The front fork suspension on your e-bike is vital to ensuring a smooth, pleasant ride – even as you navigate tough terrain.
Unfortunately, the suspension is prone to dust exposure, wear and tear, and oil leaks. When the suspension gets dirty or fails to lubricate, the result is a bumpier, less comfortable ride. Poorly maintained suspension can also numb your arms and hands.
In this article, we discuss how to maintain your e-bike suspension fork, and how to extend the lifespan of your suspension.
The Basics Of Fork Lubrication
The front fork suspension on your e-bike is responsible for maintaining rider comfort. This is achieved through the front suspension system, which consists of a:
- Steerer tube (that connect the fork to the bike frame)
- Stanchions (two separate “poles” that pass in and out of the sliders, and contains other internal components such as the spring (or air chamber) and oil
- Sliders (enables the stanchions to pass through, and connects to the front wheel)
To keep the suspension fork lubricated, oil is stored near the bottom of the fork legs. During riding, the oil lubricates the fork’s internal components, such as the seals and bushes.
Most e-bikes and traditional bikes contain multiple seals in the front suspension. The external dust seal prevents dust from entering the suspension, while the foam ring stores oil below the seal and collects any invasive particles.
Some bikes have an additional seal for further dust protection
How To Maintain Your Front Fork Suspension
Looking after your suspension is easier than you think, as you only need a few basic tools to do it. The most common tools and accessories you will need are:
- Allen wrench
- Bike suspension oil (lubricant)
- Water hose (or bucket of fresh water)
- Clean rag
Now that you have the essentials, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Clean and dry
First, turn your bike upside, ensuring the frame is stable.
Then, use a hose or bucket of fresh water to remove dirt and grime from the forks. Pay close attention to the stanchions and fork arks, as debris build up is common in those areas.
If you’re using a hose, only use the high-pressure mode if the bike is already upside down. Otherwise, water may creep into the fork seals.
Use a clean rag to dry the forks and external seals.
Step 2: Lubricate
Next, with the bike still upside down, apply bike suspension oil (lubricant) to the two front suspension forks.
Let the oil run down the forks and seals. Leave it to stand for about 20 minutes.
If applied correctly, the oil will naturally lubricate the entire fork, meaning no further action is required.
Step 3: Check for wear and tear
Check the front fork suspension, particularly the stanchions, for signs of impact damage, deeply ingrained marks, or scratches.
Stanchion scratches can potentially damage the dust seals, increasing the risk of oil leaks. Severe scratches may need to be inspected by a suspension specialist, who will either service or replace the component.
Step 4: Adjust suspension compression
Most mountain e-bikes have adjustable front suspension. This lets you determine how much the bike “sags” as you rest on the handlebars and do basic things like ride over slopes and land jumps.
While adjusting the front fork suspension is not too hard, you will need to adjust the air pressure with a shock pump (attached with a pressure gauge).
First, locate the Lock knob on the fork, and turn it to “Open.” Then, locate the Air cap on the other side, remove the cap, and insert the shock pump.
Refer to your manufacturer’s recommended specifications to adjust the air pressure accordingly. Don’t worry if you make a mistake; you can always add or remove air pressure as necessary.
Once you’re done, remove the shock pump and reattach the Air cap. And be sure to set the Lock knob back to “Lock”
Step 5: Replace seals and bushings
Inspect the condition of your existing seals and bushings.
If you notice any signs of deterioration, including scratches, fraying, or missing pieces, then be sure to replace these components. Pretty soon, they will begin to affect the performance of your front suspension.