Mountain bike suspension is nothing new, but it has advanced faster than any other part of the bicycle.
Mountain bike suspension is nothing new, but it has advanced faster than any other part of the bicycle. We are at a point that even on entry level bikes we have products that function at a higher standard than what you would get in a comparable industry such as motorcycles.
One of the biggest driving forces in bike suspension innovation is keeping weight low, while maintaining a level of adjustment and tuning for riders of varying sizes. WIth this innovation we have seen bikes get to incredibly light weights and capable of doing things that didn’t seem possible twenty years ago.
The unfortunate downside to light weight, high performance parts, is they do come with additional maintenance. Which is important not just for the longevity of your parts, but the overall performance of them as well. Without proper maintenance, you can be left with suspension that feels slow, mushy and dead. On top of how your bike feels, you can get to a point where suspension can damage itself under normal use, leading to bigger repair bills when it does come in for service.
Manufacturers have gone a long way to decrease the severity of doing fork and shock maintenance. With modern suspension dampers being for the most part sealed systems, it gives us an opportunity for what would be more comparable to a car’s oil change than actually getting a full rebuild.
Service intervals can seem short, depending on how and where you are riding. Most manufactures have rear shocks and forks falling between 30-50 riding hours for a basic service. For the average rider, in normal riding conditions, who’s riding 2-3 times a week, for 2 hours at a time, that's about two and a half months between services. If you're a more serious rider, and you're logging 10+ hours a week on your bike, it is beneficial to be performing basic service every four weeks! This may seem like a lot, but when you compare your high performance bike to the equivalent in a motorcycle, you would be doing a valve adjustment every 20 riding hours!
For fork maintenance, the majority of products on the market can now have what we call a lower service performed. When we look back at how heavy forks were, it was generally because of the large amount of oil they used to contain. Modern forks are a lot lighter simply because they contain substantially less oil. It’s at the point where some forks on bikes have as little as 10CC, or for better perspective a little less than a tablespoon of oil to lubricate the entire lower assembly. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for error if we push past our recommended service intervals.
Rear air shocks are no different, except across the board, they use very, very little oil for their general lubrication. Rear shock “air can service” is something that is like the lower service, it's do-able at a shop level, it's relatively quick, and it's incredibly important to stay on top of to avoid damaging your parts, and to keep everything running smooth.
Beyond preventing damage, getting your basics covered will also make your bike simply ride better. When we do a lowers and air can service, our goal is cleaning all the gunk and dirt out of where it shouldn't be, and more importantly trying to decrease friction. Getting inside the lower parts of the fork, replacing old dried out grease and broken down oil can drastically improve your fork's small bump sensitivity. It also gives us a big opportunity to look at how your suspension is set up and tune for how you ride. We are able to ask questions and help find how we can get your suspension to do more for you and perform better.