Tech Talks: Lubing Your Fork Seals, Presented by Park Tool – Video

Oct 26, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  
Tech Talks Presented by Park Tool


Tech Talks Presented by Park Tool is a monthly video series hosted by Park Tool's own wrench whisperer, Calvin Jones. The series covers the A to Zs of some of the most prevalent repair jobs, with the sixteenth episode showing you a quick trick to keep your fork working smoothly.

Suspension forks are complicated items that can be intimidating to strip down, so it's no surprise to see that many forks aren't working as smoothly as they could. And while it may feel like you need a degree in fluid dynamics and a bench full of tools to make a difference, that's not the case. With just one or two inexpensive tools, a bottle of the right lube, and a little know-how, you can take your suspension from sticky to smooth in only a few minutes.


How to Lube Your Fork Seals

Views: 22,073    Faves: 32    Comments: 2



Need more Calvin in your life?

Episode #1 - Tubeless tire installation and conversion
Episode #2 - Saving that bent disc rotor
Episode #3 - Derailleur hanger alignment
Episode #4 - Shimano and Crankbrothers pedal service
Episode #5 - Trailside wheel repair
Episode #6 - Trailside chain repair
Episode #7 - Derailleur limits and cable tension
Episode #8 - Derailleur setup
Episode #9 - Fork wiper seal replacement
Episode #10 - Clipless pedal setup
Episode #11 - New cleat setup
Episode #12 - Top 5 next level shifting issues
Episode #13 - Fixing cassette play
Episode #14 - Gearing hacks
Episode #15 - Fixing sticky pistons

Stay tuned for more mechanical how-to videos with Calvin returning on the last Thursday of every month to show you the easiest way to get the job done. Want to know more? Park Tool's how-to section has you and your bike covered.

www.parktool.com / @ParkToolCompany


91 Comments

  • 64 0
 No seal pick for me. The tip of a zip tie works much better and is plastic. No worries
  • 7 0
 Yep, been doing this for years, combined with an old chain lube bottle filled with my preferred fork lube, bottle probably works better than a syringe for precise application.
  • 12 0
 Just the tip!
  • 1 0
 Good tech videos with old-hand tricks/tips are always awesome to share. I’ve always used a bottle with a small straw on the end. Helps live it up but it means keeping a dedicated bottle rather than just cleaning a syringe. Keep up the good work!
  • 1 0
 Good idea!
  • 2 0
 @nohit45: and only for a minute.
  • 11 2
 How we wish Doddy pops out of no where and say CABLE TIEE
  • 3 2
 Wouldn't it be faster to just remove the lowers and install new seals?
  • 2 0
 @abzillah: not if you do not have any new seals. Wheel removed, brake calliper removed, lowers removed, etc...
Most often the seals just require fresh lube giving the seals a longer service life, keeping them out of the landfill for a bit longer.
  • 16 0
 No dental/jeweler's pick for me, either. Too risky. I prefer to use a sharp and pointy rock.
  • 1 0
 @abzillah: maybe if you have V- brakes...
  • 2 1
 Park's picks are sharp as fuck, got one set of them they are good tools but not for this job. Cable tie FTW !!! Also its good to clean inner surface before lubricating, with a cable tie wrapped in rag or paper wipe.
  • 3 0
 @b-wicked: Yeah, but you can do your own dental work with the Park tool. Try that with a cable tie!
  • 1 0
 @twd953: Just strap that teeth with a zip tie and pull them out, your welcome I saved you a lot of $ Wink
  • 38 1
 I'm not normally a super organized person by default but when I ride my bike, I check the fork action, tire pressure, chain cleanliness/lube, and pedals every time before I ride.

And then I forget to put water in my bottle.
  • 2 0
 Props, because I did exactly that yesterday morning!
  • 7 0
 I also check that I didn’t leave the oven on...
  • 1 0
 me n my brother are one and the other
practice day and after getting our ourselves to the top he pulls out a new FF helmet in its velvet bag, starts playing with different check pad combo's, the visor... "its gotta be mint"
  • 16 1
 Thanks again to Frank Zappa for another great video!
  • 3 0
 Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow!
  • 11 1
 Interesting video.

I've never heard of anyone using this method before. Is it common? How long would the injected oil last in this method? I'd of thought that if your forks are that sticky, it's time for a proper lower leg service anyway, and a quicker short term solution would be just to spray some Fork Juice on the stantions?

