Basic Mountain Bike Air Shock Service
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Basic Mountain Bike Air Shock Service

October 7, 2019

– We often tell you here at GMBN Tech how to look after your
bike, and in particular, we tend to look at
things the transmission, because that’s the stuff that really has to put up
with your day to day use. But equally, your suspension
forks get a bit of a hard time, and we have told you a few tips on that, but the shock altogether is something that gets left behind. Now don’t be put off. We’re gonna show you how to do
a very basic air can service on your air shock. You don’t need any specialist parts, or any specialist tools. It’s dead simple, and it will
make your shock feel plusher, and it will continue working better. Now an air can service
is fundamentally the same on any air shock, so, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Rocks, or FOX
shocks, or DVO, or any others. It’s the same principle. You slide the sleeve off, clean it, put it back on again. Now, on this particular bike, you can see how dusty the shock is all around the seal here,
it’s in pretty bad condition, so it does need a bit of TLC. Just something to point out though. Some bikes have cable operated
lockout like this one, so if doing that, you might
wanna replace the cable at the same time, because of
the way it’s crimped on there. It just requires rerouting
a cable through there, and then removing the shock. Nice and easy. I’m actually gonna show
you on a Rockshox shock that’s got a new fitting on the end, so it’s a little bit
different to this one. These are very simple. You remove the bolt. Just take the bushes off
the top of the shock, and then you can slide the body off. But on the new style Rockshox shocks, it’s a little bit different. So you’re gonna need a bunch
of tools to get this job done. It’s pretty simple stuff, despite what you might think, having a look at this lot. First up, you’re gonna need
some sort of shop towel, a rag, something lint free, basically, so it doesn’t sort of get in the way with everything else. Next up is a vice. Make sure if you do use
one, that it has soft jaws, because you don’t wanna damage the end of your shock on there. It’s not an essential though. You can do this job without that. I like to use a strap wrench, because it does make
removing the shock can easy, especially if it’s oily and slippery, because it can actually
apply a lot of pressure, and it won’t damage it. But you can do this with your
good old fashioned hands. Next up you wanna have some sort of evaporating cleaner. So, isopropyl alcohol, brake
cleaner’s very good for that, as is contact cleaner, because it’s essentially
isopropyl alcohol. Like I say, anything that evaporates is what you want to clean it with. A fine pick is a good idea, because you can actually take
out debris from those seals if there is any. You can use a very fine
screwdriver though, so don’t feel that you have
to have a specialist tool. That said, you can’t beat
the proper tool for the job. Now you’re gonna need some
dedicated shock oils and greases. On the table here we’ve got some Wilkins and Soderstrom grease, we’ve got some Rockshox
dynamic seal grease, Rockshox butter, and some
float fluid from FOX. Any of these things is
gonna be great for the job. You’re gonna need some thread lock for when you put the
shock back onto your bike, because shock bolts do have
a habit of rattling loose. You’ll need appropriate Allen keys for your particular setup. It’s normally a five millimeter, but it can be a six in some cases. And on this particular Rockshox shock, you’re actually gonna
need some small ones. There’s a three involved as well. A shock pump is obviously needed. You’re working on a
shock, you’re gonna need to remove the air pressure from that, and reinflate it afterwards. A pair of safety glasses is a good idea whenever you’re working with oils, be that brakes, fork, shocks, etc. You can minimize the chance
of anything spraying up by removing the shock can whilst
it’s on the bike of course, which is the way I’m gonna show you. You can get away with not using a vice. But if you’re working on desktop, having glasses is always a good idea. Rubber gloves are a great idea
for protecting your hands. In this case, the oil
isn’t corrosive as such, but it does mean you’re
gonna have a bit more grip, and it’s obviously not gonna
get into your skin anyway. And finally, a nice metal
GMBN workshop spec cup to keep you hydrated. So, if you’re removing a shock to do this in a vice on a workbench, now is the time to start
