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Low-maintenance and reliable suspension

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4/10/2022 2:22 PM

I am sure lots of folks have information and anecdotes on this subject.

What is your take on the most reliable and low-maintenance suspension products? I know this is impossible to actually quantify, but I would like to hear some theories.

I have owned many forks and shocks from RS and Fox. I have dabbled in DVO as well.

I recently got a Cane Creek Helm air. The service interval numbers are pretty standard. That said, you need to send your fork/shock to a certified service center for 100-hour damper service. They don't have instructions online and don't sell the required parts. I noticed that when the Helm gets close to that suggested service interval...there have been some noticeable performance issues including knocking noises and rebound damping that is not fully functioning.

I have no problem sending a fork and shock in once a year to get some love. But I am a busy guy with young kids. I only get to ride a few times a week and these rides are very important for my own mental health, I can't be without my fork during the riding season.

What has been the most reliable for you guys? Personally, I had great luck with RS over the past decade and a half. I have blown a Charger damper in a Lyrik and had issues with the old Monarch Plus but that's about it. No bushing issues, no CSU noises, nothing. I have had a few Super Deluxe's and they have been bomber.

Fox has been solid but I have had some bushing problems in a couple 36's and the older version of the X2 blew up on me while on vacation in Europe.

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4/10/2022 2:38 PM

I have a tendency to keep buying bikes with a Yoke driven clevis, as a result of my fine decision, I've blown up my fair share of shocks.

Specialized Enduro EVO - Several Ohlins TTX22M's, mostly seal head failures, one snapped shaft. Surprising considering the damper shaft thickness on them (Yoke driven clevis)

Specialized Demo 8 Sworks (2018) - Again, TTX22M's, only one failure, the shock actually un-threaded from itself! I snapped 3 of those frames lol, so shocks weren't all my problems, The rose joints (bearing eyelet) popped out constantly. I ended up going back to standard bushing/spacer arrangement with Specialized approval.

Stumpy Evo (2019) this is where it all went bad. Again Yoke driven clevis.
- 2 Fox DPX2's
- 3 Cane Creek IL coils. CC were fantastic, they really worked WITH me and wanted to resolve the issue. In the end they gave me a DB Air CS for my troubles, which was trouble free. With lots of back and forward to their engineers they ended up developing the "yoke approved" IL coil which was great news for all I thought, hats off to Cane Creek!

2020 - Commencal Meta AM29, Linkage driven Single Pivot (with a yoke lol)
2 Fox DHX2's, was kind of expecting that one. Should be air only those bikes.

I've also had Trunnion mounted shock bikes that killed them fast.

For forks, had very good luck. I converted one Fox 36 to coil with the vorsprung kit, you could service that once a decade with the amount of oil it holds!

Take note, I'm not fast, rather a intermediate rider at around 95kg (210lb?) Shit happens, but seems it happens to me a lot.

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4/10/2022 3:32 PM

I have a 36 grip 2 fork and DHX2 that i run 11 months of the year - for the other month i have a bomber z1 and bomber cr shock.
Its a small investment buying a cheaper fork/shock but it means i dont have any down time.
When i ran RS, it was lyrik/SD ult. spare wise i had a yari and Std deluxe(got these second hand cheap and were good as )

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4/10/2022 7:54 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/11/2022 11:53 AM

I've found Rock Shox and Fox single-tube air shocks to be pretty much invincible. The old Monarch Plus, Super Deluxe air shocks, Fox Float X, and RP23 could take an unbelievable amount of punishment. But those were all on non-clevis/non-yoke/non-trunnion bikes. I feel like I blow up the damper on coil shocks more often.

For forks, you pretty much have to stay on top of lower leg service intervals if you want to live a happy life. Otherwise you start eating seals, then bushings, then stanchions, all of which gets expensive fast.

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4/11/2022 3:37 AM

Get DVO and service it yourself. It’s super easy

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4/11/2022 4:32 AM

I blew a Charger bladder and although I did quiet a bit of lower-leg services I ate up one of the stanchions' coating after 4 years. The other stanchion was totally fine. I think the problem was a little too tight of a bushing.

