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Old 09-28-12, 10:39 AM   #1
subwoofer
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New to suspension forks - to oil stanchions or not to oil?

...that is the question.

I have tried searching for the information I am after, but might not know the correct terms, so please excuse me if this is a common question.

After owning my last bike 20 years, the old faithful fully rigid bike is being given semi-retirement and I now have a Giant Roam 2 with front suspension.

I am not sure of the best approach to keeping the stanchions in the best condition possible, hence this post.

When I had a motorbike, I would wipe the stanchions regularly with a light oil. They had guards (not gaitors) which kept most muck off the stanchions so this worked well.

The Roam 2's stanchions are more exposed and when I ride on dusty trails they accumulate a lot of dust. This dust is mainly stone dust as the trails are crushed stone so will be highly abrasive.



According to the Giant Roam 2 specification the forks are the:

SR Suntour NEX 4610 Lock-out

I read the manuals provided by Giant and Suntour, but they didn't mention how to best care for the stanchions.

Basically it simply tells you to:

Clean stanchion tubes and dust seals after every ride
Inspect upper tubes for scratches

Not terribly helpful...


Is it better to have the stanchions with a light coat of oil (I actually use an inert silicon oil) and not worry about the dust that sticks as long as I wipe them clean at the end of the ride, or to wipe them dry before riding to minimise any stickiness that might pick up and hold dust?

Is it possible to keep the stanchions scratch free?


I'd like to prevent any damage, so any advice is welcome.
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Old 09-28-12, 11:09 AM   #2
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When I had a bike with suspension, I'd rub a bar of soap on the stanchion every now & then. Soap is harmless to plastics and elastomers, and it doesn't attract dust & dirt like oil. Worked good.
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Old 09-28-12, 11:22 AM   #3
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Perhaps a decent synthetic car wax? It will certainly help prevent dust build-up and will also help hide/minimize scratches to the finish.
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Old 09-28-12, 11:54 AM   #4
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basically something to resist rusting.. some forks used rubber boots..
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Old 09-28-12, 07:24 PM   #5
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basically something to resist rusting.. some forks used rubber boots..
I'm far from being a mechanic -- but I do ride on Limestome trails and know that oil is the world's best dust collector ... So anywhere the limestone dust can find a spec of oil, it will stick.

I would simply wipe them clean...
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Old 09-29-12, 06:44 AM   #6
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in a good quality fork the oil seal keeps the oil in and the dust wiper keeps the dust out. with that said, quality forks still need maintenance. that suntour fork is a disposable item
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Old 09-29-12, 02:37 PM   #7
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Doesn't hurt to spray a little chain oil on the stanchions, then work the fork up and down to inhibit rust.
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Old 09-29-12, 02:52 PM   #8
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Marzocchi used to recommend "pure silicone lube" on the stanchions. Comes in a spray can.
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Old 10-01-12, 02:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
When I had a bike with suspension, I'd rub a bar of soap on the stanchion every now & then. Soap is harmless to plastics and elastomers, and it doesn't attract dust & dirt like oil. Worked good.
How long ago was it that you had a bike with suspension?

Thank you for your suggestion, I'm curious where you got the idea from. It is not one I've ever heard of.
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Old 10-01-12, 02:51 AM   #10
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I've been wiping them down and occassionally spraying lightly with wd40. Seems to keep things smoothly running. Also as has been repeated often in referral to chains wd40 doesn't stay put very long.. making it less likely to attract dust.
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Old 10-01-12, 03:10 AM   #11
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Silicon spray user here, nice and quick.

For the stanchions, and keeping them scratch free, the Suntour forks the Giant Roam has, has steel stanchions, so they won't scratch easily, but they will wear with use. For the cost of servicing, this type of fork is normally disposable as the replacement is cheaper than the cost of servicing..

Stanchion scratches are only really an issue for higher end forks with Alu stanchions which are more easily damaged.

