There are many things on a typical mountain bike that either go through a lot of violent forces or friction on any given ride. When it comes to the fork, the seals take a pretty good beating over time. Our friend Zack Henderson walks us through his experience with the SKF Low-Friction Dust Wiper Seal Kit. Check it out!
Swapping fork seals is a very easy job, and one that can have major performance and longevity benefits for your suspension over the long term. Both Fox and Rockshox have made major strides in making their seals longer lasting and lower friction, and Fox, in particular, worked closely with the seal experts at SKF to develop their latest standard flangeless seals (which are actually made by SKF, I believe).
SKF has a long history in making seals that are highly regarded across multiple industries. The SKF seals used to be almost prohibitively expensive, but their prices seem to have come down recently to a point of being competitive with the OEM seals from fork manufacturers. Given their reputation, I decided to give the turquoise SKF Low Friction Dust Wiper Seals a go on my last fork service.
Visually, the major notable difference between the stock Fox seals and these is the color. However, SKF claims to use a more durable low friction compound for their seals, claiming better sealing properties. From a friction perspective, these seals are on-par with a brand new set of Fox's newer flangeless seals - that is to say, friction is incredibly low. I always pack new seals with Slick Honey from the get-go and have had great luck using OneBall's stanchion lube to keep things moving nicely in the longer term. I also try to stick to the factory recommended oil bath and seal service interval of 50-60 hours of riding, or once in between full fork rebuilds.
Ultimately, the SKF seals seem to perform at the level expected. There is no notable performance improvement over Fox's stock seals from a friction perspective, but I believe that the extra few bucks for the SKF seals will be worth it in terms of preventing longer-term wear to expensive internal parts. If the SKF seals do their job as well as claimed (which they have so far), my bath oil will stay cleaner and the amount of grit sloshing around in the internals of the fork will be mitigated. To me, that negligible extra cost is worth it.
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