Creaking noise

I recently acquired a used 36 inch Nimbus. It’s been great fun to learn to ride it and I have managed 1 (out of many, many) attempts to free mount it.

The uni was fine for the first few miles I tried it, but recently I’ve been getting a strange creaking noise that I can also feel in the left pedal. My first thought was to tighten the crank. However, I cannot budge this with my 8mm hex key. So the next thing I did was ignore this. But it’s not going away on its own. So now I figured I would try to loosen the crank bolt and re-tighten it. No dice. I cannot move that bolt at all.

Question: is there a better tool with more torque that I should be using to try to loosen the bolt?

Also, is there any chance this is the pedal and not the crank? I have other uni’s, so I’ll swap to see, but I’m not hopeful. Any other suggestions on this?

Thank you

You can get a 3/8 in. Drive 8 mm Hex Bit Socket that you can get more torque that a kex key.

Also check for a loose bearing or spokes, they can creak too.

Also check the bearings in the actual pedals. I got a 29" nimbus and after a few weeks of riding and dropping it while I was learning, the left pedal did what you’re describing. I had success pulling the cover on the end of the pedal, and re-greasing and retightening the hub bearing inside.

Before applying more torque to the bolt (i.e. getting a longer spanner) try something like Shock & Unlock spray or penetrating and easing oil. Just using the brute force of a longer lever could shear the bolt, then it becomes a big job.

You don’t need a detailed understanding of torque and torque settings. There’s a basic principle that if you have a decent set of spanners or Allen keys then they are the right length for the job. Ones to fit thinner bolts are shorter; ones to fit thicker bolts are longer. This gives you a clue as to how much leverage you are expected to exert, and it should never be “a strain”. Most bolts will tighten to “feels tight” plus about 1/4 turn to 1/2 turn. No more.

So if you need to rely on a socket set with a longer handle to apply extra leverage, it may be that the bolt is seized in, and that extra leverage will snap it. I’ve had this happen on motorbikes and bikes and it’s very disappointing when it happens — to the point of spoiling your whole day and making a 5 minute job into an epic. Even vigorous swearing doesn’t help to alleviate the gloom in this situation.

There should be no nut or bolt on your unicycle that is so tight you can’t undo it easily with the normal length of spanner or key for that size of bolt.

Creaking may come from the pedal where it meets the crank; the crank where it meets the hub; the spokes where they meet the hub; the spokes where they cross each other; the spokes where they meet the rim (less likely) — or from the seat being slightly loose on the seat post.

The tiniest amount of movement or friction in anything to do with the pedal/crank/hub/wheel is amplified by the wheel and sounds worse than it really is.

Therefore, don’t panic, take it steady, and check each thing, starting with the simple things ( nuts and bolts) then the more complicated things (greasing pedal bearings), then the fiddly things (tightening spokes).

Some other things that can cause a noise in time with your pedal stroke: [LIST=1]

  • Your shoe rubbing slightly on the crank.
  • The end of your shoelace catching the crank.
  • Loose fabric of your trousers chafing on the tyre or, less likely, the crown of the frame.
  • Something in your back pocket moving in time with your pedal stroke and rubbing the rear bumper of your seat.
  • At my age: knees. [/LIST] 4 has caught me out a few times over the years.
  • PS, though, a better quality hex key (not longer, but better quality) will fit better and be less likely to round the hole in the bolt. Cheap tools are money wasted; good tools are an investment.

    Although I agree with everything else you’ve written, this part indicates that you are either swearing incorrectly or not quite loudly enough.

