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Handlebar clicking - failure imminent?

Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
edited July 2010 in Workshop
I know there are plenty of “clicking/creaking/clunking” threads already, but I would really like some help with this one as I feel I've tried the "usual" remedies.

Felt Z35 with factory components (i.e. aluminium stem/bars)

Every time I put weight through the handlebars (particularly the left hand side) when sprinting or climbing out of the saddle, this is met with a rhythmic ‘click’ from what seems to be the handlebars.

I had the headset serviced at my LBS two weeks ago to replace 2 knackered bearings and I have also stripped the stem faceplate/handlebars and cleaned the mating surfaces… still the clicking is present. I have put the bars together with and without grease and torqued the bolts to the correct amount in this order:

Top Left
Bottom Right
Top Right
Bottom Left
[repeat to 5Nm]

The clicking remains. A friend has suggested it could be the onset of handlebar failure, however I haven’t crashed the bike and there are no cracks on the exposed handlebar (where the stem clamps).

Interestingly, when I headed out on Saturday morning my bike had been in the van all night and the metal components were cold to the touch... the click was gone until, I guess, the metal components warmed up and expanded.

Anyone had this problem before? Solved it? Is it still driving you crazy?

Do I need to get those handlebars unwrapped and give them a thorough look over? Or do I take it to my LBS for a health-check?

I had 40 miles planned for tonight, but it looks like I’ll be donning the NBs and doing a 10K instead!

Thanks for any input.

Ben
Ben

Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

Posts

  • Weejie54Weejie54 Posts: 750
    Have you checked the brake/shifter lever mounts? They can creak even when you are not gripping them.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    I haven't checked them, but I do get the clicking when grabbing the bend of the bars AND when holding the hoods.

    Thanks.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    I'd imagine if it was going to fail it would be at the junction with the stem? That is where mine failed many years ago. I didn't have any creaking warning, just went. So you should be able to see if there are any cracks forming without unwrapping the tape.

    Checking the brake mounts is a good idea.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    Term1te wrote:
    I'd imagine if it was going to fail it would be at the junction with the stem? That is where mine failed many years ago. I didn't have any creaking warning, just went. So you should be able to see if there are any cracks forming without unwrapping the tape.

    Checking the brake mounts is a good idea.

    That was my thoughts re: cracking with me not having crashed/used the bars outside the intended environment.

    Brake mounts as in brake lever? Or the calipers? If the calipers, I'm not questioning you but merely intrigued how such a noise could arise from them.

    Thanks
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    what about on the tops? that would hopefully identify if lever related or stem related.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    what about on the tops? that would hopefully identify if lever related or stem related.

    If my weight's going through the bars, then it doesn't matter whether tops, drops or hoods. But I suppose the lever mounts could click if the bar's flexing and they need tightening?
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    if they're cracked by the lever clamp then you shouldn't hear it when you yank on the tops!

    Which gives you and idea about where you need to look.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    if they're cracked by the lever clamp then you shouldn't hear it when you yank on the tops!

    Which gives you and idea about where you need to look.

    Agreed. Which is why my first port of call was to strip, check, clean and re-assemble the stem/stem faceplate/handlebar interface.

    Could it be headset related even though my LBS serviced this the other week? There isn't any play.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
    When you're yanking on the bars and rocking the bike you're applying lateral loading to the front wheel.

    Perhaps you should check your QR lever on the front wheel?
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Could be the crown race on the steerer or the stem bolts, or the stem-steerer-interface, or the spacers creaking if the steerer is flexy.

    Could also be your front QR, cleats on pedals, spokes rubbing on each other/hub.

    Have fun :twisted:
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    DesWeller wrote:
    When you're yanking on the bars and rocking the bike you're applying lateral loading to the front wheel.

    Perhaps you should check your QR lever on the front wheel?

    I removed the wheel, cleaned up the dropouts and applied a dab of grease. I suppose I could check for grit in the lever cam.

    Thanks
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,175
    Ben6899 wrote:
    DesWeller wrote:
    When you're yanking on the bars and rocking the bike you're applying lateral loading to the front wheel.

    Perhaps you should check your QR lever on the front wheel?

    I removed the wheel, cleaned up the dropouts and applied a dab of grease. I suppose I could check for grit in the lever cam.

    Thanks

    Mm, should be OK.

    Is it tight enough? It might just need a bit more clamping load to stop it moving around.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    Ben6899 wrote:
    Term1te wrote:
    I'd imagine if it was going to fail it would be at the junction with the stem? That is where mine failed many years ago. I didn't have any creaking warning, just went. So you should be able to see if there are any cracks forming without unwrapping the tape.

    Checking the brake mounts is a good idea.

    That was my thoughts re: cracking with me not having crashed/used the bars outside the intended environment.

    Brake mounts as in brake lever? Or the calipers? If the calipers, I'm not questioning you but merely intrigued how such a noise could arise from them.