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4/11/2022 8:58 AM

As noted by others, I think serviceability and availability of parts is almost more important than reliability. Most suspension products will perform much better and survive longer if you do an annual service on them, so having easy access to replacement dust seals/foam rings/parts is essential. In Canada, there are many more distributors of SRAM/Rockshox parts which makes them a bit easier to service; Fox went from easy to difficult to source over the past few years but they are still relatively available. That's the downside to something more boutique and uncommon in your area, parts and service may be difficult to find. You will probably have to bring your bike in for some level of service once a year or so (unless you do it all yourself), and having that only take a week instead of a month is much better if it's eating into your riding time. Where I live I end up parking the bike for 3-4 months so I just get mine serviced over winter so not a huge issue for me though.

Also, I would be careful to consider only more recent and relevant developments. I blew up a Manitou shock and had a terrible Marzocchi fork on a bike, but that was over 10 years ago and nothing in their current products or service is the same as then. Anyone remember those Fox CTD shocks too? Yet now the Float DPS and Float X seem pretty good. To maximize potential durability, I would look at forks/shocks that are at least a year old and see what the long term reviews are saying. You can be pretty confident that the new Pike/Lyrik/Zeb won't have any unknown issues at this point since they've been out for a while.

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4/11/2022 11:08 AM

I've been between RS and Fox lately but dabbled in Cane Creek. I appreciated the tune-ability and mods on the CC, I had a bladder installed on my DB Air to replace the IFP and it was pretty smooth. Fox is Fox, its great, its looks good and it goes up and down reliably. But I have a special place in my heart for RS for one particular reason..

For around 200$ you can buy all the tools you need to rebuild pretty much any Rockshox product (not the reverb) in the back of your car if you have a spot to hold a vice. I often joke I could rebuild a super deluxe in a bike park parking lot on a windy day. I wouldn't suggest it, but its not hard and Sram has every step for every product in their online service manuals. The first time I rebuilt a Monarch I did it having never even opened a damper before I just did step by step in the manual they have on their service site with no help after I got the right shaft clamps, the 600psi RS shock pump and the IFP pump filler adapter.

The newer charger dampers aren't as friendly as the first gen ones, but they also don't slurp up bath oil and explode the bladder like the gen 1 either. The Deluxe series and Monarchs are a cake walk for the most part although the Vivid air is better left to a service center for the most part for garage mechanics, that's a puzzle. Because of this and how well they work, RS gets my vote even if i'm not riding it at the time....(not the reverb)

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4/11/2022 12:05 PM

Glad to hear the Rock Shox manuals are good and being used. There's a big team that puts a lot of effort into them.

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4/11/2022 12:52 PM

Dave_Camp wrote:

Glad to hear the Rock Shox manuals are good and being used. There's a big team that puts a lot of effort into them.

Huge thanks to that team, I appreciate them. My Jr. Techs however, hate me for using them lol. Every shock or fork they touch, they need to have a tablet with the appropriate manual open and take it step by step so they don't miss a thing. To easy to get comfortable doing them and miss something small on a slight different shock when you're doing them regularly.

On the customer side it's a huge advantage to say "Yes, I can have this shock done for you in 2 hours and save your road trip you've been planning for 6 months that you're about to leave for" instead of "Sorry, this will have to be sent to a service center and take 2-3 weeks to get back. Sucks about your trip."

I know there are a few other company's that this works with as well, but the parts availability and attention to detail in the SRAM manuals is second to none.

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4/11/2022 2:44 PM

Jrp wrote:

Get DVO and service it yourself. It’s super easy

I second this. Im typically pretty hard on suspension, going throw about 2 full rear shock rebuilds on both rs and fox, and always one full damper service or rebuild on my fork in a season. DVO has been the only suspension thats been reliable for me throughout a full season of abuse with no blown dampers or shocks. And the last bike I ran DVO suspension on was easily the hardest season of riding I've ever put on a bike, with well over 100 days

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4/11/2022 3:26 PM

After blowing several cc db airs, and fox x2's I got sick of the downtime between rebuilds. I finally got a super deluxe and the ease of a rebuild will have me on rock shox for the foreseeable future

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4/11/2022 3:34 PM

All suspension is high maintenance and should be serviced once a year at minimum, its just some models will survive longer before completely failing than others......Send it away in the off season every year and you will never have to worry about it blowing up out of nowhere.

