Modern bike suspension is amazing but sensitive to neglect and expensive to replace. Read our 'now-or-never' guide to suspension care.
How to dodge the repair bills whilst also extending the life of your suspension fork and rear shock – and making your bike perform better for longer.
Your fork stanchions have a slippery, anodised coating that lets the upper tubes pass smoothly over the bushes inside the lowers.
So far, so good. But chips, scratches, dings and wear from the attrition of dirt under the seals can gradually destroy that anodising, and make the fork sticky and graunchy.
And the really bad news? Those upper tubes can’t be changed individually; they’re pressed and bonded to the crown at the factory. This crown/steerer/upper (CSU) assembly will set you back anything from £150-£300 from the big manufacturers.
Regularly clean and inspect your forks, especially if you ride frequently in wet, gritty, muddy conditions. Invest £15 in a lower lube kit and spend 15 minutes every few months undertaking a simple lower leg service to keep your forks running smoothly.
Keep up with that regular fork lower leg lube. If you don’t, your air spring shaft is sitting in a muddy puddle in the lower where the clean oil used to live. It won’t be happy.
Air spring rearguard
The air spring in your fork and shock is lightweight and easily adjustable, but to keep it performing perfectly, it’s going to need a bit of TLC.
If you keep your shock pump in your backpack, have a look at the connection end. Is it clean? If there are bits of foliage, energy bar, grit and mud in there, you’re about to pump it into the fork or shock. Don’t do it.
For air-sprung rear shocks, it’s remarkably easy to do a quick air can service:
Don’t apply harsh cleaners and then leave them to eat away at the body tube of your shock; that’s an air-sealing surface and it needs to be free from contaminants. Just wipe it over with a sponge and some water and don’t be tempted to buy some neoprene wrap-around thing either; it’ll only hold that abrasive gritty water against the shock.
Whilst in no way being a replacement for regular service regime, there is something to be said for the old wives’ tale of storing your bike upside down to help with suspension health. It only really applies for forks, but inverting your bike will help the interior lube oil trickle back up the top seals. Obviously, if your interior oil is now more like a filthy puddle, it ain’t going to help anything. But if your oil is still oily, there’s no harm in using gravity to help it back up to where it needs to be ie. in the foam ring just under the fork dust wipers.