Stop Creaky Cranks





Introduction: Stop Creaky Cranks

About: I like to tinker with just about anything, sometimes it works out in the end. Have fun looking at the projects, try tearing something open and let me know how it goes. cheers, -Joe

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.

Step 1: Tools

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

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

Remove the bottom bracket using the appropriate tool.
The drive side bottom bracket is reverse threaded, so lefty-tighty righty-loosey.

Step 4: 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

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

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

Step 7: 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.

Step 8: Grease

You need to grease the bolts, and the inside of the crank arm and put it back together.

I no longer use plain old grease on bottom brackets and cranks, I use anti seize compound.

Step 9: Grease the Bottom Bracket

You need to grease the threads of the bottom bracket, and the splines if its ISIS. Also grease the part of the bottom bracket that fits inside the non drive side cup.

This is a debate as old as bottom brackets themselves, but I do not like to grease the spindle or the cranks on square taper bottom brackets.

Step 10: Tighten the Bottom Bracket

Now its time to reinsert the bottom bracket. I like to thread in the non drive side first, the the drive side, remembering the drive side is reverse threaded.

I used a torque wrench to tighten the bottom bracket to 300 inch pounds.

Park tools supplies a nice guide for torque values here.

Step 11: Tighten the Cranks

I tighten the cranks using the torque wrench as well. Park says you can use 350 inch pounds.



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    31 Discussions

    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.

    8 replies

    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.

    when you have the crank puller on and its tight give it a wrap with a mallot. You may have to hit it good or tighten puller after each hit but use a mallot not a hammer

    Guys orbea or giant if same gear in both ?

    i ride a bmx and there is a squeaky noise coming from my right crank and i have no idea what to do.

    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?

    1 reply

    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.

    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.)

    1 reply

    anti seize compound contains copper and other impurities and can stop things seizing better than plain grease

    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.

    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.