How to remove, disassemble and lubricate a bicycle fork
If you do not know how to remove and disassemble a mountain bike suspension fork for maintenance, repair or replacement, then this article will help you find out what you need for this, and how to do it at home. Also here will be considered such issues: how and how to lubricate the front fork, maintenance intervals and other tips on this topic. All this will be presented in the form of detailed instructions with pictures for each action, as well as a video on disassembling a bicycle suspension fork. In this article we will analyze the RST GILA 100 mm spring-elastomer fork with disc brake mountings.
Why remove and disassemble the bike fork
A bicycle fork, like all other components, can be replaced, repaired or serviced. Therefore, before proceeding with these procedures, we need to remove it from the bike, and in some cases disassemble the shock absorber for parts. In what cases will we have to remove it? First of all, this is when it is replaced by another. Secondly, it may be necessary to replace bearings and / or support cups, apply new lubricant, and also, there are times when it is necessary to align the steering tube or perform other repair work.
Disassembling a fork shock absorber is most often necessary to replace lubricant or worn components. For example, these can be oil seals (cuffs), etc.
How to remove a bicycle fork
Below you will find detailed instructions for dismantling the front suspension fork with explanatory pictures.
- First of all, we carry out preparatory work, namely, we unscrew everything that is attached to the plug. In our case, this is the brake caliper, as well as the front disc brake hose, which is clamped to the fork legs. If you have V-brakes installed, then dismantle them. This also applies to the speed sensor from the bike computer, front fender, etc.
- We unscrew the bolts securing the stem to the steering tube, and then unscrew the bicycle fork anchor bolt.
- Carefully remove the steering wheel together with the stem and lower it down. At this stage, you should act carefully so as not to damage the hydraulic lines or accidentally hitting the metal parts of the steering wheel on the frame, so as not to scratch the latter.
- We remove the spacer rings and the guide sleeve (cone). To do this, carefully pry it with a small flat screwdriver in the area of the cut. Then we take out the upper rolling ring and the upper bearing. All these actions are illustrated by the pictures below.
- All operations have been completed and now you can carefully remove the steering tube from the glass. After that, it remains for us to get the bearing, the lower rolling ring and remove the front wheel. To do this, we loosen the eccentric or unscrew the fixing bolts (depending on the type of attachment). This completes the process of removing the bike fork.
How to disassemble a bicycle suspension fork
After we have removed the suspension fork from the bike, old used grease should be removed from all of the above components, namely the bearings, cups and raceways, as well as the steering tube and other areas. It’s not worth applying a new one yet, we will add it back to the glass at the stage of installing the plug.
Next, let’s start disassembling the shock absorber for further lubricant replacement.
- Turn the fork over and unscrew the mounting bolts.
- We remove the pants from the legs of the fork. If necessary, remove the oil seals.
- We remove used lubricant from all accessible surfaces. This procedure can be left for later and performed after complete disassembly, but it is preferable to do this immediately in order to avoid oily marks on clothes, tools, etc. Do not forget to remove dirt and grease from the bicycle fork cuffs, as well as inside the pants themselves.
- Then remove the lower travel stops and stop stops. To do this, we apply a little effort and pull them off the rods.
- We unscrew the adjustments on each of the fork legs. They are unscrewed with a special key, which, unfortunately, we did not have. Therefore, we had to make our own self-made key for these cases. We will attach a photo below, suddenly someone will come in handy. We take out the springs with caps and elastomers, as well as two rods (one from each leg).
- Remove old grease from all fork surfaces.
This completes the disassembly of the bicycle fork shock absorber. The next step is to apply new grease. What can be used as a lubricant, we will consider below.
How and how can you lubricate a bicycle suspension fork
I use Litol-24 grease to lubricate all of the bike’s front fork assemblies, including both the shock absorber and the head tube bearings. It is believed that it negatively affects aluminum parts when moisture enters. But using it for five seasons, no negative consequences were noticed. The advantages of this grease include good temperature resistance. It does not thicken both in severe frost up to 50 C, and in extreme heat (up to 150 C).
