Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Fork fettling

Posted by Matt | April 21, 2010 | 11 comments so far

A clutch of Moles gather for some fork fettling
A couple of weeks back a group of us met up at Colin’s place for a Friday night of fork fettling fun. Because that’s how we roll!

Actually, thanks to Dave’s fork servicing masterclass and Colin’s hospitality it turns out to have been a very worthwhile session with nine forks and a rear shock serviced in a little over two hours.

For some reason, forks are one of those items of kit that eveyone knows should be treated with care yet few people know what to do with them; hence the flourishing Mojo/TFTuned/Chain Reaction ‘online’ service businesses. I’ve been gritting my teeth for a while at the prospect of two forks and a rear shock to service and if I’m being honest would probably have just run them until they stopped working.

Which is why Dave’s session showing us how to perform routine maintenance ourself was so useful. If my own forks are representative then everyone could benefit from giving their suspension a quick service as it’ll save you hundreds in the long run. At a guess-timate of £100 a fork then you’re looking at £900 being saved in one evening and I know JohnR, Jem and DaveC have also serviced around seven additional forks between them.

I won’t go into detail on how to do the servicing – that’s covered to an extent by our previous write up but you’d be well advised to ask Cycleworks for a tutorial evening yourself. It was certainly a strange sight at Colin’s place as we all turned up with our forks and a selection of tools, bikestands, unguents and lotions to lavish on our suspension kit.

Gathered together were Colin, JamesH, Mark, Tony, Lee and myself. We each quickly found a corner of the garage to stake out and got to work, at first a bit tentatively it must be said. By the time we’d got the first couple of forks opened up and found practically no lubricating oil inside the evening was looking like an increasingly Good Idea.

My Reba Team forks (just four months old from On-One) yielded an egg cup-full in each leg, one of which was a worrying brown sludge. The 2010 Revelation Team forks from my Orange at least had clean oil, but again very little of it and they are similarly young in age. They haven’t been ridden over the four month winter flood though. In both cases the wiper seals were completely dry, as were those of everybody else.

A few things stood out beyond the poor state of our forks though. First, seeing Tony squirt oil eight feet into the air and somehow avoiding any of it landing on himself was very funny and mightly impressive; second, I somehow managed to put my Reba lowers on back to front and didn’t notice until I was at home re-assembling the bike! Cue a tortuous effort to remove them, reverse them and reassemble with spilling any of the oil out!

Finally, helping Mark change the oil in his Marzocchi MX Pros and over filling them (due to a lack of info online for that particular model-year). Our suspicions were confirmed when he turned the forks over to do the obligatory bounce test only to find about ¾ of an inch of travel! Mind you, it has to be said those oil bath Marzocchis were in remarkably fine fettle after seven years with no servicing.

So, do get your forks serviced if you haven’t yet done so. My bike really has felt significantly better since then even though that may just be because the forks have the right air pressures in now!

Filed under Lifestyle, Mutterings in April 2010


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 11 comments on ‘Fork fettling’

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  1. Lee says:

    And to think a few years ago, Fridays were about going out to the pub, clubbing and all that boring stuff! I suppose in that sense it was a rather heavy garage session.

    My forks certainly feel much improved after a few tweaks of the rebound / +ive/-ive pressures. As you say Matt, it’s all too easy to put the bike away and get it back out again without too much attention to the finer details that will ultimately prolong the life of the fork and improve the handling of the bike.

  2. Colin says:

    A worthwhile and fun evening, but the neighbours are still curious as to what all those men were up to in my den.

    So, I have 2 nice and smooth forks to show for it and my garage floor covered in oil spills (particularly from Tony-Exxon Valdeez)!.

    I am also missing my cherished 1/4″ drive ratchet with its 10mm deep reach socket.

    Anyone got it in their toolbox please?

  3. jamesH says:

    It was a good evening and the forks are smoooth. Had to drop the pressure as they seemed firmer. Still trying to get hold of a FSA vdrive bolt, they are like hens teath. Altough I can still use the old one. Thanks again Colin as I basically watched you do my forks!! Will lend a hand in painting your garage floor if required.

  4. Erick says:

    Anyone willing to sign up for another fork/shock course at Cycleworks?

    I spoke to Dave and he said he can do another session if we get a group of 4 people.

  5. DandyAndyC says:

    Not sure we need another Cycleworks course, Erick. We just need to join in the next fettling session in Colin’s garage and save ourselves a few quid (which we can then spend on colour coordinated components)

  6. DaveW says:

    I was disappointed not to make this mass workshop session, but I had to rejig my weekend to ensure I made it out for the ride on the Sunday.

    My SIDs went to TFT due to the seized rebound adjust and they are running nicely now. They did tell me off though for using too light a fluid in them (down to Nirvana who opened them last). Make’s me wonder about a certain someone’s suggestion (from another LBS) to use 2.5 weight in them. I think I will stick to 10 or the 15 weight spec’d by RS themselves.

    I was also surprised there was enough fluid in them to tell the weight, as they only take 5ml per leg and haven’t been touched for a year…

    I did the shock on my 5 though, which was nice and easy (totally dry).

    I did my coil revelations last night – although a bit of a scary prospect it was really easy and only took me about 1/2 an hour. They were totally dry.

    Pikes and front bearings on the 5 next and I will be up to date on my bike maintenance – hooray!

  7. DaveW says:

    I concur D’Andy – it really is easy to replace the fluid in Rockshox lowers and Fox shocks. Slightly more involved on Fox forks, but nay problem (unless you squirt fluid all over your mate’s garage Tony ;o).

    Happy to help with RS forks and Fox shocks, but you might find someone with experience more help with Fox forks.

  8. Dave says:

    I kinda like the “D’Andy” label that DaveW just gave AndyC. It conjures up an image of smoking jacket and cravat which matches the whole Port and Stilton vibe.

  9. D'AndyC says:

    Should I be grateful that it’s the Dandy name that’s being applied, or is it only because the Beano name has already been taken?

    Who do we get to call ‘Buster’?

  10. Dave says:

    Well……if it’s the Viz Buster we’re talking about I think someone already has that title…..


  11. Julian says:

    Erick .. I would be interested and it’s quite likely some of our Reigate based group would also be up for another fork/shock course.

    I haven’t ridden with you guys but we have bumped into you a couple of times over the years – we ride on Wednesday nights from Reigate or sometimes take train or cars to Dorking/Westcott


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