Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Fork and shock servicing from Cycleworks

Posted by Matt | March 16, 2010 | 15 comments so far

Fox TALAS fork service
Last Thursday I attended the first of a couple of sessions offered to the Moles by Dave from Cycleworks covering basic fork and shock servicing. Most of us will automatically box up our forks when they start to get really stiff and unresponsive and send off to any one of a number of online fork servicers out there at a cost of £75 plus P+P minimum.

With a little regular servicing, Dave wanted to show us how we can literally save ourselves a fortune. And it turned out to be a lot simpler than you’d expect.

For a small fee to cover Dave’s time we got a two hour in depth demonstration for servicing both a Fox shock and two of the most popular types of fork currently on the market, a Rock Shox Revelation (which is very similar to the SID and Reba designs) and a Fox (in this case a TALAS).

Now, while most of us are quite happy to have a go at most aspects of bike servicing, somehow forks are the sort of things that tend to get overlooked other than a wipe down after a ride as the bike is cleaned. As Dave showed, this really is not enough. The manufacturers for example recommend a minor service at about 25-30 hours of riding and with our legendary UK conditions things can quickly wear out leading to substantial damage.

Not good when decent forks set you back at £4-600 these days.

With Rock Shox SIDs, Rebas and Revelations the system consists of two separate components, the lubrication system and the damping and compression systems. The damping and compression systems tend to be very reliable as they’re actually contained in a separate sealed unit inside the fork leg. They can go a long time without difficulty.

The lubrication system on the otherhand, which has to cope with keeping the stanchions sliding smoothly up and down the lowers, gets a lot of abuse. It consists of a separate charge of oil in each fork leg which is used to lubricate the seals, bushings and stanchions and as you can imagine has to cope with a lot. Unfortunately, we as mountain bikers just seem to forget all about it.

So Dave’s demonsation was to show how easy it is to actually keep things in tip top condition by changing the oil and cleaning and re-greasing the bits that do all the work. His 2010 Revelation was being stripped for the first time after three months of use but even so it quickly became clear that there was practically no oil in the fork lowers and the seals were very dry.

Rock Shox Revelation fork service

The other fork that was covered was the Fox, which uses the same oil to both lubricate the whole system and perform damping and compression duties. The circuits for this sit in one leg only while the second fork leg has just a small amount of lubricating oil in it, often resulting uneven stanchion wear. In principal the service process is exactly the same but there are some key differences to ensure you’ve cleared all the old oil out prior to refilling.

Incidentally, the amount of oil in the system is critical and is listed on the manufacturer websites for each model. Too little and you’ll get quicker wear, too much and you could be faced with fork suck down as the fork packs down under pressures of up to 300 psi – scary to release!

Dave also covered rear shock servicing using a Fox RP23. As with the Rock Shox forks these use a sealed circuit to keep the damping and compression circuits out of trouble under very high pressure. The rebound is handled by the larger air can which slides up and down the shock shaft. Again, with all the mud and stuff around the seals get a lot of abuse so a simple re-grease and clean will keep things running well indefinitely.

That got me thinking about when I last serviced my Five’s shock. Never was the answers, some 2,500 miles ago. Oh dear! Poor performance and premature shaft wear is the risk. Incidentally, the Fox shocks can be made a touch more progressive in nature by increasingy the amount of lubricating fluid in the shock apparantly.

John made some notes on the Revelation service which I’ve replicated here (thanks John!). For more information I’d say contact Dave at Cycleworks because this really was a very informative session and I came away feeling confident about doing the work myself. With half a dozen of us on the session it was cost effective and a good chance to see what we can do ourselves and what’s best left to the experts.

One final thing. It made me want to get my garage cleared up, properly fitted out and properly lit. These things make a difference!

You can see our fork service photoset on Flickr.

Rock Shox Revelation fork service

Note: No need to let out air pressure from fork as the damping circuits are completely separate from the lubrication system.

