Suspension! When to service it and what what you can do at home

When it comes to judging the usage of bike parts, some areas of your bicycle are more noticeable than others. Whether it’s the rattle you get from a worn bottom bracket, the speed in which it takes you to move through the gears, or a wide range of other issues, it’s always a good idea to stay ahead of your bike’s wear and tear. On mountain bikes it can often be difficult to work out when such repairs are needed on, say, your front and rear suspension as the change is a very gradual one over time. To cut out the confusion, here’s a guide to when you need to service your suspension.

When does my suspension need servicing?

Over time the performance of your suspension deteriorates as more dirt and water gets into the important points and wears out the coils, shocks and bearings. There are a few on-bike feelings which can tell you that this is happening. Firstly, if your fork feels dry and stiff it means it needs greasing, if not treated it will begin to feel harsh and slugged, even on the small stuff. Little action in the rear shock also indicates that there could be grit or water in the oil — and therefore it needs to be serviced. This loss of oil/air can happen at all points of the suspension system and is usually caused by a damaged seal.

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As a result, generally speaking, suspension needs regular periodic maintenance and lubrication refills after every 25 hours of riding and a full strip-down service from a bike shop every 200 hours. This works out at a full service every three to six months depending on a few factors. How you ride, the trails you ride on, the weather and trail conditions all affect this time range. What is obvious is that doing nothing is not the answer.

Suspension company RockShox have put together this handy service interval chart to help give an idea of suspension servicing needs in relation to use. Of course, with the Hubtiger app it has never been easier to work out when your suspension will need such a service. The app will track your bike and parts usage for you, so that you don’t have to guess where on the chart you fall.

Things you can do yourself to maintain your suspension

Even if you ride regularly and find yourself at the far left of that chart, there are a few things that you can do yourself to maintain your suspension system. A really simple tip and something to always keep in mind is don’t point a hose anywhere near your suspension seals. If you do, water will get into the system and severely damage the seals, which in turn will bring your next service closer. Instead, keep the pressure of your hose low and wipe the seals down separately. Another way of protecting your suspension is by purchasing kit for the bike that will prevent the area from getting contaminated. Getting some mudguards that fit below the fork arch is a worthwhile investment as its helps protect the stanchions from mud that is chucked up by the front wheel. Lastly, protective tape or cable guards can be applied to pivotal points along the disc brake hose so that a wear mark isn’t left on your frame or stanchions when the cable rubs those areas.

Basic suspension home maintenance tips

There are also a few home maintenance tips you can easily try. One of the simplest is to keep the forks well lubricated. A suspension fork has a pool of oil in the fork legs which lubricates the seals and keeps the movement nice and smooth. There is an external dust seal to keep the muck out and an internal oil seal and foam ring. For these to work properly they must remain well lubricated. All they need is a simple application of about 10ml of oil to keep the system running smoothly. If you turn the bike upside down and leave it for 20 minutes, the oil will find its way down to the seals nicely. Lastly, removing all the dirt from the fork stanchions and around the seals before the bike is cleaned, goes a long way to extending the life of your suspension system.

The Hubtiger app will track services and usage to bike parts such as the rear and front suspension and will notify you when they need the maintenance detailed above. To find out more about how the Hubtiger app helps you as a cyclist

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