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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Troubleshooting Bicycle Shocks

Here is a list of common issues that can occur with shocks on a bicycle and some troubleshooting steps to help you fix them:

  1. Lack of Suspension Performance:

    • Problem: The shock feels stiff, unresponsive, or lacks proper suspension performance.
    • Troubleshooting and Fix:
      • Check the air pressure (if air suspension) or the coil preload (if coil suspension) according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
      • Verify that the rebound and compression settings are properly adjusted.
      • If the issue persists, consider having the shock serviced or rebuilt by a professional technician.
  2. Leaking Suspension:

    • Problem: The shock is leaking oil or air, resulting in reduced suspension performance.
    • Troubleshooting and Fix:
      • Inspect the shock for visible leaks. If you find any, it may require a seal replacement or servicing by a professional.
      • Ensure that the air valves or the oil seals are clean and not damaged.
      • If the shock continues to leak, it should be taken to a professional for further diagnosis and repair.
  3. Squeaky or Noisy Suspension:

    • Problem: The shock makes squeaking, creaking, or unusual noises during compression or rebound.
    • Troubleshooting and Fix:
      • Apply a thin layer of appropriate suspension oil or silicone-based lubricant to the stanchions and seals.
      • Check for loose or worn mounting hardware and tighten or replace them as necessary.
      • If the noise persists, consult a professional technician for further inspection and potential rebuild.
  4. Excessive Play or Bushing Wear:

    • Problem: The shock exhibits excessive play, feels loose, or has worn-out bushings.
    • Troubleshooting and Fix:
      • Inspect the shock for any visible wear or excessive movement in the mounting points or bushings.
      • Tighten any loose bolts or mounting hardware.
      • If the bushings are worn, they may need to be replaced by a professional technician.
  5. Bottoming Out or Harsh Bottom-Outs:

    • Problem: The shock bottoms out easily or experiences harsh bottom-outs, even with proper setup.
    • Troubleshooting and Fix:
      • Check the sag settings and adjust the air pressure or coil preload accordingly.
      • Increase the compression damping to prevent bottoming out or adjust the suspension settings for your riding style and terrain.
      • If the issue persists, consult a professional technician to ensure the shock is properly tuned for your weight and riding preferences.
  6. Remote Lockout Malfunction:

    • Problem: The remote lockout system on the shock fails to engage or disengage.
    • Troubleshooting and Fix:
      • Check the cable or hydraulic hose for any kinks, fraying, or damage.
      • Ensure the remote lever or switch is properly adjusted and securely tightened.
      • Lubricate the cable or the lever pivot points as recommended by the manufacturer.
      • If the issue persists, seek assistance from a professional technician for further inspection or potential repair.

It's important to note that suspension systems can be complex, and some issues may require specialized tools or knowledge. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with troubleshooting and fixing suspension problems, it is recommended to consult a professional bicycle mechanic or suspension technician for assistance.


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Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



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