removing those bolts. However, I’m just gonna
show you another method that doesn’t involve
having to have a vice. Now this is quite useful
if you haven’t got a dedicated area to work on your bike. You can also do this with
the bike on the ground, out of a workstand, but
you might want a friend, just to hold the saddle up, so the bike doesn’t drop when you do this. So first up is to remove
the little air valve cover. And you wanna take note
of your air pressure you’re running in your shock, just because it makes it a bit easier, and you don’t have to faff
around doing your sag again at the other end when
you put it back together. So I’m just gonna connect my shock pump. Take note of my air pressure in here. And then I’m gonna slowly release the air. When you release the air
pressure from the shock, don’t do it in one big hit. Do it nice and slowly. It’s a good idea to do
it with a shock pump. If there’s any air left
in that negative chamber, it can make it difficult
to remove the air sleeve, and it also can make
it a bit dangerous too. I’m not gonna be using a vice for this. I’m actually gonna remove the air sleeve while it’s actually still on the bike, then I’m gonna remove the shock bolts, and take the shock out of the bike to clean it and inspect it. Now, I’m using a strap wrench here. They’re pretty cheap. You can get them on Amazon for a few quid, and they’re really, really useful, in particular for this job, because it applies the
right amount of torque. You’re not gonna damage it. And even if it is a bit slippy, you can still get good
purchase with these. You can remove the air sleeve
just by using your hand, but it can be a bit tricky, especially if you have a piggyback, to get good purchase around the shock. So it’s just a case of running the strap back through that strap wrench. And it undoes, as most
things do, anticlockwise. There we go. Now if you’re doing this in a vice, don’t be surprised if the lower part of the tube spins as well. It’s not a problem. And there may well be
a little bit of a pop, of just the air releasing when you get to the end of the thread. There we go. Nice and easy. No vice needed. Now, for removing the shock itself, use a really high quality Allen key. Make sure it has a decent
fit within those shock bolts. And when you undo the Allen key, just take into account
that your shock bolts might have quite a substantial amount of thread lock on them. So, make sure the Allen key
is located in there correctly, because if it’s got a lot of thread lock, you have to overcome that force first. And if it’s not in, and it slips, you’re gonna damage the head of the bolt, and that is not good, because
it can be very difficult to remove these. Another thing to take into account, as I remove this rearward bolt here, the backend is gonna drop, and in this case on
the design of the bike, the rocker is gonna touch the frame, and I don’t want that to damage it, which is why I removed the wheel. So I’m just gonna actually
hold the backend of the bike, so I can remove this
without allowing it to drop. Now, as you see I’m
just gonna let this drop back against the tube with no damage, and just rotate the shock down. Now, as with all shocks, they’re gonna have
different sort of setups, but this one is one with a bearing mount, so it’s got these little
plates over the bearings. Just make sure you take these off now, and put them somewhere safe, because they’re easy to drop off and lose. Now because the backend of
the shock has been released, just wanna hold the shock body itself whilst you free up the front one as well. Okay, now time to remove that bolt. This particular one has a
captive nut on the other side, so you wanna make sure
that that doesn’t drop out and go anywhere. And you just slide the bolt out, and remove the shock from the bike. If you’ve not done this
process on the bike, and you wanna actually undo
the shock sleeve in a vice, just make sure that the
bottom of the shock here is protected by soft jaws, or actually putting something
in the vice like some wood, something like that. You don’t wanna be clamping
onto this and damaging it. Now, before I can actually remove this, what I wanted to show you
is the end of the shock is a little bit different now. So you got a bearing mount on here, and of course that’s not gonna enable me to slide this part of
the shock up and over it. You actually have to
remove this from the shock. On traditional setups, you have a bushing that runs through the end, and it will have some spacers. Normally, you can just
remove those spacers, and then you can slide it up. You don’t normally need
