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MTB Suspension Sales, Service & Support

Fork lubes and 'Juices' - Why NOT to use them

Posted on April 20 2016

On the market these days, there's virtually a product for every minute aspect of this sport, from special liquid to wash your chamois with, to discipline specific glasses and the vast array of tools to keep up with the ongoing changing standards. There is however one product that in our opinion - Is a true band-aid solution.

As we're talking suspension 'talk' on a daily basis with customers, it often get's mentioned to us: Should i be spraying a fork juice on my stanchions? The straight out answer is NO. Here's why:

 

1) Fork spray WILL make your forks feel better... Temporarily. Fork juices are generally silicone (or similar) based, and therefore they allow a fork that feels dry or has 'stiction ' to feel smooth again. The silicon based liquid that is sprayed onto the exposed stanchion, is then passed down into the fork's dust wipers and foam seals (which may be dry and the cause of the extra dry feeling and stiction) during use, and creating a smoother feel with less stiction.  BUT, it will also drag the nasty fine particles of dirt/dust down into your seals and foam rings, where it will sit - and stay.

 

2) Fork spray coagulates inside your fork's foam rings and dust seals, along with all those finer dust particles, and over the longer term - will actually make the forks even worse than they were before, as it forms an almost sticky 'waxy' substance inside the dust seals and foam rings. This results in a poorly functioning fork - period.

 

3) As that nasty build-up occurs (like on the inside of the foam rings pictured below), those foam rings loose their ability to absorb oil, and lubricate the stanchion. Foam rings are not there for anything other than to lubricate the stanchion, so they need to be kept clean, and they need to retain their ability to hold that juicy oil from your fork's lowers. 

 

4) If the foam rings are full of crap, it means they cant be full of that lubrication oil, which is what helps your bushings run smooth and clean, and for a longer period before they start wearing damage into a stanchion.

 

5) In more extreme cases, the build-up of the silicon and or wax substances found in fork juices/sprays within the dust seals and foam rings, actually has caused major damage to the fork's stanchion surfaces, with severe wear marks in the anodized finish.

 

Now with all these decent reasons to avoid fork juice, the real solution involves two crucial elements over the course of a fork or shock's life in-between services: 

1 ) Keep the stanchion or shock body clean
 
2 ) Keep the stanchion or shock body dry

  

By doing these two things, there's a pretty good chance you will never need to even consider an external spray or lube for your stanchions, and you would be much better off saving your pennies and putting them towards your fork or shocks next service. Remember -  Suspension components ALL have regular service intervals in order for them to work to their optimum. Service them within a reasonable service schedule, and they'll work better than what they ever could with a fork spray. :)

And lastly, there's a good reason why the big suspension manufacturers don't make a product in this category...

Nasty wear, with nasty fork juice/lube build up
Nasty wear, with nasty fork juice/lube build up
Nasty wear, with nasty fork juice/lube build up
Fork_juice1
seemed appropriate :)