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Suspension servicing?

Old 02-22-21, 08:49 PM
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Ashloff
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Suspension servicing?

I'm relatively new to mountain biking and am wondering how often people actually have their suspension serviced. I've heard things ranging from people following exactly what the manufacturer recommends to people waiting a year or two.

Having my shocks serviced will be 1/3 to 1/2 the price of the suspension and might actually cost more than the suspension is worth which seems crazy expensive. Places I've been looking online would total around $120 each so $260/bike plus shipping an awkwardly long box USPS.

Does anyone have an affordable option they've tried (aside from rebuilding themselves)?
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Old 02-22-21, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Ashloff View Post
Does anyone have an affordable option they've tried
yeah, you could -
(aside from rebuilding themselves)?
oh. Never mind

If you look at the price of rebuild kits itís obvious you are paying for minimum hour or two labor of a mechanic with tools and expertise. Itís just cleaning it up, replacing the seals and fluids. These things are not really complicated unless they break or you start tuning them.
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Old 02-22-21, 11:40 PM
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I asked my bike mechanic that same question about a month ago. He thinks that the fork, shock and dropper seat post can go easily two years without any service, especially if you are a recreational rider. In fact, he said many people just service them until one of them starts acting up and send both (or all three if you include dropper post) at the same time. The same type of service of replacing seals, oils, etc. will need to be done. The main issue is the hassle of not having a bike while the service is completed (taking much longer now due to Covid). So, if you plan on scheduled maintenance, it’s better to time this over a period that you don’t plan to ride for a while.

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Old 02-23-21, 10:29 AM
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Ihave several different bikes, so spread my usage out . I would be wasting money if i got everything serviced yearly as i just dont put that much time on any one bike per year

Depends on your usage and how you ride, — but i am personally pretty easy on equipment, but am a clydesdale, sso i keepan eye on things. Ive had my current daily driver for 5 years and just had the suspension checked out last year. My mechanic said everything still looked new inside — its ridden 50x or so a year, so perhaps 200-250 rides on the suspension

my downhill bike is a different story. its a downhill bike, so by nature its ridden harder And - its an older fork with scratched stanchions, so it will seep oil a lot quicker . In this case i service the fork once a year (thats equal to 2or 3 weekends on the slopes for me) - but the shock hasnt been apart in 4 years (so maybe 10 weekends) - And i will have the shock done this year as a precautionary measure before DH season too- as it also needs a lighter spring .

so —— that didn’t exactly answer your question but was just trying to illustrate that a lot depends on how you use your bike. My two bikes have completely different maintenance needs ——. One has needed almost nothing , While the other in comparison is being tinkered with a lot more if you compare the usage cycles.

to be fair, if i lived in paradise (any area with alift assisted bike park, but preferably Winter Park CO). I would get anew fork for thebig bike, but i am just babying it along because thats a more cost effective way for me to do it



lastly, - I dont know where you live, but i get all my stuff serviced locally. If there is a shop within a reasonble radiusof your home, its nicerto have someone local do it. Saves aggravation of shipping and they can help you set sag and things like that which can be a pain by yourself —- Thats if the mechanic is up on his skills though. But it seems like every bigger town has a hardcore shop or 2 where there are guys like that who can help
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Old 02-23-21, 07:37 PM
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If you don't go to a shop that can do it in house you should change shops. We do at least one for and shock every day. It's ridiculous to send one someplace for regular maintenance.
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Old 02-23-21, 09:29 PM
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For a bike I am riding a lot, I change the oil in the lowers of the fork about twice a year. Air-sleeve maintenance on a shock more like once a year. There is no need to send a shock/fork off for that stuff. Easy to do yourself (it is what I do), or a shop could do it for less than $120 and that is what will prevent bad things from happening to the fork/shock.

As far as getting a true "rebuild"... like breaking it all down and doing new seals, wipers, o-rings and all that..... you can go for a while without that stuff. Performance might degrade or you might spring a leak eventually, but as long as you have been doing the above, it is unlikely that you will do real damage.