  1. Clean the fork and remove front brake calliper from fork. Remove the fork from the bike, to make it easier.
  2. Pull top of rebound adjuster nut away from the adjuster shaft, on the bottom of the fork. (It is just an allen key pin inserted in the adjuster)
  3. Screw out the rest of the rebound adjuster using an allen key.
  4. Remove the nut from the top of the air valve on the bottom of the other fork leg, using a 10mm socket/spanner. Remove the crush washer from the nut and partially replace the nut to protect top of the valve.
  5. Smartly tap the air nut with a hammer and protection (eg socket) to loosen the fork casing. Repeat with the rebound adjuster shaft. This will loose the fork casing.
  6. Remove the fork casing, with a bucket under the forks to catch any remaining oil.
  7. Clean the seals on top of the fork casing, wiper seals and foam seals, to remove any grit, etc and replace if damaged.
  8. Lubricate the foam seals with Rockshox ‘Red Rum’ or Fox ‘Float Filler’, using a syringe to get the oil onto the seal.
  9. Lubricate the wiper seals with grease.
  10. Replace the fork casing so it seals again over the stanchions, then add motorbike shock oil into each leg from bottom holes for air and rebound. The quantity to add is on website for each fork type, typically 15ml?
  11. Carefully push fork the fork casing fully home so the air and rebound rods locate properly through the bottom of the fork legs. It can be useful to lock out rebound to keep the damper rod stiff whilst doing this.
  12. Refit items from 2-4, remembering to refit the crush washer on the air nut first.


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 15 comments on ‘Fork and shock servicing from Cycleworks’

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  1. JamesH says:

    Nice work guys, sorry I missed out. Maybe we can all get together and service them?

  2. Dave says:

    Tomorrow is officially “Fork Service” day in my garage. 1 pair of Pikes, 2 pairs of Reba’s and if I’m feeling frisky I might try other “uva arfs” Revs as well.

    So…..see you on the single speed on Sunday then. Rigid carbon forks, service proof!


  3. Lee says:

    Loving the top photo. Largely sums up my maintenance style – if all else fails, whack it! I think I can feel a communual garage session coming on as drum and bass is not my thing.

  4. Dave says:

    Well I was wired for sound in my garge this afternoon as I stripped the Reba 29er and gave them a right old lubing. As reported I suspect closer to 5ml dropped from the fork legs rather than the correct 15ml and the foam rings were pretty dry. Clean and refill, job done.

    Next I set about the Swinger (opening there Lee) but despite my firm grip and much sweating I was unable to break the seal on the air can. A few phone calls later and I retunred from B&Q with a Boa Constrictor. “Sorry Dave, I fail to see how a new pet purchase is fitting for this article and I suspect your cat wasn’t too impressed either!” Stand easy now, the Boa in question was basically a device akin to an automotive oil filter wrench. Even with that I thought I was going to break the rubber strap but eventually the seal gave in and I opened it up. Again, very dry inside, probably got to it just in time! Plenty of Fox Fluid in there now.

    So one slight set-back but one very smooth Spider now!

  5. tony says:

    Hi Dave

    I tried to open my swinger (easy Lee – Manitou) on the Mrs bike without success – I may be borrowing your boa!

  6. Andy C says:

    Clearly there’s a lot of ‘swinging’ going on in the Moles community. This should boost the number of website hits and make us more attractive (is that possible?) to potential advertisers.

    I’m looking forwarding to testing the new products and equipment that could be making its way to Mole HQ as a result of this ‘swinging’ activity

  7. Dave says:

    Well that’s fork No.2 done. Reba Team that I bought last year and hasn’t done a huge number of rides, especially after it spat me off going down Deliverance!

    Anyway, it probably takes almost as long to get the forks off the bike as it does to do the clean and oil bit. Again, very little oil in there but the seals were much cleaner as I might expect from a newish fork.

    Dreading to think what I’ll find in the Pikes as theya re the oldest and most unloved……

  8. Dave says:

    Pikes now done.

    I think these have done 2000 miles or so and apart from them being fairly dry they were in very good condition. Looking forward to getting the 5 out again on dry trails…..May maybe?

  9. Dave says:

    Showed Barrie how to do his Rebas and RS rear shock last night.

    Interestingly his Rebas, which must be some of the first, had more oil in so either they’d been apart before or just had more in from new.

    Also noticed that for the second time removing the outers caused the rubber bump stop at the bottom of the leg to be pulled some way up the leg. Nothing too much to worry about as long as you spot it and push it back down flat.

  10. tony says:

    Did you get the lowers on the right way round? ……no names you know who you are……

  11. Dave says:

    Yes, we took care not to follow that particular lead!

  12. Matt says:

    Hey, it could happen to anyone! A shimple mishtake!

    Needed three hands to correct it though without dropping all the oil on the floor…

  13. Muddymoles says:

    Fork fettling

    A Friday of fork fettling fun in the garage with mates. Does it get any better than that? Our Fox, Rock Shox and Marzocchi forks don’t think so

  14. Related: Ride report: Wednesday 17 March - Badger badger | Rides | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  15. Related: Fork fettling | Mutterings, Lifestyle | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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