Whether you ride a hard-tail or a full-suspension bike, your suspension is a complex and lively component. It is constantly responding to you, and the trail underneath your tires. A well-maintained suspension smoothes out bumps and soaks up landings in an easier, more predictable, and more comfortable manner, allowing you ride faster, safer, and longer.
A poorly-maintained suspension will respond slowly, roughly, and may buck unpredictably over bumps. This is obviously going to make your ride less enjoyable, but it may also be dangerous, causing you lose traction at a bad time, or (in extreme cases) if your fork or shock blows out.
So, what does your suspension need to keep it happy and healthy? Different manufacturers have different service requirements, but in general, most shocks, forks, and dropper seat posts (yep, those require maintenance too) should have rubber seals, o-rings, and oil changed once a year, or every 100 hours of riding. Additionally, full-suspension bikes, with multiple pivots in the frame, should be serviced with fresh grease and bearings in each of the pivots.
The service intervals for frame pivots will vary among manufacturers as well, but you’ll know something needs service if you can hear any creaking, popping, grinding, crunching, knocking, or if you can feel any side-to-side play in any part of the frame.
Now that you’re aware of your suspension’s special needs, I (and your bike) hope that you will bring your trusty steed for service at Chain of Fools Bicycle Repair. Due to the complexity of suspension components, and wide variety of required service parts, turnaround can potentially take a week or two, so winter is an ideal time to have your suspension serviced. If you can’t ride your mountain bike frequently, you may as well bring it in for this essential service procedure, so that when spring comes back around, your bike will be even better than when you hung it up for the winter! You might have forgotten how good it felt when it was new!