Sherlock Holmes and the mysterious clicking of the FSA K-Force Light crank

May 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Many many months ago, my bike developed a mysterious, notorious and extremely annoying clicking sound that seemed to come from the bottom bracket area. But only when I pedalled uphill in the seated position. Not on flat ground, and not while standing up. The clicking got louder and more annoying, to the point that I avoided long hills like the plague, which of course did not help my fitness (I’m not known as a flat TT specialist).

I tried everything to locate and eliminate the source of the disturbing noise: I swapped out wheels. I swapped out pedals and shoes. I swapped out saddles. I swapped out the seatpost. I padded the waterbottle cages with rubber, just in case. I brought the bike to 3 different shops for complete tune-ups and overhauls. I got new derailleurs. I uninstalled the cranks and inspected them, greased and put them back. I tightened every bolt to spec and then some. I uninstalled, greased the bottom bracket. I even bought a new bottom bracket (the bearings were worn out anyway). Putting so much grease on the bottom bracket and crank that I left a grease-trail on the pavement when I rode (OK, that’s a bit of an overstatement, but you get the idea) seemed to dampen the noise a bit for a short time, but it came back with a vengeance. I scoured the internet for advice and was ready to cast voodoo spells and chant incantations. All to no avail.

Given all other possible sources that I had eliminated by swapping out components, the noise had to come from the FSA K-Force Light crank and associated FSA bottom bracket. Even though I really like the crankset, I was on the brink of exchanging it for another, heavier crankset.

Then, finally, a couple of days ago, I found the culprit: the retaining nut in the self-extracting crank bolt assembly (see picture). I had tightened and more than generously greased the crank bolt and all relevant, but apparently nobody, myself included, thought about checking the retaining nut. It was not quite tight, which caused the clicking sound, but apparently only when the cranks were loaded in a very specific position, which only happened when I was climbing seated, and could not be reproduced by moving the cranks by hand or stepping on them in the shop. Mystery solved! Note the nut wasn’t really loose, that would have been very noticeable (by losing the crank), it just wasn’t torqued tight enough. I have since ridden a century and several longer climbs in peace and quiet!

FSA crank with retaining nut

FSA crank with retaining nut

If anybody else hears a mysterious noise coming from their FSA crank — check that retaining nut or it’ll drive you nuts!

Frohe Weihnachten, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2014 Leave a comment
Frohe Weihnachten, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Frohe Weihnachten, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Grannies, Freds, and LSD – A Non-Pedestrian Introduction to Bicycles

November 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Cross-posting from my work blog at

Grannies, Freds, and LSD – A Non-Pedestrian Introduction to Bicycles is the title of my 2nd talk at the upcoming 55th conference of the American Translators Association in Chicago. Information on my other talk on localization can be found here.


The bicycle market is a 6-billion-dollar industry in the US alone, and valued at over 50 billion dollars globally. This talk takes you on a whirlwind tour of all things bicycle, from low-end clunkers to high-end carbon fiber frames. Linguistically, you’ll learn what the jargon in the talk title really means (not what you think!), so that you can talk like a pro about the happenings in the peloton when you watch the next Tour the France, are able to translate the user manual for the newest electronic 22-speed gruppo, or localize the latest interactive GPS bicycling app.

ATA55 Bicycle Talk

You can download the slides here in PDF format.

Results and impressions for February 15, 2014 – Elvis lives, long live The King!

February 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer

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via Results and impressions for February 15, 2014 – Elvis lives, long live The King!.

Live from Beat the Clock — Elvis!!

February 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Elvis at Beat the Clock!!

Categories: Uncategorized

Finalized Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer Schedule for 2014

January 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Final Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer schedule for 2014!

The Beat

The finalized schedule for 2014 is as follows:

  • Feb 15
  • March 29
  • May 24
  • June 14

Apologies for any and all scheduling conflicts, but the calendar is so full this year in NorCal that we are bound to have a scheduling conflict with some other events.

Registration will be up within the next few days, watch this blog for updates. Thanks for your patience.

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“Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death.”

January 4, 2014 2 comments

— Blaise Pascal.

If you’re not dead yet, make a note of these important upcoming events in your calendar:

Early Bird Clinics and Training Race Series

The Early Bird Clinics are upon us and start tomorrow, January 5! Beginning and more experienced racers are taught everything from basic pack skills over cornering to sprinting. Even if you’re not the racing type but do the occasional group ride or century, try the clinic — everybody should know how to safely ride in a group. The series runs every Sunday,
Jan 5, 12, 19, 26, Feb 2, at Dumbarton Circle in Fremont.
For more info click here.

Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer

BTC is back again in 2014, albeit with a somewhat reduced schedule. The preliminary dates are:

  • February 8 (unfortunately overlapping with the Low Key Hillclimb Megamonster – our apologies, but the calendar is just so overly full this year)
  • March 1
  • March 29
  • May 24

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer time trial training series can be found on our website.

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