Squawk!

Building up the Boulder has been, in many ways, a very different experience for me. For all of the vintage road bikes I’ve worked on, it’s been a little intimidating to find myself doing a frame up build with mostly contemporary components. My experience with indexing, for instance, is pretty minimal. More than once over the past weeks I’ve threatened to switch over to friction mode and abandon any further fine tuning of the index shifts. Just about the time that I think things are all dialed in, the rear — frustratingly! — begins to ghost shift.

A couple of days ago I began to hear some alarming creaking sounds coming from the rear. I worried that my inferior adjustments were somehow damaging the mech or cassette. Putting the bike back on the stand, I went back through everything, carefully adjusting the high and low adjusters. It all seemed to shift flawlessly, with no creaking, grinding, or any other disastrous sounds emanating from the drive train. But back on the road, the racket was back again — and worse than ever. As I torqued the crank, the bike seemed to groan at the top of each revolution… but, dammit! The mech seemed to be shifting smoothly, so what the hell was going on?

I pulled the rear wheel and snugged up all of the points where the fender bolted down. And that was that: a nearly silent ride. Why hadn’t I double checked the fender in the first place? How agonizingly stupid could I possibly be?

To be entirely candid, the Brooks Flyer still makes a little noise. Especially when I hammer, the springs tend to creak occasionally as my weight shifts in the saddle. I intend to hit the springs with a little lube at some point — no doubt I’ll get around to it when the bike is on the stand and it actually occurs to me to do so!

I’ve ditched the Keene commuter shoes I rode on over the winter. They don’t breathe well and they’re heavy. Shimano mountain bike shoes fit the bill much better.

The Boulder is shaping up to be everything I hoped for. It’s a very comfortable ride and feels like it’s going to make a great long distance steed. The fit is spot on. The gearing is pretty close to where I want it to be.

Weather is getting nice. It’s been great getting up and hitting the road early. And the last couple of days I haven’t worried overmuch about shattering the morning quiet with a squawking fender.

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7 thoughts on “Squawk!

  1. It’s a bittersweet thing, to fine tune a machine to your exact specifications and whittle away at the little issues and pet peeves. When I had my Voyageur, I spent probably a total of a month fine tuning the lower end canti’s and the slight fender chatter that would crop up after a few solid weeks of riding. It would drive me insane when I would feel the brakes not grabbing like they should or the distinct, metallic rattle of a fender as I hit a bump in the road. You’ll nail it and once you do, you’ll be looking for something to “fix”. Enjoy the ride… and the journey to perfection.

  2. adventurepdx says:

    Fine tuning, I know the feeling. Just had a bunch o’ work done to the LHT, including metal fenders. Heard some noises over the weekend, and I think it’s the fenders. Need to adjust them.

    Creakiness is a side-effect of the sprung saddle, and I don’t think there’s anyway to truly get rid of it. But you’ll get used to it, really! I also have the added benefit/detriment of springs squeaking against my Carradice saddlebag.

    • It’s all worth it, though, when things begin to come together. At the moment, the ride is tight and quiet. Weirdly, I felt myself holding back while riding, I think because the racket concerned me. Although I’m never riding at “race speed”, with the noise gone I have a sense that I’m riding harder and more solidly. Don’t know why that is so, but it just is! In any event, the point is the ride, right?

  3. If you continue to experience ghost shifting under load it may be the rear derailleur hanger. While the frame may be true & square to the drop outs, the hanger could be out of alignment just enough to create the unexpected shifts. Most of us don’t own the alignment tool (it’s on my “To Buy” list) but any LBS worth its’ salt will have one. I’d recommend that you have it checked if the problem persists.

    • Funny you should mention the Park Derailleur Hanger Alignment Gauge (DAG-2), kctweedindeed. Just days ago I put it at “high priority” on my list of purchases. I think it’s a good idea to check all incoming used bike purchases as part of the initial inspection and probably good practice to check all bikes in the rotating stable on a yearly basis, you know, for piece of mind.

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