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Suspension Service interval?


This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Ledbetter 2 years, 11 months ago.

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    Hey guys, I have a RM Thunderbolt, bought fall 2015, put it through moderate terrain, and have only put about 500-600km on it. Suspension has been running fine. Just wondering recommendations for getting the fork and shock serviced. Is it time? Would prefer to do it during winter months instead of mid season. Fanatically clean bike after most rides in the past.

    Thanks for any advice.




    I would at the very least do the 20-50hrs service interval. This is typically a simple re-lubrication of the seals and oil change in the lowers. You could also easily replace the seals at this time if you find the oil it dirty or if they are damaged. Unless you hear cavitation, have bushing play or suspect something is wrong with your damper, you can skip that service until needed, usually after 100hrs. It’s never a bad idea to do the suggested service but those recommendations depend greatly on the condition and maintenance of the fork/shock. I tend to do the basic service on mine more often then recommended and have rarely had occasion to do the major service unless there is an issue beyond regular use. If you’re looking for a full rebuild, I would send everything away to a suspension tuner such as Suspension Werx. Also a good time to consider a custom tune or upgrade.

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    Wonderful. Think the basic sounds good to keep it running smoothly. Just didn’t want to get caught up in the “You should have brought this in for a servicing a while ago” routine.


    Matty F

    With the fork you are probably okay with just a basic oil/seal change. If you bring it to a reputable suspension mechanic, they should be able to tell you if further service is needed based on what they find inside the fork (notably by looking a the condition of the oil inside, and the amount of ingestion in the damper reservoir).

    The rear shock you will most likely want to send away during the off season. Rear shocks tend to demand more frequent damper/complete servicing than forks for a few reasons. They are smaller, which means smaller oil volume, smaller seals, smaller bushings, etc. They deal with a leverage ratio that is 2-3x higher than that of the fork (obviously forks are a 1:1 leverage ratio due to there being no linkage involved) on top of being tied to the wheel that supports about 70% of the rider’s weight. Misalignments in the frame or linkage assembly can accelerate to the rear shock components, often at an extraordinary rate. I’ve had to warranty entire frames before because they were ruining shocks. Rear shocks also have a pressurized chamber in the damper that contains (usually) 200-300 psi of (usually) nitrogen.

    All these factors contribute to accelerated wear of the internal components and viscosity breakdown of the oil. So can you safely get through next season without the service? Potentially. But if the shock blows in the middle of the season, you are in need of a send-away shock service at the point of the year where a) you want your bike the most, and b) there will be the longest wait times for shock service. Plus if you’re sending it away to a good suspension outfit, you can usually have some custom tuning and upgrades done for a fairly small percentage of the overall rebuild cost.

    I’ve been a suspension mechanic for many years, and from my experience there is really no way to tell for sure how often someone should have their suspension serviced. I usually tell people every 30-50 hours, but even that comes with a disclaimer. On my own bikes, I found that my go-to trail bike usually did well at a basic oil change roughly 2-3 times a season, and then a full service in the off season (this is when I was riding a few times a week). My downhill bike, however, would need a fork oil change every 4-5 days of riding, due to the obvious abuse a downhill bike endures, plus the fine moon dust that pervades Blue Mountain. If I average 10-12 laps a day of downhilling, that adds up to a mere three hours of riding. A friend of mine used to service the rental fleet at Whistler, and every fork would get an oil/seal change weekly at a minimum. More frequently if there is a reported problem.

    Finally “the suspension feels fine” is NEVER an argument for avoiding service. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that from people with destroyed shocks. First: Suspension performance degrades so slowly that riders tend to adapt to it over time until it gets REALLY bad, unless you are picky about your suspension, in which case you’re probably not asking when to get your suspension serviced to begin with. Second: If you feel/see an apparent problem, it’s very likely that damage has occurred and you’re already up shit creek. Many riders wait for their seals to start pissing out black sludge before getting any service done, which means there has already black sludge cycling through the suspension.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Thanks Matty. Guess getting two riding seasons in of moderate use was good…

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