Many people advise pouring liquid machine oils, sewing machine oil, and others into your pants. Personally, in my experience, there was a deterioration in the work of the fork shock absorber (jerks were observed during compression and rebound of the spring). And if liquid oils worked better, manufacturers would fill them in initially, which they don’t.
We figured out how to lubricate the bicycle fork. Next, let’s see how to do this. We apply grease to the spring with excess (we ram the lubricant between the spring rings), the excess will come out through the hole under the stem and, if there is an excess in the pants, it will be squeezed out through the stuffing box seals (but you shouldn’t overdo it either). We also apply grease to the grooves of the cuffs and add forks to the pants. We lubricate all rubbing parts with a thin layer.
Before installing the plug into the glass, do not forget to lubricate the bearings, rings and cups.
This completes the lubrication process and you can go back to assembling and installing the bicycle fork.
How to assemble and put the plug back
The assembly and installation process of the bicycle suspension fork is carried out in reverse order. The only thing that should be done carefully and carefully to avoid incorrect installation of components. After you have installed the assembled fork back on the bike, secured the stem, be sure to check that there is no play in the steering tube in the frame glass. If they are observed, then be sure to eliminate them before the trip.
After you set everything up and start riding, for the first time there will be an abundant release of lubricant through the cuffs of the bicycle fork pants. Don’t worry, this is normal. Over time, excess oil will be squeezed out, and this process will stop. During this period, do not be lazy, and do not forget to wash off excess lubricant after each trip.
Fork maintenance intervals
The frequency of changing the lubricant of a bicycle fork depends not least on the road surface on which you are riding. If your routes contain an abundance of dust, mud, sand and other abrasive material, then the frequency of service should be increased. Here are the average figures after which maintenance should be performed.
Approximately every 700-800 km, the oil seals should be disassembled and lubricated, and every 4000-5000 km the entire fork is moved and lubricated.
As you may have noticed, removing, disassembling and lubricating a mountain or city bike suspension fork at home is not that difficult. The main thing is to treat this process responsibly and do everything consistently. The better you take care of your iron horse, the longer it will delight you with its trouble-free work.
Bicycle forks overview
A bike fork is a device that allows you to attach a wheel to the bike frame and turn it when needed. A bicycle fork determines the rider’s riding style in many ways. Let’s take a closer look at the types of surebets.
Types of bicycle forks
Suspension “soft” forks
For forks with shock absorbers or “soft forks”, the shock absorber can be spring, oil, or air. Also, these three components (from two to three) can be combined in one fork. This greatly affects the quality of the fork and its cost. The suspension fork first of all reduces the shock and vibration load on the front of the bike: on the steering column, frame, handlebar. And also on your hands. In addition, it reduces the “braking effect” of road irregularities, gently adjusting to them. At the same time, confident bike handling is maintained. A good suspension fork also saves you money by extending the life of a number of components by compensating for shocks.
This is a simple, fixed fork.
Despite the simplicity of the idea of this unit, the “hard” fork has its advantages, for example:
- Its weight is usually less than the weight of the depreciation. By replacing the fork from the shock absorber to the “rigid” one, you can gain in weight from 1 to 1.5 kg.
- Better acceleration, especially when accelerating from the saddle. Those who tried to ride like this know what this is about.
- If you ride in winter, you don’t have to worry about the hard fork‘s performance.
If we compare the suspension forks with “rigid”, the former have a lot of weight. This contributes to the loss of speed, when the suspension fork is swinging, part of the force is spent on damping. However, progress does not stand still, and the forks are becoming more and more lightweight. They have long had settings that allow you to adjust the stiffness (shock absorption) or just block the stroke.
Suspension fork assemblies
- The spring is an element that works in compression. Suppresses the main load, can be steel, pneumatic or titanium.
