The Cannondale creak is solved

I thought I had fixed the creak problem by using a drop of oil where the spokes cross, but that was only temporary. It came back and with a vengeance. I was riding with one of the guys that works at Oswego Cyclery,and he suggested that I take the saddle off the seatpost and put a thin film of grease on the rail clamps and on the saddle rails too, then reassemble it. Simon and Garfunkel nailed it – The Sounds of Silence. It’s been quiet ever since.

Thanks Billy, I owe you a pizza and a beer for that one.

The Cannondale on the operating table

OK, on the workstand, but you get the idea. The reason – a creaking noise that is driving me nuts.

Tracking these noises down is really frustrating. Bicycle frames are very good conductors of vibrations, so what you think is the source may not be the source. The creak I was trying to track down seemed to come from the bottom bracket. There is one internet source that claims Campagnolo doesn’t know how to build a bottom bracket and he’s come up with a fix for Campy’s Ultra-Torque bottom bracket creaks. If you do some additional research, you’ll find that most knowledgeable folks just ignore him and install it without any issues at all. I was pretty certain that I’d followed the directions but I disassembled it and reinstalled it just to be sure. No change, creaking like before.

OK, a little more diagnosis is needed. Does it creak when seated or when pedaling out of the saddle – both. The seat/saddle aren’t the cause. Does it creak when you are putting more weight on the left or right side of the handlebar? Yes, either way. That exonerates the handlebar, stem, and headset. Does it creak when cruising, sprinting, or coasting? A little, definitely, and a little. The last little was the big clue. If I’m not pedaling, the only moving parts are the hubs and wheels.

A little more digging found that sometimes you will get a creak because of the NDS spokes rubbing where they cross, presuming that the NDS side of the rear wheel is not laced in a radial pattern (some are). This is due to the loading and unloading of the spokes as the wheel rotates under you. I put a drop of Breakfree CLP where the NDS spokes cross and VOILA! creak cured. Not being a wheel builder (and if the truth be told, only a marginal wheel straightener), I didn’t know the huge difference in spoke tension between the drive side and the non-drive side. Maybe there is something to using a radial lacing pattern on the NDS.

Truth, or fiction?

The Cannondale lives…

…with a new saddle. Well, it was never actually dead or beyond resuscitation, just resting. The Adamo Typhoon wasn’t working on this frame with the different seat to handlebar reach, and the Selle SMP Plus wasn’t any better either. I, like you, have read about the mystique of Brooks saddles. The magic of a seat that hasn’t changed much in the one hundred years since it’s introduction does seem to say “We got it right the first time.” So I bit.

I ordered from, mainly because of their generous return policy. Competitive pricing and prompt shipping didn’t hurt either. The model I chose was the B17.S Select model. I installed it and went for a ride; adjusted the nose and rode it again; wash-rinse-repeat, you get the idea. The suggestion from Wall Bike was to loosen the tension about a half-turn, which gives the seat a little more hammock-like give. After a couple of hundred miles the suggestion is to put the tension back to the original amount.

So far, even without cycling shorts, it seems pretty comfortable. If the weather holds, I will take it out for a longer ride and see how it goes. My initial thoughts are positive, but I need more than a few miles to know.

Stay tuned…

Build photos

For you Cannondale enthusiasts, here you go. The frame is a 2005 Cannondale CAAD 8. Campy Veloce, Boyd wheels.

This is my first build and I think it turned out very well.


Build sheet

This is the build sheet for my CAAD8 bike:

Frame: 2005 Cannondale CAAD8 (Sz 52)
Fork: Cannondale Slice Premium full carbon
Headset: FSA integrated
Seatpost: Fizik Cyrano 27.2 setback
Stem: Easton 3T, 6 degree, 100mm
Handlebar: 3T Ergosum carbon 44cm
Handlebar tape: Bontrager
Saddle: Brooks B17.S Select

Group: 2010 Campagnolo Veloce 10sp black
53/39 crank and 13-26 cassette
Ultra-Torque crankset
Ultra-Shift brifters
Pedals: Shimano XT PD-M785

Wheelset: Boyd Vitesse 24/28 (23mm width, 28mm depth)
Tires: Michelin Pro Race 3 Red 700c x 23

Stem spacers and seatpost clamp: Purely Custom
Chain: Wippermann Connex 10s0
Bottle cage: Bontrager

The bike is riding great, shifting is crisp and clean. The Wippermann/Connex chain shifts fine, so the (essentially-unremovable-once-installed) Campy chain is still in the box. The Connex connector is great and as far as I can tell has caused no shifting issues at all.

I’m very pleased with the way everything works, and as soon as I wrap the handlebars it will be done.