How to dodge the repair bills

Modern bike suspension is amazing but sensitive to neglect and expensive to replace. Read our ‘now-or-never’ guide to suspension care.

>>> How to set up mountain bike suspension

The guys down at TF Tuned are here to show us how to extend its life and dodge the repair bills…

Skimp on maintenance and your fork could end up like this

Skimp on maintenance and your fork could end up like this

Stanchion defence

Your fork stanchions have a slippery, anodised coating (most of it is tucked away inside the lower leg) 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, but systematically, destroy that anodising, and make the fork feel 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.

Contrary to the forum chatter you may have seen, there’s no re-coating service and no, stealing your wife’s (or husband’s) nail varnish is not a solution.

The prevention

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 (or 30 hours of riding time, whichever comes sooner) undertaking a simple lower leg service to keep your forks running smoothly.

Clear mud and grit from the air shock body regularly

Clear mud and grit from the air shock body regularly

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 regular TLC.

The prevention

If you keep your shock pump in your backpack, have a look at the connection. 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.

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.

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.

For air-sprung rear shocks, be sure to remove the can and clean it out with a lint-free cloth. Inspect the air-sealing surfaces (that’s the inside of can and the outside of body i.e. the bit that goes in and out of the can) before giving it a lick of light grease and bit of lube.