    Thanks

    Yet where the brake levers are clamped onto the handlebar, you should be able to tighten them with an allan key slipped down the inside of the rubber hood, if they are at all loose.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    Thanks for the input so far chaps. I'm off home now and will have a frig about with it this evening.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • sungodsungod Posts: 13,793
    i'd check that the preload on the headset bearings is high enough, it's been the cause of insanity-provoking clicking on both my bikes

    this would fit with what you say about no clicking when cold - the aluminium steerer will contract more than the carbon fibre head tube, so increasing the load on the bearings, once it warms up the load will drop, and click....click...click...

    try...

    loosen stem

    tighten head bolt, but not so far that steering stiffens up

    tighten stem
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    Thanks for the input.

    I've just been tinkering with my bikes, giving them a clean etc and had another mess about with the Felt and the clicking....

    I can replicate the click stood off the bike; grabbing the bars near the hoods and applying a force which tends to rotate the handlebar within the stem/faceplate. I removed the bars and grabbed the end of the stem, applying a similar force to see if the click was coming from the stem/steerer... no noise.

    So I'm pretty sure (I've been wrong before) that it is to do with the stem/bar interface. I cleaned this up again and retorqued as above, but no luck. Is the standard Felt stem on the Z35 notorious for being creaky does anyone know?
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • rakerake Posts: 3,204
    Ben6899 wrote:
    Thanks for the input.

    I've just been tinkering with my bikes, giving them a clean etc and had another mess about with the Felt and the clicking....

    I can replicate the click stood off the bike; grabbing the bars near the hoods and applying a force which tends to rotate the handlebar within the stem/faceplate. I removed the bars and grabbed the end of the stem, applying a similar force to see if the click was coming from the stem/steerer... no noise.

    So I'm pretty sure (I've been wrong before) that it is to do with the stem/bar interface. I cleaned this up again and retorqued as above, but no luck. Is the standard Felt stem on the Z35 notorious for being creaky does anyone know?
    i had this same problem. not very loud but road bumps and resting on the bars produced a persistant click noise . i tried greasing and cleaning the carbon stem spacers thinking it was a bit of steerer flex. tried adjusting the head preload and stem bolts but to no avail. it seemed to start with hot weather as well. i was worried about the safety aspect being a carbon steerer. a few days ago on a very hot day i was a few miles into a long ride and couldnt stand it any more, i decided to try and get to ther bottom of it at the side of the road. i had tried everything else so took the stem off and had a look at the head bearings. couldnt see anything wrong but there was some kind of brown grease or compound on the inside of the integrated bearing cup under the bearing. its not bearing surface so decided to wipe it off the cup with a tissue. put it all back together and instantly silent riding. 8) 8) what a relief! tested it by pulling at the bars but a week later still gone, good ridance. seeing as youve had new head bearings in i would try this. the slightest particle of grit if dust under the bearing shoulder could cause it . easy enough to not notice when putting new bearings in. get a tissue and wipe the cups spotless. its an angled face so the slightlest thing will stop the bearing shoulder from sitting snug. i couldnt actually see any foreign matter but wiping did the trick.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    Thanks rake, I'll have a mess this weekend. When you say head bearings... whereabouts exactky do I need to be looking?

    Got a link to a decent diagram?

    Thanks again.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    Cheers, I think I know where I'm looking now!

    As an aside, that's an interesting article/bulletin. Chris King have real reservations about the integrated headset that most bikes are built with nowadays. Gary at Kendell Cycles told me about the possible problems with integrated headsets when he replaced my headset bearings.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • jonnyconjonnycon Posts: 116
    Ben
    This may seem really obvious but I post just in case. A lad I ride with had the same problem, creaking from the headset/bar area, it drove him mad. Stripped, greased reassembled and still it persisited, I had a ride of it as did a few of the lads and couldn't work out where it came from. It ended up at the LBS who diagnosed the problem immediately it was the cabling running from brakes/shifters rubbing together. Seems obvious but it wasn't to us and it sounded gratingly irritating.
    Just a thought
  • rakerake Posts: 3,204
    Ben6899 wrote:
    Cheers, I think I know where I'm looking now!

    As an aside, that's an interesting article/bulletin. Chris King have real reservations about the integrated headset that most bikes are built with nowadays. Gary at Kendell Cycles told me about the possible problems with integrated headsets when he replaced my headset bearings.
    i didnt understand what they were like until i looked at mine. i knew what conventional were like and assumed there would be a replaceable cup hidden in the frame but its bonded into the carbon. i have reservations about long term durability now. looks great but dont want a noisey worn frame before time. im not sure what it was i wiped out of there (under the bearing not the actual bearing grease) and need to know if it should be some kind of grease to reduce wear. the only + is the angled bearing shoulder can be refaced with an angled cutter to restore it similar to a bottom bracket reface. how many times it can be done before to much material is removed i dont know.
    down the page is integrated 45 degree angled cutter.
    http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=66
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    I'm gonna take my bike to the LBS tomorrow for them to have a look at it. Even if they just strip it down, clean, reassemble that will do me if it gets rid of the click.

