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Cycle Monkey

Internal Gearing Specialists, Bicycle Distribution & Service Center

Tech Talk: Noisy Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14? Check these things first...

Rohloff SPEEDHUB & Gates Carbon Drive

As the North American service center for Rohloff’s SPEEDHUB 500/14 internal gear hub, we periodically field questions from customers concerned about noises coming from their SPEEDHUB. These noises are described in a variety of forms—squeaks, creaks, clicking, ticking, popping, clunking, thunking—and customers are often convinced the hub is the source of their noise woes.

After over a decade servicing every Rohloff unit in the US and many in Canada, we can confidently say that Rohloff hubs virtually never make noise, besides the familiar whir of the gears spinning inside. Any other perceived noise can almost always be traced to something else on the bike.

With moving parts encased in the hubshell and lubricated by an oil bath, the SPEEDHUB has virtually no potential for unwanted noise.

Here is a list of common culprits you’ll want to check if you are experiencing unusual noise:

Bottom bracket: Noise at the BB often comes from the interface between the bottom bracket and the frame, or between the bottom bracket and the crankset. These noises are most often described as creaks that arise in a rhythmic pattern and are noticeable only when pedaling, typically once per crank revolution. Best practice to address a creaky bottom bracket is to remove and clean all parts, apply a film of grease, and re-install to the manufacturer-provided torque spec.

A thin film of grease at the BB can go a long ways...
Cranks: In addition to the noise that occasionally occurs at the interface between the cranks and bottom bracket, mounting bolts sometimes come loose and cause noise or a sensation of movement between the left/right sides. Noises are typically the same or very similar to bottom bracket noises. First off, check over the cranks & check bolts for proper torque. If that doesn’t help, try removing the cranks from the bike and cleaning and greasing the interface between the crank arm(s) and bottom bracket spindle and bottom bracket spindle and bottom bracket itself where applicable.

In rare instances, we have seen issues with carbon cranks where the aluminum inserts for pedal threads or the bottom bracket spindle interface have come loose from the carbon arms, causing noise and/or movement. This can usually be felt by pushing/pulling each crank arm towards and away from the center of the bike or by leaning over the bike and pushing/pulling the crank arms in unison towards/away from the ground to see if there is any movement. In these cases, it is best to contact the crank manufacturer to discuss your options to resolve the issue.

Front sprocket: We have occasionally diagnosed noises coming from unwanted movement of the front sprockets, usually due to loose mounting bolts or lock rings. If you suspect noise from this area, use you hands to check for any play of the front sprocket. Check chainring bolts or the direct mount lockring for proper torque. It’s also wise to inspect the system for signs of wear and evaluating its impact on movement. Clean and apply a thin film of grease between surfaces that show wear.

Frame: Frames can cause noise through loose bolts or, in rare cases, cracks in the frame material itself. We often hear frame noise described as creaks, squeaks, clicking, or ticking. Check for loose bolts and inspect for cracks or other damage. If your bike has a derailleur hanger, this could also be the source of the noise--clean the hanger and other drivetrain parts, apply a thin film of grease, and reinstall.

Derailleur hangers are often the source of frame noise

Removable & adjustable dropouts: When dropouts bolt to the frame rather than being fully integrated, there is potential for noise at the interface between the removable piece(s) and the rest of the frame, often heard as creaks, clicking, or ticking. Check mounting bolts for proper torque and look for wear (shiny spots or missing anodization) signifying movement between parts. Consider removing removable pieces, cleaning, and applying a thin film of grease before reinstalling to the manufacturer’s torque spec.

Adjustable dropouts are great for tensioning chains & belts, but they can create noise if bolts are loose

Eccentric bottom brackets: Eccentric bottom brackets provide a range of adjustment that allows them to tension chains or belts, but also presents the potential for noise in the form of creaks, clicking, or ticking. Check mounting/pinch bolts for proper torque. If this fails to solve the problem, consider disassembling, cleaning, and applying a thin film of grease before reassembling to the correct torque rating.

An eccentric bottom bracket

Rear skewer: The rear skewer on quick release hubs can sometimes cause creaking noises. This most often occurs when the skewer is not tight enough, which is easily remedied with increasing clamping pressure. With external cam skewers, it often becomes difficult to get enough clamping pressure out of the skewer when the cam surfaces are dirty. In these cases, clean & grease the cam pieces or switch to an internal cam skewer to avoid the issue entirely.

External cam skewer
Internal cam skewer

Have you installed a new chain on existing sprockets or installed new sprockets without replacing your chain?: This is the most common culprit when a customer presents us a with pesky noise that’s “definitely coming from the SPEEDHUB.” If you combine a used chain or sprocket with a new chain or sprocket, there will be running noise in virtually all instances. Even when no change in the shape of the sprocket teeth is visible, there is typically enough micro wear that a new chain will no mesh properly. This causes steady clicking noises during light pedaling and/or loud popping noises under heavy pedal pressure. The fix here is straightforward: replace chains and sprockets at the same time. Note that all Rohloff chain sprockets, with the exception of the original, thread-on 13T size, are reversible and can be flipped over to double their effective lifespan.

Have you installed splined belt sprockets with Rohloff’s Snap Ring Carrier?: Using the Rohloff splined sprocket system with snap ring sprocket retainer with a Gates Carbon Drive belt sprocket presents a possibility for noise from micro movement between the sprocket and the carrier. This will result in a rhythmic clicking/ticking noise every time the sprocket rovolves. In these cases, applying a heavy film of grease between the sprocket and carrier will offer temporary noise relief. The ultimate solution is to switch to Rohloff’s Lockring Carrier, which was designed specifically for use with Gates belt sprockets. Learn more about the difference between these carriers here.

Rohloff's Lockring Carrier system is recommended for use with belt drive sprockets

Noisy bikes are annoying to ride, and unusual noises are often an indication that something is wrong with your bike. In our years of working with Rohloff’s SPEEDHUB, we can confidently say that this part is extremely unlikely to be the source of unwanted noise while riding. The steps outlined in this post provide a comprehensive checklist that is likely to turn up the source of that pesky noise on your bike.

Still can’t find it after running through these steps? Drop us a line and we would be happy to help you get to the bottom of it.

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