Mountain Biking

Mountain Bike Fork Servicing and Tyres

My MTB forks are nothing special. They’re a pair of SR Suntour XCR’s 100MM which aren’t really up to the job and as a result they’re probably worse than having rigid forks. At least rigid forks would handle consistently. I decided to try and service mine myself so I bought some 5W oil in preperation. I’d been on the website and downloaded the workshop book. Problem is these are 2010 forks and the PDF only covers up to 2009.

Replacing the oil should be straight forward. I’d emailed SR suntour service department to find out how much oil my particular model takes but I hadn’t had a reply yet. As most of the forks in the book have a minimum of 80ml, I thought I’d start with that and work my way up depending on the feel. Wheel and brake caliper off and then the two bolts on the bottom to remove the lowers.

I pulled these off and muddy water came spilling out, like they’d thrown up in protest to the abuse they’ve received over the years. I was also surpised to find out that these aren’t oil filled forks at all. One side has the spring and in the other side is a nitrogen filled gas cylinder. Much like the kind of gas cylinder you find on your car boot. Everything inside was caked in a mixture of grease, mud and water. Especially the slider sleeves…

I cleaned everything up and put them back together anyway. I smeared some grease round the dust seals and put a few drops of oil in the lowers just to help try and keep them smooth for a bit. The gas cylinder seems to have some pitting which doesn’t look good but doesn’t seem to have broken the seal. Looks like it might have been a casting fault or something. The fork tubes are a bit rough in places too and given the wear on the slider sleeves there’s some play in the forks.

They’re well past it really—”You buy cheap, you buy twice” seems fitting here. The only good thing about these forks is the weight, 1700g. To be fair they’re not inteded for anything outside of absorbing the odd bump on blue trails. Still, they feel OK again now and they’ll do me for the 30 mile enduro that I’ve entered on Sunday hopefully.

I also recently bought a Clarks Pre-lube MTB brake cable set and some sintered pads. Much better. One lap of the Kitchener trail at Sherwood Pines on Saturday in the rain and the rear cable’s got grit in it already though. Mechanical disc brakes seem hopeless. The only real solution seems to be to replace them with hydraulics, it’s all money though. It’s never ending with my bike. The hubs are cheap so the bearings can’t be replaced. I’ve stripped them down to the bearings, cleaned them up and re-greased them. I’ll need to get new wheels at some stage though, the races are knackered and I’m amazed that the freehub still functions. It’s just had new tyres, front mech and chain. Not too long ago I upgraded the crankset to an FSA V-Drive MegaExo external BB, I got it for £60 down from around £200 at the time. I should have got a new chain at the same time because it suffered from chain suck on the new rings and ended up putting a kink in the middle ring. I had to replace the middle ring. The winter  really takes it’s toll on all the bearings and seals.

I’ve pretty much failed to train for this event on Sunday so I’m not expecting much as a result. I would like to finish though, travelling over 400 miles for nothing would really suck. I think I’ll be OK, I just hope  the same goes for my bike.

I’ve had Tioga Factory DH’s on for a while and not been particularly impressed. They’re OK in the mud due to the tread pattern but anything else and I’m not confident. I had them on my bike about 15 years ago and loved them. A lot has changed since then though, I’m not as fearless as I was at the age of 14 and tyre technology has come on a fair way. Or at least if I am fearless it’s not matched by my level of skill, I don’t seem to be capable of landing on two wheels anymore. It’s not uncommon for me to fall off. I fell off in the bike park at Sherwood on Saturday. I don’t mind falling of if I don’t hurt myself, it’s entertaining for eveyone else at least. I’m probably better at falling off than I am riding the damn thing! I used to have a pair of Kenda Nevegal DTC’s which were good, really dependable consistent cornering. I went for another pair of Nevegal’s this time but the folding, Stick-E rubber compound version, 2.1″. They don’t roll as well as the DH’s but they’ve got tons of grip, cornering is excellent, at least they were on Saturday in the wet. They gripped really well on wet roots and the likes too. So far, well impressed. They did cost about £55 for the pair but they seem worth it after a very wet ride. Can’t wait to try them on some dry, dusty trails. Riding is good in any weather conditions but it seems such a long time ago when the sun was shining and the trails were dry. We’d better get some dry weather this year!

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