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How to Identify and Eliminate a Seat Post Creak in a Road, Gravel or Mountain Bike

For that “out of the saddle” creak that you just can’t find but drives you absolutely up a wall, always start with the seat post. First, a minor creak is the bane of a cycling enthusiast’s existence. Some are notoriously difficult to properly diagnose, too, like a creaking seatpost. It’s one of those pain-in-the-butt creaks to nail down.

First, let’s start with how this petulant creak will present before we get to the fix. You’ll notice a creak once in a while, almost always while seated, and it will get louder and more persistent over time. Eventually, your bike will creak whether you’re in the saddle or not, which will make the noise all the more difficult to pin down. What’s worse, you’ll likely just tighten the bolt(s) on the mounting collar, thinking that’ll fix the problem. Worse than that, you’ll think it’s coming from the bottom bracket which will drive you bonkers. Then you’ll think it’s possibly a loose spoke making the noise. Loose cassette next? Loose quick release skewer, anyone?

My heart bleeds for you, oh poor cyclist. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though, and it isn’t the nanny state!

Over time your seatpost will simply need to be moved up and down to work the lube or carbon paste around a little bit and it’ll quiet right down. Measure your saddle height (whichever method you’re familiar with – I like to measure from the drivetrain side with the crank arm bottomed out to the top of the saddle following the middle of the seat post – this, to me, ensures as close to an exact measurement as is possible). Then, simply move the seat post up and down (a minimum of 6″, or even pull the seat post all the way to clean and lube it fully) and re-seat it at the proper height before tightening it back down.

Done correctly, your bike will quiet down immediately.

It’s very easy to mistake this for a bottom bracket creak… or anything but a wonky seatpost. If you thoroughly clean and lube your crank and that hasn’t worked, try the seat post next. I damn-near threw my Specialized Venge in the ditch five years ago when I couldn’t figure the creak out after trying a half-dozen different things… including tightening the seat post collar bolts without moving the seat post. Sure enough, on a fluke, I loosened the collar bolts and worked the seat post up and down a few times to work the carbon paste around and it fixed it.