there's nothing worse than destroying a rear end from bearing movement in the first bit of frame life.
  • + 1
 I recently performed this clutch service by "accident". Worked like a charm. The clutch was sticking from day 1 when I compressed my rear suspension. It was also starting to shift slow/not shift at all out of my lowest gear. All fixed up.
  • + 4
 I have found the turbospoke is a good way to drown out the creaky drivetrain.
  • + 1
 This a great start to the list of creaks that may occur on a bike. I would include the BB, chain rings and seat post, seat rails in my 'rear' end creak check. I would also be really careful when commenting on this article from an Apple iproduct. It could suck if you intended to comment on rear end creak but Apple automatically spell checked that creak to cream.
  • + 1
 I have the exact same creaking sound on my XO 10sp rear mech but I'm on a carbon hardtail. It only happens when I'm pushing around medium load. Or could that sound be coming from my BB(BB91 press fit). Could anybody enlighten me? Thanks
  • + 1
 yeah man i have the same creak on my Trek Superfly carbon HT, ive had to get my BB serviced a few times now - i havent really found another solution to it, besides taking it in and getting the bearings replaced or regreased.. so yeah im eager to find out the problem too
  • + 1
 Did the BB service work? also, what bb does the superfly run?
  • + 1
 the service works for a while, but it must just get contaminated again - its a press fit BB95
  • + 4
 The bike industry has decided that press-fit BB's are better than threaded ones. So now everyone has this janky-ass setup that won't stop creaking, and is a complete bitch to service. Press fit BB's are the most idiotic thing to happen to bikes since STI mountain levers.
  • + 0
 Except press fit BBs are not new... they've been around a century plus. Properly lubricate when installing them and they don't creak. Improperly install a threaded BB and it can creak just as much as you're trying to blame the press fit ones.
  • + 8
 Sorry deeeight, but as a professional bike mechanic with decades of experience, I respectfully disagree: press-fit BB's are garbage. And every other pro-mechanic I have discussed this with agrees with me. Gluing in a bottom bracket with green loc-tite is the most ghetto-ass shit I have ever done to a 10,000 bike. And this is what the frame manufacturer recommended. I could go on and and on about this, I see problems with these shitty BB's on top of the line bikes on a daily basis.
  • + 1
 edit: ($10,000 bike)
  • + 3
 Chris King press fit BB - changed my 2cents on them... and at BikeCo we're fans of bearing retainer where it belongs. The bike industry seems to love grease pressing things that should be retained. Thanks for the comments
  • - 1
 @axleworthington

Really? My decades say different. And the decades of usage of press fit bearings in other industries would say different also. Loctite makes their 620 green stuff for aviation and automotive usage primarily, not for bicycles. Every piece of bearing technology in bicycles is taken from someplace else. Yet somehow "professional" bike mechanics know better. I've owned and used the green loctite on my cartridge bearings in my bottom brackets for twenty years now, and you know what... no creaks. You do understand that many "threaded" bottom brackets actually have the bearings pressed into the threaded cups ahead of time right? Or that years ago all those aftermarket cartridge bearing bb's (syncros, raceface, etc) that had titanium or crmo spindles, a few cartridge bearings and a pair of alloy cups (with or without lockrings) were basically miniature bearing presses... As you threaded the cups into the frame, the bearings pressed onto the spindle and into the cups. You should have been using green loctite on the bearings at that stage already.

