You'll probably never hear "bed springs" on your dirt bike - you know like the car that sounds like an antique bed frame when rolling over the slightest dip in the road.
That doesn't mean the suspension on your dirt bike doesn't require maintenance. Riders often neglect this crucial system, which can make or break a Moto, because they mistake the routine adjustments for the day's ride as regular maintenance.
All moving parts need general upkeep for optimum performance and longevity. A Motocross suspension is no different whether you race, ride trails or spend your weekends on the sand dunes. That's not to say adjusting the suspension is not maintenance. It's actually the first step.
Riding on hard pack with a suspension setup for soft dirt, carrying a rider 20 pounds heavier than you, not only wears you down but ages the suspension faster than if you rode with the appropriate settings to the terrain and your preferences. Dialing in the suspension (you've heard that before right?) goes a long way towards increasing your skills and enjoying a longer ride but using the same suspension parts for years to come.
Therefore, when making suspension adjustments include the following:
- Set the sag
- Set fork height
- Set fork/shock adjustments
- Record your adjustments
Record adjustments? Yes, grab a notepad (because you won't remember) and write down the settings. This greatly speeds the adjustment process the next time you switch from the track to trails and ensures you're dialing in the exact settings you had the last time.
To effectively make suspension adjustments a part of maintenance you'll want a Slacker Sag Scale; if you have spring forks you'll need Fork Bleeders and if you have air forks you'll need a fork air pump, among other suspension tools.
For additional information on suspension tuning as well as recommended tools, read:
Keep the Suspension Components Clean
Hopefully the post-ride clean-up is already part of your routine once home. If so, then you've already checked this box. Keeping suspension parts clean and lubricated just like the chain and sprockets or other external moving parts helps prevent corrosion and early failure. Therefore, grease the shock, linkage and swingarm bearings. It's also a good idea to clean these parts occasionally - actually take them apart, clean and lubricate. The SKF fork mud scraper is an excellent addition to prevent wear and tear on the fork seals from the sun and mud.
Change Fork Oil
Every rider knows to regularly change the motor oil but the fork oil often gets overlooked. If you're the type that rides and rides until the seals leak you're throwing money away along with a great ride. Change the fork oil by following the manufacturer's recommended intervals and you'll increase the life of the fork seals and bushings but also contribute to a better ride.
Change the Fork Bushings...
...with the fork seals. Think of the bushings and seals like the sprockets and chain. When it's time to change one, change both, regardless of wear. Riders often replace the seals and oil without new bushings then shortly after the seals leak because the old bushings cause the new seals to oval out quicker. Do it right the first time and you'll experience less frustration and longer suspension life.
In many respects, suspension embodies the red-headed step child of the dirt bike. It's there - only dealt with when needed. Lots of riders, especially on the trails can run for hours on end without much problem operationally. The day after soreness is attributed to a hard day's riding and a few months later the bad suspension is considered normal wear and tear.
But with a little TLC, you'll enjoy a smoother and longer ride day and the suspension components on your dirt bike last a lot longer.