Rain water seeped into seat tube??!!

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Anonymous's picture

When I was cleaning my bike at the end of the A-19 SIG ride on Saturday (post rain-storm), I noticed some bizarre noises coming from inside the frame. I soon figured out that rain water had somehow seeped into the frame via the seat tube. After taking the seat off, I turned the bike upside down and was met with a gush of brown water. I tried to clean and dry the inside as much as possible...

Is this a common problem? I've ridden in the rain before, and this has never happened. Do I need to take the bike in to be looked at/serviced?

Any guidance would be much appreciated.

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
Leave seatpost off

"Turn the bike upside down, or hanging front wheel up, and let dry for 24 hours.

If the bike is steel, have your shop spray ""Frame Saver"" once a year. If it's anything else, forget it.

You may want to cut a piece of inner tube to fit around the top of the seat tube so water doesn't get in again."

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Frame Saver once a year is total overkill

Once in a bike's lifetime is usually enough - it doesn't wear out. Maybe if you tear the bike down to the bare frame every 10 or 20 years you might want to reapply it, but the stuff is basically Cosmoline - once it cures there is damn little you can do to get it off exterior surfaces, let alone the interior of a bike frame.

It's also been suggeted that modern steel alloys are inherently more rust-resistant and unlikely to rust any further than the surface. I've never seen even older steel frames rust through (though Mordecai used to have this old Schwinn, I think, that looked like it was just about ready ;)

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
Mmmm ...

"""Frame Saver once a year is total overkill""


From Independent Fabrications' website:

Maintenance of the Seat Tube on IF Steel Frames

Because of the increased strength of the new steel alloys we have been able to reduce the wall thickness of our tubing substantially, saving you more weight than ever on our current line up of custom steel frames. But, due to this reduction in wall thickness of the tubing, we must be alert to the possibility of corrosion. To battle rust on the inside of the tubes we actually fabricate the frame to be completely sealed from the elements, with the exception of the seat tube. Although we ream the seat tube to exacting tolerances water can still find its way into the seat tube, either through the top of the seat post or (via capillary action) between the seat post and the seat tube. To protect the internal surface of the seat tube we treat it with 3M Rustfighter 1 Internal Panel Coating prior to shipping the frame to you. Although this is the best product available for this application IT IS NOT A PERMANENT METHOD OF CORROSION PREVENTION AND SHOULD BE RENEWED PERIODICALLY.

WARNING: Seat tubes that have a serious rust problem due to lack of proper maintenance will not be covered under our warranty. Remember: your frame is made of steel, steel rusts, protect it if you want to keep it.

Required Maintenance
Each time your steel frame has been exposed to wet conditions, or at least every 3 months, the following procedure should be:

Remove the seat post and leave the bicycle upside down overnight so that the seat tube can drain and dry. This is best done in a warm and dry environment not a cold damp basement. We recommend hanging your bike from the front wheel when not in use, just for safety's sake.

Before reinserting the seat post make sure that the interior is dry and spray an even coating of, J.P. Weigle's Frame Saver or its equivalent into the seat tube. Make sure to cover the entire inner surface of the seat tube.

Apply a light layer of grease to the seat post before you re-install it into your frame.


Anonymous's picture
An anonymous cow! (Christian Edstrom) (not verified)

It seems to me that a one-time application of JP Weigle's Framesaver on all tubes is a better solution than constantly adding 3M Rustfighter. Framesaver is a very sticky substance, which completely coats whatever tubes you spray it on.

BTW, steel bikes never rusted before manufacturers started selling aluminum and titanium frames! Smarter man than I said that. My grandfather has a bike from 1936. I had a look down the seattube two summers ago. No rust. And that frame pre-dates Framesaver by, oh, 50 years.

And lastly, I think that IF's idea about sealing the tubes other than the seat tube is additional work without merit. I have a steel roadbike built with .8-.5-.8 or .7-.4-.7 tubing, which has been Framesavered once. I expect the frame to outlive me. Rust just isn't that much of an issue.

But a pool of water in the bottom bracket shell would be less than ideal, so a drainhole there is good news.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Mfr's recommendation vs experience

I replaced the bottom bracket on a 5-year-old bike that had been framesavered (verbifying the noun, I know, I know...) and it was just as sticky and disgusting inside the seattube then as it was the day I bought it.

That, and the online discussion about this on Cycling Forum a few years ago (where the Cosmoline reference surfaced), lead me to believe that the IF (and Serotta et al) recommendations are baloney. When the frame gets torn down for repainting I'll have it framesavered again, but tear to it down every year for that purpose alone? No way, IMO that's a complete waste of time.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
That old Schwinn

Evan Marks wrote:
I've never seen even older steel frames rust through (though Mordecai used to have this old Schwinn, I think, that looked like it was just about ready ;)

It was rusty, but it could have outlived me, if it hadn't met an untimely demise on September 11, 2001. I left it locked to a bike rack that morning on Liberty Street outside the PATH station.

Anonymous's picture
Tony Rentschler (not verified)
What brand?

"What kind of a bike do you have? Independent Fabrications, for example, has no way for water to drain from the seat tube, and you must turn the bike upside down if water seeps in past the seatpost. Grease will help to minimize the amount of water getting in, but if you have a carbon seatpost, then grease may not be an option.

Of course, many bikes - lugged steel bikes, for example - do allow water to drain from the seat tube into the bottom bracket shell, and on out again via a ""weep"" hole at the bottom of the frame."

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
The fix

"The most common path for water getting inside a frame is at the seat post / seat tube interface. There's usually a vertical slot at the top of the seat tube to allow it to clamp the seat post. Apply caulking to that slot after your seat height is adjusted. Also, apply a liberal coating of grease to the seat post before inserting it.


Anonymous's picture
Devraj Roy (not verified)
Thanks for the advice

I have carbon frame (and seatpost) and there doesn't seem to be any way for the water to drain out.

I did take the seatpost off and have left it hanging by the front wheel for the day.

Thanks again for the helpful advice.


Anonymous's picture
Jacopo (not verified)
drain hole

Many modern bikes do not have a drain hole in the botton bracket which may cause water to stagnate in the frame.
However it is interesting to see in this picture a Trek's mechanic drilling a drain hole in a Madone to remediate.
I would not recommend it unless approved by the manufacturer though.


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