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Shock Servicing. The Facts


Johan Bornman
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One or two threads here and a couple of phone call to me has highlighted the problem of getting a shock serviced.

 

Some of the problems stem from the vague terminology used by the various shock agents.

 

A shock can be serviced at two levels:

 

1) Air canister service. This is a very basic procedure that any competent mechanic can do. It is easy and usually involves just removing the air canister on the shock, replacing some rubber parts, pouring in a teaspoon of lubricating oil and screwing it back on. Home mechanics can do this. You should see two things on your invoice if you've had the air canister serviced: Labour and parts. The parts comprise a kit with several rubber parts and seals in and should cost about R200-00 depending on the various shocks. Labour should be minimal.

 

 

2) Damper service. This is a complex procedure that requires disassembly of the entire damper unit. In other words, the air canister comes off like in point 1 above, the nitrogen is released from the damper, the damping oil is drained and all seals that lead to the various controls are replaced. The oil is then replaced, air bled out, the compensator chamber is re-charged with comprssed gas and the damper is tested for functionality before the air canister is replaced.Labour here - especially for some difficult shocks like Fox, is considerably more than for a simple level 1 service. The parts bill should be a little bit more, but not much, depending on the shock.

 

On Fox shocks, the damper service is required to repair leaking lockout lever problems. Any oil that leaks out of a lockout lever was drained from the damper. A leaking lockout lever means a faulty damper by default.

 

On Marzocchi, Manitou, Fox, Rox, DT Swiss, X-Fusion (?) and such shocks, the two procedures are very similar. The exception is a Specialized Brain shock. Here a simple air canister service cannot be performed without draining the damper. Hence, the cost of servicing a Spez is much more than servicing any of the others. This in spite of the parts on many of these Spez models being the same as on a Fox.

 

I suggest you question your bike should about what level of service will be performed next time you take your shock in. Generally you can leave the damper until it either stops performing as it should 9that's when the oil has deteriorated and doesn't work like it should) or, it leaks oil from somewhere.

 

Air canister services should be performed routinely. How often? Often enough to learn how to do it yourself. But a rule of thumb is every 60 hours. If your shock is exposed to the back wheel, more often. If it is hidden from throw-up debris by the frame, less often. But don't wait until it shows scratches.

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Air canister services should be performed routinely. How often? Often enough to learn how to do it yourself. But a rule of thumb is every 60 hours. If your shock is exposed to the back wheel, more often. If it is hidden from throw-up debris by the frame, less often. But don't wait until it shows scratches.

 

Thanks for the informative post! Where can the rubber parts you mentioned for the phase 1 service be bought from?

 

EDIT: For interest sake I just had by shock fully serviced for about R700, if any one was wondering about the price

Edited by P.A.K.
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One or two threads here and a couple of phone call to me has highlighted the problem of getting a shock serviced.

 

Some of the problems stem from the vague terminology used by the various shock agents.

 

A shock can be serviced at two levels:

 

1) Air canister service. This is a very basic procedure that any competent mechanic can do. It is easy and usually involves just removing the air canister on the shock, replacing some rubber parts, pouring in a teaspoon of lubricating oil and screwing it back on. Home mechanics can do this. You should see two things on your invoice if you've had the air canister serviced: Labour and parts. The parts comprise a kit with several rubber parts and seals in and should cost about R200-00 depending on the various shocks. Labour should be minimal.

 

 

2) Damper service. This is a complex procedure that requires disassembly of the entire damper unit. In other words, the air canister comes off like in point 1 above, the nitrogen is released from the damper, the damping oil is drained and all seals that lead to the various controls are replaced. The oil is then replaced, air bled out, the compensator chamber is re-charged with comprssed gas and the damper is tested for functionality before the air canister is replaced.Labour here - especially for some difficult shocks like Fox, is considerably more than for a simple level 1 service. The parts bill should be a little bit more, but not much, depending on the shock.

 

On Fox shocks, the damper service is required to repair leaking lockout lever problems. Any oil that leaks out of a lockout lever was drained from the damper. A leaking lockout lever means a faulty damper by default.

 

On Marzocchi, Manitou, Fox, Rox, DT Swiss, X-Fusion (?) and such shocks, the two procedures are very similar. The exception is a Specialized Brain shock. Here a simple air canister service cannot be performed without draining the damper. Hence, the cost of servicing a Spez is much more than servicing any of the others. This in spite of the parts on many of these Spez models being the same as on a Fox.

 

I suggest you question your bike should about what level of service will be performed next time you take your shock in. Generally you can leave the damper until it either stops performing as it should 9that's when the oil has deteriorated and doesn't work like it should) or, it leaks oil from somewhere.

 

Air canister services should be performed routinely. How often? Often enough to learn how to do it yourself. But a rule of thumb is every 60 hours. If your shock is exposed to the back wheel, more often. If it is hidden from throw-up debris by the frame, less often. But don't wait until it shows scratches.

 

 

If only you had posted this a month ago. My rear who starting making really funny noises on the weekend to the point I aborted my ride. Got it looked at and told its needs to be serviced.

Looking at my shocks manual, it specifies that you should service it once a year minimum, of course I had never even opened the manual before so didn't know that. My problem, I'm riding the Karoo 2 Coast this weekend.

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Thanks for the informative post! Where can the rubber parts you mentioned for the phase 1 service be bought from?

 

EDIT: For interest sake I just had by shock fully serviced for about R700, if any one was wondering about the price

 

It is a Fox part No: 803-00-142 Your bike shop should get it for you. Don't skrik if you have parts left over after the service. The kit contains parts for various shocks and not all are required for one particular shock.

 

R700-00 is a fair price if nothing went wrong and everything was replaced, including the shaft seals.

 

If you don't come right with the parts, contact me.

 

Finally, there are lots of how-to's on the interweb thingy showing you how to perform an air canister service. Do make sure you fully understand the implications of a "stuck down" shock before you start. It is important to know about this condition since it can kill you if you open a shock that is stuck down. I mean kill, as in dead.

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Thanks for the informative post! Where can the rubber parts you mentioned for the phase 1 service be bought from?

 

EDIT: For interest sake I just had by shock fully serviced for about R700, if any one was wondering about the price

yep - i have just had mine fully serviced including new headset bearing - R600

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My rear who starting making really funny noises on the weekend to the point I aborted my ride. Got it looked at and told its needs to be serviced.

 

That is funny. :D

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Cape Cycle Systems charged me R1090 to service my 2002 SID Race Carbon a few weeks back. Replaced a few seals here and there, foam rings, etc. Seems a little steep to me.

 

http://www.dominic-winkler.ch/RockShox_SidRaceCarbon.jpg

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Cape Cycle Systems charged me R1090 to service my 2002 SID Race Carbon a few weeks back. Replaced a few seals here and there, foam rings, etc. Seems a little steep to me.

 

http://www.dominic-winkler.ch/RockShox_SidRaceCarbon.jpg

Dont confuse shocks with forks. Forks are easy. However, I think you were overcharged, unless it included courier costs to CSS and back?

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It did include courier costs. Still, you think its reasonable. PM me your e-mail address, I'll mail you the invoice.

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That is funny. :D

 

:D You beat me to it..

 

Good post Johan, as always.

 

I think the hilarious post hi-lights a fundamental problem in terminology here.

 

ie: the fork / shock conundrum.

 

***Exacerbated in part by The Hubs Classified suspension post option***

 

EDIT: Ah, AZONIC being a case in point...

Edited by The Drongo
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