Coil shocks are for sure more susceptible in high-stress bikes, eg the clevis-driven specializeds as you have a very long shock with only a 9-13mm shaft to prevent buckling, along with a coil spring that is trying to twist the shock too! So with a bike like that you will want to be careful about what you fit. Without showing bias, there is a high end brand who will use steel shafts in this application and aluminium in others. Besides that you would probably need an air shock like the new Float X. But I would still have it serviced frequently so you can check the internals for wear.

Generally speaking Fox & Rockshox are still making the most durable product out there still, the Super Deluxe has been one of the most reliable shocks I've known full stop! Cane Creek is improving their serviceability as we speak so I think you will find them much better very soon too

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4/11/2022 5:31 PM

I've had similar reliability from RS and Fox air spring forks, which has been good!
As for shocks, I've moved away from air-sprung shocks. Disappointing reliability from RS and CC, especially on proprietary yoke driven frames.
Amazing performance and reliability on current DHX2 coil shock 4 years with 1 service.
If weight is not a concern, coil-sprung suspension will improve reliability...IMO

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4/11/2022 5:44 PM

Got an X-Fusion trace on what is now my backup bike. The Pike it replaced musta had a timer in it to be rebuilt, though I agree SRAM makes rebuilds super easy. This X Fusion hasn’t seen a lick of attention in 3 years(doesn’t get much hard use though) and isn’t suggesting anything be done.

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4/11/2022 6:57 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/12/2022 7:11 AM

Some people are just rough on suspension for whatever reason. Personally, I ride quite a bit and I’m 205-215lbs in harsh terrain that’s tough on bikes generally. I’ve not had great reliability with any one brand, it’s been pretty much hit or miss by individual item.

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N+1

4/11/2022 8:43 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/11/2022 8:47 PM

As a clevis-driven-shock bike owner (Commencal Meta AM '20), I have done quite a bit of research before fitting a coil shock on my bike. Commencal used the Fox and Rock Shox coil shocks stock on the top-end '19 builds, but none in 2020. Maybe because of failures, but I haven't heard of any except Brash's experiences.

EXT and DVO both use 14MM shafts so I went with a Jade X since the EXT was out of my budget. I got the one with the beige alloy shaft, but they replaced them as a running change for a thicker "HD" black shaft. Even with the stock shaft, I haven't had any issue whatsowever in 2 years and there is no visible wear on the shaft. I just got a new "regular" Jade to have more adjustments and had DVO replace the stock shaft for the HD one and the stronger eyelet. That should be even more bombproof so I'm not worried. I got the HD shaft to fit on my Jade X when I service it this summer.

Ibis also sold many thousand Ripmo AFs stock with the coil DVO Jade X and I haven't seen or heard of any broken shafts/shocks (I have been looking at the form thread on MTBR since 2019 just for this issue). One or two had unevern wear, but it was because of their misaligned frames.

I'd say, if you want a coil on a yoke-driven shock frame, I'd go with a shock that has a bigger diameter shaft. AND check your frame for alignment. I have exchanged my then-brand-new Meta AM frame for another one because it was misaligned. Mine is straight (pretty much, at least when it's all bolted together) so that helps to alleviate uneven shaft wear or breakage. I didn't want to own a frame that wasn't straight and would use up shocks, especially since I wanted to use a coil.

Thumbs up to DVO for the durable products and awesome customer service.

Although, I have to say that the budget X-Fusion O2R shock on my Marin Rift Zone blew up twice over a year, so it hasn't been very reliable. It was a 210x55 shock on a 120mm travel bike so pretty low leverage ratio, and the frame was super straight. A friend had his X-Fusion coil shock do the same a few times too, and his Metric had a few issues too, so all of those turned me off from X-Fusion.

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4/11/2022 10:39 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/11/2022 11:47 PM

I'm also a busy guy with kids. For me, the most important thing is to be able to service both fork and shock at home.
I currently have a Meta AM 2019, RS Super Deluxe Coil and Lyrik RC2 (the predecessor of the Ultimate). When it comes to serviceability and reliability both fork and shock are great. There is absolutely no problem for me with the yoke, shock bushings are holding strong (but I am a 72kg guy).
But, there is always a but - RS shocks have a very strange damping circuit, heavily optimized for ...uphils. And it's a no-go for Meta 29 or any bike which is not progressive enough. In general it's bad, but if you have a very progressive frame you can go with lighter spring and offset this damping platform a bit. Confirmed that with running RS air damper. After some tuning it works great though. So to sum my experience up:
- RS forks are reliable, work ok, you can grab them used for good prices ans are easily serviceable at home
- Single-tube coil shocks are the easiest to service and maintain, but be sure to have a properly progressive frame
- Single-tube shocks may require revalving because their settings range is much more limited. But you can tune them at home and even changing the oil viscosity can change the LS/LR settings visibly.

