These days, the majority of sub-£1K mountain bikes come equipped with budget suspension forks. Most cost less than the price of a fork service, so very few of them ever get much TLC. It isn’t really worth paying for a service, but there are still things you can do at home to help improve performance and longevity
NB: this guide is for budget mountain bike forks only. If your fork uses air as a spring medium and/or has aluminium stanchions this isn’t for you.
It’s fair to say that one fork manufacturer dominates the lower price points: SunTour. Their forks are everywhere, and while the company also manufactures more upmarket models, its entry-level dominance is obvious.
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.
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.