If you weren't, you were not a professional at all.
  • + 3
 Still using a $40 bb-un54 from 15years ago on an xc bike! Bb reliability took a huge dive since the trend in crank axle. In fact i doubt they industry even trying...good revenue stream.
  • + 1
 A company called praxis works make a press fit bb that screws together in the middle so that you are not just relying on the friction of the press into the frame. These work really well for eliminating creaks and longer lasting bearings. Hope also have one in the making that should be available in a few weeks
  • + 3
 Wow wow let me think. XX1 is about twice as expensive as XTR despite being made in China (vs. Japan) and it can creak?
  • - 1
 No it doesn't
  • + 2
 I think you need to read the article again.
  • + 1
 "we noted clutch creak on the initial run of Type 2 rear derailleurs". i guess mine is not part of this initial run because it does not creak. The key word is "initial run" which imply that they fix the problem, so it does not apply to all type 2 mech out there.
  • + 1
 We haven't seen any of our Type 2's creak in quite some time. I had a ton of emails in the past couple months about the clutch creak - many seemed to be getting the derailleurs from resources who probably don't sell many (ie may have had first run ones still). I doubt many new Type 2's will have this issue at all - but those who did or do have it - it is beyond frustrating.
  • + 1
 useful to know, I've had a creak on my bike pretty much since new and it's got a X0 type 2, I got the bike in late 2012 so I assume it's one of the earlier mechs that might be affected??
  • + 1
 DC1988 - could be. The way to check (as shown on the video) is to remove the shock and watch the chain growth. You can pull the derailleur by hand as well.
  • + 1
 @freerabbit: I say it CAN, not THEY ALL creak. By saying it doesn't you meant none does creak. So read again.
  • + 1
 My bad, i guess i would have a better understanding of your statement if you used "might" instead of "can" but that's just me ( we mostly speak french around here). Btw i'm not in any way implying that your wrong even if it sound like it. That being said, i guess i should have said " Mine doesn't creak" so we wouldn't be polluting this PB forum over an overly expensive mech possible flaw ;-). So i have read again... now let's go out and ride !
  • + 1
 Entièrement d'accord Smile
  • + 1
 Excellent to have a XX1 specific guide. I heard many comments of people experiencing creaks with their XX1, I personally havent experienced it yet, but my transmission is still new..
  • + 1
 Yes I read that too, hub/cassette interface.
  • + 1
 They didnt include shock mount eyelets Frown my shock mount bolts on my Transition Bottle Rocket seem to not fit snugly in the fox eyelets, anyone have any clue how to fix, besides shoving paper or anything in it?
  • + 4
 Get a new du bushing on the shock
  • + 1
 Right, the shock bushings are either worn out or may be the wrong size if someone before you used the wrong bushings. I have had several Transitions and even the early versions are nice and snug with good shock bushings. The bushings are aluminum and do wear out and are intended to be replaced. Fox can help you get the right bushings if you are not sure. This could fix a creak and even a clunk.
  • + 1
 if the old Fox alum bushings fit and the new 5 piece ones are a struggle we have a video on our youtube page - but if they're entirely the wrong size you may destroy parts that are much more expensive then the mounts... We actually have a Tech Spotlight planned for this down the line - but don't put off your service that can be a really expensive problem
  • + 1
 Ill have a look into getting the bushings relpaced then, thanks for the advice guys!
  • + 1
 Thats it! Guys, seriously, lubricate not only chain etc, put some lube into rear der. pivots! My beloved Saint is a piece of rubbish now because I wasn't doing this. Lube rear der. pivots, always!
  • + 2
 Most Sram rear mechs, or any Sram product will be limp noodle long before you need to grease it, toss it and buy Shimano.
  • + 3
 Creaks are a thing of the past! Thanks PINKBIKE!
  • + 3
 On Treks, the ABP bearings!
  • + 1
 Or the 2 piece FSR linkage on the Demo 8's. Only downside to the Demo's. Well the older ones anyway.
  • + 2
 Turns out after spending endless hours disassembling my derailleur it was just my press fit BB.... oops.
  • + 1
 My personal worst one was loose saddle after completely tearing down one of my first bikes... 3 hours, missed ride, 2 bolts. whoops. Our mechanics made fun of me forever on that one
  • + 1
 I just had this putting together my new bike. Just put the wheels on for the first time today and i noticed that when i sat on it and pumped the suspension there was a noticeable click that you could also somewhat feel. I was just about to spit it at my brand new shock when i discovered that if i sit on the top tube the problem disappears.
  • + 1
 No tech tips for shimano plus series derailleur creaks, because... they don't creak?
  • + 2
 Shimano don't creak because they make parts properly.
  • + 1
 I believe the previous tech tues did a Shimano clutch service write up. Correctly lubing the pivots on a Shimano is important now and then. I'm interested to see if they develop the lateral creak running 42t - we have another post about some of the possible concerns on that here on our profile.
  • + 2
 Press Fit Bottom Brackets SUCK!
  • + 2
 makes you wonder why we have never had a thread in headset.
  • + 2
 don't want creaking then don't buy a bike with VPP.....
  • + 1
 I come across a lot of loose pivots from factories (on many different suspension types) unfortunately if you don't catch it it may lead to bearing rock and creaks that are much harder to find / resolve. Speaking for the Santa Cruz VPP keeping an eye on the my pivots I haven't personally had VPP creak issues - but I have seen bikes, even fairly new ones, with creaks from initially loose pivots
  • + 1
 when I was working at a shop that strictly sold santa cruz as there bread and butter, we used to replace bearings within the lower link every season for a large number of customers. Santa Cruz has a pretty good deal though, as you can order in a pro pack (bearings) for the exchange of your old ones within the first 1 or 2 years free of charge.
  • + 1
 BoneDog - there were some of the early VPP bikes that do eat up bearings. The original Blur XC's are somewhat notorious. You have that right!
  • + 1
 BoneDog was that pre-2007 frames? SC switched to having their frames made by Giant and the alignment from then on was much better.
  • + 1
 I worked at the shop between 2010 and 2013, it was on current and past models. I'd certainly note that on older ones, even with brand new linkage bearings, would develop creaking within the first few rides. Literally impossible to get rid of.
  • + 2
 Just routine maintenance how it should be....
  • + 1
 Did you forget suspension pivots and shock mount eyelets? The article seemed really thorough at first...
  • + 2
 no we have some more planned. at 2,000 words we wanted it to be readable... the Tech Spotlight with suspension will go thru what you mentioned as well as our trick for Fox 5 piece bushings. Thanks for the comment though - we're stoked people are into taking good care of their rigs!
  • + 3
 Good to know!
  • + 1
 Sometimes your bike is just going to make noise.
  • + 1
 King BB, gates carbon drive, stealth poacher...
  • + 1
 Dopey derailleurs. I bet gearboxes don't creak.
  • + 1
 Auque no entendí mucho pero muy buena la explicación...
  • + 1
 I'm surprised there wasn't much mention of a cassette creak here..
  • + 1
 Cheers Nate! I think my X0 10spd cassette is finally dead. Took it apart the other day and a spacer is no longer round (ovalised). I'm planning to upgrade to XX1 so this guide will come in handy.
  • + 0
 Put your head phones on and forget about it.
  • + 1
 Fuglio, you were neg-propped by one, so I propped you back up to zero, buddy. I thought your comment was funny. Ha!
  • + 0
 I see SRAM....I see XX1....does it really creak so much?
  • + 1
 Not if you stay on top of it. But it can be frustrating as all get up if you can't find it!
  • + 1
 enlightened

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