I do the full rebuilds on the forks myself.. maybe every three years, depending on how much I am riding. The shock I send off as I don't really have the tools to deal with the damper. Maybe every three years, though I really base that on performance.
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Old 02-23-21, 11:52 PM
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I live in the westside of Los Angeles and have called about a dozen bike shops and none of them service suspension. I thought living in a major city would offer more options but not in this regard. Unless anyone knows of a place around here that I don't.

I just noticed that one of the bikes has a slight oily residue on the fork and I'm hoping it doesn't have scratched stanchions like DMC707 was mentioning. If it does, it should be serviced much more often?

For those of you who have serviced your shocks, how many hours did it take to service each one?
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Old 02-24-21, 08:10 AM
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I pull my Fox fork apart and replace the foam rings and replace the bath oil once a year. I use wipers twice before replacing if they still look clean and not torn up. I should probably do it twice a year. i don't follow Fox' schedule nearly as close as Fox says I should. however, I live in a dry, dusty place—no mud and loam anywhere in sight when the trails are rideable. on their schedule, I should have completely overhauled the damper but it still seems to work fine to me. I did the math, and buying the proper tools and materials to rebuild a Fit4 damper would cost about $200!

I have some new oil and seals on the way because it's due. I could probably go a lot longer but I think of it as preventative maintenance that costs me a few bucks every year. I expect the service to take at least an hour in my garage. the more often I do it, the faster I'll get. my previous fork was a RS Reba and I became quite proficient at overhauling it. Fox stuff seems more complex.

also, Fox bottom nuts on many forks are M10x1.0 and M8x1.0. fasteners with a thread that fine are hard to find! they sell a special tool for tapping the feet loose but the two tools will cost you about $75. I searched and searched and finally found what I think is a suitable DIY tool for much cheaper. less than $15 shipped, I ordered the following two items from Belmetric.com:
  • 1 x NLONG8X1.0X20SS - FINE Standoff Hex Nut Stainless (NLONG8X1.0X20SS) = $3.59
  • 1 x NLONG10X1.0X25SS - EXTRA FINE Standoff Hex Nut Stainless (NLONG10X1.0X25SS) = $5.25

I'll report back on how well they work.

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Old 02-24-21, 08:51 AM
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For those of you that don't want to mess with it...

Shockspital - Local and mail-in MTB suspension service
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Old 02-24-21, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Ashloff View Post
I live in the westside of Los Angeles and have called about a dozen bike shops and none of them service suspension. I thought living in a major city would offer more options but not in this regard. Unless anyone knows of a place around here that I don't.

I just noticed that one of the bikes has a slight oily residue on the fork and I'm hoping it doesn't have scratched stanchions like DMC707 was mentioning. If it does, it should be serviced much more often?

For those of you who have serviced your shocks, how many hours did it take to service each one?
You are drastically overestimating the amount of work involved in doing the work. Both fork and shock can be done in an hour easily.
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Old 02-24-21, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Ashloff View Post
I live in the westside of Los Angeles and have called about a dozen bike shops and none of them service suspension. I thought living in a major city would offer more options but not in this regard. Unless anyone knows of a place around here that I don't.

I just noticed that one of the bikes has a slight oily residue on the fork and I'm hoping it doesn't have scratched stanchions like DMC707 was mentioning. If it does, it should be serviced much more often?

