To quote the late, great Sheldon Brown:
Aside from the whoosh of the tires on the road, and the clicking of the freewheel, a bicycle should be silent.
I subjected YC to a continuous cacaphony as I rode beside him toward Genting Sempah. A rasping noise accompanied each and every pedal stroke. YC was the guy I called from the McDonald’s parking lot for directions to the meeting point for this, my maiden ride in KL. More pertinently given the noise my drivetrain was making, he is also is the technical expert at Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.
We chatted about what the cause or causes could be. In the back of my mind I worried that my bike had taken a hard knock during shipping. We did what little diagnosing by eye was possible whilst spinning up a 6 degree slope. My wheels looked true. My chainrings weren’t bent. There wasn’t any play in my cranks. All the while the creaking seemed to get worse. Perhaps the boost in volume was just in my mind but I was getting increasingly embarrassed by all the racket my bike was making.
I stopped and looked over my bike. I had to at least give the impression that I was doing something about the noise. I checked my chain ring bolts. I loosened and retightened the quick release skewers on my wheels. I gave my saddle a twist. I ran through the gears. I poked at my cleats. Then I remounted my bike and grated the rest of the way up the hill. At the top of the climb YC and I, hex wrenches in hand, made another attempt to find the source of the creak. Unsuccessfully.
The next morning my bike was on the work stand at Van’s. YC and I took the cranks off the bike, disassembled the chain rings and cleaned all the parts. We checked the torque on the bottom bracket cups. We put Loctite on the bolts when we reassembled the chain rings. We reinstalled the cranks. I went for a spin outside the shop.
My bike went back onto the work stand. This time we removed the rear wheel and checked the hub for play. We lubed the spoke heads where they exited the hub flange. We checked the spoke tension. We greased the dropouts and axle. I went for another spin outside the shop.
There was an improvement. However not enough to have impressed. But was time for lunch. Everything stops for lunch in Malaysia. So with the hope that lubricant would continue to work its silencing way between the various parts on my bike, YC and I went to the cafeteria next door for a rice and curry feast.