Brake creaking

Hi all,

For a few days I have had some frightening creaking when I use my brake. This noise occurs when I simply push on the brake lever, even though I’m not on the uni.
Yesterday, I have tried to switch my two 27"5 wheels - so the RGB frame and powerful brake got the Qaxle hub and 160mm disc rotor while the old Qx alu frame and less powerful brake got the freewheel hub and 160mm disc rotor (the disc rotors are the same except the rotor on on the Qaxle hub is 5 years older). Strangely, there was no more noise. Both brakes were silent.

So I’m wondering where the noise on my RGB / powerful brake / freewheel comes from. Can the disc rotor be weakened by 3 months of abuse with a powerful brake?
As the disc is a two-piece rotor - a floating disc -, I have tried to swap it with a one-piece rotor but I haven’t been able to remove the bearing even with a bearing extractor. Is there anything to be aware of when trying to remove a bearing on a Nimbus Drift Trike hub ?

For the record, my creaking set-up:

  • RGB frame
  • Nimbus Drift Trike hub (+ bearing shims)
  • Qx 160mm floating disc rotor (stock, 6 months old)
  • Shimano SLX M7120 4 pistons

And my non-creaking set-ups:

  • RGB frame
  • Qaxle hub
  • Qx 160mm floating disc rotor (stock, 5 years old)
  • Shimano SLX M7120 4 pistons
    &
  • Qx alu frame
  • Nimbus Drift Trike hub (+ bearing shims)
  • Qx 160mm floating disc rotor (stock, 6 months old)
  • Shimano 2 pistons stock brake
    &
  • Qx alu frame
  • Qaxle hub
  • Qx 160mm floating disc rotor (stock, 5 years old)
  • Shimano 2 pistons stock brake

Thanks for your insights!

I’d be curious if the noise comes back when you switch things back to their original setup. Isolating the problem is always good troubleshooting.

Yes, it came back. :frowning:

Switching just the brake would be the next step, in my opinion. If the problem persists, then you know it’s not due to the stronger brake and if it doesn’t then it would seem that there’s something wrong with the way the caliper and disc are interacting.

I’m assuming you did all the basic disc brake stuff already, check rotors for straightness, clean rotors, lightly sand pads, made sure calipers are aligned, etc…

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So you hear creaking when pulling the brake lever, even when the wheel is not rotating? And the creaking disappears when switching the wheel w/disc for another, or vice versa? This sounds very odd. There might be a misalignment between the disc and the calliper, but that’s easily checked by seeing if the brake pads are rubbing against the disc even when the lever is released.

Try to listen and find out where the creaking is coming from. The only other issue I can think of is that the brake has run dry (i.e. run out of brake fluid), but then changing the wheel shouldn’t make a difference.

Yes, you just need to remove the split ring, then it’ll fall off.

If you’ve pulled on it with a bearing puller, you may now need a new split ring.

I’m not clear on what the noise is that you’re trying to describe is and you’ve confused me with the “not on the unicycle part”.

I’ve had brake noises from the following:

  • Old/worn out/contaminated pads
  • Old/warped/contaminated disk
  • Loose brake caliper (on a d-brake mount)
  • Lack of use (my 36er sat for 3 months not being used and then squealed for about a week)
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That’s what I have done and it looks like the creaking comes from the disk itself. But it echoes in the frame so it’s not easy to tell exactly :frowning:

So it’s easy but I’ve messed up. Do you know where I can find a new split ring? I may go for a new set of bearings too as you told me a few months ago.

Noise usually comes from the uni when you’re riding it - whether it comes from the brake, the spokes, … My issue is that, even if I’m not riding the uni, my brake makes noise when I try and use it. I may try and record it but I’m not sure we can hear anything on the record. :thinking:

  • Pads are pretty new ; at least less than a few months
  • Disk is 6 months old and has not been contaminated
  • That’s not a d’brake mount
  • I have used my freewheel between 1 and 10 times per week since I own it

So my issue is probably not in this list :frowning:

I’ll order new brake pads for an old brake and mount it so I can see if the noise is still there with another brake.

Sadly I do not. If you can measure one (the other side if this side is now damaged) then you might be able to find suitable replacements online.

@rogeratunicycledotcom may also be able to help.

New pads for whatever you have on there would always be my first step (good to have spares even if it doesn’t fix this issue), but on a freewheel you could also wear out pads in a few months if you’re riding a lot.

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At the very least I would try sanding the pads, cleaning the rotor with isopropyl alcohol, and then re-bedding the pads.

But is it creaking when breaking while in motion, or also while standing still?

If it’s the latter, then you can be sure that it’s not due to contamination of the pad or the disc. Is the disc moving when you pull the brake lever? Does the disc creak if you wiggle the disc? Have you tried removing the wheel and pulling the brake lever (slowly! Don’t pull it too far, or it won’t go out again!)?

Contaminated pads/disc make a screaming, not creaking sound, and you would feel the wheel “stuttering” when braking at low speeds.

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It’s the latter. I’ll check later whether the disc moves when I pull the brake lever. I think I have managed to make the disc creak while wiggling it but it did not creak when I tried it a second time so I’m not sure :upside_down_face:
I was too afraid to pull the brake lever without the wheel. Maybe I’ll try.
Thanks for your help!

Is the spring ok which is pushing back the break pads? That thing is in motion when pulling the lever. On my bike I wore the pads off without noticing it, once. Brake force was ok still, but the noise when the spring touched the disc…
Could the caliper have an issue, otherwise? I don’t believe so, I never had any issues with Shimano 2 or 4 piston models before.

I would imagine that a freewheel unicycle would experience pretty extreme brake wear, considering all your weight is on one wheel and the brake is in near constant use. Maybe start by replacing the pads, cleaning the disc and recentering the caliper and see what happens. You can always keep the old pads as spares.

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Interesting. If wiggling the disk makes it creak then it could either be loose (torx) screws, a damaged disk, or a damaged frame interface. Hopefully it’s the first!

Pulling the brake lever too far when the wheel is removed isn’t the end of the world. Just pry in a large screwdriver (or other clean, flat, hard item) between the pads and carefully wiggle them apart.

I have just ordered a tool to place the pads back into the caliper. So it won’t be an issue at all :slight_smile: