Technical FAQ: Noisy pedals

How can I stop my Look pedals from creaking?

Here is a sampling of many questions I have received regarding creaking Look pedals:

Question #1: This is a small point in some ways, but a really annoying one. After about 1000 miles my Look 357 pedals start to make a god-awful creaking sound when climbing/accelerating. It drives me and training buddies nuts, but also at races, I can never sneak up ona nyone. With the first pedal stroke of an attack, half the field is alerted,”CREAK! CREAK!” and off I go. I’ve asked around at races and almost all Look users report the same annoyance/frustrations.

We have shared recipes for anti-creak (soap, wax, silicone, sand paper, white lithium grease etc.) but these bring only temporary relief. I have posted on the TECH TALK section and gotten pretty much thesame advice. What say you? Time for Time? Shimano? Campagnolo? I hate the idea of converting a couple of bike and beau coup bucks to wliminate the racket.

Question No. 2: Can you provide some advice on pedal squeak? I have Carnac Quartz shoes, Look 247 pedals, and pedal squeak reminiscent of a worn-out bed in a cheapmotel. I have tried almost everything, including new Carnac shoes and new Look pedals. Is it the shoes? Is it the pedals? Is it both? 

I spoke with the Look USA product manager, Ming Tan, who said that it is an equally frustrating problem for them, as they have not solved it either. Consistent with the mail I have received except with the second letter above, he said it is limited to the PP396and PP357 models, both of which share the same pedal shape. The 396 wil lbe phased out in 2003, so he is hopeful that the problem will go away as well then. He claims that there has never been a complaint of this typeabout the CX-7 or any of the low-end Looks. He says that it may be related to sole curvature, as it seems to be worse with some shoes, like Sidi and Time.

Things that have worked sometimes, but by no means always, are: (1) greasing the interface between the Sidis ole and the Sidi adapter plate, (2) removing the rubber bumper from the cleat, and (3) lubricating the back gate of the pedal. One thing I can suggest is placing washers under the cleats, starting with just one under the front screw. If it is indeed related to sole curvature ,this could help.

The early days of Look pedals (the late 1980s), overlapped with the time I sponsored a women’s racing team (1983-1994) along with either Shimano or Mavic, depending on the year. The team always used Look pedals, either Shimano or Mavic brand. In those early years, shoe soles had not adapted to the cleat shape and had only added the three threaded holes. With small shoe sizes as most of these women had, the problems with entry, exit and creaking on those pedals were manifold. By removing the rubber bumper and shimming up under the front of the cleat with washers,we were able to correct all of the problems.

Perhaps if the cleat is able to find its own shape rather than conforming to the sole, the creaking will cease. Let me know if you try it.

(As before with locating squeaks and creaks, your first line of attackshould be to install your MTB shoes and pedals on it to eliminate the possibility of the BB, handlebar or other parts being the source of the creak.)