For now, I would most probably go with the Bomber CR shock, since its internals look exactly like my RS after tuning with $200 parts wink The only inconvenience is the needle you need to pressure the IFP chamber (like in most foxes) but it can be made at home cheaply with some creativity. Don't know about DVO. Older fox DHX also looks perfect.





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4/12/2022 1:09 AM

I personally recommend running a marsh guard even if you live in a dry location: it will protect your fork seals from a ton of dust and grit.

I have found reliability in suspension to have gone up a ton even in the last 10 years. My 2010-2014 (mostly fox) stuff would wear out fork stanchions despite regular maintenance and blow shocks constantly. I'm 100% problem free on my last 4-5 forks (all RS) apart from a very minor creak on a first gen pike, mostly just doing yearly lower leg services. Still blew one or two shocks, but as mentioned they are relatively easy to rebuild.

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4/12/2022 5:32 AM

@lkubica I'm running a Cane Creek Valt progressive coil on mine, which is supposed to give like 15-20% progression, which gets the '19-20 Meta to around 30% total (kinematicss + spring). For me at 180lbs it's the perfect setup. That's an idea if you want to try something new : )

And I also totally agree with @Eoin's comment on running a Marsh guard or similar. I'm currently running a RRP Proguard Mini 100% of the time only to protect the fork seals and stanchions (I rarely ride during or after rains). I've been using various mudguards for this purpose for the last 10-12 years and it's helped a lot with keeping stanchions and bushings in good condition, which saves maintenance time, which means more riding time!

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4/12/2022 5:57 AM

My experience here so take it with a grain of salt. One HUGE thing I've learned over the years DO NOT USE OFF BRAND FLUIDS. Whatever the manufacturer specs, USE IT. There have been a myriad of tests done by the manufacturer with respect to seal swell and such.

Forks:

*The budget Fox 36/Marzocchi stuff has been king here. To be fair, I've never had a CSU stay completely creek free, so all I'm speaking to here is length of time I can push oil changes, seal changes and general maintenance. GRIP 1 is bomber, and the modern Fox air springs/lowers tolerances awesome when it comes to how supple they stay.

Rear Shocks:

*The deluxe (inline) RS shock has been by far the most bomber rear shock I've had. Next to that would be the RS coil lineup. That said, most shocks don't fail these days, even when really really neglected. YMMV.

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4/12/2022 7:16 AM

lkubica wrote:

I'm also a busy guy with kids. For me, the most important thing is to be able to service both fork and shock at home.
I ...more

Avalanche sells the parts for the CR to get rid of the needle. $34.95 but it does replace the entire end cap.

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N+1

4/12/2022 7:57 AM

Regardless of brand, cleaning your stanchions before every ride to minimize how much dust/grit sneaks under the dust seals will improve the lifespan of your fork & shock. It's simple to do but makes a genuine difference.

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4/12/2022 2:26 PM

The Bomber CR is great, the only trunnion coil shock I couldn't kill. I really like the fact I could change the tune at home quite easily with minimal special tools. I found they were quite overdamped though, even a M/M was pretty full on for me and I'm fat. Combine that with a Cane Creek progressive spring you are in a good spot.

I feel like with those progressive springs, controlling HSR would be beneficial.

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4/12/2022 2:41 PM

Thanks everyone. Really great information and knowledge

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4/13/2022 9:37 AM

RS gets my vote for ease of home service/videos/step by steps and they have been completely reliable.

Fox depending on the shock can require more specialized tools but no issue reliability for me.

