There is no question that you can ride your bike for as many hours as you care to without servicing your suspension. Or perhaps just have it repaired when something starts to leak … I would like to suggest there is a better way :). Experience tells us that periodic maintenance not only improves the quality of your ride (the whole point right?) but makes those expensive forks and shocks last longer. Suspension components are expensive, it will cost you upwards of $1500 dollars to replace a blown shock.
Let’s face it, suspension components take a crap kicking, particularly from off-road guys (and girls too). On motocross and enduro bikes forks operate at around 40 degrees Celsius (110F ) and shocks run quite a bit hotter at around 150 degrees Celsius (300F). Even the best fluids and materials break down over time, during normal operation suspension components break down generating fine particles that circulate through the small orifices, ports and shim stacks.
If you have an engine hour meter, start using it for your suspension too. There’s no magic number for service intervals per se as it really depends on how hard your riding, for how long and the conditions you’re riding in. If a Vancouver Island resident conditions are wet and nasty at least half the year it seems. It should come to no surprise that race bikes have shorter intervals than trail bikes. The chart below is a general guide to service intervals.
Motocross: Practice/ride three days per week and race on weekends = Approx 5 hrs/wk = 20hrs/mnth
|Type of Riding||Service||Rebuild||Comment|
|Motocross||30 hrs||60 hrs||Less if riding in harsh conditions|
|Pro Motocross||25 hrs||50 hrs||Less if riding in harsh conditions|
|Enduro/XC||30 hrs||60 hrs||Less if riding in harsh conditions|
|Supermoto||40 hrs||80 hrs||Less if riding in wet conditions|
|Road Racing||40 hrs||80 hrs||Less if riding in wet conditions|
|Trail riding||50 hrs||100 hrs||Or annually|
How does riding time affect your forks and shocks?
Even the best fluids begin to break down after 20-30 hours of pounding. When the oil starts to break down bushing wear increases and eventually seals fail, it’s really just a matter of time. If the time between servicing is too long excess wear will occur on fork tubes and internal components. Springs should be check on a rebuild to ensure they are still at the specified rate. Additionally, riding conditions play a role in wear. Your 30 hours may be on whooped out track full of square-edged bumps while another riders 30 hours may be on a smoother hard pack surface. On a whooped out track shaft velocities are extremely high as are temperatures. These conditions break down fluid more quickly and reduce the service life of internal components.
The same can be said for riding in muddy and/or sandy conditions. It’s pretty much impossible to stop sand and dirt from finding its way into the nooks and crannies of your suspension. If not cleaned the sand and debris eventually makes it way past your dust guards and into your seals.
Shocks operate at much higher temperatures than forks and the affects of broken down/contaminated fluid have a much greater impact. When fluid breaks down they are less stable and viscosity changes are much more drastic. As the shock heats up riders begin to feel this as “fade or shock fade”. At the same time shock shaft bushings starts to wear which puts extra stress on the seal head causing it to leak. Shock springs should also be tested at each rebuild to ensure they are still at the desired spring rates. Adhering to a service schedule will ensure your suspension is performing optimally.
Service or Rebuild?
Unless you have detailed service records I would recommend we start with a rebuild service, from there we would get you on a proper service schedule, this of course is entirely up to you. A Fork and Shock Service involves partially disassembling the fork/shock, inspection of the main wear parts, verification of proper cartridge operation in forks, visual inspection of bladders and seals in shocks, chemical flush of the old fluids and refill with high quality fluids. See the SERVICE section under OUR SERVICES for a full description of this service.
A Fork and/or Shock Rebuild involves the complete disassembly of the damper. All components are inspected for wear and new components are installed upon customer consent. Fork seals are replaced and shock seal heads are rebuilt. Valve bodies and shims stacks are disassembled and cleaned and shims are checked for deformities. Fork tubes and shock shafts receive a fine finishing treatment to reduce friction and prolong seal life. See the REBUILD section under OUR SERVICES for a full description of this service.