Fork 102 – Mechanics of a service

Last month we discussed the importance of taking care of your fork and highlighted why it’s important to get it serviced regularly. This time we’re looking into the mechanics of fork servicing, from costs to time-lines, so read on.

Your rebound damper needs to be serviced every 100 hours for both Fox and RockShox forks.
Your rebound damper needs to be serviced every 100 hours for both Fox and RockShox forks.

By now you know that you should be sending your fork into your local bike shop for a minor service (basically an oil change) at least every six months. Every second service will be a more comprehensive service and if you ride more than three times a week you should be keeping an eye on the hours you’ve done on your bike and schedule your services more regularly. But what happens to your fork when you take it into your local bike shop for a service? This month we demystify the servicing process.

Some bike shops are accredited to service Fox, Leftie, RockShox and/or Specialized Brain equipped forks, but the most likely event – especially for major services – is that the fork will be stripped off your bike and sent to the various distributors for an expert service.

Fox requires all oil changes every 30 hours.
Fox requires all oil changes every 30 hours.

Here’s how that process works: You take your bike to the store for a service, telling them the fork in particular needs to be serviced (we hope you phoned ahead to book). The store strips the fork from your bike and logs it for collection by the distributor’s courier. This can be a point of delay, as the courier might only be able to collect the next morning if the service is logged in the afternoon, so if you want to expedite the process get your bike in early and let the shop know it’s coming in so they can schedule the collection.

On receiving the fork the distributor confirms the level of service the fork needs with the shop. If there is anything specific that needs to be done, or if your fork is reacting strangely, it’s best to brief the store in writing so they can pass your concerns on and ensure the issue is resolved. For Fox the service time is a maximum of three days, less in quiet times, but for safety they budget three days (if it sounds long think of how many Fox forks you see on the trails and then consider that most of those are serviced in one place). Specialized pride themselves on a 24 hour turnaround time on all suspension services, though remember they don’t do Fox’s volume.

Worn wiper seals can lead to expensive wear and tear on your fork.
Worn wiper seals can lead to expensive wear and tear on your fork.

If there are any issues which could delay the process the distributor will let your bike shop know and they should then pass the message on to you. They’ll also ask the shop to contact you if there are any replacements needed beyond the scope of a usual service so you don’t get a nasty surprise when the bill comes.

When the service has been completed the distributor couriers the fork back to your bike shop and the shop then reinstalls it to your bike. Again this can be a point where the job stalls if the service hasn’t been scheduled properly. Typically riders (at Full Sus we’ve been guilty of this too!) leave the service to the last minute before a stage race and so not only are the distributors busy, but the bike shops are manic too. If you want to be back on your bike as soon as possible please don’t leave it to the last minute and schedule your services for quiet times of the year.

Now for the important bit… costs. Fox have a fixed servicing fee of R899 for the fork and R699 for the rear shock and it includes a total strip down, rebuild, all new wiper or air sleeve kits, new oil and the damper service. And regardless of where the service took place, you pay the bike shop.

A complete fork service is an intricate business and shouldn't be undertaken in your garage.
A complete fork service is an intricate business and shouldn’t be undertaken in your garage.

Specialized Brain Forks

Due to the high performance nature of the forks they need to be serviced at regular 25, 50 and 150 hour intervals. The 25 hour oil change can be done in store and 50 hour air spring service can be done by some certified stores. But the 150 hour or annual service, including the full Brain damper cartridge service, must be done by Specialized at their Stellenbosch service centre.

In Store Service

It’s a good idea to find out if your local bike shop is accredited to perform the service themselves or if they’ll be sending your fork away. If they’re not accredited and performing the service themselves your warrantee could well be void, so don’t be too polite to ask what will be happening to your fork.

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