I was on a never ending quest to banish noise from my bicycle. This quest led me down the path of a single ring conversion, which necessitated a complete overhaul of my drivetrain because I wanted to take advantage of the benefits of a clutched derailleur. No chain slap for me anymore.
The final bit of noise I could not eradicate emanated from the area of the crank. It was consistently appearing at the same spot in the pedal stroke. I dutifully tightened all of the bolts and what not to no avail. The little click or creak was still there.
I replaced the external bearing bottom bracket. After 3,000 miles of dirty and dusty gravel grinding the unit was pretty much fried. I loved how much smoother everything turned, but the noise was still there.
What about the pedals? I had not thought about the pedals. The same 3,000 miles that fried the bottom bracket might have also done the same to the pedals. Why not? Shimano M520 SPDs have a set of small bearings in each pedal that allows the pedal body to spin freely on the spindle attached to the crank.
Off came the battle scarred set, replaced by a new-in-the-box set that I keep in the shop on the off chance that my current set meets its maker. Sure enough, the sound was gone and my gravel grinder was a silent ride.
Now I need to spend some time to figure out how to repack the bearings on a Shimano clipless pedal. Nothing makes you sound like a retrogrouch quite like the statement “repack the bearings.”