For fork gators / boots, these are no longer fitted to suspension forks, as they collected more dirt / mud than they stopped getting in and caused more problems than they solved. Dust seals are also far better now than when suspension forks came out in the early 90's
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Old 10-01-12, 07:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
...that is the question.

I have tried searching for the information I am after, but might not know the correct terms, so please excuse me if this is a common question.

After owning my last bike 20 years, the old faithful fully rigid bike is being given semi-retirement and I now have a Giant Roam 2 with front suspension.

I am not sure of the best approach to keeping the stanchions in the best condition possible, hence this post.

When I had a motorbike, I would wipe the stanchions regularly with a light oil. They had guards (not gaitors) which kept most muck off the stanchions so this worked well.

The Roam 2's stanchions are more exposed and when I ride on dusty trails they accumulate a lot of dust. This dust is mainly stone dust as the trails are crushed stone so will be highly abrasive.



According to the Giant Roam 2 specification the forks are the:

SR Suntour NEX 4610 Lock-out

I read the manuals provided by Giant and Suntour, but they didn't mention how to best care for the stanchions.

Basically it simply tells you to:

Clean stanchion tubes and dust seals after every ride
Inspect upper tubes for scratches

Not terribly helpful...


Is it better to have the stanchions with a light coat of oil (I actually use an inert silicon oil) and not worry about the dust that sticks as long as I wipe them clean at the end of the ride, or to wipe them dry before riding to minimise any stickiness that might pick up and hold dust?

Is it possible to keep the stanchions scratch free?


I'd like to prevent any damage, so any advice is welcome.
Looking at your fork online (viewing the Giant Roam 2) you have a basic fork. So the best you can do is:
1) keep your stanchions clean
2) after cleaning, apply some silicon lube to the stanchions and dust seals

Another poster said that your fork is disposable. For the most part, this is true. However, you can take apart these forks to grease them up inside then apply silicon lube to all the rubber seals.



On a slightly differant note:

I have a Kona Tanuki frame (Kona shock) with a Marzocchi 44 RLO front suspension.

I emailed Kona asking what to do about the squeaking pivot points. They said to use silicone lube on the pivot points AND on the stanchion for the rear shock.

I also emailed Marzocchi about using silicone on the 44 RLO and they said that is recommended.

This video is a detailed how-to guide on servicing a Marzocchi fork.
http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Tech-Tu...hi-44-For.html

I post the video because one particular part of it describes a foam ring in the fork that is to be kept lubricated with fork oil. The tech actually advised to just remove the foam ring. You can check to see if such a ring exists in your fork?
I kept this foam ring in, but soaked it in lube before installing. From what I understand, it will eventually dry out.
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Old 10-01-12, 09:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by reptilezs View Post
in a good quality fork the oil seal keeps the oil in and the dust wiper keeps the dust out. with that said, quality forks still need maintenance. that suntour fork is a disposable item
It sounds like you are saying that the forks I have are 'disposable' and therefore not worth worrying about. I disagree!

They are certainly not the lowest specification fork you can buy, and even truly disposable items can be maintained and made to last much much longer.

I will clean the stanchions as preventative maintenence, and use the method where pumping the forks raises a ring of dirt from the seal that can then be removed. What there seems to still be mixed feedback on is if the stanchions should be wiped completely dry before riding, or left with a coating of oil or grease.

I'm looking for the maintenance steps that will give the longest life of the seals and stanchions.
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Old 10-01-12, 11:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
It sounds like you are saying that the forks I have are 'disposable' and therefore not worth worrying about. I disagree!

They are certainly not the lowest specification fork you can buy, and even truly disposable items can be maintained and made to last much much longer.
What reptilezs said is correct about the forks being disposable, like it or not; it isn't cost effective to service these, or many other low end forks. The biggest problem with Suntour is the lack of spares, this combined with the basic cost for any fork service and the cheapness of just replacing the fork with a new one, it makes little financial sense to service.