- Damper. an element that dampens (dampens) vibrations. The principle of its operation is in fast compression and slow return to the initial state. Can be air, oil or elastomeric.
- Damper adjustment
Types of suspension forks
It all starts with quite good forks like RST Suntour. this is a low class, suitable for beginners. This fork can be seen on a walking bike. Their move corresponds to what is written on the fork. Such a bicycle fork is reliable, will withstand a rider weighing up to 100 kg, and will last more than one season. Over the years, of course, there will be breakdowns, but as practice has shown, they are insignificant. Repair will cost quite inexpensively. These forks are quite heavy. That is why this fork is suitable for cycling and not suitable for extreme riding.
Elastomer spring forks
The design is simple! This is a spring fork with built-in elastomers. shock-absorbing devices. The elastomer itself is a rod made of polymer material, or a rod with special air valves, which acts as a damper. This plug is reliable and fairly inexpensive. The disadvantage of this fork is that the elastomers freeze at low temperatures. It is undesirable to ride in the cold with such a fork, it can break. These forks work like this: the spring contains an elastomer. a small rubber, aluminum or composite tube that prevents the spring from expanding too quickly on return. It turns out that everything works due to friction. This is not the most reliable job and it is not durable. Most of these plugs are not adjustable. Alternatively, only the preload (Preload) or the locking of the fork (LockOut) are regulated.
In such forks, instead of a spring, air, which acts as a shock-absorbing element. The air plug is already closer to the professional level of the equipment. Light weight, but I must say that during extreme riding it can leak air due to a decrease in the density of the cuffs. These forks are great for XC. Air forks have the ability to adjust. Preload, in a very wide range. Adjustable by Rebound (adjusting the rebound speed of the suspension fork), can be LockOut. Many people think that an air fork is the best option. In many ways, they are right. Tip: if you often ride a bike with such a fork, the oil seals will soon become unusable and the main thing is to change them quickly! Postponed maintenance will give you a real opportunity to “screw up” the plug, along with more expensive parts.
Air Oil Forks
Air serves as a spring in this fork, and an oil cartridge dampens shocks. Air / oil forks last long. proven! Their downside is that you need to constantly monitor the pressure in the cartridge. And the plus is less sensitivity to temperature extremes. Repair and maintenance is the same as for air plugs. The main thing is not to start, monitor and change consumables as they wear out.
Oil spring forks
The damper in such forks is a cartridge filled with oil. The steel spring remains the same as in the previous versions. These plugs are much better quality but also more expensive. The oil spring fork is built for real loads. They are reliable, long-lasting and easy to configure. The disadvantages are weight and high price. But, as you know: “the miser pays twice”, so do not deny yourself the good things!
Most suspension forks are built on the “spyglass” principle (a smaller diameter tube inside a larger diameter tube). Pipes with a large diameter. “pants”, they contain a shock absorber. And also on the “pants” are internal pipes. “legs”. Cuffs are installed at their junction. to prevent dust and dirt from entering the inside of the fork. Inexpensive forks can have rubber boots over their “legs”. The legs of the fork are usually connected with a gorilla to reinforce the structure.
The diameter of the fork tube is measured in inches familiar to everyone (1 inch equals. 2.54 cm).
Forks, both damping and rigid, have four basic standards:
- 1″ inch is the old standard as it used to be on Soviet bicycles
- 1″ and 1/8″ inch. (inch and one eighth). the most common
- 1″ and 1/4″ (inch and one fourth)
- 1″ and 1/2 ” (inch and one second)
Most modern suspension forks have an inch and eighth (1 and 1/8) head tube. Manufacturers of bicycles, bicycle frames and steering columns support this generally accepted standard. An important parameter is the length of the fastening pipe itself. usually about 10 inches.
