Mountain Bike Maintenance

Fix your own bike…

Fork and Shock Cleaning

with 11 comments

Fork and Shock Cleaning

Be very careful about which fluid you use to clean and lubricate your fork stanchions as not all oils are suitable. I use the same Teflon Finish Line Dry as I use for the rest of my bike. This also comes in an aerosol spray, but I find spray lubes hard to control and it always seem to end up in places I don’t want it.

Make sure you check with the store that what you’re buying is suitable for fork stanchions.

Be aware of the potential for spillage when applying fluids to your fork seals. Any kind of lubrication is going to have negative consequences for your brake pads (rim or disc brakes). Drip a small amount of lube at the front of the stanchion where it meets the seal. Allow it to run around, covering the whole seal, and then manually depress the forks. When they come back up the lube should have picked up most of the dirt from the seal and the stanchion, leaving a ring if there is a lot of dirt present. Using an up-and-down motion, gently wipe this ring away with a folded tissue or a soft cloth and repeat the process a couple of times until there’s no more dirt in the lube that has been pushed up the stanchion. You can apply more lube to the stanchion via a tissue or cloth. The Finish Line Dry can be left for a while to dry out (it goes matte) and then buffed away with a clean, dry tissue or cloth.

Remember to get in between to fork crown and the stanchion/seal, gently wiping to pick up and dust or grime. A cotton bud is perfect for getting into this typically awkward space and clearing away dirt and excess lube. Any excess lube left on the fork is only going to attract more dirt. A good stanchion lube will bond to the anodising, so you’ll get the best level of protection by wiping all excess fluids away.

A variation of this process can also be used for a rear shock.

Depending on frequency and type of use, suspension components should be fully serviced an average once a year. For information on servicing/overhaul of forks, take a look through the Shocks & Suspension forum of MTBR. There are several experienced and competent DIY’ers on the forum who will happily assist with fork overhauls, especially those produced by Marzocchi and Fox. Assistance with suspension set-up is also readily available.

Beyond the air seals on some air shocks, the use of compressed nitrogen in rear shocks typically makes them unserviceable by anyone other than approved service centers. In the UK, Mojo are the authorised Fox service center for work carried out while the suspension is under warranty. I give my suspension to Tim Flooks Tuned Shox (TFTuned) for servicing (and PUSH tuning). It is always my pleasure to recommend this small but friendly and immensely professional company to anyone who needs suspension servicing or custom tuning.

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Written by SteveUK MTB

March 18, 2008 at 10:40 am

11 Responses

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  1. how do i know when my fork is bent, or pulling too much on one side. my fork has a little bit of grease on its surface so do i suspect on my forks getting bent?
    plz answer

    tomb raider

    December 6, 2010 at 11:49 am

    • I think that the safest thing for you to do is to take the bike to a shop and let a qualified mechanic look at it.

      SteveUK MTB

      December 7, 2010 at 12:45 pm

  2. Can small amounts of rust be cleaned from suspension forks or is this permenant damage that will need to be replaced?


    January 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    • Where is the rust? What (make/model) fork do you have?

      SteveUK MTB

      January 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm

  3. I have the same question about some what looks like surface rust on the top most part of the shock, where it doesn’t go into the tubing when fully depressed. It’s where normally a shock boot will cover. I got the bike used, and I think the previous owner didn’t clean the front shock after it got wet. Any advice is very much appreciated.


    May 24, 2011 at 8:15 am

    • What is the make/model of the fork?

      SteveUK MTB

      May 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

  4. my bike is brand new and the compression and expansion of my forks isnt very smooth, is this because its new or doo i have to lube them?


    July 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    • What make/model fork? Is it coil spring or air spring?

      SteveUK MTB

      July 8, 2011 at 11:36 am

  5. What about shock oil instead of a Teflon- based lube?


    August 24, 2011 at 4:17 am

    • Fork/shock oil is absolutely fine. In fact, some manufacturers recommend it as it’s what the seals are designed to be in contact with. The advice to wipe away the excess still applies.

      SteveUK MTB

      August 24, 2011 at 10:39 am

  6. Awesome


    April 28, 2013 at 11:21 am

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