HOW TO RELEASE SEIZED SEATPOSTS
Seized seatposts remain a fairly common phenomenon that can strike regardless of post and host materials. However, it’s also one of the most easily avoided. Michael shows us a slightly different take on liberation and some simple ways of preventing seizures in the first place. How it happens There are a variety of causes but it’s usually down to the fact that once we set our posts at the correct height, it’s so easy to forget they need treating to some fresh grease/anti-seize, or dedicated gripper paste every so often.
1980s pencil thin framesets are bang on trend again, fetching handsome prices second-hand. However, cycling didn’t escape some dubious fashions either, with fluted aluminium alloy posts being infamous examples. Water and other ingress thrown up by the rear wheel cascaded along the flutes and inside the frame.
Left unchecked and with basic white lithium lubes playing cupid, corrosion bit really hard. Therefore, if you’re smitten by an unrestored frameset, or complete bike from this period, check contact points move easily before money changes hands.
The drama (and expense) of seized contact points is so easily avoided. Dubious about the benefits of specialist pastes? Simply slackening their mounting hardware and moving side to side every few weeks will stop anything serious in its tracks.
Mountain bikes and workhorses are most vulnerable to this condition but it’s worth removing contact points and replenishing greases/compounds or anti-seize at least annually. Never underestimate the benefit of mudguards on winter/trainers and daily drivers.
Rear facing seat tube collar slots are less common on contemporary frames thanks to mountain biking’s dominance through the late 80s and 90s. Talking of which; make a protective boot from 2.5cm of scrap mtb inner tube long enough so as to overlap the post. Adding some silicone/similarly rubber friendly grease here adds further peace of mind but isn’t essential. Tighten the binder bolt to the correct torque setting; roll the tube down and, voila! - a discrete, weather repelling upgrade for virtually nothing.
From the mid-90s onwards 6061 and 7005 aluminium alloys were almost default lightweight production frames. Obviously, being of the same family, there’s little risk of frames and posts succumbing to galvanic corrosion. PTFE fortified greases are generally more versatile but in this context, lithium types also play nicely.
Once the preserve of aerospace and military applications; titanium remains a slightly niche and exotic material but continues to develop a quiet yet fiercely loyal following. Corrosion is largely a moot point - full stop. However, fasteners made from inferior alloys can seize - royally. TI specific preps aren’t essential - plumber’s copper pastes or high quality, stout synthetic greases work just fine.
Rather like greasing old fashioned crank-tapers, debate raged fiercely as to correct installation protocol. Popular consensus favoured dry fitting. This minimised the amount of clamping force required, which is obviously a good thing. Unfortunately, composites can get very amorous given the right elements. For best results, employ a decent assembly paste. We’ve had good results using Muc-Off Carbon Gripper but most around the £8 mark seem both effective and durable.
OK, so you’ve discovered it won’t budge. Common tools, simple chemical assistance and subtle practice usually rules out caustic soda, butane torches and other drastic measures. You’ll need the following:
Penetrant/release (Not maintenance) spray - Effetto Mariposa Carbo Move seems particularly good for composites. It also works a treat on metals but Plus Gas/similar automotive versions are cheaper. In a pinch, solvent heavy engine start sprays are more effective than WD40 type water displacers.
Rubber “Engineers’” mallet
Scrap padded envelope
4/5mm Allen (or dedicated security) keys
Latex Examination Gloves (optional)
Flat bladed screwdriver (For gently relaxing seat collar ears on metal frames)
*This also works on handlebar stems - especially old school quill/converters*
Chose a well-ventilated spot away from any sources of ignition - garage/shed/outbuilding with doors/windows open is ideal. Workstands make maintenance and repair so much more convenient, although aren’t essential. Either way, start by marking the post insertion height with a cable tie. Next slacken the binder bolt with the appropriate Allen key and remove completely wherever possible.
Two generous squirts of release spray will usually win stubborn examples over.
Now tear that envelope open and wrap it funnel fashion around the seat tube, ensuring the padded “wall” is on the inside. Tether it tightly using cable tie(s) and from about fifteen centimetres, deliver a generous blast of penetrant around the bubble wrap. This bit prevents the good stuff being wasted through evaporation, allowing it to slowly leach into the seat tube.
While this lot’s streaming in, strike the saddle/metal rails firmly with your rubber mallet alternating between vertical and horizontal. Often this can be enough to break the seal…No joy? Simply reapply more penetrant, leave marinating and repeat as before.
Really weathered carbon composites usually relent within twenty minutes’ invasive therapy but may demand more intensive (though controlled!!) mallet persuasion. Sometimes it takes a little longer - I recommend dousing the envelope liberally and taking regular breaks, or even leaving overnight, if circumstances allow.
Impatient or time pressed? Try hanging the bike upside down, remove cranks and bottom bracket (where appropriate). Now flood the seat tube internally with freeing agent while hitting the saddle as before.
Right Royally Stuck
Assuming you’ve given the above techniques a fair crack, metal posts can be clamped within a vice or “Workmate” while you try twisting the frame. Obviously an absolute no-no on composites, this brute force may ruin the post but persistence usually reaps jubilant reward.
Assuming you weren’t looking to discard, or upgrade, apply some assembly paste/grease, and gently reinstate.
Sometimes the “ears” on metal frames can become compressed, making this difficult. NEVER ATTEMPT TO TAP A POST IN USING A MALLET OR SIMILAR BRUTE FORCE TECHNIQUE. With the binder bolt removed, slip a flat bladed screwdriver between the collar slot; gently manipulating it from side to side.
Aluminium alloy posts in steel framesets can be dissolved using caustic soda, which is a very messy, nasty, albeit extremely effective remedy. Perform outside wearing overalls, gloves and goggles. Expect paint damage and unless you’re 100% confident and experienced, leave this sort of job to a frame builder or well-equipped bike shop.
PUBLISHED MARCH 2016
WHILST ALL THESE TECHNIQUES HAVE BEEN TRIED AND TESTED, PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT APPROPRIATE CARE IS NEEDED AND THAT YOU UNDERTAKE THEM AT YOUR OWN RISK. IF IN DOUBT, TAKE YOUR BIKE TO A PROFESSIONAL