Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of the team at Art’s Cyclery. The original post can be found here.
After spending thousands of dollars on a mountain bike, the last thing you want is to hear are creaks, squeaks, slaps, and knocks while you’re riding down the trail. In some cases, the fix can be as easy as tightening a bolt or lubing your chain. Other noise issues may require you to be a bit more crafty and creative. Either way, it is very rewarding when you’re cruising down the trail and the only sounds you hear are your cassette buzzing and your tires rolling through the dirt.
Proper lubrication keeps your bike running smooth and silent, and extends the service life of your bicycle and its components (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art’s Cyclery
Squeaks and creaks are most often caused by a lack of lubrication. Proper lubrication not only keeps your bike running smooth and quiet, but also extends the service life of your bicycle and components.
Lubing your chain should be a regular practice, but if it sounds like baby birds are following you, lubing your chain will silence them right down. If you still hear squeaks or creaks from the drivetrain area, checking to make sure that your bottom bracket, pedals, and axles are sufficiently lubricated will often do the trick.
Still creaking? Some less common issues can be cassette pins that need a drop of lube, or improper spoke tension. Your drive train is not the only part of your bike that gets mad when it goes without lubrication. Suspension pivots can also be the source of the ever-dreaded creak when they are not properly cleaned, maintained, and lubricated.
Maintenance intervals vary between brands, so be sure to check your manual to find the proper service interval for your bike.
Does your bike howl like a wolf in the woods every time you touch the brakes? The simple solution is just not using your brakes! No howl, and you’ll go way faster! On a more serious note, there are a few little tricks that can help quiet your brakes down. Running organic pads rather than metallic pads can help reduce or even eliminate the noise and also increase modulation. However, organic pads tend to wear faster and fade more than metallic pads on long downhills.
Contamination on the rotor or pads can also be the root of the problem. Before you go out and buy new rotors and pads, you can try sanding the pads and putting the rotor in your dishwasher, followed by some sanding. The heat from the dishwasher will help remove contamination from the rotor and the sanding removes the top layer of the rotor, as well as giving the pad a rougher service to grab, which means better braking performance and less noise.
Be sure to properly bed your brakes in after you reinstall the pads and rotors. If this process does not work, then you may have to resort to new pads and rotors. When you finally rid your bike of the howling, you will be reminded of how nice it is to brake in peace.