A curious creaking
A few months ago I paid a rare visit to my local bike shop. I had fitted a new chainring and chain and thought I'd better fit a new cassette as well. I'd already bought the cassette but although I have a chainwhip and lockring remover I can never generate enough brute force to undo the lockring. Normally I would just take the wheel in, have the lockring loosened in the bike shop, then fit the cassette myself. However as I was cycling out that way I put the new cassette in my saddle bag (my LBS doesn't stock campag) and let them do the whole job.
They're a friendly bunch in the bike shop but their passion is mountain bikes and they seem to view campag components with deep suspicion. Its easy to fit a campag cassette, you just align the splines on the plastic carrier with the splines on the freehub and slide the whole lot across.
I explained this to the mechanic but he was not convinced. He preferred to take the whole lot to bits and fit the cogs and spacers one at a time. Fair enough, its still a simple job.
Job done, he then tightened my headset for good measure. I didn't actually want the headset tightened as I intended to have it replaced by Roberts in the next couple of weeks. It felt too tight to me but the mechanic reckoned it was much improved so off I went. My bike had been running sweetly before but now it had a pronounced creak especially when I put pressure on the pedals. I wasn't too pleased – I was right the headset was too tight – but I supposed I could live with it for a short while.
A couple of weeks later Roberta had a smart new headset. She also still had the same creak. There couldn't be anything seriously wrong or Roberts would have spotted it. So what on earth could it be? All nuts and bolts were tight. Perhaps it was just my shoes, they do creak a bit. I squirted pedals and cleats with GT85 but it made no difference, and to be honest it had seemed too strident to be just coming from my shoes. What else then? Saddle? I greased the rails to no effect. I searched the internet and discovered references to creaking seatposts so I took it out and regreased it but that made no difference either. Could it be the pedal bearings? They felt smooth enough but maybe they weren't. I swapped the pedals from Roberta with the pedals from Why? bike. Roberta continued to creak. Why? didn't. So not that then. I was starting to run out of options.
I sat and thought long and hard. I'd overlooked the fact that the creaking definitely started with my visit to the LBS. That just left the cassette as the probable culprit. I didn't think there was anything to go wrong with a cassette but I fitted my spare pair of wheels and Eureka! Silence! No creaking! It must have been the cassette but I can't think why. I was a bit fed up with the whole matter by this time so I just left the wheel on my list of 'things to look at one of these days'.
A couple of days ago I returned to the LBS to get them to loosen the lockring for me. I took the cassette apart, cleaned it all up and put it back together again.
I could find nothing wrong with it. I put the wheel back on and went for a ride. No creaking. Does anyone have an explanation? I don't think it is possible to assemble a cassette incorrectly, it just won't go on. Could the lockring have been too tight? I have no idea but I'm very glad that it is finally silenced!