Also, forks vary in wheel size, as you’ve probably figured out by now. Accordingly, there are forks for children’s bicycles under wheels 10″, 12″, sixteen”, 18″, 20″, teenage or extreme 24″ and adults 26″, 27.5″, 28″ and 29″
Different forks have different feather spacing. There are brake mounts for vibration racks and disc brakes (they are divided into two standards IS and PM). This is important, as it may turn out that you buy a fork, and it will be possible to install one type of brake on it.
According to the type of attachment, the forks are divided into:
- Threaded (headset)
- Aheadset (both amortized and rigid).
Most modern plugs are threaded. The difference between these types of forks comes from the types of steering columns and the mounting of the forks in them. In threaded columns, the bearing is pressed with nuts. One cone nut followed by a whisker washer and locknut.
In a threadless column, the bearing holds the stem. There is no thread on the fork tube, but the stem is fixed with a so-called anchor (the rod that expands and holds the stem, the anchor is inserted into the fork tube). There are fewer and fewer threaded plugs, so it is advisable to switch to a threadless plug. It really is better than threaded. In threaded forks, the stem is mounted in the tube using an expanding mount.
According to the travel classes, forks are divided into:
- Short stroke. stroke 25. 40 mm. Shock absorption for motocross, hybrid, touring and city bikes.
- Medium. stroke 50. 75 mm or stroke 75. 100 mm. Suspension forks for hiking, active riding and Cross-Country racing.
- Long stroke with a stroke from 120 to 300 mm and more. Usually these are suspension forks for specialized bikes for downhill bikes.
By arrangement, forks are classified into:
- Conventional. forks with a structure resembling a telescope. Long-stroke forks are usually made in the form of “double-crown” (two links connecting the “legs” of the fork).
- Inverted. also a “telescope” structure, but the “pistons” of the forks are at the bottom. This reduces “unsprung mass” for better traction. These are heavier and more expensive. It is believed that such forks work out every little thing better.
- Specific. forks for bicycles with a multi-piston and multi-link system, as well as forks with one “leg”.
Adjusting the forks
Preload. Adjusts the spring rate in the suspension fork. If the fork is not expensive, the Preload adjustment has little effect on the actual spring rate. It is regulated by an external regulator, or by replacing the springs (springs can be changed in terms of stiffness, and are indicated by different color marking).
Fork Rebound Speed Adjustment. Return Speed.
Compression. Adjusts the compression speed of the suspension fork (inverse of Rebound). Both settings will be useful to you. They are adjusted using a knob at the top of the fork or at the bottom of the “leg” of the fork. This setting serves to pass the area with unevenness even faster. Or, if there is a mega drop ahead of you, then the rebound should be adjusted so that it becomes slower, and the fork does not jerk into the air when taking off from the drop.
LockOut. Locks the travel of the suspension fork. The LockOut adjustment makes the fork “stiff”. This feature is indispensable when you pedal while riding your bike up a hill. To prevent the fork from “dangling” and you do not have to spend additional efforts to stabilize it, use LockOut.
Extension Control (adjusting the length of the fork). the essence lies in blocking the travel of the fork, which is very necessary at the time of overcoming steep climbs, as well as when power pedaling. When driving on asphalt, the ability to lock the fork in a compressed state is very useful.
There are several well-known suspension fork manufacturers that cyclists trust for good reason:
- Rock shox
- SR SunTour
Correct bike fork alignment
Front suspension. a damping device to smooth out vibrations on uneven roads and rough terrain. The node is located in the part of the same name. the plug. Shock absorber functions. to damp all vibrations, improve ride comfort, reduce the load on the frame and wheel rims.
The front suspension is an adjustable piece. The efficiency of real movement will depend on the degree of its adjustment. For example, insufficient shock absorber travel will not allow leveling large vibrations when hitting obstacles, and shock loads on the frame will increase.
A suspension that is too soft will degrade the dynamic performance of the bike. In general, full compliance of all parameters with the stated requirements is required. In this article, we will look at how to soften the fork on a bicycle, adjust the compression and adjust the travel speed.
