How to Change a Bicycle Suspension Front End
Front suspension forks receive continual use while bearing a large portion of the rider's weight. Consequently, forks often wear out before the rest of the bicycle. Improvements in technology, coupled with reductions in cost, result in a wide variety of aftermarket front suspension forks being readily available at reasonable prices through local bike shops and online storefronts. Consequently, replacing worn or broken front suspension forks can extend the life of your mountain bike at relatively minimal cost.
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Things You’ll Need:
- Hex key set
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Bike stand
- 36mm flat wrench
- Measuring Tape
- Pipe cutter
Secure your bicycle in a bike stand, clamping the top bar 4 to 6 inches from the seat post. Loosen the quick release and remove the front wheel. Bikes without disc brakes require you to loosen the brakes to let the tire clear the pads. Remove the brakes from suspension fork. Loosen the stem bolt using a hex key. Loosen any stem bolts with a hex key. Place pressure on one end of the handlebars gently moving up and down to loosen the stem from the steer tube. Hold the forks by the underside of the crown to keep them from prematurely sliding out of the head tube. Lay the handlebars away from the forks gently to avoid pinching or kinking any cables.
Lower the fork by the crown slowly, grabbing all the spacers as they slide free from the steer tube. Place the spacers and bearings aside. Slide off the lower bearings from crown and place them with the spacers. Place the flat-head screwdriver in between the fork crown and the bearing race. Tap the screwdriver with a hammer, gently working your way around the race. Set the race aside with the spacers. Rub grease into both bearing sets.
Grease the steer tube where it meets the crown. Slide the lower race over the steer tube until it stops. Place a flat wrench over the race and gently tap the wrench surface. Work around the fork tapping the flat wrench evenly on all sides until the race seats firmly against the fork crown. Measure the steer tube on the old suspension fork. Using the same measurement, place a mark on the new fork steer tube. Cut the steer tube to size using a pipe cutter. Place the star nut on the top of the steer tube and thread the top stem bolt in four complete revolutions. Gently tap the bolt with the hammer to set the star nut down into the steer tube one-half to one full inch.
Place the lower bearing set on the freshly installed race. Slide the new suspension fork through the head tube. Set the upper bearing set over the steer tube resting against the upper race while continuing to apply upward pressure to the fork crown. Install the spacers back over the steer tube. Set the stem back over the steer tube. Tighten the bolts using a hex key. Install and tighten the stem bolt. Reinstall the brakes on the new fork.
Tips & Warnings
Tighten the top stem bolt until there is no slack until the bearings do not move smoothly, and then back the bolt off one-quarter turn
Never hit the lower bearing race with a metal surface
Article Written By Jeremy Slaughter
Jeremy Slaughter is a tax, accounting and small business expert. After completing his master's degree in accounting at Keller Graduate School of Management, Slaughter co-founded an accounting and tax firm where writing plays a daily role.
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