For those of you who have serviced your shocks, how many hours did it take to service each one?
It might help to know exactly what fork and rear shock you have (FWIW, the front is called a "fork". "shock" refers to the rear one)

Go back to my last post. It depends what you mean by "servicing". Changing the oil in most forks takes me about an hour - or a little less from getting everything set up to clean up afterwards. I take things pretty slow as well. I could probably do this in half the time of I did it often. Changing the oil in the lowers on my various Rock Shox forks generally goes as follows:
  • remove the front wheel
  • take off the front brake caliper (leave it hooked up to the hose or cable)
  • unbolt the lowers
  • drain the old oil
  • pull the lowers off
  • wipe/clean the lowers and the stanchions
  • slide the lowers back on
  • add oil
  • bold the lowers on
  • Put the brake caliper back on
  • put the wheel in
  • adjust the caliper
Honestly, this is all pretty easy, and for Rock Shox forks requires no special tools, though a bike work stand is probably needed if you want to do this work with the fork still on the bike. The trickiest part for me is - depending on the brake - getting the caliper lined up again right.

Every so often I add to the process replacing the wipers and seals in the lowers (sounds like yours are shot). Add on 10 minutes for that. For some (flanged) you just need a big socket to push the new one in. Some of the newer ones I have gotten are flangless, and it is a little trickier to get them in straight and the proper depth. I splurged $35 for a good tool for that.

As far as a rear shock air sleeve maintenance, Again, I'd give it about an hour, maybe a little less. Read the online instructions very carefully. Again, no real special tools needed, though a bench vice is handy to hold the shock.

As far as a full "rebuild", that is going to depend a lot on the fork or shock. It takes me a couple/few hours (an evening) working at a slow deliberate pace to do a RS fork. I remove the fork from the bike for that. For the rear shock... I send that off. I don't have the tools or expertise to deal with the damper in those.
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Old 02-24-21, 05:40 PM
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At least a couple of the local bike shops in your area should be able to do basic fork/shock service. Look for any bike shop that caters to mountain bikes.
Shock service on a basic air shock is pretty simple, if you want to go the DIY route.
I sent my fork back to Fox for servicing, but that was several years ago, it's probably due again soon. But I'm lazy and don't ride that hard. I was not riding much for 3 years in there.
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Old 02-24-21, 11:54 PM
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I think I might try this. People are saying it doesn't take too long. I'd be changing the oil and seals. I'm a bit intimidated by trying to align calipers though.

The bike has: RockShox Monarch Plus R DebonAir shocks and Fork RockShox Pike RC fork. It's 2015 though so I'm not sure if that makes the parts more difficult to find.
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Old 02-25-21, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Ashloff View Post
I think I might try this. People are saying it doesn't take too long. I'd be changing the oil and seals. I'm a bit intimidated by trying to align calipers though.

The bike has: RockShox Monarch Plus R DebonAir shocks and Fork RockShox Pike RC fork. It's 2015 though so I'm not sure if that makes the parts more difficult to find.
Parts are plentifully available. RS is pretty good about supplying full rebuild kits for forks much older than that (I recently did a full rebuild on a 2007 Reba).

But the real question here... is this a 5 year old fork and shock that has never been serviced? Dude, these are high end parts, you need to take care of them! You can do just the oil change and new seals, (and definitely change the damper oil), but seriously, these are both due for a full service/rebuild if you want them to last a lot longer (and they will if you take care of them). We can talk you through the whole thing, but really, $$130 each to keep high end parts going after 5 years is kind of a no-brainer, IMO. That is a $600-$700 fork, and a ~$400 shock. Just do it. Send them off while it is still winter. Meanwhile, start watching you tube videos and read up on how-to articles on how to do the oil and seal changes (which are easy) and plan to do them regularly.

I recently used Fluid Focus to do a shock re-build.

Here is the thing about high end forks (at least for Rock Shox, which I am very familiar): as long as the bushings are not worn or the stanchions not damaged you can rebuild any of them to a like-new state for about $60 in parts and some fluids (or pay $130). And if you do regular servicing, they will keep going, working like-new practically indefinitely. Bushings are replaceable by someone like Fluid Focus (there are many others out there now as well), but it will be an added coast (and totally worth it). The one thing that might NOT be salvageable are damaged stanchions. Once you start looking at replacing the uppers, the cost might not make sense. A good servicing place will know as soon as they unbolt the fork if there is a problem with the stanchions. Or you could unbolt the lowers and slide them off just enough to see the part of the stanchions that are normally hidden an couple inches below the dust seals.

