A common problem we're asked to solve is the mystery noise -- the little click or creak that wasn't there last ride but has suddenly appeared now, or, even more frustratingly, seems to randomly come and go.
Many of you who've experienced this try to establish what the possible issue(s) are before bringing your bike in. This is hugely helpful as it not only reduces wasted time looking for causes (and therefore reduces your repair bill) but also gives us some handy guidelines to work to. (Imagine your car mechanic's reaction if you said, "There's a bit of a creak... sometimes...but not at other times... See ya!")
Here's the best way to try and work out what's causing the problem.
Is it a single click, a series of clicks, a groan or more of a creak? (Bonus points if you can record it.)
Think about the parts of the bike that are connected to this noise. Does it go away when you stop pedalling? If it does, is it one click per pedal revolution (left, right or both) or a series?
This can sometimes be difficult to ascertain with modern bikes as large-diameter frame tubing tends to resonate noise, making it difficult to pinpoint the source. Try anyway. Is it coming from the front, rear or middle?
Test this by pedalling both seated and standing.
Excessive use of water, especially with high-pressure sprayers, can force moisture into your components and frame and cause unusual noises. (Here's a quick technique refresher.)
On more than one occasion, the mystery noise has turned out to be a cracked frame. Yikes! (Or 'hurray' if you want a new bike and have a good insurance policy.)
Ride in different combinations while keeping the load constant and see if the noise continues.
When the noise occurs, do your brakes rub on the rim/rotors, or do your gears slip?
As bearings wear out, their tolerances increase, sometimes resulting in a creaky ride.
If the answer is 'yes', it could be pivot-related. (Don't worry, we can fix those, too.)
This can be a tricky one to re-create at the shop because, as you know, Waymouth Street is pretty darn flat.
While many of you are more than competent enough to do the basics, the question needs to be asked. You can tell us. Just think of us like a doctor for your bike.
Still can't work it out? We'll take care of it for you, so your bike will stop driving you (and anyone you ride with) bananas.