Much like cars, motorcycles need regular service maintenance to reach its optimum performance and maximum lifespan. Without proper servicing, small unnoticed problems can build-up over time and lead to bigger, more expensive issues. And we are not just talking about the engine here, but all of the parts, including the motorcycle suspension.
What is motorcycle suspension?
The motorcycle suspension is the collection of parts and accessories tasked to manage the weight on the motorcycle chassis. It also helps bikers maintain control when the motorcycle hits bumps and cracks, or when accelerating, turning to corners, and breaking. The suspension keeps you on your seat and the wheels on the ground no matter what the road condition may be.
Motorcycle suspension generally consists of two parts: the front and the rear suspension. The front suspension is composed of fork tubes (telescopic forks or girder forks), bearing, bushes, springs, and seals. On the back end, the rear suspension is composed of a swingarm (single or double-sided), one or two shock absorbers, a coil-over spring, seal rings and spring bumper.
Why is regular servicing of the motorcycle suspension important?
One of the most neglected parts of a motorcycle is the suspension. While it’s true that the system degrades slowly, regular upkeep is required to prevent faulty suspension. A lot of the factors that contribute to faulty suspension can easily be spotted during a regular bike service. These include:
- Oil contamination – Just like the motorcycle engine, the suspension has oil to lubricate each component and prevent friction. Without regular servicing, the oil may be contaminated due to metal shavings produced when the spring compresses and rebounds through the fork’s valves. Accumulation of these metal shaving over time can cause the springs to get stuck.
- Oil viscosity – Viscosity affects the damping performance, which helps restrain the vibration of the spring. Oil viscosity is checked during servicing.
- Damaged or loose rubber seal rings – Seals that are loose or damaged may also be out of position, which causes them to slide up and down the valve. All of these can affect the movement of the suspension.
- Damaged bushes – Bushes are Teflon-lined rings that serve as a bearing to the fork stanchions and shocks. It constrains these components in the desired motion. Without regular service, you may fail to see the damage in the bushes.
According to experts, a race bike should have suspension servicing every 20 hours due to the high amount of strain it receives daily. Meanwhile, track bikes are fine with at least an annual service. For road riders, they must service the motorcycle’s suspension once or twice per year, depending on the mileage and road conditions.
Faulty suspension and accidents
A bike with a faulty suspension is guaranteed to have poor handling which in turn, causes accidents. Specifically, the following can happen:
- If the suspension is stuck or the spring is rigid, the rider could get thrown off the bike by the upward force caused by hitting a big bump, or the tire may leave the ground. And if the oil’s viscosity level is low and the spring is loose, the rider will bounce up and down for a longer time.
- If the spring is soft, the tendency of the bike is to move forward after braking and to move backward when accelerating. If your motorcycle has very tight brakes or you accelerated without control, it could summersault forward or backward. The force could also have you thrown from the bike.
- When turning corners, a soft rear spring and a stiff front spring can lead to a wide turn, while a stiff rear spring and a soft front string can lead to a narrow turn.
Get Your Motorcycle Serviced Regularly
It is important to service motorcycle suspension because it will keep you safe and your motorcycle at its best performance. A simple oil change or seals replacement is not enough. Find a service provider that will strip all the components completely and check them one by one. Only by doing this will you have a well-serviced motorcycle.