Suspension Service - why, when, what & how

Posted in News By Shockcraft  25 May 2015 4:18:07 pm NZST

Why Service?

There are two simple reasons to service suspension.  They are simply to fix problems or prevent problems. These horrible problems can be split into two groups:
 
Performance Problems
These are really easy to spot - your fork or shock feels horrible. It could be sticky, grindy, dead, greeting each bump with a thud, or like a pogo stick ready to throw you into that matagouri bush just ahead on the right.

Longevity Problems

These can also be easy to spot (oil leaks) or impossible to spot until the fork has ground itself up internally and things get expensive.  Longevity problems are best picked up during periodic service.

When?

How often does it need to be done?
Recommendations between manufacturers vary hugely.  As do their reasons for these recommendations.  But here are the basic rules:
 
•   A brand new fork should have it's oil levels checked before use.
•   Change lubricating oils within 3-6 months. This is to flush out any debris left over from manufacture, assembly and break-in.
•   If you can't remember ever doing it, then it's due.
•   If it's leaking or feeling bad, then it's due.
•   If you race, train or ride often then at least once every 12 months.

What can I do between riding?
•   Keep an eye out for leaks of oil or loss of air pressure.
•   Clean the sliding surfaces.
 

What? (Types of Service)

Minor/Periodic Service
This is what you do when everything still looks good from the outside. 
•   Involves partial dismantlement of the fork to check oil levels, clean, lubricate air pistons and replace any bath oils which get contaminated.
•   Most important when forks are near new, to check factory oil levels, flush out debris and find any problems early.
•   Rear shocks too.  Removing the air-can, cleaning and lubricating will extend seal life.
•   Protect your investment.  Keeps your forks/shocks sliding smoothly to minimise wear and maximise performance.

Major/Full Service
This is for solving problems and bringing the fork (or shock) back to the best possible performance, and includes:
•   Full strip and clean/inspect of a fork or shock.
•   Replacement of all fluids and any seals or components showing abnormal wear.
•   Resetting of any internal pneumatic valves (SPV, Boost Valve etc).
 

How?

There are two options for this: DIY service or Shockcraft Service.  We support both, supplying the parts and tools to get it done in your home, with our expertise and fully equipped suspension workshop available when you need it.

DIY Suspension Service:
What can be done in a basic, but clean, workshop?

•   Periodic maintenance of suspension forks and rear shocks (lower leg bath oilair piston luberear shock air sleeves)
•   Fork oil changes & level checks
•   Full service of the simpler suspension forks
•   Fork seal changes (our fork service kits include sealsoils & oil syringes)

For basic servicing you will also need:
•   A wipe clean work area
•   A decent set of tools (including oil syringes to accurately dispense, measure and height set)
•   Work stands to hold the fork upright and inverted
•   Paper towels to wipe the stanchions and lowers clean
•   Drain trays to collect oil & a way to dispose of the old oil
•   Trays for the parts you remove
•   Assembly grease (Shockcraft stock both Prep M and Slickoleum)
•   Depending on the specific fork you may also need:
    •   Fork oil for the damper side
    •   New crush washers for the lower bolts (we have 8 & 15 mm in stock)

What requires a specialist with a fully equipped & clean workshop? 
•   Anything you don't want damaged
•   Fork cartridges that are highly pressurised (not common)
•   Rear shocks which are highly pressurised (most of them)
•   Forks and shocks that require special tools for disassembly and reassembly
•   Parts over-tightened or damaged (aka muppet wrenched)
•   Bushing replacement
•   IFP pressure measurement & depth calculation
•   Oil viscosity measurements
•   Performance problems not fixed by a periodic service
•   Major repairs & Engineering repairs (heli-coil, machining etc)

Shockcraft can do all this and more. We service all common and many uncommon forks and shocks, from current to vintage. Information on our service and pricing is available here, along with our service booking form.

Any Questions?
Call us on 03 976 7790 (new Shockcraft number - "ShockLine")
or email engineer@shockcraft.co.nz