Adjusting fork softness on a bike
Preloading the suspension fork travel. preload. allows you to set the spring rate. When optimized, the damping system dampens vibrations where necessary and maintains firmness on level ground.
The adjustment consists in changing the distance between the upper “unloaded” and the lower point of maximum pressure.
Let’s look at a few examples:
In the first case, the fork travel is close to the maximum possible. On the road, this will result in constant vibrations of the springs “up and down” under the pressure of the cyclist. Interestingly, obstacles in the form of bumps and potholes such a fork will work out badly.
The second option is a high rigidity of the fork, the stroke length is less than 50% of the original. This value is not enough for the smooth passage of large obstacles.
In the third situation, the shock absorber is fully tuned, allowing you to effectively repel impacts without compromising the dynamics of the bike. On average, correct setting is 70% to 90% of fork travel of unloaded distance.
The preload method depends on the type of shock absorber:
- On spring models, the amount of compression is manually changed using a special regulator. When replacing the spring, a more rigid shock absorber is selected to increase the load, and vice versa.
- For spring-air forks, the stiffness is adjusted through the pressure in the chamber.
- On pneumatic shock absorbers, the fork travel is adjusted by changing the pressure in the positive sector.
You can measure the load in a stationary position, while sitting on a bicycle or while moving. For accurate results, adjustments are recommended in small approaches.
Front suspension compression types
Compression allows you to vary the compression speed of the fork for smooth travel and damping. There are three compression options on the professional-grade front fork:
- low speed,
- high speed,
The first type of compression stabilizes the bike on bumps. Softness, precision in passing obstacles, comfort. all this is low speed compression. In fact, its setting is preload, which has already been mentioned above.
High speed compression is responsible for reducing the shock loads on the wheel, frame and rider. Slows down the shock on landing, so the bike doesn’t bounce.
The fork lock function allows you to set it to 100% stiffness. By setting the suspension to a fixed position, the cyclist rolls the bike onto flat roads. For driving on rough roads, it is better not to block the fork.
On some air models (eg Dual Air), the pressure in both the positive and negative chambers can be adjusted separately. Excessive compression on the negative side will make the fork overly soft, and the bike itself will begin to sway on the go.
Adjusting the shock absorber rebound speed
Rebound is the rate at which the fork returns to its original position under load. The response speed of the rebound mechanism must be such that the shock absorber does not fire right away and can absorb the impact from the next obstacle.
How to determine the effectiveness of a bicycle fork‘s rebound? When driving over bumps, bumps are damped before they hit the steering wheel. the rebound is well tuned. The shock absorber does not work on small obstacles. minor adjustments are needed. And finally, a neglected case, when the hang-up is very late.
On-the-fly rebound setup:
- Find a road or path with unevenness.
- Set the regulator to the fastest bounce.
- Accelerate, feel like check how hard it hits the steering wheel.
- Tighten the adjuster until the beating stops.
It is important to tune the Rebound so that the bumps do not hit the wheel while maintaining a smooth ride. If the rebound is set to the correct value, but the shock is unpredictable, you may need to readjust the fork travel and compression.
It is recommended to adjust the front fork not immediately, but in the “Preload. Compression. Rebound” sequence. Individual selection of each parameter will improve the performance of the shock absorber and provide a comfortable ride.
DIY bike brake repair
No matter how cool your bike is, it’s almost impossible to completely avoid the problems associated with it. This should be understood and taken into account, because the flawless operation of the rotor and the entire system of rim brakes, rotation of the wheels and switches largely depends on how carefully the bicycle owner treats his vehicle. The pads and cables connecting all their components must be in proper condition, otherwise, overhaul of the entire system is simply inevitable.
It is impossible to avoid all problems. However, you can protect yourself from most of them. To do this, you need to know what the operation of the entire system is like, what the rotor, caliper, each lever and all available handles are. You should also understand what all the bolts on the bike are responsible for, and understand what, in general, the brakes are.
