Low-maintenance suspension forks- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Low-maintenance suspension forks

    Hi, am looking at 100mm suspension forks for a 29er with tapered steerer and 15mm QR.
    Obviously there's lots, but the key thing I need is one that's very low-maintenance and reliable which I have to prioritise over performance.
    So what would be your recommendations for a fork that has the longest/easiest service intervals but still has reasonable performance?
    Thanks in advance...

  2. #2
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    Probably coil. Less seal friction, fewer parts, lower consequences of seals starting to wear out. Their fans say they perform better than air forks too. The sacrifices would be that they're usually heavier and that you need to get the right spring for your weight.

    Do you mean a 15 mm through axle? I admit I'm not up on all the systems, but...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Probably coil
    I've been looking into that option, but seems there's not so many (though still some) choices these days. Is weight the only reason most forks have switched to air? I'm fairly average weight, that shouldn't be issue.

  4. #4
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    Look at all the posts in which people say "air forks are better." I think it's partly just differentiation from crappy forks, which are usually coil. Kind of like how bar ends went out of fashion when they showed up on Walmart bikes.

    Being able to tune an air fork for a really broad range of rider weights without changing parts is probably part of it, especially for the OEMs.

    Let me ask you this - is rebuilding once a year acceptable? How many hours/year do you ride?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Let me ask you this - is rebuilding once a year acceptable? How many hours/year do you ride?
    Yearly rebuild? Possibly, but still a hassle for me. I maybe ride 5 hours a week. I live in Africa where parts like seals etc not available, although oil change is possible. I'm willing to run a fork down to the ground with no servicing and then get another if I can get, say, 2-3 good years out of it. Just wondering if certain brands are "known" for requiring less servicing. Like it seems that Fox require the most from my limited reading, so wondering what is at the other end of that equation...

  6. #6
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    5 hours/week is a fair volume, especially if it's all off-road.

    Fox and RockShox publish about the same service intervals, and people comply with them to about the same extent. You should be okay with annual rebuilds and a lot of people don't even do that. Certainly it impacts performance and life.

    I don't believe that seals aren't available to you. Many of them are just o-rings. If you're in a part of Africa where any machine is maintained, you can get those. It does increase the degree of difficulty a bit, since you have to find out what o-ring you need and not just order a kit. The wiper seals may be the hardest. Many people don't replace any of that stuff in their basic rebuilds, though.

    Truth be told, I just let my shop do my rebuilds.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    I rarely do any maintenance on forks. 1 have a 2006 Talas I haven't touched in 4 years that's working fine. I also have a Reba I haven't messed with in a couple of years. That's with weekly mountain rides maybe 8 months a year.

    I even have a 2001 Marzocchi that I used for 3 or 4 years (in the desert no less), then put on my wife's bike, and it's NEVER been serviced. It doesn't get much use, but you'd think just the age of the seals would cause some brittleness and and leakage, but not yet!

  8. #8
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    Marzocchi 44 RC3 Ti 29er (coil)...if you can find one. Marz seems to have a pretty long service interval, and won't go to pot if you "extend" it.
    I keep a 44 Micro Ti (air) on hand as a backup fork for the high dollar jobs (34 Float, and Pike...yeah, my Pike's CSU just started creaking). It can be adjusted between 140 down to as low as 100.

  9. #9
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    I am somewhat surprised by the responses you received, but your location could certainly be considered a detriment re service...there is no doubt a coil only suspension fork would require the least maintenance, but if you already own a bike with a 15mm Maxle and a tapered steerer, does it not already have an air fork? You do not see many coil only with a thru-axle. If you do indeed already have one, is the probable degrade in potential performance worth giving up? Having said all that...

    I am personally very pleased with my RL Solo Reba. It is very predictable and tuneable to accommadate both different riders and changing terrain. Do you have a LBS that could support a SRAM product?

    If you really really want low maintenance, just go rigid...it might be your best option
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Low-maintenance suspension forks-dsc01822.jpg  

    Last edited by time229er; 04-24-2014 at 06:14 PM.
    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by time229er View Post
    if you already own a bike with a 15mm Maxle and a tapered steerer, does it not already have an air fork?
    This will be for a new bike build I'm having done up by a LBS in a western country....

    Quote Originally Posted by time229er View Post
    If you really really want low maintenance, just go rigid...it might be your best option
    Actually the build I'm having done will be based on the new Karate Monkey OPS frame which comes with a rigid fork included so I will have that as an option. That said, I think rigid is too bumpy for the trails I ride and I also have some back issues, so prefer a suspension fork...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Look at all the posts in which people say "air forks are better." I think it's partly just differentiation from crappy forks, which are usually coil. Kind of like how bar ends went out of fashion when they showed up on Walmart bikes.

