Suspension Service - What Is It?

Suspension ServiceThe best service analogy for bike suspension is getting your car serviced.  The mechanics and techs change the oil, check or change other fluids (coolant, transmission) and any filters or seals which are due.

Why Service?

Your bike suspension is pretty much the same and service is done for exactly the same three reasons:

  1. Maintain/Improve performance. Make it work better (or keep it working well).
  2. Fix and prevent issues (like oil/air leaks)
  3. Protect your expensive parts with better lubrication from new fluids, preventing major wear and tear.

Maintenance

Maintenance is all about making the suspension work like it should.  Forks need relubrication to keep sliding smoothly and the dampers need occasional oil changes to fix oil ingestion and foaming.

Fixing & Preventing Issues

Fixing is about solving leaks or problems and preventing new problems occuring.  This keeps your suspension reliable so you don't have issues mid-ride (or mid-adventure)!

Protection

Protection is about preventing wear to ensure a long and useful life from your suspension parts.  This also protects your investment, as not only are suspension parts expensive, but finding the right configuration several years later can be a nightmare, often resulting in perfectly good bikes being parked up because a fork or shock has worn out.

Types of Service

Service Parts & LubricantsSuspension service fits into three categories.

Periodic Service

This is where the suspenson has no major issues, but is probably getting sticky and not performing as well as it was.

Service here can be as simple as lower leg bath oil or rear shock air-can.  It is about 80% cleaning, about 20% relubrication and often doesn't require wiper seal replacement.

It's often worth doing air spring seals at the same time.

A great example is a lower leg and air spring service on a Fox, Manitou or Rockshox fork (e.g. RockShox Pike/Lyrik Lower Leg Air Spring Service).

Full Service

This is a full strip down of a fork or rear shock, changing all fluids (lubrication and damper) and any internal air or oil seals which need it.  How intensive this service is depends on the type of fork/shock, the age and how much it has been ridden.  Some failure points are age related and some are usage related.

Pricing for these varies depending on how complicated and time consuming the suspension is to work on.

Wiper seals may or may not need replaced depending on age and condition.

Example: RockShox Pike/Lyrik Full Service

Tuning & Upgrades

While we have your suspension apart it's an ideal time to consider how it can be improved and we will often call you to discuss options.  Sometimes tuning and upgrades are to improve model specific issues, sometimes they are to roll in updates the manufacturer has come out with recently, often it is to make a fork or shock work better for your specific weight, terrain and riding style.

Fork Bushing BurnishingExample tuning & upgrades:

•   Fork Bushing Burnishing
•   RockShox Debonair Air Shaft Upgrades
•   Vorsprung Luftkappes
•   Smashpot Coil Conversion - RockShox 35 mm & Fox 36
•   Unharsh & Matrix Tune for RockShox Charger 1 & Charger 2

Service Intervals

Every manufacturer has a different service interval and method. Every rider also has different conditions and intensity which make it more complex, but here's a very simple method that works for any fork or shock to maximise performance and minimise wear.

The wiper seals on forks and shocks are designed to leave a very fine oil/grease sheen on the fork stanchions or shock damper body. This gives the stanchions/body a shiny appearance.

If your stanchions or shock body look dull, then they're dry and need serviced. Internally it means the reservoir of oil or grease has either been used up (it spreads to the outside and dries off) or displaced to part of the fork/shock where it can't lubricate any more.

If you're unsure, simply clean the stanchions/body with a dry cloth and pump it up and down a few times. If it stays dry then it's service time. If the sheen comes back then you're okay.

What Can We Do For Your Suspension?

Check out our new model specific service & tuning pages.  This has service, tuning, upgrade options by model.  It is a work in progress and we will continue to add more models.  If your model is not listed please contact us for options.