    I still tend to think it's stem/handlebar related though as with the bars off, I cannot replicate the click by pulling at the stem.

    jonnycon thanks for the suggestion. I thought I had eliminated that potential source, but I'll check again.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • mickenmicken Posts: 275
    I'm finding this thread very interesting since I've just gone from a Cannondale Six13 frameset to a Six Carbon that's a warranty replacement. After one or two rides I was getting creaking noises from the front and went through all the items and issues discussed in this thread. One source of noise was indeed the left hand cable ferrule seating in the guide at the side of the headtube, quite a distinct and alarming creak when the bars were turned.

    During the process I stripped the headset, cleaned it and regreased the bearing seats. I found that I had to put a fair bit more torque than I was used to into the stem adjuster to get rid of headset rocking. The headset system contains a split, bevelled compression ring at the head bearing that is used to help get this correct. However the range of torque that it allows whilst still leaving free sideways movement of the steerer is quite large.

    Having played around with this and after reading the Chris King document I'm thinking that higher torque rather than lower is more likely to protect the bearing seats. It may lead to shorter bearing life but these can be replaced.

    I'm also wondering whether or not the frame manufacturers factor in some material in the headtube to allow for refacing the seat.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    micken

    It's true that noises can come from anywhere on the bike and apparently materialise anywhere else on the bike. Glad you found the culprit!

    I think there must be an element of over-reaction to the integrated headset design from some corners of the cycling community. As with other developments such as outboard bearing cups and the press-in bottom bracket (I forget the name) that Trek has developed.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • rakerake Posts: 3,204
    micken wrote:
    I'm finding this thread very interesting since I've just gone from a Cannondale Six13 frameset to a Six Carbon that's a warranty replacement. After one or two rides I was getting creaking noises from the front and went through all the items and issues discussed in this thread. One source of noise was indeed the left hand cable ferrule seating in the guide at the side of the headtube, quite a distinct and alarming creak when the bars were turned.

    During the process I stripped the headset, cleaned it and regreased the bearing seats. I found that I had to put a fair bit more torque than I was used to into the stem adjuster to get rid of headset rocking. The headset system contains a split, bevelled compression ring at the head bearing that is used to help get this correct. However the range of torque that it allows whilst still leaving free sideways movement of the steerer is quite large.

    Having played around with this and after reading the Chris King document I'm thinking that higher torque rather than lower is more likely to protect the bearing seats. It may lead to shorter bearing life but these can be replaced.

    I'm also wondering whether or not the frame manufacturers factor in some material in the headtube to allow for refacing the seat.
    i did wonder weather it was better to use higher preload for the sake of the frame.it certainly needs more than a cup to stop any slack. im worried being tighter it will put more stress on the carbon steerer as it flexes being pulled harder. i would hope they put a fair amount of excess material on the bevel for refacing several times and hope its not an indication of the life expectancy of the frame.these things annoy me. particularly vulnerable on the bottom race where dirt is thrown from the wheel. even worse in wet weather. anyone from a bike shop know how many times you can recut?
  • The MechanicThe Mechanic Posts: 1,277
    I spent weeks looking for a ticking noise on my bike a couple of years ago. Tried every conceivable component to get rid of it to no avail. Finally tracked it down: it was the plastic buckle on my helmet hitting the zip tab on my jersey. When it is that close to your ear it is almost impossible to gauge where it is coming from.
    I have only two things to say to that; Bo***cks
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    I think I might have cured it.

    I headed out with my brother tonight on a quick 15miler and the symptoms were still there so on my return I removed the stem/bearing cap,stem,stem shim (it's a Felt adjustable) and all three spacers.

    I gave each part a wipe over with a dry tissue and reassembled and went for a quick crank up the street. The click/creak seems to have disappeared although granted I haven't ragged the bike up a hill yet (I had to shower for the teatime drink at the pub so didn't have loads of time!)

    I'm heading out in the morning to see how it feels/sounds and if it returns, I'll go to the LBS for some help. But it looks like I might have cracked it... if I have then I have no idea how - the spacers etc looked spotless.

    (As an aside you'll be pleased to know that I put my incredibly fit semi-pro footballing brother through the paces so at least there's one extra person out there who realises that proper cycling isn't easy. :lol: )
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
  • BarrydeekBarrydeek Posts: 12
    Hi, i had exactly the same problem with a Cannondale Synapse i bought off ebay,tried all the usual remedies, yet still clicking noise, it was definetly coming from handlebar/stem, so i swaped out the stem for an old one i had, guess what? no clicking, bought a new stem to replace the swapped one because it was gettin a bit old, and since then been click free ever since.The stem in question was Cannondale fire with the four bolts to tighten , guess i couldn't get the four of them to tighten up equally.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,997
    Hi Barry,

    I fitted a new (to me) Ritchey stem in the end and the noise is gone. So it must have been slight movement between the Felt stem and it's internal shim.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
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