Creaks and squeaks that occur while riding can be very difficult to track down. Here is a list of some of the most common causes of these annoying sounds on a tandem, ordered from easiest to most complex to repair:
1. PEDAL/CLEAT INTERFACE-
If you use a clip-in pedal system, such as Shimano SPD, check to see that the screws the affix the cleats to your shoes are tight. Apply a little grease or Teflon-based lube to the area where the cleat engages the pedal, and on the cleats themselves. Worn cleats may squeak even when they’re greased- they should be replaced. Sometimes a pebble can get caught in a cleat and cause a nasty creaking noise. If you have cage-type or platform pedals that do not require cleats, you may want to check the bolts that fix the cage to the pedal body- there are usually either 4 or 8 of them per pedal.
2. CHAIN-RING BOLTS-
These little bolts can make quite an annoying ticking or creaking sound that is most likely to occur during hard efforts. Be sure to check the timing chain-ring bolts as well as the drive crank chain-ring bolts. A couple of loose ones is all it takes to make a terrible noise.
Yes, that simple thing can make noise, especially if it’s dry, or if some grit has found its way into your seat tube. Simply remove the posts and apply a thin layer of grease, then re-install. Hint- measure your saddle heights, or scrawl a line on your post so the height will be right when you reinstall them. Also, check the seat-post binder bolt- take it all the way out and grease the threads as well as the underside of the bolt head.
4. SEAT-POST HEAD ASSEMBLY-
Even though your noise occurs only when pedaling, the motion of pedaling may be rocking the saddle from side to side enough to make some noise. Remove the seat-post head bolts, apply grease under the head of the bots as well as on the threads and reassemble.
There are several different types of tandem crank-sets we’ve used over the years, but all of them need to be properly tightened and maintained to be noise-free. Check Park Tool’s website to identify your crank type and get tips for proper installation and torque specs.
6. REAR WHEEL-
Occasionally, a wheel will creak where the spokes cross over each other. Try placing a drop of oil where each pair of spokes crosses. Sometimes this creaking initiates from grit getting into the spokes and “notching” them where they cross. Keeping them clean and placing a drop of oil at the crosses will eliminate the noise.
7. HANDLEBAR STEMS-
You can test the stems for creaks while not riding by straddling the bike, gripping the handlebar at its widest and pulling upward on opposite sides of the bar, mimicking the motion of an out-of-saddle climb. If the handlebar creaks at all, you may have found your culprit. Remove all bolts, grease the threading as well as under the bolt heads, reassemble and tighten evenly.
8. FRONT BOTTOM BRACKET ECCENTRIC UNIT-
This is the chain-tension device for the timing chain. You may need to remove the eccentric unit and re-grease it. To remove it you’ll need to remove a crank-arm, then loosen the eccentric and slide it out one side of the frame. Once the eccentric is removed, you’ll want to clean out the inside of the eccentric housing and the outside of the eccentric unit itself. Then apply a thin layer of grease to the outside of the eccentric unit as well as the inside of the eccentric unit. Removing the crank varies somewhat depending on which model of PeriScope you have. You may want to bring your bike in to your dealer to have this done. If you’d like to do it yourself, Park Tool has some excellent mechanical tips on their website.
Please see our instructions on adjusting your eccentric posted on the FAQ section of our website here.
9. BOTTOM BRACKET (BB) ASSEMBLIES-
This is a little different from #8 above. Here, we’re talking about the interface where the bottom bracket assemblies thread into the rear bottom bracket shell or the eccentric shell itself. In either case, you will need to remove the crank-arms to get at the BB cups, and a special spanner is needed for every type of BB cup in current use, so I would recommend checking this item last, and only if the other examples above have not eliminated the noise. If you do plan on trying this yourself, you’ll need the correct BB tool. The Park tool link above can help you through the process, and it will help you identify what tools are needed.
It’s most likely that you’ll be getting rid of this annoyance well before you get to the later steps described here, but these things can be very tough to track down. If your noise remains elusive after taking all these steps, don’t despair. The good news is there is always a cause, and it can always be eliminated. It really helps to have a patient and thorough mechanic who will do what it takes to eliminate all possibilities until the problem is solved. Sometimes, a great mechanic can be as hard to find as your squeak, but ask around in your community and you may find a real gem.
Good luck, and happy noiseless riding!