Thought the presenter was funny. 10/10 would watch again.
  • 4 1
 I don't like to go against Kelvin on this but I see this as a quick fix and not something you want to keep doing without a up comming seal change in mind. Reason being that in my experience this fluid dilutes the grease inside the seal and grease in the seal is essential. Like you mention silicon spray on the stantions has always fixed any of my stiction problems. Be sure to clean it off before riding
  • 9 0
 @oldfaith: think park tools missing a option here, grease gun designed for this job lifting seal and grease at same time.
  • 1 1
 It's just a good fast way to make your fork work more sensitive. Actually grease inside the seal works but not for long, so in the middle between service intervals it's a good way to make your work fresh again, best performance I had were achieved by using Finish Line stanchion lube but any thin fluoropolymer lube will do.
  • 6 0
 I use a glue spatula like you used to use at school, tucks the seal out of the way with no scratch danger. Another good tip is rubbing a little Slick Honey just above the seal and cycling that a few times to keep the seals smooth.
  • 8 1
 Glue spatula... You mean a popsicle stick lol?
  • 7 0
 @therealtylerdurden: English ain't what it used to be, man.
  • 3 0
 @therealtylerdurden: the popsicle stick helps eat it faster...
  • 1 0
 I have used these. For my old MX bike and found they work on MTB fork seals also. Also used theses to stop a leaky seal a time or 2.
mojomotosport.com/products/sealmate-fork-seal-cleaner?gclid=CjwKCAjwj8bPBRBiEiwASlFLFfPrTG7mc179z0ePD_1hmJK8XKtpSLrTnzQ8SsAd5YJxGnTEB3micxoCM38QAvD_BwE
  • 3 0
 @fruitsd79: I know. I heard somebody call their cassette a "gear pyramid." I just gave him a WTF look!
  • 2 0
 @therealtylerdurden: they are way more sophisticated on the other side of the pond! We just used our fingers. Half the kids glued there nostrils closed.
  • 1 0
 @MelvieD: and the other half cleaned their hand sausages by licking them! Kids are weird! lol
  • 1 0
 Me too
  • 9 1
 I was listening keenly until I noticed this mans bike front rotor was on BACKWARDS!
  • 3 1
 0% chance it was like that intentionally for say another video or demonstration or something.
  • 1 1
 And...........he just lost his street cred.
  • 2 0
 Never trust a bike in a photo studio, but the rotational arrows are showing they are mounted correctly -Calvin Jones
  • 3 0
 The juddering he showed us in the video will be due to water/dirt in the lower legs which creates stiction between the stanchion and lower leg bush. Wet your finger with water and try rubbing it on a window and the repeat but this time put any oil on the finger and you'll notice the difference. Lubricating the inner of the wiper will make minimal difference especially on a new (2016+) fork as the new SKF wipers used by most top brands are pretty amazing in keeping crap out and a nice layer of grease in.

The only quick fix is a lower leg service until companies bring out the 'Manitou prep m' style port where the foam ring sits, but then you run the risk of having more fluids in the lowers than the manufacturers specify.

What am I going on about, just ride it.
  • 6 1
 What the oil he use? mineral oil is that all kind of those include shimano brake oil?
  • 3 1
 Fork or shock oil - they are mineral based, same as used in the fork lowers. Definitely not mineral brake fluid !
  • 4 0
 @clive Great question! I feel that such a "technical" instruction video should provide technical information. Such as specifically stating what fluid to use. I'd imagine he's using the 10W Fox fork oil but who knows?
  • 1 0
 @steel4real: A lot of fork lubricating oils are actually synthetic oil blends, like engine oils. Pike's 0w30 is like that. www.artscyclery.com/descpage-RSPO1L.html
  • 2 0
 @b-wicked: Thank you for the correction - every days a school day :-)
  • 1 0
 @b-wicked: Could I safely use this pike 0w30 oil for the same purpose Calvin uses in the video with a Fox 36 fork??
  • 1 0
 @max1131: Fox uses their branded 20wt Gold and It is compatible only with their new low friction wipers. So if you use any different oil then it is on your own risk. I used Manitou's semibath oil in RockShox forks in the past (it worked fine and had better lubricating properties than RS oil), also using Motorex motorcycle fork oil in old Marzocchi's were a common practice . Worst thing that can happen when you use non manufacturer specified oil in the bath, is your wipers and foam rings can degrade in shorter time. I would recommend to upgrade your wipers and some put proper fox oil in your 36. Good luck.
  • 2 0
 I was told years ago to just put a few drops of tri-flow lube around the seals and cycle a few times, wiping in between...

