These days, the majority of £600 mountain bikes come equipped with budget suspension forks. Most cost less than the price of a fork service (£80-100), so very few of them ever get much TLC. It isn’t worth paying for a service, but there are things you can do at home to help improve performance and longevity.
It’s fair to say that one fork manufacturer dominates the £600 price point. SunTour forks are everywhere, and while the company also manufactures more upmarket models, its entry-level dominance is obvious.
Nearly all entry-level forks use steel rather than aluminium stanchions. They’re strong and slippery but prone to corrosion, so it’s worth following a regular service schedule.
This step-by-step guide is applicable to any budget fork that has no oil bath lubrication in the lower legs; fork specs can be checked online, so you can see what you’re dealing with before you crack anything open. However, the procedure for stripping a budget suspension fork is virtually the same for all brands and models.
We got hold of a used SunTour XCR for this article, something like you’d find on a Specialized Hardrock, for example. Frankly, it felt and looked terrible but, with a little love, it performed surprisingly well, proving that this task is worthwhile.
Remember, though, this guide is for budget forks only. If your fork has aluminium stanchions and/or uses air as a spring medium, this isn’t for you.
This DIY job is covered in the January 2013 issue of MBR, onsale from Wednesday, December 12.
For more on this subject, find out how to choose the right fork for you.