How Often Should Mountain Bike Suspension Components be Serviced?

We asked a professional how to tell if a mountain bike fork or shock needs service, and the answer is quite simple.

“I had my fork and shock serviced in October of last year, so when should I do it again?” This query has crossed the mind of every mountain biker at some point, whether they took action to answer it or not. If you ride your bike in the dirt, and I sincerely hope that you do, you’ll need to have your suspension serviced at least once every season. Soil particles can sneak past the seals and contaminate the internal parts, and simply cleaning that out and changing the oil will keep your bike’s expensive squishy bits sliding smoothly. Fortunately, the oil changing instructions for most components are fairly painless to follow.

I spoke with my friend, Lionel Saez, who has worked in the MTB suspension tuning and repair world for several years now to find out how riders can determine when we need to service our precious suspension components. The best bet is to mark service intervals on your calendar so that you can’t forget when you last changed the oil and wipers, but even sticking to the intervals isn’t always sufficient. Depending on dust and mud conditions, you may need to clean the internals more frequently. Here are some indicators that your fork or shock needs a closer look.

  • It feels dry. The internal tube of your fork (stanchion) or shock should always be a little bit “greasy,” and if it appears dry you will need to open it up, clean it, and replace the oil and seals.
  • The fork or shock begins to feel harsh, and loses small bump sensitivity. This is due to added friction in the system.
  • The rebound and compression don’t seem to affect anything. Added friction also reduces the effectiveness of the system’s adjustments.
  • For rear air shocks, bubble noise or little to no action from the rebound adjustment can indicate there’s air in the oil, and the shock needs to be serviced.
  • The fork or shock is losing large amounts of air or oil. This is typically caused by a damaged seal.
Coil sprung suspension requires less maintenance than air. Photo: Fast Suspension

Service intervals for most modern suspension

Service intervals are not an exact science. How you ride, the type of trails ride, and the weather all play a part in the story. The recommended service intervals are more of a baseline to make sure folks don’t let their suspension go unchecked until it feels terrible, or starts eating itself.

Fortunately, I ride between 10 and 15 hours per week, depending on the season, which by some recommended service intervals would see me swapping oil and wipers every 2-3 weeks and servicing the damper cartridge on a 7-10 week rotation. Since most of that riding is on clay, free of mud and dust, I don’t do it as frequently as advised. I tend to go by many of the indicators Lyonel mentioned more than a calendar, but it’s good to know when the manufacturer recommends a partial or full service. Check the recommended service intervals below to see if your squish is due for a deeper wash.

Company and componentService intervalInstructional resources
Ancillotti coil shock Full service 1 x annually Contact the builder
DVO forks and air shocksLowers/air canEvery 50hrs, air spring/damper every 100hrsService guide
Extreme Racing (EXT) CoilFull service 1 x annually, or 2 x annually if ridden hard through mud/dustService manuals
Formula Selva ForkLowers every 30hrs or 6 months, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annuallyVideo tutorial
Cane Creek fork Lowers every 50hrs, full service every 100hrsVideo tutorial
Cane Creek shock Air shocks: oil and seals 2 x annually, and fulle service once annually. Coil shocks: one service annually.Video tutorial
Fast Suspension coilEvery 100hrsService manual or video
Fox air forks and shocksLowers every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annuallyFork service, shock service, or Service by appointment
Fox coil shockEvery 100hrsService guide
Intend BC ForksLowers every 50hrs, full service every 100hrs. (IBC shocks are too new to tell)Service manuals
Marzocchi forks and shocks Every 125hrsSee Fox manuals
Mountain Racing Products (MRP) Lowers every 30-50hrs depending on conditions, full service every 75-100hrs D.O.C. Service manuals
Öhlins forks and shocksLowers every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annuallyService manuals
Push coilInspect bushings every 30hrs, full service every 100hrs or 1 x annuallySupport doc
RockShox forks and shocksLower leg/air-can every 50hrs, full service100-200hrs depending on the componentLower leg service and shock air can service
SunTour Too many components to list, but generally intervals are similar to other brandsService manuals
X-Fusion Forks and shocksLower leg/air-can every 25hrs, full service every 100 hours or 1x annuallyService info

Do you have a good way to remind yourself to service your suspension? Please share it with our readers below.