I mentioned in my recap of the Tranquility Tire Tantrum the bike handling woes I was having - even blaming it on the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs in the dirt conditions. Suffice it to say, I was puzzled because when I first got the Yeti - things were ripping great.
I messed around with my Yeti and my JET 9 in the driveway and neighborhood yesterday and just couldn't understand why the Yeti was wallowing in the corners compared to my JET. It was perplexing to me and as you read in my post yesterday, I had chalked it up to me needing more time to groove the geometry and handling of the bike.
I had been hearing creaking on my Yeti frame the past couple of weeks, and after reading numerous posts on the Yeti forum, I assumed it was what others had described as my main pivot bolt needed to be removed, greased, and reinstalled. I had decided to set this task aside when I was good and ready, and went into the TTT this past Saturday with a heck of a creak. Enough that three people in the parking lot during warm ups asked me about it. I said the main pivot needed greasing as if I was some expert on the subject just by reading a few threads at MTBR.com. In spite of my expertise, my bike was squirrely in the corners at the race. I figured it was the tires and loose dirt.
Well, today I went for a training ride and after 8:27 minutes into it, I suddenly got massive tire rub in the rear which caused me to immediately brake and see what was wrong. Did I break a spoke and the rear wheel was suddenly out of round? Nope. Was the rear TA not tight enough to hold the wheel firmly in place? Nope. What was it? I flipped my bike over and checked everything which seemed fine. So I got back on the bike and the tire rub was immediate. I stopped again. Upon closer inspection, I discovered a bolt that holds one of the upper pivots had fallen out. WTF?
I turned around and scoured the trail looking for whatever pieces I could find. After about 10 minutes, I found a washer and a bolt that had fallen off. How about that? So they had been loose enough to cause the creaking, and the bolt had backed out enough to give me about 1/4" to 1/2" of play in the rear end. No wonder it was squirrely!!! I needed two same size allen wrenches to reinstall the bolt (one for both sides). So I hiked back to the car and got the tools I needed. It takes quite a few turns to get the male bolt tightened into the female receiver - enough to realized that my rear end of the bike had quite a bit of play in it during the race this past Saturday. I was fortunate the bolt didn't fall out in the middle of that race!!
Once the bolt was installed and tightened back up to torque, suddenly the bike was just like it was when I first got it. Knifing through the singletrack again, and checking the handling - I realized it was not my handling or adjustment to it that was off at all. All the woes were on this loose rear pivot bolt and the play it was giving the rear end.
Moral of the story - at least in my case: check your pivot bolts every now and then - especially if you hear creaking - to make sure they are snug.