Fork 101

How often do you check your fork’s air pressure? Or should the question rather be when last did you check your fork’s air pressure? We all know we need to look after our drivetrains, and it’s easy to remember because you can see when it’s dirty and feel when it’s not working properly. But your fork is easy to neglect, the action takes place out of sight and unless something fails dramatically the wear and tear accumulates slowly so that you hardly notice when its dampening capabilities start to slowly deteriorate.

With the help of Fox South Africa Full Sus has put together a guide of how often you need to service your fork and what to watch out for in terms of early warning signs. And remember this isn’t just Fox specific, it  applies if you’re running RockShox, SR Suntour, Manitou or DT Swiss.


How often does your fork need to be serviced?

The official service interval is given in hours, which can be a little confusing. Steve Bowmen of Fox suggests that if you ride off-road three times a week you should service your fork every six months. If you’re a more frequent rider and keep note of the hours you spend on the bike then we’d suggest you take a close look at these tables.

Fox Interval in hours
Check sag Every ride
Clean fork exterior with mild soap and water only; wipe dry with soft towel Every ride
Inspect dropout thickness (9mm) 30
Inspect bushings 30
Change oil in lower legs 30
Change FLOAT fluid in air chamber 100
Service damper 100
RockShox Interval in hours
Clean dirt and debris from upper tubes Every ride
Check air pressure Every ride
Inspect upper tubes for scratches Every ride
Check front suspension fasteners for proper torque 25
Remove lowers, clean/inspect bushings and change oil bath 50
Clean and lubricate air spring assembly 100
Change oil in damping system 100

Servicing your fork regularly will ensure its longevity and keep it performing optimally for years.

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Post ride maintenance

Nearly all damage to your fork is caused by dirt slowly creeping into, and under, the fork wiper seals. This fine powdery dirt then starts to act like grinding paste that causes stickiness and ultimately wears the anodising off the inner legs. The first step in the process to avoiding this is to clean your fork stanchions after every ride.

  • Wash with mild soapy water and soft sponge.
  • Wipe dry with a lint free cloth (old undies work perfectly) and check for damage to the stanchion coating.
  • Lube with a fork stanchion specific lube like Brunox Deo Fork Lube or as Harry Orr recommends use a couple of drops of oil from your rear shock.
  • Check your sag and air pressure.

What’s Sag?

Sag is the amount that the suspension compresses when you sit on the bike. Sag allows the suspension to compress and also extend in order to maintain traction when unweighting over drops, dips, or when cornering. Sag can be controlled with coil spring rates, coil preload, or air pressure.

Signs of fork damage

Here’s what you should look out for on your fork.

  • Sticky fork action
  • Losing air
  • Harsh forks (the travel isn’t plush)
  • Thinning of the stanchion legs or scratches

Final Word

If you can’t remember when last your fork was serviced give your local bike shop a call and book your fork in for a service. And remember that your fork will, in the majority of cases, have to be sent to the service centre to be serviced, so you could be without your bike for five working days.

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