Instructables
Picture of Stop creaky cranks
After a while your cranks will begin to creak, Its inevitable, like the sun rising and people in minivans talking on their cell phones while driving.

If you ride in muddy conditions this might happen even faster

Its fairly easy to stop the creak with about 45 minutes of work.


 
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Step 1: Tools

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You will need:

For Isis/Splined Cranks
10mm allen key
Bottom Bracket Tool Park BBT-24

For Square Taper Cranks
8mm Allen Key or 14mm Socket
Bottom Bracket Tool

For Outboard Bearing Cranks
10mm Allen Key
5mm Allen Key
Park BBT-19Park BBT-19

A Rag
Cleaner, I user OranJ Peels and Bio Cleaner
Grease or Anti Seize

You should also have a torque wrench, I used the Park TW-2

Step 2: Remove the cranks

Picture of Remove the cranks
You need to remove the cranks first.

On most modern cranks they'll have dustcaps on them that when loosening the crank bolt will pull the crank off. Side note, syncros sold these as crank-o-matics back in the 90s, then shimano came out with them...

Back on track, if you have square taper cranks or no crank-o-matics you might have to use a crank puller. You would thread that in and then turn the handle to back it out.

Step 3: Bottom Bracket

Picture of Bottom Bracket
Remove the bottom bracket using the appropriate tool.
VERY IMPORTANT
The drive side bottom bracket is reverse threaded, so lefty-tighty righty-loosey.

Step 4: Clean out the BB shell

Picture of Clean out the BB shell
Clean out the bottom bracket shell by spraying in some cleaner and using a rag.

You might want to use a small brush too if its really messy.

Step 5: Clean the BB

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When I pulled the bottom bracket out, it was nasty. spray it down with cleaner and clean it with your rag.

I went over it with a brush to get at all the crud in the threads.

Step 6: Clean the cranks

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You need to remove the dust caps and the bolts in the cranks if you want to get it clean.

Step 7: More cleaning

Picture of more cleaning
So you need to keep cleaning. I used more cleaner, more rags, and more brushes on the crank arms. Make sure to clean all surfaces that contact other parts.
cole.c3 years ago
i ride a bmx and there is a squeaky noise coming from my right crank and i have no idea what to do.
Phil B5 years ago
I just found this through the randomizer feature. I have square taper cranks on a road bike. I also have a crank puller tool, but the cranks do not come off. I do not really want to loosen the bolts and ride until the cranks break loose. I am thinking of making a special pickle fork to go between the bottom bracket and the crank. I would use the pickle fork while also using the crank puller to add pressure. Some of the leading books on bicycle repair do not mention the problem of cranks that do not release with a crank puller.
are the cranks aluminium? if so heat the cranks up and they will expand and come loose
I have already tried heating them, but they still did not come loose. When I really need to get them off I think I will remove the retaining bolts and ride until they fall off. That is a fix of the last resort used by some.
do you have a crank puller? them things remove even the most seized of cranks
I do have a crank puller. I have put a lot of leverage on it, but still nothing moved.
maybe a mixture of some penetrating oil and more leverage? when you eventually get it off put some anti seize compound on to make easy work of it next time
Someone else suggested penetrating oil. I have not done that yet. If I put still more leverage on my crank removal tool I am afraid the fine threads in the crank will pull out.
Ive ran out of ideas then.sorry.
Nice ible but not everyone rides a mountan bike how bought one where it can help other people who dont have the right tools for the job or dont have those cranks I ride a 20' dirt jumper(eastern, Jane) with profile cranks tripple walled rims and a cane creek headset(yes I like cane creek)with a thick chain and peggs on the right side(I ride street too) so what advice do you offer me?
then you will have 3 piece cranks,use a allen key and dissasemble the whole thing and clean everything and relube and put back together see if that makes a difference.
ax896 years ago
I definitely would have cleaned my bike first, for the same reasons as the other commenters stated. I have a question - why do you use anti-seize compound instead of grease? (I didn't see if you touched on the reason why when I read through this.)
sharlston ax894 years ago
anti seize compound contains copper and other impurities and can stop things seizing better than plain grease
useful instructables. thanks mate
charlie_r6 years ago
I think you are confusing INCH-pounds with FOOT-pounds.

The torque wrench you show in step 10 is not capable of 300 ft-lb. way too short an arm.

The Park Tools torque sheet you link to shows also IN-LB.

