Posted on August 16 2017
Well it's pretty safe to say that we're aware of our forks or shocks requiring a service from time to time, but exactly how long in between 'drinks' is recommended, and how do i know when it's due for a service? Like your mechanic does for your car, we should put a sticker on your fork or shock saying it's due for service on a certain date or by a certain number of km's but unfortunately that's not as realistic for your bike... or is it?
Well there are several apps out there these days including the popular STRAVA that actually allow you to select which bike was used on each ride logged, so in theory you could actually track the use pretty accurately and make a more informed decision about if it's time for a service or not. However that all depends on the information given to us by the fork and shock manufacturers relating to service internals, and whether it's necessary, or an excuse to sell you more. Although we feel some of the manufacturers are playing it 'safe' by shortening the recommended time between services, there are many good reasons why they set those intervals and it often get's overlooked.
For example: After 2 years of use only on weekends, your forks appear to be working fine, and they are not leaking oil or air - They don't need a service right?
Wrong! Inside your forks, your oil is probably contaminated, your seals are likely to be partly perished but still doing their job just enough to get by. Often your forks will have stiction that is commonly caused by dry, perished seals or foam rings in the lower leg and they may be working 'ok' - but no-where near the potential of what they are designed to do. So for example - A service on a set of forks like this could go two ways:
- Strip down, a good clean and overhaul with all new air, oil seals, and you're laughing for a reasonable service cost most likely with foldable change from $200.
- Strip down to find the lower leg bushings are worn, and your stanchions are cactus, beyond repair. Replace the CSU (Crown Steerer Unit), Install new lower leg bushes, overhaul with all new air, oil seals, and your service can double up to $400 or more. Sometimes it may even be questionable if it's worth doing, or trading it in.
Of course this is just an example, and not every fork requires a $400+ service thankfully, but it is really important to do your best at following the service internals recommended to us by the manufacturers, even if we stretch it just slightly. If this example above was a set of Fox 32's, and you ride your MTB only on weekends averaging roughly 4 hours on every weekend for a year (approximately 208hrs) - Fox would suggest you should have completed the following maintenance on your fork:
- Change oil in lower legs (4 times)
- Full service (2 times)
It is often recommended to service your forks or shock annually, but that may mean you have actually done well over the recommended time on that component, or if you don't use it all that often, maybe it doesn't need a service at all? Try to keep a little bit of a log on the milage done on each mtb, and you may find yourself spending that little bit extra on servicing your forks / shock more regularly, but saving big $$ long term. And that's just the financial side of things! Remember by servicing them more regularly, you're more likely to be getting the best performance possible out of them and actually using all those features you paid for.
Here's the recommended service intervals from Cannondale, Fox and Rockshox.
Cannondale Lefty Hybrid, Lefty 2.0, Supermax
Cannondale Lefty 2005-2012
Fox Air Spring Forks (All 32, 34, 36: F-Series, Float, Talas, 40 air)
Fox COIL Spring Forks (36 Van, 40)
Fox Rear shocks