    Being able to tune an air fork for a really broad range of rider weights without changing parts is probably part of it, especially for the OEMs.

    Let me ask you this - is rebuilding once a year acceptable? How many hours/year do you ride?
    Rebuilding? I've owned forks for 8 years that haven't needed a 'rebuild', mostly because I serviced them. Basically, change the oil, refresh the seals, etc. I guess it depends on how you define rebuild. Usually, when a fork bushings are so worn out they need to be replaced, many of the other internals aren't far behind.

    Yeah, if ultimate outback reliability is most important, then look for coil forks. They're heavier and harder to compensate for your weight, but a leak doesn't mean you can't ride it and limp back home. Coil is also more plush, but less tunable.

    If replacement parts are unavailable, I would suggest buying a few spare seals and o-rings when you get the bike and keep them safe with your stuff back home. If you're buying your bike in a Western country, the parts should be available as well.

  12. #12
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    How about buying the fork you want and ordering a rebuild kit at the same time, to have on hand when you need it?

  13. #13
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    Good idea about getting some spare parts to keep on hand when I buy the fork... Thanks.

  14. #14
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    Re: Low-maintenance suspension forks

    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    I rarely do any maintenance on forks. 1 have a 2006 Talas I haven't touched in 4 years that's working fine. I also have a Reba I haven't messed with in a couple of years. That's with weekly mountain rides maybe 8 months a year.

    I even have a 2001 Marzocchi that I used for 3 or 4 years (in the desert no less), then put on my wife's bike, and it's NEVER been serviced. It doesn't get much use, but you'd think just the age of the seals would cause some brittleness and and leakage, but not yet!
    I have a Marz sitting next to me right now that I bought from a teammate a few years ago. He didn't follow the service intervals terribly well, and now my shop doesn't have the special tool to get it open past the damper rod. So no rebuilds.

    It's getting stiff, but still works okay. Coil + air chamber combo, so a lower air pressure. But yeah - holds pressure fine.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Not sure which Marzochhi fork you have. I've got a '12 Marzochhi corsa sl air fork. All it takes is simple snap ring pliers to pull the adjustment cap off the top. Then an old school bb socket used to pull older design enternal bb's. Really easy to pull the dampened. Huge Marzochhi fan. Glad to see they are getting turned around. They had a few bumpy years.

    Back on topic. It might be best to pay the weight penalty for the reliability of a coil fork. Check into the Marzochhi 44 micro Ti. Bomber seals are amongst the best in the business.

  16. #16
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    '01 Z2 Atom Sport. Long rod sticking right through the bolt that holds the stanchions and lowers together.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    Air forks with sealed dampers will reduce maintenance. Suntour Raidon, Epicon, etc.

  18. #18
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    Replacing your assembly 2015 Corsa lr

    Quote Originally Posted by Gumbi4Prez View Post
    Not sure which Marzochhi fork you have. I've got a '12 Marzochhi corsa sl air fork. All it takes is simple snap ring pliers to pull the adjustment cap off the top. Then an old school bb socket used to pull older design enternal bb's. Really easy to pull the dampened. Huge Marzochhi fan. Glad to see they are getting turned around. They had a few bumpy years.

    Back on topic. It might be best to pay the weight penalty for the reliability of a coil fork. Check into the Marzochhi 44 micro Ti. Bomber seals are amongst the best in the business.
    What do you have to do to remove and replace the upper assembly on a 2015 corsa lr? You sound very knowledgeable and I'm going you can provide some insight. I replaced my Z3 bomber with the corsa. But I s distracted when I measured the steerer tube for cutting and I cut it way too short. I have a new upper on the way but I'm unsure what is involved to remove the upper.

  19. #19
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    This is the only fork I know of that requires NO maintenance: Lauf Forks | Lauf Forks - The Lauf Trail Racer - The lightest suspension fork on the market It is less travel than you were looking for (60mm) but it should still be enough to take the edge off.

    I've seen several at my local xc race.

    Air springs are lighter than coil springs and also easier to tune and adjust for different rider weights, trails, preferences.

    If you do get a normal fork, as stated previously, one with a sealed (or cartridge damper) will need less service. So Fox FIT or rockshox Charger (like in the Pike).

    Doing most service is just cleaning the inside of the fork and replacing the dust wipers. If you order a bunch ahead of time you could have years of supplies on hand. Maintenance (cleaning and lubing stanchions) helps a lot, and in my opinion is essential every ride. Having ridden for 8 years now my biggest complaint is fox forks degrading over time, the Pike seems to be 100x better for me in that regard.

  20. #20
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    Your arms and legs are the best lowest maintenance suspension known to man. Paired with a rigid bike it's flawless.

  21. #21
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    You may want to look at a truss fork.

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