to remove the bushing. So like I said, I’m just gonna remove this from the top here. We’ll just use a three
millimeter Allen key. Now just have those two
three millimeter bolts freed on top, and that can just slide straight off the top of the shock there, and this would need some cleaning. Next up is to remove the O-ring here. This is the one that
you use to set your sag. Put that in a safe place. If it’s damaged, you
can sort that out after. And if for some reason you
don’t like the red ones, now’s a good option to you
to put black on them there. Now when it comes to sliding
the actual body off itself, you gotta bear in mind that
if anything’s sticking out, it could still damage the seal, so just be very careful as you do this. And sometimes you can
expect a bit of friction, just as you slide it over the edge. But in this case, slides off nicely, so just gonna put that
on my shop towel there. So next up in this case, is just to slide off the
countermeasure spring there. Slide that up, and put
that down on the base. And now it’s time to give
your shock body itself a nice bit of a clean and tidy. Now just something to note as well. You can see here I’ve
got some volume spacers inside here to increase
how the shock ramps up at the end of travel. If you’ve not got any, now is
the ideal time to fit some. And if you’re just doing the job of fitting some volume
spacers to your shock, it’s also a good idea to do this process, and give it a bit of a clean. So now it’s time to just
give it a good clean down, and then we’re gonna inspect it, to make sure everything
is in good condition. The sealing on them generally
is really, really good, but I can still let dirt and muck in, and that will actually
wear stuff down bit by bit. This particular shock isn’t that old, despite how dusty and grubby
it looked on the outside. But, you can never tell. It does depend on the
conditions you ride in. Now it’s a good idea to know what sort of intervals you
should be actually performing a shock service on your bike,
and Rockshox, for example, recommend that every 50 hours of riding, that you replace the seals here. So it’s a quad seal with bushes, and the same on the actual sleeve. But, think of this as a
bit of an interim service. It’s an inspection, it’s a clean, and then you’re just gonna
be keeping on top of things. So, I’m not replacing
anything in this service, but I am just gonna inspect it, and make sure that everything looks like it’s in good condition. If there are any obvious signs of wear, then obviously now is your chance to order those spare parts, or if you’re unsure about changing them, take them to your local bike shop. But it’s a fairly easy process, especially when you’ve gone this far. But I can see here by looking at this, that the quad seal is actually
in really good condition. There’s no problem with that at all. And the bushes look pretty
much like new, actually. They’re not bad at all. You also wanna be inspecting the actual air shaft
itself on the inside here. And the thing you’re looking for, is any scoring that you might get on it. Now some bike designs can lead to the shock bending slightly in use, and if that’s the case, then you can end up with
scoring on the air shaft, which can create further
damage down the line. Now the same thing applies to
the actual air sleeve itself. The damage and sort of wear
and tear you’re looking for, are on the main wiper seal here, and just on the inside, to
give that a proper clean, and have a look at that. And then also, you wanna
check the threads are good. There’s an O-ring there. Make sure that is in good condition. If for any reason it’s sort
of perished or deteriorated, get that replaced. It’s just an O-ring. And make sure you run your
finger round on the inside. Now you’ll note there’s
a couple of indents on the inside there. That’s
basically for the air to swap between positive and negative chambers. But if there’s anything else,
or any other sort of damage, you might need a new air sleeve. So just be quite vigilant. Have a good look on the inside there. And just generally make sure it looks like it’s in good condition. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, just be sure to ask your local bike shop, or check on the Rockshox,
FOX, or DVO websites, because they will have a frequently asked questions part on their maintenance section. Next up, you guessed it, is making sure that the bearings in this particular shock are clean, and they
rotate nice and smoothly. If there’s any sort of
notchiness to the bearings, or they just feel like
