It’s Bicycle Repair Time – Stuck Seatpost

I want to delve into a topic today that I have not had to deal with all that much (do you hear that knocking sound – It’s me knocking on wood). I know this does happen on a fairly regular basis though so why not prepare yourself before you get stuck with this type of bicycle repair.

Dreaded Stuck Seat Post

So what I want to review with you is how to free a stuck bike seat post. I have never had any that I could not get unstuck but I have had some that initially were a very snug. I have heard stories of some riders that had a seat post that would just not budge (no matter what they tried) so it got me thinking about how you could remove the post while at the same time causing the least amount of damage to your bike.

In the article “14 Ways to Unstick a Seatpost”, Sheldon Brown gives the reader 14 different ways to get your seatpost free. I want to review what I feel are the top 3 tips that should be able to give you the best bang for your buck. The best bang for your buck meaning the least amount of damage to your bike after all is said and done.

Don’t Get It Stuck In The First Place

One of the main reasons why seat posts get stuck inside the bike frame is that moisture was allowed to get into the frame and in doing so has caused corrosion. There are other ways as well though. One other way for your post to become stuck is if the wrong size seat post was used. Trying to jam a wider stem then your frame opening can handle is going to cause you great problems (but of course you would never do such a thing right?).

The best advice that can be given to keep your seatpost moving freely when the bolts (fasteners) have been loosened is to lubricate your seat tube on a regular basis. Getting a thin layer of grease inside the tube will help protect it from any type of corrosion. I always like to loosen my seat clamps at the end of each riding season and take the seatpost out of the seat tube to give it a bit of a wipe down. You’d be amazed at the amount of dirt that can work its way into your frame. This is good preventative care and is probably why I have never been faced with a tube that will just not come out.

While you’re at it, why not make sure your seat is still properly adjusted? Read my article on adjusting your bike seat position to learn how.

Top 3 Ways To Remove a Stuck Seatpost

Sheldon Brown gets into 14 different ways to succeed at getting a stuck seat post freed but here are the top 3 (in my humble opinion).

  1. Use your seat and Yank on it – my guess is that most people’s first thought is to go grab their handy dandy vice grips or pipe wrenches. These things will grab onto and hold anything! This is true but unfortunately they will also do a lot of damage in the process. Use your seat that is already attached to your post and pull on it. You will be surprised at how much pull you will be able to get from it. This may be all that is required so give it a try.
  2. Try and get your seat post to rotate before pulling – I’m not sure if this one is common sense or not. You will find that you will be able to put a lot more rotational force on the post than you will vertical pulling force. Try and get the post to rotate first, even slightly in the seat tube. If it starts to rotate, get out the oil and drip some of it around the joint. You will be surprised at how much of the oil can actually work its way into the seat tube and start the un-sticking process. Once you get the seat tube rotating, work on trying to add a bit of vertical force to it as well. This should eventually start moving the seat post free of the seat tube.
  3. It’s time for some household chemicals – if your seat post is aluminum then try this one. Take some Drano drain cleaner and dilute it just a bit. Take the diluted liquid and with your bike turned upside down, place your seat tube into the Drano. Try and get it into the Drano enough that it also submerges the seat post and seat tube joint. Most bike frames also have a drain hole located on the underside of the frame. Try and drip some of the liquid down into the seat tube as well. This diluted Drano solution will work at dissolving any corrosion that you may have that is binding your seat tube to your seat post. You may need to leave the tube soaking overnight but it will eventually start to eat away the corrosion.

Did It Work?

Hopefully one of the bicycle repair solutions mentioned above worked at freeing up your seat post. If not, then you may have to try one of the drastic solutions mentioned in the article here. These will work but they also will cause some damage as well.

The way I look at it, your best defense is to maintain your seat post and check it regularly before it gets really, really stuck.

Experiences Anyone?

Do you have a solution that has worked for you in the past? Let me know what you did and how it worked. I know all of you have a lot of different experiences out there so let’s hear about them.

Until then ride hard (and safely).

Robert Flaherty