I imagine it’s fairly uncommon, but it’s actually really important; when you are about to buy a bike, you really should check if the seatpost moves in the seat tube. I mean, why not? Ok, I suppose it could be construed as being a bit pushy and perhaps the seller will be taken off guard, even take offence. Yet, stuck seatposts are an absolute curse and I’ve had a fair share of them after buying a bike in good faith. Maybe next time I’ll carry a mini can of WD40 and an allen key set on my next bike buying mission..
Rule Number 1
You can’t tell by looking at one if it’s stuck in place; adjustable. Yet look at this old Peugeot’s post above; it’s a real contender for being stuck in its position. It looks like it hasn’t been moved for years, but that doesn’t mean it is more likely to be frozen in place. I say this because the stuck seatposts I’ve encountered have looked rust free, have been smooth and even shiny sitting happily in their seat lugs. Yes, they have played that treacherous game of duping me into foolish confidence that ends up kicking me in the nads. And that’s when the battle begins.
The Seatpost that Ruined My Alan
The worst and most depressing case of a frozen seatpost happened to me when I bought an Alan bike a few years ago. It was an Alan Super Record, similar to the one above. I bought it for £200 and it had Campagnolo Super Record all over it, even though I’m not mad for the derailleurs of that or the Nuovo Record of that era. Undoubtedly, it was a good deal, but the bike hadn’t been ridden for at least 5 years. Looking back, I don’t think the guy who sold it to me knew the seatpost was stuck. I give him the benefit of the doubt. He had come into possession of it, and sold it to me with the worst case of frozen seatpost ever.
Oh, the Memories..
The photo above is of my father in law’s work bench, which was the location of a stupendous achievement the year before the Alan incident. This time it was an older Gitane, and the seatpost in this bike was seriously stuck. We’d tried everything, so this is how we ended up removing it with brute force: it took three people, ( including my then 75 year old father in law ), to make this work, but we did actually succeed. We placed the bike next to the work bench ( we’d tried the big vice but it didn’t work ), and the bike was held at both ends by my helpers. I actually stood on top of the bench, standing above the bike, and just twisted and wrenched at the saddle until finally, amazingly, after two hours, it broke loose. It was worth the hernia. 😀
Back to the Alan
I tried everything with the lovely Alan Super Record, from PB Blaster and industrial lubricants, to multiple techniques in the garden of twisting and pulling at this cursed Campagnolo post. I’d spend nights awake thinking about it, trying to work out how to get this thing off. Eventually I read about a cold/hot approach, to try and loosen the bonds between the aluminium that had frozen together. I packed ice around the seatpost lug for hours, then quickly heated it to try and break the bonds apart. In that moment when the contact points where hot, I tried my best to pull out the seatpost by hand. This is when it happened.
For a moment I thought it’d worked. I felt a movement as I twisted the saddle to free the post, a movement that something had come loose. But to my horror, the seatpost was still frozen in exactly the same position, while the seat tube was now moving up and down in instead. I had actually pulled the aluminium seat tube out of its bottom bracket lug, out of its glued position, and it was now loose. The frame was finished. How can you ride on a frame with a loose seat tube? It’d be a death trap. And hell, I’d spent a week trying to loosen that evil seatpost. I never did get it out, and donated the frame to a local bike co-op, seat post still intact, still laughing at me, on that lovely Alan frame.
- Vintage Vitus and Alan frames are susceptible to frozen seatposts and stems. Check them before buying!