For them being low budget, well that's what they are, you will struggle to even get a mid range (full retail price) for for the cost of your complete bike, a basic Fox fork will set you back around $6-700, for a nice one, you won't get change from $1000.

For the preventative maintenance you are doing, that sounds good, would be using silicon spray over oil or grease, as this attracts less dirt; but from seeing bikes with these forks on, the stanchions wear down on them quickly no matter how much effort the owner has put into keeping them clean.

How long they last of course depends on how much and where they are used, using them everyday off road will give them a very short life expectancy, if used occasionally, in the dry and never taken off road, this could be very long.
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Old 10-02-12, 01:42 AM   #15
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Thanks to everyone who has contributed, the posts have been very informative.

I have been used to the minimal maintenance required by my previous rigid bike. It seems now (like so much these days) that everything is becoming disposable and I just have to accept that now my forks will wear out relatively quickly even with care being taken to keep them clean, and I won't be getting 20 years of life out of them whatever I do.

The point about the stanchions being steel rather than aluminium is a good point (though it seems strange on a more expensive fork to make a part subject to mechanical wear out of a material as soft as Al). Sometimes the more you pay for something, the more of a pain in the ass it becomes. I think I am happier with my steel stanchions than I would be with $1000 forks with Al ones.

So what will I be doing? Pretty much what I was - which is that I will wipe the stanchions and seals clean with a silicon spray lube, then pump the forks a few times to raise any dirt up the stanchions from the seals, wipe clean again, and leave the stanchions with a wiped on coat of the silicon lube (wiped on to keep it thin and prevent any falling onto the brake disc).
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Old 10-02-12, 07:28 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
Thanks to everyone who has contributed, the posts have been very informative.

I have been used to the minimal maintenance required by my previous rigid bike. It seems now (like so much these days) that everything is becoming disposable and I just have to accept that now my forks will wear out relatively quickly even with care being taken to keep them clean, and I won't be getting 20 years of life out of them whatever I do.

The point about the stanchions being steel rather than aluminium is a good point (though it seems strange on a more expensive fork to make a part subject to mechanical wear out of a material as soft as Al). Sometimes the more you pay for something, the more of a pain in the ass it becomes. I think I am happier with my steel stanchions than I would be with $1000 forks with Al ones.

So what will I be doing? Pretty much what I was - which is that I will wipe the stanchions and seals clean with a silicon spray lube, then pump the forks a few times to raise any dirt up the stanchions from the seals, wipe clean again, and leave the stanchions with a wiped on coat of the silicon lube (wiped on to keep it thin and prevent any falling onto the brake disc).
I agree with your approach.

While many forks are lubed internally with a splash lubricant to keep the seals and internal bushings moving, the best and cheapest maintenance you can perform is keeping them wiped down so that dirt doesn't make its way inside the seals. Silicone for dry conditions and light oil for the wet makes sense. "Disposable" fork or not, it's senseless to shorten its lifespan by neglect. I've seen plenty of those OEM forks in the shop past a decade old with no maintenance at all. It can only last longer with some TLC.

Besides, any fork past 5 years or so can become "disposable" once the supply of service parts runs out.
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Old 10-02-12, 07:42 AM   #17
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Marzocchi used to recommend "pure silicone lube" on the stanchions. Comes in a spray can.
+1
usually will pull back the dust seal and stick the liitle red tube of the silicon spray can in there and give a quick squirt. Then I cycle the forks 5 or 6 times and then WIPE AWAY any excess so it doesn't attract dirt.

Last edited by cbchess; 10-02-12 at 07:46 AM. Reason: spelling!
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Old 10-02-12, 07:59 AM   #18
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http://www.finishlineusa.com/product...chion-lube.htm
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Old 10-02-12, 10:29 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by reptilezs View Post
in a good quality fork the oil seal keeps the oil in and the dust wiper keeps the dust out. with that said, quality forks still need maintenance. that suntour fork is a disposable item
Yeah, if the wipers are wiping properly, it shouldn't make any difference if you oil them or not.
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