If you were to try to put 300 ft-lb torque on your BB, you wouldn't have a BB left to work with. The threads and material will not support that high a torque.
Prometheus6 years ago
This project can be easily misinterpreted as a fix for a serious problem. If your 3-piece cranks "creak", this is a sign of loose crankarm bolts. Proper torque for crankarm bolts on a chro-moly spindle and bolt set is about 80-140 ft-lbs. Tighten them immediately or crankarm damage can result. If no amount of tightening will solve the problem, the crankarms are ruined and need to be replaced, as the spindle taper has been irrevocably damaged, making them unusable. You have to be sure that the sound is coming from the spindle and not the pedals themselves, as that is another procedure altogether. A dry or contaminated bottom bracket (the bearings that support the "crankset" including the pedals, crankarms, and spindle) will more commonly squeal or shriek with every revolution. In this case, overhaul of the bottom-bracket bearings is imperative and critical, lest you wish to replace the entire set. Ideally, never remove the "fixed cup" on the bottom-bracket (the non-adjustable side) unless absolutely necessary. All tools for the "fixed-cup" are about a foot long, and 300 lb-ft is quite excessive, 150-175 lb-ft will suffice. Only remove the "fixed-cup" for a specific diagnosis or to replace it, and use an aluminum-based anti-seize compound especially with chro-moly frames. For aluminum frames, use lithium-based grease. In any case, the "fixed-cup" is best left undisturbed to minimize thread wear. To properly adjust BB preload, first assemble without the crankarms, and check for smooth movement. Attach the RH crank with 80 lb-ft of bolt-torque and sling the chain over it, and wiggle laterally trying to detect a "clunk". Tighten by 1/8th turn increments until barely detectable, and then tighten by 1/16th turn at a time until no clunk is felt. Tighten the lockring and check again. The crank should turn freely without any roughness (put your ear to the frame), but also without any binding. Ideal adjustment can get as finicky as 1/64th a turn. The best method is to again remove the crankarm and ensure that the spindle turns without feeling "gritty". Be sure to use a high-grade grease meant for low speeds and high pressures if you are rebuilding them, as BB-shell bearings work the hardest of all bearings on your bike. If your cranks are anything other than "perfectly square" (both cranks are perfectly parallel), you will be replacing either your crank spindle or your entire crankset (likely your crankset because chro-mo spindles rarely twist). Check and retighten crankarm bolts the first time you buy/receive a bike, 2 weeks or 50-75 miles after that, and no less than bi-annually (or every 300 miles) after that to prevent costly damage. All crank bolts or nuts should be accompanied by equally-hard washers at all times, and never use anything mor3e than anti-sieze on crankarm bolt or nut threads. NEVER use motor oil or any "purposeful lubricant". Crank bolts/nuts are commonly a snug 14mm size, the super-cheap ones are measured as 1/2", and you shouldn't even buy those anyway.
Vertigo6666 years ago
My gears won't change, for some reason. They're stuck at highest and second highest.
joe (author)  Vertigo6666 years ago
Front or rear? I'll do up an instructable on shifting today.
Vertigo666 joe6 years ago
Both, actually, don't know if this helps but the one on the right moves, not the left.
joe (author)  Vertigo6666 years ago
Hey Vertigo666 - I just put up and instructable on how to tune your front aka left derailleur here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-tune-a-front-derailleur/

-Joe
wow very high quality macro photos. I was impressed.
garr86 years ago
It's much better if you wash your bike before doing any mechanical repair, you avoid getting dirt again where you all ready clean, tidy bikes work sweet as...
camb006 years ago
Never put too much grease on !!! lol
Nice 'ible, though creek is actually creak, the spellchecker might have missed it because creek is a word. Good job, my cranks are just about ready for a good sorting out, they have a distinct creak, like a ship moving...
joe (author)  killerjackalope6 years ago
Thanks for catching that. -Joe
Eh it's an easy one... I do that stuff alot so I see it...
Much-needed and comprehensive instructable! Before getting Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance" I never knew how to take apart a BB....

Unfortunately, I think I need a new BB entirely to get rid of my creak : (
joe (author)  a grain of alt.6 years ago
The Zinn book is great! He is a wealth of information, along with his column on Velonews.com
Geordiepom6 years ago
A very timely posting! I've just returned from a very pleasant but slightly creaky Sunday morning ride. Many thanks.