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4/16/2022 10:20 AM

metadave wrote:

I've been between RS and Fox lately but dabbled in Cane Creek. I appreciated the tune-ability and mods on the CC, I had a ...more

This. Having recently been preparing a shopping list to service the 36 Float GRIP(1) fork _ONLY_, costing over 300 € for the official tools, buying RS tools is a breath of fresh air. I haven't spent 300 € on it yet in total (bought the piggyback wrench, the inflation adapter, SD IFP depth tool and the Reverb depth tool) and can deal with most of the current Rock Shox stuff. Plus looking at the service manuals, RS is dead easy to service, while FOX uses some truly idiotic steps when it comes to the fork at least (have they improved inflating the IFP chamber on the inline shocks yet? Or is it still the plastic ball routine).

Credit where it's due, for the 36 air spring, you replace the seals only, not the complete sealhead, so there is less waste than with RS, but price wise it's about the same.

As for shocks, AngryBikeMechanic has a soft spot for DPX2 shocks - apparently the like to break the shafts?
https://www.instagram.com/p/CbbEfosrXN8/



There was a mention of 'just service it yourself'. Not all people have the space or the desire to do it. Some people have both but not the time. While it's not hard, doesn't take long (the 50h service on my Lyrik and SD takes... an hour or so taking it nice and slow), it's just not for everybody. So taking care for it is a must.

Personally, currently, I'm not buying/riding anything other than Rock Shox because I do the services myself and the manuals, the tools and the materials are the most easy to get to.

Overall, in my opinion it makes sense to go for the 'mainstream' brands when it comes to components if you don't have backup bikes as that will make it the most likely to be up and running the quickest if/when something goes wrong, regardless of where in the world you are. The best, the lightest, the most performing components are worth diddly squat laying on a workbench (either at home or in a shop) waiting for some parts.

I know we're talking about suspension here, but the same arguments hold true for Sram brakes in my opinion. While I do really like the feel of Sram (Code RSC) brakes as well (a big factor), the fact there are actual spare parts available as opposed to just a complete lever or a complete caliper makes so much more sense. And the bleeding procedure, my god. I had the joy of shortening and bleeding a set of Shimano brakes for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I was saved by a friend who had the insert mounting tool and I do realise Shimano's bleeding procedure is very much along the lines of automotive, but geeeezus... The fact you can use a torx wrench to install a new olive when shortening a hose on Sram brakes and the dual syringe bleeding procedure (bleeding edge FTW, that things needs to be added to the lever as well!!) are SO MUCH BETTER. The dual syringe procedure is so good I even adapted it to the Super Deluxe smile

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4/16/2022 10:52 AM

anotherbikerguy wrote:

Regardless of brand, cleaning your stanchions before every ride to minimize how much dust/grit sneaks under the dust seals ...more

The amount of dust riding on a gravel road for 5 minutes that will be deposited on the stanchions will make cleaning them before taking off more or less moot, let alone riding if it's the least bit sloppy out there...

If anything, the zip tie past the wiper seal method to remove air from the lowers or to open them up to add some special sauce oil is something you need to be REALLY careful of as it's a great way to introduce some dirt into the wiper seal or even past it. FWIW, I've never done these things and don't see a value or a gain in doing it. Just buy a fork with blower valves (RS will soon have an option with that too apparently) and do a lowers service if you want it to run smoothly.

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4/16/2022 4:27 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/16/2022 4:31 PM

@Primoz, the "clean your wipers after a ride" trick is less for people living somewhere dusty, and more for those of us living somewhere muddy. If wet dirt dries and hardens on your stanchion, it's pretty unlikely it's going to get entirely removed by the dust wiper. So instead, you have a hardened barnacle scratching past your dust wiper and getting deposited somewhere in your lowers. That's why "clean your wipers after a ride" is the number 1 maintenance tip you hear every Fox or SRAM tech in the Pacific NW.

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4/17/2022 1:19 AM

Point on that but with the surface finish wiper seals require there isn't much space for the barnacle to fit into.

If anything, the dust/particles getting stuck in the crack between the wiper lip and the stanchion is more of a problem, as it will be scratching the stanchion with every movement. And wiping it won't do much as the same will happen in the situation I mentioned (or when the dirt is still wet). Luckily we have limestone over here, but the French alps (and PNW if I'm not mistaken) should be worse for that as granite is much harder than limestone smile

I wonder how the geography of where people ride affects reliability and wear of suspension actually. Do Sram and Fox have some data on that?

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