seems to work well enough...i ride a ton and rarely service the fork, never really notice much of a drop in performance. Just oil/seals once a year...if that.
  • 1 0
 I like to check things off and check things off again and then get slapped in the face. I use one of those plastic dental pick things with the short piece of floss at the other end, forget what they are called. For lube I use Fox Float fluid since I have plenty.
  • 3 2
 He actually states it's a short term fix but good grief - metal picks right on the stanchions - No No No. !!! The garter spring can be lifted with your finger nails, no tool required. Just use the end of a plastic cable tie to insert between the seal and stanchion, absolutely no risk of scratching or seal damage. Moving the tool and oil all round the stanchion - no need, oil is going to run round on it's own, it's a liquid after all.
  • 8 22
flag therealtylerdurden (Oct 26, 2017 at 6:24) (Below Threshold)
 Idk man, when I spit on my dick in the throes of fucking friends' moms, it never gives full coverage without me slathering it on.
  • 1 0
 Use a zip tie and a needle pen oiler, done in 10 seconds. Cycle fork, wipe off the grit that comes up from seals, and ride away. It makes such a big difference that you need to change your fork settings. Depending on a small amount of grease/oil in a foam ring added during the last service is stupid.
  • 1 0
 Or you could use WPL oils Forkboost. No need to use a pick or anything like that, just, smear a light coat on the stanchion, cycle the fork a few times,repeat if you want,and not only will it make the fork smoother,but it will also trap dirt and stuff that might be hidden in the tiny groove.
  • 1 0
 Did I miss it, or did he not mention that you need to clean your seal before doing this, otherwise all you are doing is shoving all that grit into your seals. And no, I don't want the busted off tip of tooth pick stuck in my fork seals. Cable tie for the win.
  • 1 0
 While I love tech talks and what Calvin does. This just seems laborious, I clean my bike and then use Juice Lubes fork juice. This draws all the dirt out of the seals and keeps them stiction free.

Go from this,
www.pinkbike.com/photo/13077435

To this, (Mattocs)
www.pinkbike.com/photo/13528044

and this, (Devilles)
www.pinkbike.com/photo/13528045

Looks and feels as good as new every time
  • 1 0
 Those saying that cable ties don't scratch the stanchions are wrong, they do. Scratches behind seal not noticeable until you separate uppers from lowers. Maybe Kashima are different but my rebas are scratched from doing the above with a cable tie.
  • 1 0
 There was a video of tech tuesday with Mike dropping the lowers of a 36. I have been doing it ever since. I think it is so easy that I prefer to drop the lowers, change the oil and lube the seals with sram butter. So, so easy to do. I remove the wheels and I do it on the stand without removing the fork from the bike.
  • 1 0
 Guy's a nut, I always sort of had the opposite mentality, "just keep biking until you can't, bike's only new once". That being said, you really don't appreciate what goes into a bicycle with that mentality, and as I get older I'm more on his side of the fence, there is an appreciation, and sense of accomplishment having a well maintained bike.
  • 3 0
 When the stanchions of your fork are that sticky that you have to do this it is probably time for a service.
  • 2 0
 Feel like I should be calling him Mr Jones. Love the tech talks. Keep'm comin.
  • 1 0
 With Rampage on can we get a Tech Talk about rebuilding your blown fork and rear shock after trying to imitate Cam Zink hucking off your apartment block after a few beers?
  • 1 0
 I am kind of rider who WANTS to have things organized, checked off, and predictable but I invariably end up BEING the rider who has things crazy and out of control.
  • 2 0
 Or leave the fork upside down overnight and let the foam ring soak in. Gravity is your friend.
  • 1 0
 After I wash my bike I just give it a good thick coat of grease over the entire damn thing, never have these kind of troubles.
  • 1 0
 I thought that bike looked brand new, but it's one of Danny Harts old bikes!
  • 1 0
 Well he doesn't use his bikes more than a few weeks at most so it is brand new
  • 1 0
 @colincolin: One careful lady owner...
  • 1 0
 this is OK but,
you can just use a needle syringe (like Marshi once showed me )
  • 2 2
 Excellent chap at explaining tech repairs and keeping it amusing - just 'cos he's not a buttoned up Brit, that's no reason to start whinging.....
  • 3 1
 All most sexual. ...............
  • 2 0
 you gotta lube below the top lip... that is where the fun stuff happens
  • 1 0
 I really like all these vids, keep them coming! Of course, I also enjoy watching "This old house".
  • 1 0
 Would it be easier to just lube the stanchions and pump your fork after, then wipe of the excess oil?
  • 1 0
 Would be nervous to have tooth pick break during the process.
  • 3 2
 The guy is so american... Smile
  • 1 0
 will this make my seals last a bit longer?
  • 1 0
 anyone know of a good bearing puller that doesn't cost a fortune?
  • 2 1
 I had a belt just like that - in 1987.
  • 1 0
 I had the same belt in high school, would love to have one again it was sweet for whipping
  • 1 0
 Can they invite Johnny Sins as guest appearance?
  • 1 0
 Some mechanic, his brake rotor is backwards
  • 1 0
 Felt sick when that metal pick touched the expensive gold stuff
  • 1 0
 Why not use sram butter here?
  • 1 0
 I'm the kind of rider who loves a satirical tech vid Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I prefer clean the seals before lube...
  • 1 0
 Good stuff. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 I like these videos.
  • 1 3
 Odd chap agreed, and not sure why you want to be picking at wiper seals.
  • 1 4
 Odd chap
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