they’re generally shot, you need to replace these. On this type of linkage bike, it’s not that much of a problem. It just won’t work that well. But on some bikes, for
example if you’ve got a clevis driving the shock directly, and there isn’t a linkage to support that, if you’re adding friction
on at this point, or at the other end of the shock, you’re putting strain on
the actual shock itself, and the shock can bend. And we have seen recently some pictures of shocks online that
have actually snapped in the middle from this. So it is important just
to keep on top of things. It doesn’t involve having to do any crazy maintenance yourself. Just common sense. Just making sure that your
bike is in good working order. Now at the top end of
this particular air shock, it’s got a conventional
bush running through there. So it’s also a good idea just to check that that does move, and
there’s no sort of play within that. They’re a fairly cheap part to replace, so I do recommend having a look at that. If there’s any movement,
get some ordered up, and refit those. Okay, so now it’s time to
literally reverse the procedure, and get everything back together again. Again, just taking care to make sure you put everything back
on in the correct order. I’m using a bit of SRAM butter. It’s a shock grease. Basically it’s designed
for fork seals and that, just to smear onto the
actual seals themselves. A, it helps them glide a little
bit easier on the inside, and it does obviously form
a slightly better seal. And just delicately put some under the actual wiper seal there too. No need to go crazy, as they do a pretty good job. And then it’s a case of sliding
that air sleeve back on. Delicately push it over
the end of the shock there. There we go. And sending it back home then. So it’s just a case of
putting the air sleeve back in place now. Now you can find that
it’s easier to do this when it’s back on the bike. You can do this in a vice. There’s a few different ways. What I like to do is actually do this here at this point. I’m just gonna put a tiny bit more grease, just on the threads there, just to make sure that
they take in nicely. Now, a case of sliding
the sleeve back in place. You have to compress it at the same time, and make sure the threads
line up nice and smoothly. And then you just tighten this up. Now because my hands are
actually quite greasy here, and so is the body, I’m gonna complete this
when it’s on the bike, just to get it in the right position. I’m just gonna nip this up those. I actually can’t tighten anymore with my greasy hands. But now it’s time to put
the end back on the shock. Now, it’s a good idea
to put fresh thread lock onto the bolts, because
it is the sort of thing that can rattle loose in time. Always a good thing to do. And then just run this into the shock. Okay, so there we go. Shock is back in one piece. Don’t forget, I just need to make sure that the sleeve is tightened sufficiently, but I’m gonna do that back on the bike, because I’ve got my third hand, which of course are the main shock bolts. Just gonna give it a wipe over with some isopropyl alcohol, because it’s got a bit
of grease from my gloves, so now’s the time to
actually change your gloves and get rid of those. Then you wanna make
sure you reassemble it. Put some thread lock on those shock bolts, because they can rattle loose, especially if you like doing
sort of bike park style riding, with lots of vibration and stuff. And then it’s time to reinflate the shock. So there we go. That is
the basic air can service. It’s something that I hope all of you guys are gonna start doing at home. You can do it on any
shock, FOX, Rockshox, etc. It’s the same principle. And it does keep it working nicely. As you can see, my shock
looks really nice and clean. The rest of the bike needs a bit of a bit more attention,
actually, to be honest. For a couple more videos, click down here for a bike fit clinic. So that’s everything you need to know about getting your bike fit right. And click up here for a
fork lower leg service, if you fancy doing something
a bit more in depth like this, but on your front forks. As always click on the round globe to subscribe to GMBN
Tech, and go to our shop if you wanna buy some of this cool stuff, because it really helps us
out here at the channel. And as always, if you
like fixing your bike, give us a thumbs up.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Hello, i have a monarch plus rc3 few months old and the stanchion is always greasy. My question is what is this grease and is it important?

