D.I.Y BASIC BICYCLE SUSPENSION MAINTENANCE

Shaun George BOTS Guides, D.I.Y, Mechanics

A lot of bicycles have suspensions to ensure your ride is safe and comfortable. If you ride a mountain bike or a hybrid bike it’s almost certain that you have a suspension. With all the work they do, basic care of this important component goes a long way in reducing wear and tear and also making sure the suspension works as designed.

Hybrids typically have lightweight, simple suspensions and require far less maintenance. If your bike comes with a complex air suspension, they typically require a lot more attention and potentially a professional bike mechanic looking at it regularly. 50 – 60 hours of riding time is a good rule of thumb for suspension work.

BASIC SUSPENSION MAINTENANCE ROUTINE

A basic fork maintenance routine at home is fast, simple and keeps your suspension running smoothly for much longer. It prevents wear and tear of components and also ensures your ride is safe.

Keep in mind that this D.I.Y maintenance routine isn’t meant to replace the standard service schedule of every 50 – 60 hours of riding.

The suspension fork components that need attention on a regular basis include the stanchions, wiper seals and the lowers’ seals.

Fork anatomy
Know your Suspension Parts

Ensure you wear gloves while working on the suspension as you wouldn’t want to get any contamination on the disc brakes. Start by getting the front wheel and brake caliper off the fork to avoid complications.

This D.I.Y service shouldn’t take you more than 10-15 minutes at home

2 SIMPLE STEPS TO SERVICE YOUR FORK AT HOME

1. WASHING

A scratched stanchion due to lack of lubrication and care.

The first thing to do when servicing your fork at home is to wash it thoroughly. After a wash, wipe down the stanchions and dust caps with a clean microfiber cloth. The most important part of maintaining your suspension is keeping the stanchions, seals and lower legs well lubricated. Without lubrication, the fork would be running dry and the high levels of friction would wear out the fork in no time.

Be sure to wash the stanchions and wiper seals. Remove any visible dirt from in between the stanchion and wiper seals. Wipe them dry with a microfiber cloth. This step is important to prevent contamination of the lubricant by dirt. Most suspensions use either oil or grease-based lubrication in the lower legs. The oil pools in the lower legs and from there it helps lubricate the bushes and seals within the fork.

There are a number of seals on your fork to prevent dirt, muck, and water from entering the lower legs. The seals also help keep the oil in. There is an external wiper seal on all kinds of forks that keep the dust out and wipe the stanchions during every compression. Wipe the seals clear of any sort of debris that may have accumulated over time. In case the seals are cracked, replace them as soon as possible.

Air forks have foam rings that retain oil beneath the seal, and also collect any particles of dirt that get inside the fork past the wiper seal. For external seals to repel dirt effectively, and for the internal bushes to remain frictionless, they must both remain well lubricated.

2. LUBRICATION

New dust cap and seal vs Old dust cap and seal

Apply some stanchion lubricant such as the Finish Line Stanchion Fluoro Oil that cleans and lubricates the seals aswell. The surface between the fork seal and the stanchion itself needs to be well lubricated. There is a fine line between lubrication and over-lubrication. Don’t go crazy with lube application – wipe off any excess. If you don’t have access to a dedicated fork lubricant then you can also use a simple chain lube applied lightly on the stanchions – any dirt left on the stanchions or on the wiper seals will score the stanchions and increase friction. Reattach the brake caliper to the fork and slide in the front wheel. You’re now ready to ride.

Pro Tip- Keep your bike upside down on its handlebar before an upcoming ride. The oil from the lowers will travel up and moisten the seals and keep the next ride plush.

Muc-Off Silicon Shine in action

Remember that you should visually inspect your forks after every 2-3 rides. Look out for any kind of scoring on the stanchions. This could indicate dirt on the wiper seals or breakage of the seals themselves. Look out for oil stains underneath the lower legs. The bolts there may not be snug enough. Other than that just look for any dirt or contaminants on the stanchions or seals. Wipe any dirt off for smooth functionality.

SUSPENSION CARE PRODUCTS

Here are a few products that can help keep your suspension looking good and feeling good.

FINISH LINE STANCHION FLURO OIL

The Stanchion Fluoro oil is meant to improve the performance and extend the life of your stanchions, eliminate fork stiction and hydrate your fork’s rubber seals and o-rings.

Read more on this product – http://blog.bumsonthesaddle.com/2019/09/07/finishline-stanchion-fluoro-oil/

MUC-OFF SILICON SHINE

The Silicone Shine spray is a great multi-purpose product that can keep your bike nice and shiny for long. Not only that, but the spray is also a great friction reducer for suspension parts and reduces dirt adhesion. Spray it onto your fork stanchions and rear shocks to reduce resistance for a silky smooth experience. The spray protects and leaves a sparkling shine on metal, plastic & rubber parts. It’s also Carbon safe! The silicon spray prevents dirt adhesion and also acts as a water-resistant barrier.

Remember that with suspensions, minimizing friction is the key and frequent but basic services like these will keep your suspension system working at its best. These basic tips are to be employed on a regular basis. Do visit your local bike shop for a full suspension service.

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