    I’ve had several creaks from my unicycles, once a broken (bearing) race, and 2 other times a left side wore out crank.

    possibly, I recently lost a spoke on my 24" nimbus muni.
    Never noticed it, but when I recently changed my tire there it was.
    Just hanging by the rim nipple. It had broken on the bent rivet side.
    Took care of that right away by ordering some spares from
    Then recently I could hear some creaking, and “I think” I actually felt the unicycle “dropping” at a certain point in the wheel rotation.
    Is it possible, a few more spokes are so “loose” that the hub actually sank in the wheel? …or did I just ride over a small depression on the road?
    Either way, I just took out my spoke wrench and just went through all 36 spokes.
    Anyways, just making it known to all that a loose spoke is always a possibility. Keep on. Ride safe. Ride in secret. Stay off street and bicycle trails.

    Rem acu tetigisti: I learned most of my swearing from my dad, who was a joiner rather than an engineer.

    To loosen the bolt, a piece of pipe is a handy extension. Some heat and penetrating oil (maybe apply the oil from the other side, as most hubs are drilled through) might help. But I agree with Mike, if it doesn’t come off with a regular allen wrench, proceed with caution, it seems like the bolt may be seized.

    But you are in luck, if you can feel it, and the crank doesn’t have visible play, it’s probably the pedal in my experience.

    All my persistent noises to date have been pedals. When a spoke fails there is no doubt you’ll hear the twang, I hear this every couple of weeks right now (I need to replace all spokes and do a wheel rebuild). A loose broken spoke can be noisy but is easy to find. Sometimes small movement of saddle or saddle post can make a sound too, just tighten all that up as well.

    Multi quote doesn’t seem to work. Anyway, I beg to differ on this point. There have been bolts on my unis I haven’t been able to budge with a normal length Allen key. I’ve need the longer ones to loosen them, and I’ve also found some of my bolts kept getting loose while riding whenever I tighten them with the normal length allen keys, and I think this has actually damaged my cranks as they have worked themselves loose and worn their interfaces to the hub while riding.

    Bugger. I don’t know if your original spokes were bad quality or now some spokes are simply under a lot more tension now. Do you have any thoughts as to why they are breaking?

    This is the set I use, and they are easily adequate for the hub centre bolts or any other bolts on the unicycle. This is what I’d call “a decent set” where the lengths are roughly proportionate to the torque required.

    If you use this sort instead, I’d agree with you. This is what I’d call “a crummy set” because they’re all approximately the same length.

    I think a spoke is more likely to break due to insufficient tension. They’re designed to cope with tension in a straight line, not be loose and bendy under compression.

    First, thank you all! This is a great community.

    The easiest test for me was to swap a pedal since I have another unicycle with the same pedal type. Alas, the noise is still there and I can still feel it a bit in the pedal. Possibly something changed very slightly, but I can’t be sure since it is not consistent. So now I’m getting the 3/8 drive for the 8mm bolt and I have some penetrating oil. Hopefully that will allow me to get the crank off and then re-tighten. I plucked all the spokes but didn’t find any with an obvious problem.


    Yep. Set 1 is ok, 2 not good enough.

    The only hex bolt that will need more than a hex key is the crank bolt. I just use a 3/8 socket wrench with a quality hex set. These bolts can be tight, it is vital to only use quality tools, aligned correctly, else risk burring the hex bolt and it will never come out. I have a lot of experience with hex bolts on my Ducati and can’t emphasis enough the need for quality tools, aligned correctly and used with force down onto the bolt Of course it it doesn’t undo using the leverage of a socket wrench, something is not right. Before getting more leverage follow the advise of others and use penetrating oil, impact wrench or heat.

    But the one really important tip not mentioned so far… are you turning it the correct direction !

    Most are original spokes but with over 5000 km on them so mostly just worn out. I think they may have become a little too tight in an attempt some time to ago to find a squeaking noise! Noise was never the spokes, it was peddle bearings. Anyhow, last night I stripped the wheel and rebuilt with 36 new DT Swiss spokes. Actually, I rebuilt the wheel twice as first time I was just about to pump the tyre when I couldn’t get the pump on the valve. Bugger, wrong lacing. Now they are clearly less tense then before, a little less than on my 36", so I’ll need to monitor. It rides fine I just did 30 km with smooth quiet riding.