Some of them work properly and do not need any adjustment at all. However, such luck is rare, and often you have to answer the question of how to adjust the brakes on a bicycle, in an accelerated manner. Not everyone is accustomed to monitoring the condition of both rim brakes and disc brakes, therefore, most often, problems “appear” suddenly, and require immediate attention.
In order to avoid such unforeseen problems, and postpone the repair of your wheels and disks, it is better to check them once again and make sure that everything is in order. If this was not done in a timely manner, it is important to remember what adjustment of the brakes on a bicycle is, and how to do it correctly.
Checking and adjusting: where to start?
In answering this question, it should be noted, first of all, that not all parts need adjustment. If the brakes react quickly and act immediately after the handle is clamped, abruptly and without delay, then most likely such parts do not need repairs, and it will not be difficult to properly adjust them on the bike with your own hands. This process will take several minutes and does not require any special approach or skills.
The situation is much more complicated with those systems in which there were some failures. Examples include increased chain-to-core disc brake clearance, loose bolts, sticky handles, or a defective rotor. Most often, the problem is that the lever responsible for tightening the cable works slowly due to the fact that the brakes are not adjusted correctly. This type of breakdown is the most common and easiest to repair.
Often, in order to adjust the brakes with such a breakdown, it is enough to simply tighten the cables and thus “make” them work correctly. Sometimes you need to tighten the bolts, lubricate the rotor or brake pads. In some cases, this is not enough and it is necessary to completely replace one or several components of the system at once.
Simply put, sometimes it’s enough to just spin the wheels one at a time and make sure that the braking systems are working properly. But it also happens that the cables or the rotor need to be tuned. Such problems should not be treated negligently, because both the comfort and safety of the cyclist depend on how correctly all the parts of the bike work.
How to adjust the brakes?
In order to set them up correctly, and avoid common mistakes, it is important to understand what they are and how they differ. Repairing disc brakes is somewhat different from working on adjusting rim brakes, and you should not forget about it.
Determining the type of brakes is not the only part of setting them up. It includes a number of steps to help get even the most frustrated brake pads back to normal. Below you can see the sequence of the setup process:
- The first step is to check the correct type of brakes. As already mentioned above, it also depends on what actions will need to be taken next;
- The next step is scrolling the wheels and sequentially squeezing the right and left handles. This will help detect the problem of both disc and rim brakes, if any at all;
- Next, you need to check the condition of each cable, and find out how quickly they react to signals about braking;
- The bolts located on each of the handles will help you tighten the cable so that it responds in a timely manner to the signals given;
- In cases where it is not possible to adjust the cable by hand, the caliper can be used. With its help, you can easily pull up the desired cable, and adjust it to the desired state. The bolt at the end of the cable, as a rule, is tightened to the stop;
- The next thing to check is the brake pads. Repairing this part of the system is difficult, so you should not start it. As a rule, regular lubrication of the pads helps to increase their life, and greatly simplifies the adjustment and repair of the entire rim or disc brake system;
- When there is not enough lubricant to keep the pads running, it is worth checking the condition of the bicycle wheels. Adjusting them may help to avoid costly disc brake replacement. When it comes to adjusting rim brakes, this problem does not arise. the pads in them can be easily replaced with new ones or tightened.
Overall, these tips should be enough to get you started with what brakes are and how they work. However, rim and disc brakes have their own fundamental differences, which would be unreasonable to ignore.
The first thing to note is that rim systems are much more common than disc systems. The latter have recently entered the market, and therefore are not yet in such wide demand among buyers.
There are significantly fewer problems with disc systems than with rim systems. with the right attitude to the bike and careful use of each handle, lever and wheels, there will be no problems at all. With proper attitude to your bike, it will not need repairs, and a simple setup will not cause any difficulties.
how to adjust disc brakes on a bicycle