Here’s how to clean and lube your mountain bike suspension in only two minutes. All you need is a damp cloth, a dry cloth, some Fork Juice (or fork/shock oil) and a couple of plastic shopping bags.
Perform these steps after every ride, straight after you’ve done the MTBtips 3 Minute Bike Wash. Your suspension is expensive to repair and replace, so look after it, and it will last longer between services.
Step 1 – Clean the fork stanchions and shock shaft with a damp cloth. Hold the folded damp cloth by each end and wipe parallel to the seal edges, as shown in the video below to avoid pushing dirt under the seal lips. Use a very wet cloth, Q-Tip (cotton bud) or Muc Off or similar to loosen and remove stubborn grime from behind the fork arch.
Step 2 – Compress and release the suspension, then wipe off any rings of grime that appear along the stanchions and shaft.
Step 3 – Dry Use a dry cloth in the same fashion as step 1 to remove any water from the stanchions and shaft.
Step 4 – Cover both rotors completely with a plastic shopping bag to prevent airborne spray from settling on your rotors (the video shows the easy way). Skip step 4 if your lube isn’t a spray. Rim brake riders need to cover the whole wheel with an old towel.
Step 5 – Spray the fork stanchions and shock shaft with a light covering of fork juice. When using a lube that isn’t a spray, use your fingers to ensure the lube comes in contact with the seals. To prevent surface rust on chromed steel stanchions bikes make sure you lube the whole stanchion. Wipe drips off and dispose of plastic bags.
Essential Tips for Better Performances:
Wash it before it dries – Gently wash your bike immediately after each ride, so that crud and mud doesn’t have a chance to dry on your suspension. No hose around? Use whatever drinking water you have left to remove the mud from the fork stanchions and shock shaft, so that it doesn’t get a chance to dry hard during your drive home from the trail carpark.
Know your maintenance schedules – A quick google search is all it takes to find out the recommended maintenance schedules for your suspension. You might be surprised how often your suspension should be maintained. Some manufacturers recommend internal maintenance every four hours! So you’d better check. Here are the Fox and Specialized maintenance schedules.
A leak means it too late – If your fork or shock is leaking then it’s already too late. Bite the bullet and take your suspension to a qualified repairer as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the more the repairs will cost.
Low pressure washing – MTB suspension seals are designed to take a splash – a splash from a creek crossing, or rain from above. But that’s all. Don’t spray high pressure water directly at the seals, pivots and schraeder valves or you’ll cost yourself big money. And no dunking your bike in the river! Only wash your suspension using indirect low pressure water and cleaning products designed specifically for mountain bike suspension systems.
What the Experts say – Aaron from NS Dynamics, one of Australia’s leading MTB Suspension Clinics, suggests the following 3 rules to keep your suspension in top working order and avoid costly repairs:
- Check pressures or set desired sag frequently
- Clean your suspension units after each ride and check thoroughly for wear and damage
- Adhere to manufacturers recommended service intervals