How often do I need to service my suspension on my bike? It’s a question we hear literally every day at the shop.
This is particularly important now that the bike park at Mt. Washington is open! If you ride your bike at all your suspension performance will inevitably deteriorate over time as dirt eventually works its way in and seals slowly wear out.
Of course, the answer is a little of “it depends” and a little of “probably more often than you think!” If you’ve got a full-suspension bike or a hardtail bike with a front suspension fork, you need to consider getting regular suspension service. This service prevents damage to expensive equipment and keeps your bike performing the way it should.
To be honest, we in the bike industry don’t do a good job at communicating how important this is. Far too often we see a bike roll in the door with high end suspension, only to see oil leaking from damaged seals and scratches on stanchions that permanently damage suspension performance. Often times, that same customer will admit to never servicing their suspension, or not even being aware that this needs to be done. Suspension manufacturers typically recommend anywhere from 50 to 200 hours of riding between service intervals. For some that might sound like a lot of riding, but for others that could mean monthly suspension service! One thing to consider is that suspension service isn’t a one-size-fits all thing. A fork for example, may simply need it’s lowers removed, it’s seals cleaned and lubed, and oil replaced. This is NOT an expensive service and will pay off huge after years of riding.
A different fork, having not been serviced for several years, may need a more substantial service requiring new seals or may even need to be sent away for damper or spring service. True, if ridden enough, this type of service is inevitable and will be a bit more costly, but if you stay on top of regular maintenance this won’t be needed nearly as often.
A good place to start for most of us casual cyclists is to bring your bike in for at least an annual suspension service. Again, this doesn’t have to be an expensive overhaul. It can be a quick and inexpensive way to keep your bike feeling smooth and fast. A good mechanic (like Eddie!) will quickly tell you if you need to increase service intervals or if your bike suspension is still smooth and fast.
Quick Tip: So, you bought a used bike? Great! Consider bringing it in for inspection and a quick suspension service. This allows you to start from square one with your suspension, knowing that it hasn’t been neglected by the previous owner. Even a used bike should feel smooth and fast!