Gimme Shock Treatment

Bike Suspension Maintenance

I am going to go out on a limb here and state that no one apart from paid employees in the bike profession, service their suspension to the manufacturers’ standards.  The amount of service recommended is more than most people will do but forks aren’t just ride and forget parts.  With retail prices surpassing $1000, some care is a good idea to keep those sliders moving.

Keep it clean.  Like with all bike parts, the less dirt you carry with you the better.  Keep the stanchions clean from dirt and make sure to pass a cloth between the stanchions and the lower legs/brace.  Oil from the fork will always be on these stanchions and is completely normal and necessary for proper function.  Just make sure to wipe them off when dirt really begins to collect.  No degreaser necessary, just a clean cloth will do.

Lube the dust wipers every so often.  Not as often as the chain, but a couple times a year if you are riding off road regularly.  The wetter the conditions, the more often the lube should be applied and the more often cleaning should happen also..

Change fluid/wipers annually.  Here around the Twin Cities, we don’t see the muck and grime of either coast, but I am seeing a bit more need for this type of service with the opening of the Cuyuna trail system.  What eats at your fork bits more than anything else are the fine particles of dirt and sand.  Add water to that equation and you have a formula for extremely rapid fork destruction.  The red iron ore dirt that Cuyuna is built on is super fine and sticks to everything.  It turns most everything red (frames, parts, oil, socks, etc) and will act like sandpaper to a suspension fork.  Replacing the main dust wipers and oil can greatly extend the life of your fork and is a fairly simple and inexpensive procedure.  I say annually here, but the more the fork is ridden, the more often service is needed.  

Fork companies have wised up and made service intervals much more attainable for the average rider.  I have seen many forks come in that are 5 or 6 years old and have had zero maintenance.  Open them up, change fluids and wipers and off they go.  These usually aren’t the forks that have been raced every weekend of the summer, and I certainly don’t recommend this lack of attention, but it does show that if you don’t abuse your bike, many years of riding enjoyment may be had.



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