  2. Rox shox fox shocks socks rocks fox shox rox rocks shox fox rox shocks fox shox 😁

    Great video Doddy! I need to try it on my velvet fork

  3. Hey @doddy! I read on fox website when performing this type of service we should to put in some fox shock fluid. Can't find any where im at so any advise in what kind of replacement weight suspension fluid to use? I heard motorcycle suspension fluid can be use as a replacement?

  4. Hello, I have a question my air can doesent come of it's stuck. The strap wrench is slipping of and when I try to do it with my hand I and my dad are not strong enough. How can I get it off ?

  5. IMO the only reason to use a strap wrench is your working on a potentially pressurised system and using the wrench keeps your hands/fingers out of the way. I've always done it by hand even though I have a strap wrench somewhere but you've made me think about the safety issue and how you can make the task safer… cheers.

  6. Is it mandatory to use the specific Rockshox/Fox products? Because here in my country they are prohibitively expensive..

  7. Can also use an old tire tube to twist it off. Give ya some extra grip and something to torque on to get the cAn off

  8. I took my bike one day for a shock service in a bike shop, and the guy said that my shock was dry and fill the air canister with car trasmition. I notice that beacuse, besides the suspencion performance sucks, with was leaking oil all the time, when I asked him about, he said that the retentors on my shock was broken. So I open it, and see that shit, sometimes it's better do the job by youself.

  9. Great video to those who have a more conventional shock. I believe the fox X2 shock that I have has a diffrent desing and the only part that can be opened easily is where the volume spacers are located. I can't find a way to get it open enough to properly treat the seals that slide on the shock tube. Could you make a video for servising the X2 shock too? I believe this would help me and many other people greatly.

  10. You showed the oil pillows but you never showed adding fresh oil, bad mistake if you run your shock without oil. I watch my shock shaft for the amount of oil on it after a ride, if you start to see more coming out than usual that is a good indication that the shock needs the more extensive 50 hour service. This check only works if you do the simple service regularly.

  11. Cheers Doddy mate, that was one of the gaping holes in my knowledge! On another note; Went up Bike Park Wales today and saw your face grinning back at me from the screen 😁

  12. I would to a see a video explaining bottom bracket standards. I got 2018 Specialized Enduro 29 recently. I bent my crank arm on a hard pedal strike. The shop I bought the bike from refused to share the bb standard. It made figuring out which crankset to get not so easy. Specialized does not state this spec on the product page. I want to use this opportunity to upgrade not just replace.

  13. I don’t have the spray stuff or the specific lubricants or grease were do I get it I have a fox float X2

  14. Thanks for this Doddy, very helpful. You said Rockshox recommends doing this maintenance every 50 hours of riding? Isn't that pretty often? Considering everytime I go out riding it takes me about 2 to 3 hours, that means I'd have to do that maintenance about every 16 rides out (so basically every month and a half). On a side note that Mega looks absolutely stunning.

  15. Shit I knew I was doing something wrong last time I serviced my rear shock, I forgot the flipping gmbn cup to keep me hydrated

  16. I have just done my first 50h service in fork and shock. I’ve got the Mega Pro 275 and the bottom shock bolt is often come lose. I used thread locker and instead of 9Nm I went 11Nm. I used also white marker pen to see if bolts move and the bottom one do every maybe 50h riding. I also found the swing arm damaged a little from when the bolt came loose and i hit a rough section. What else can K do?

  17. It's so ridiculous that Rockshox say to service your fork and shock every 50 hours. Think about a car shock. They don't get serviced for years and work fine with similar working conditions.

  18. Thanks for the video 🙂 Got a canyon neuron about eight months ago and usually just clean ith with water and some silicon spray afterwards. Time to do a service on my shocks I guess!

  19. Is there any other precautions I should take if I am servicing a shock that uses Trek’s RE:activ technology?

  20. I did a full service on my 2015 monarch debonair rct3. There is 1 scratch in the air sleeve and a scratch where the IFP sits. I Changed all the seals including the IFP but the to scratches are still there. Is there a way to repair the scratches or do u recon it’ll be better to buy a new shock? Cheers.

  21. Why did you use sram butter? I thought sram dynamic grease was the right one to use with the rear shock? Whats the difference between the two? Thanks

  22. SRAM / Rockshox say to use Dynamic Seal Grease when reassembling. You've got a tub there on the bench (black tub), but you used SRAM Butter instead. Any particular reason for that choice?

  23. Doddy: technical and hands – on
    Blake: informative and very entertaining
    Neil: somewhere in the middle

  24. Sprayers beware! Some "brake cleaners" can damage paintwork..check the brand you are using b4 you use. Also TBH I would refer to the official maintenance guides…u can find RockShox videos on utube… I couldn't find any videos for Fox but anyway here is a link to the instructions.

  25. Wow. Came here to find out how to service my shock but I was simply informed how to take the can off and put it back on again.


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