Today's Hi-Performance Suspension Forks:
Maintenance Easy, NOT Maintenance
Today's high end shock forks (i.e. Judy, Mach V) offer so much performance, and are so
much easier to maintain than those from a few seasons ago that it seems a lot of people
have begun to regard them as being basically maintenance free.
This, however, is far from the case. If you really want to get the most from your
high-performance fork, a regular schedule of maintenance is needed...but luckily for you
it's not the nightmare you might think.
Forks should be cleaned and lubed regularly. This will require removing the outer legs
from the fork crown and stanchions. The manual that came with your particular fork will
describe this process in detail. If you are mechanically inclined, it should pose little
problem. (If the job seems too involved, don't worry; this task is easily taken care of at
a pro-level shop for a very reasonable cost.)
When working with any suspension unit, always use a torque wrench. There are several
reasons why this is not an area where one wants to rely on "feel" or a good
guess. The big issue is safety...you simply don't want any slips or failures when you're
screaming downhill because you didn't properly fasten something. The other issue is
protecting your investment...many of the bolts on your forks have torque values a lot
than you might think; and they don't take kindly to being over-muscled...so be sure to
follow the torque values listed in your manual.
If you are not already using them, now is the perfect time to install a set of boots.
They will help to greatly reduce the amount of trail crud that makes it past the dust
wipers. Next, clean the upper stanchions, inner part of the lower legs, and elastomer
The areas that require lube on the upper and lower tubes; the upper stanchions, and the
upper and lower bushings in the lower legs. The lower bushings can be reached with a long
screwdriver wrapped in a rag coated with lube. (Take great care not to scratch the inner
portion of the lower leg.)
This simple routine, repeated once every month or so, will greatly increase the
performance and longevity of your forks...and here's another hot tip for you: Even if your
fork is brand-spankin' new, you should perform this procedure at once. Most forks come
from the factory under-lubed...so this is an easy way to make your new fork feel even
Now that you have ensured that your fork can continue to function
properly, you might want to consider having its performance tuned to meet your particular
needs. Forks come out of the box set-up for the "average rider." Well guess
what? Chances are good that that is not you. To really get the most out of your fork, not
only do you need to keep it working properly...you got to get it set-up for your weight,
riding style, and local terrain.
Today's forks are very tuneable...but if you don't get it done, you're not really getting
the most out of your equipment.
See ya on the trails!