Suspension Rebuild and New Grips

Today was maintenance day for my old 2003 Specialized Stumpy FSR. Very little of this bike is stock anymore. Basically just the frame, fork, and rear shock (and a few drivetrain bits believe it or not). Being that I’ve been sick and haven’t ridden this bike in so long, I figured it was due for some maintenance. Suspension maintenance in particular. I’ve slacked a bit, and never even changed the oil in this fork or re-lubed the seals. Nada. I was cautiously hopeful that I wouldn’t find a problem.

I also opted to swap out the old stock grips with the relatively new Ergon GA1 grips. That’ll come at the end of the post.

As for the suspension work, I didn’t take any pictures of the work progress. I just followed the instructions in the Fox manuals.

The only variation was with the fork seals. I replaced with the better-than-stock Enduro Fork Seals. They are a little bit different (3 pieces instead of two). The stock parts come as the foam as one piece, and then the seals and wipers are the second piece. The Enduro seals have the seals and wipers as two separate pieces. The departure in protocol for installing these (from the Fox manual, anyway…the Enduro literature suggested this) was to install the seals and wipers directly onto the fork lowers while they were removed from the bike. The Fox manual says to slide the seals onto the fork uppers, reinstall the lowers, and then press the seals onto the lowers.

I have seen some folks suggest that the Enduro method keeps tools for pressing the seals in away from the pristine uppers and prevents you from nicking them or scratching them. Makes sense.

I did the rear shock Friday night. This was pretty quick.

Float RL rear shock

The only trouble I had was with reinstalling the air canister. The Fox manual says to slip it on, then reinstall the shock onto the bike, and then thread the air canister on. That job was a BEAST. The seals in the shock had built some air pressure, and to get the canister to thread back on, I had to compress it. The way the shock installs onto my bike left little space for my hands. I had to have my wife push down on the saddle to compress it enough to screw it back on. Took some effort, but nothing technically difficult here.

I installed the Enduro seals today (Saturday morning). It went pretty well. There are more parts to keep track of, more o-rings, and more opportunities to make a mistake, but not too tough as long as you are detail-oriented.

Enduro Seals

The one problem I had was after I reinstalled everything, the rebound adjuster knob was stuck! I couldn’t budge it. Instead of forcing it and breaking something, I hit Google to figure out if anyone else had run into this problem and how to fix it. I found several instances of folks having the same problem after maintaining their fork, but no authoritative cases of what to do about it. I did see a few people had broken the rebound adjuster shaft using too much muscle, too, and that’s what I wanted to avoid (I want to ride some tomorrow!).

I eventually figured out the solution on my own. See the Fox technical documents for photos on the general maintenance process. I found that when tightening or loosening the topcap of the damper assembly, the shaft for the rebound knob will tighten or loosen, too. Keep an eye on this. If this shaft stops turning while you tighten the topcap of the damper assembly, your rebound knob will get stuck if you go any farther. Turn this shaft counterclockwise (just put the rebound knob on it and turn) a few rotations. Finish tightening the topcap to the damper assembly and then reinstall the knobs. If you discover your rebound knob is stuck at some other time, remove the knobs and loosen the topcap until the rebound adjustment shaft starts turning again. Loosen it a few rotations and tighten the topcap back up.

After I got the suspension taken care of, it was time to install the grips. The Ergon grips are a bit wider than my old stock ones, so I had to move my brake/shift levers inward a bit. Thank goodness I have wide bars to begin with.

Old Grips

There are the old grips. They’ve got a pretty small diameter, actually, and they’re a bit narrow. They were okay, but I wanted some lock-on style grips that don’t move!

Ergon GA1 Grips

Hence the Ergons. I got the large size which have a larger diameter. These feel better in my hands diameter-wise. Time will tell about the sculpting and whatnot. I took a spin around the neighborhood, and even the extra width is welcome.

Here’s my bike in my seriously cluttered garage.

My ride.

I’ve got so many projects going on at once that each project occupies a bit of space right now. Once I get those projects done, I’ll be able to get things back in order.

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