Words by: Max Morgan
Have you ever noticed your mountain bike suspension fork start to feel sticky or draggy? If that's the case, it might be time for a service. For the highest level of performance and durability of your mountain bike suspension, the manufacturer recommends that you have regular fork and shock maintenance performed according to the appropriate service intervals. It is important to continually maintain both your fork and shock to keep them working properly for longer. Simple things like using a microfiber towel to wipe off the stanchions and seals will help keep any debris from possibly contaminating the clean oil inside the fork. On the other hand, if you have ridden your fork at the bike park all year long, it might be time for a full tear down of the damper cartridge and air spring assembly. The same goes for the rear shock! Here in this Ultimate Review Guide, we are going to be laying out all kinds of information on mountain suspension service including appropriate service intervals and how to videos.
Fox Suspension Front and Rear Freshly Serviced on This Evil Wreckoning
Fox recommends that the minimum suspension fork and shock service is 125 hours of use, yearly, or whichever comes first. That is certainly on the longer side of things. Similar to changing the oil in your car, the more frequently you service your suspension, the better the fork will perform for longer.
For those who are riding regularly at a lift access bike park or in extreme wet and muddy conditions where debris has a higher chance of contaminating the fork internals, Fox encourages riders to perform maintenance earlier than recommended above as needed. If you hear, see, or feel something unusual, stop riding immediately and contact a Fox Authorized Service Center for proper servicing.
Fox Pro Tip: To maintain a level of performance achieved by Factory Pro Riders, more frequent maintenance than suggested above can be performed, if desired.
When servicing your own suspension, it is very important to use the correct oil for your application. For example, most of the 2018 Fox forks use the Fox 20wt Gold bath oil but some use the Fox 5wt Teflon Infused Oil. Fox provides all of this specific information for all of their service procedures at ridefox.com/help.
To get your own suspension service started, check out the Fox Shox seal kits for Float air sleeves as well as for 32, 34, 36, and 40 series forks. Other aftermarket Fox seal kits are also available from brands like Enduro and SKF.
RockShox Suspension Front and Rear Freshly Serviced on this Yeti SB4.5C
RockShox recommends a more frequent suspension service than does Fox. In general, RockShox recommends a front fork lower leg service and rear shock air can service for their fork every 50 hours of ride time. A traditional lower leg service includes changing the bath oil, cleaning the seal or replacing them if necessary and replacing the foam rings. For air shocks, an air can service includes replacing the dust wiper and o-rings. This maintenance will keep things running smoothly and make your suspension feel fresh again.
When servicing your own suspension, it is very important to use the correct oil for your application. Thankfully Worldwide Cyclery carries all of the different RockShox suspension fluid you might need depending on the fork you have. Make sure to reference the appropriate RockShox service manuals for information on correct oil weights and oil volumes.
RockShox seal kits are available with everything from lower leg service kits to full tear down service kits. Aftermarket RockShox seal kits are also available from brands like Enduro and SKF. Pick yours up and get started with your fork.
Check out the full breakdown of recommended RockShox suspension service intervals below.
X-Fusion is great in providing lots and lots of service information for each of their products. From instructions on fork travel adjustments, setup guides, service videos, tech guides, factory service, warranty information, to frequently asked questions, X-Fusion's website is a great resource for service and tech information on any of your X-Fusion products.
Everyone loves watching videos because you see and follow along step by step with the service being perfromed. X-Fusion suspension service videos are available for their forks, rear shocks, and seatposts.
For those riders running DVO suspension, we've got something for you too! The DVO Diamond fork has become a popular choice for any aggressive trail bike waiting for some big mountain trail riding. The DVO Tech center is full of complete service and setup information. This is a great place to start no matter if you are just pulling your DVO fork out of the box or if it's ready for a service after a whole season of riding.
You can also check out DVO's youtube channel to find all of their videos, with everything from installing an axle to damper cartridge rebuilds.
Take a look at this PinkBike Poll to see how often most riders service their suspension. Here are some of PinkBike's thoughts. "Despite what the conspiracy theorists might have you believe, the recommendation that you service your fork regularly isn't a ploy to separate you from your hard earned dollars. It's simply a way to extend the lifespan of its internals, which in the long run will prevent you from shelling out even more money to replace parts that break or wear out due to neglect. Is it mandatory that you stop everything and rush straight to the bike shop when that 30 or 50 hour mark rolls around? Nope, but it shouldn't be ignored completely either. A little preventative maintenance goes a long way, and with high end forks hovering around the $1000 mark, spending a fraction of that on an oil change is a worthwhile investment."
Check out the full Wiggle Guide on suspension maintenance for a number of different tips, tricks and procedures that can ensure your bike's suspension stay running smooth and strong, for as long as possible.
This article was written / authored by Max Morgan. Max has been a professional downhill mountain bike racer for the last 10 years, competing in the UCI World Cup downhill series and U.S. Pro GRT series. Having ridden all different kinds of bikes on trails all over the world, Max's experiences being out on the circuit give him a unique perspective on what makes for a quality cycling component. Max also has degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics, and so if you don't see out on the trail, chances are he is probably in the garage tinkering on the next project.