Good luck.

Last edited by Kapusta; 02-25-21 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 02-26-21, 09:46 AM
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I service the lowers every 50hr, air piston every 100h, and seals once a year.

I only service the damper if something feels wrong.

I don't care what the manufacturer says (Fox says 120h intervals). An oil change is cheap, new stanchions are expensive. Moreover, in my experience, fork performance degrades slowly and it's hard to notice the change until you do a service. After 50h, I notice it gets significatly worse.
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Old 02-26-21, 10:00 AM
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I purchased the bike used about a month ago. The person I purchased from said the suspension was serviced 10 months ago but after finding several problems with the bike (I'm certain the bike was wrecked) I'm doubting this person was telling the truth. After all the feedback I'll probably bring it to a local bike shop, possibly have them send it out for service. As for me noticing whether still a new enough rider and am not sure what a degrading fork would feel like.

It was difficult to find something that was small enough for me, had decent parts, and was in my price range but at this point I'm wondering if this bike purchase was worth it... it's needing work and I just found a small ding on the bottom of the undertube that I was completely aware of. I'm still weighing on whether I should keep it or try to sell and then dish out a lot more for a new bike.

Last edited by Ashloff; 02-26-21 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 02-26-21, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ashloff View Post
I purchased the bike used about a month ago. The person I purchased from said the suspension was serviced 10 months ago but after finding several problems with the bike (I'm certain the bike was wrecked) I'm doubting this person was telling the truth. After all the feedback I'll probably bring it to a local bike shop, possibly have them send it out for service. As for me noticing whether still a new enough rider and am not sure what a degrading fork would feel like.

It was difficult to find something that was small enough for me, had decent parts, and was in my price range but at this point I'm wondering if this bike purchase was worth it... it's needing work and I just found a small ding on the bottom of the undertube that I was completely aware of. I'm still weighing on whether I should keep it or try to sell and then dish out a lot more for a new bike.
If he was up on the servicing of this fork, it would not be leaking 10 months after the last servicing. Maybe he just changed the oil, when in fact it was overdue for new seals/wipers... if not more. Anything suspension part I buy over three years old I would just assume needs a rebuild, unless I knew the seller well. It is just my insurance that the thing is tip-top.

I would not sweat a ding on the downtube*. Don't worry about wrecks, that is what mountain bikes do. Just worry if something is broken.

Look, 5 years can be a lot of wear on an MTB, but as I said, as long as the bushings and stanchions are OK, the fork can be re-built like new. In the case of the rear shock there is really not much that can't be rebuilt, and after that you have essentially brand new, high end suspension.

OTOH, that is just the suspension. You have to expect with. 5 year old MTB that things are going to be wearing out. This is unlikely the only thing this bike needs now or in the near future.

Have a shop go over it and see what they think about the overall condition.

Long of the short is, If you buy a used full suspension bike, things are going to need work. And you need to be prepared to either do the work yourself or pay someone else to do it.

What brand and model bike is this?

*EDIT: Never mind, I saw your other thread... so this is more of a real dent than a ding, huh? Have a shop look at it before going much further with anything. It is probably fine, though.

Last edited by Kapusta; 02-26-21 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 02-26-21, 08:39 PM
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Man, i hope whoever buys my bike whenever it happens to go doesn't expect it wasn't wrecked... it's been wrecked lots
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Old 02-28-21, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
*EDIT: Never mind, I saw your other thread... so this is more of a real dent than a ding, huh? Have a shop look at it before going much further with anything. It is probably fine, though.
Yep, I posted the ding on the Trek Slash 7. I'll be taking it to a shop that specializes in mountain bikes and if it is okay I'll have the fork and shock rebuilt. Thanks for the advice.
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