“I had my fork and shock serviced in October of last year, so when should I do it again?” This query has crossed the mind of every mountain biker at some point, whether they took action to answer it or not. If you ride your bike in the dirt, and I sincerely hope that you do, you’ll need to have your suspension serviced at least once every season. Soil particles can sneak past the seals and contaminate the internal parts, and simply cleaning that out and changing the oil will keep your bike’s expensive squishy bits sliding smoothly. Fortunately, the oil changing instructions for most components are fairly painless to follow.
I spoke with my friend, Lionel Saez, who has worked in the MTB suspension tuning and repair world for several years now to find out how riders can determine when we need to service our precious suspension components. The best bet is to mark service intervals on your calendar so that you can’t forget when you last changed the oil and wipers, but even sticking to the intervals isn’t always sufficient. Depending on dust and mud conditions, you may need to clean the internals more frequently. Here are some indicators that your fork or shock needs a closer look.
- It feels dry. The internal tube of your fork (stanchion) or shock should always be a little bit “greasy,” and if it appears dry you will need to open it up, clean it, and replace the oil and seals.
- The fork or shock begins to feel harsh, and loses small bump sensitivity. This is due to added friction in the system.
- The rebound and compression don’t seem to affect anything. Added friction also reduces the effectiveness of the system’s adjustments.
- For rear air shocks, bubble noise or little to no action from the rebound adjustment can indicate there’s air in the oil, and the shock needs to be serviced.
- The fork or shock is losing large amounts of air or oil. This is typically caused by a damaged seal.
Service intervals for most modern suspension
Service intervals are not an exact science. How you ride, the type of trails ride, and the weather all play a part in the story. The recommended service intervals are more of a baseline to make sure folks don’t let their suspension go unchecked until it feels terrible, or starts eating itself.
Fortunately, I ride between 10 and 15 hours per week, depending on the season, which by some recommended service intervals would see me swapping oil and wipers every 2-3 weeks and servicing the damper cartridge on a 7-10 week rotation. Since most of that riding is on clay, free of mud and dust, I don’t do it as frequently as advised. I tend to go by many of the indicators Lyonel mentioned more than a calendar, but it’s good to know when the manufacturer recommends a partial or full service. Check the recommended service intervals below to see if your squish is due for a deeper wash.
|Company and component||Service interval||Instructional resources|
|Ancillotti coil shock||Full service 1 x annually||Contact the builder|
|DVO forks and air shocks||Lowers/air canEvery 50hrs, air spring/damper every 100hrs||Service guide|
|Extreme Racing (EXT) Coil||Full service 1 x annually, or 2 x annually if ridden hard through mud/dust||Service manuals|
|Formula Selva Fork||Lowers every 30hrs or 6 months, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually||Video tutorial|
|Cane Creek fork||Lowers every 50hrs, full service every 100hrs||Video tutorial|
|Cane Creek shock||Air shocks: oil and seals 2 x annually, and fulle service once annually. Coil shocks: one service annually.||Video tutorial|
|Fast Suspension coil||Every 100hrs||Service manual or video|
|Fox air forks and shocks||Lowers every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually||Fork service, shock service, or Service by appointment|
|Fox coil shock||Every 100hrs||Service guide|
|Intend BC Forks||Lowers every 50hrs, full service every 100hrs. (IBC shocks are too new to tell)||Service manuals|
|Marzocchi forks and shocks||Every 125hrs||See Fox manuals|
|Mountain Racing Products (MRP)||Lowers every 30-50hrs depending on conditions, full service every 75-100hrs D.O.C.||Service manuals|
|Öhlins forks and shocks||Lowers every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually||Service manuals|
|Push coil||Inspect bushings every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annually||Support doc|
|RockShox forks and shocks||Lower leg/air-can every 50hrs, full service100-200hrs depending on the component||Lower leg service and shock air can service|
|SunTour||Too many components to list, but generally intervals are similar to other brands||Service manuals|
|X-Fusion Forks and shocks||Lower leg/air-can every 25hrs, full service every 100 hours or 1x annually||Service info|
Do you have a good way to remind yourself to service your suspension? Please share it with our readers below.