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Tech Tips & Reviews
English (US)  
Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
I hope you find my Tweaks and Tips section helpful. If there is something you want to know about, send me an email and I will try to add that to one of my upcoming articles.

This “tech tip” only refers to inverted “up side down” forks.

Does your 20 mm suspension fork feel lousy? It may be suffering from “sticktion” (a chattering type of friction that sometimes occurs when a fork is compressed). Customers frequently complain of this problem and the solution is usually a simple fix that takes only seconds.


Hopefully you own a fork that has a properly designed through axel. Marzocchi Shiver, Manitou and Avalanche all have a sound design. Other designs that I’ve seen are questionable.

Check out photo #1 for a reference. Notice how one section of the axel is larger than the other. If your axel doesn’t have this then you’re doomed. When I say “doomed” I mean your fork will always have some type of friction, especially towards bottom out. You may already notice scoring (small vertical scratches) on the fork legs special coating and your front wheel may rattle around a bit on the axel.

The larger diameter end of the axel is designed to butt up against one side of the hub. When properly installed, the hub is sandwiched between the axels larger end and the opposite fork legs inside edge. This is how the front hub stays tight.

Removing the front wheel to perform this “fix” is not necessary. Remove it any way. Let’s check out a few things. Did your axel come out with ease or did you smash it to death in order to remove it? Smashing is bad. A properly functioning axel slides out with very little effort.

Check photo #2. Assuming the forks axel pinch bolts are completely loose, clean off the axel and apply grease to the larger end. Without the front wheel in place, slide the larger diameter end of the axel into the appropriate side fork drop out backwards (from my experience this is the right, non disc side drop out). It should be a perfect fit and slide in by hand. Check photo #3. If your axel is being stubborn and you need to hit the axel in with a mallet, try sanding some material off the outside of the axels larger end. Be careful not to remove too much. The axel is only made from aluminum. Try a scuff pad first. If not abrasive enough, use 100g sand paper and finish with a scuff pad. Check for damage on the outer most edge.

Reassemble for the last time. Make sure to grease the entire axel. Check photo #4. Before tightening the axel end cap, grease the threads and the inside edge of the bolt that interfaces with the fork leg. You only need to snug this bolt. Getting HULK on it will cause you problems later down the trail. Every end cap bolt that comes into my shop is stripped out. Sometimes I need to smash a larger hex key into the old stripped hex in order to remove.

You’re almost finished! Check photo #5. Grease all the pinch bolts that clamp the fork legs to the axel. Make sure to grease not only the threads, but the area of the hex bolt head that makes contact with the fork. Change these bolts out if they’re in bad shape. You do not want to break one of these bolts!

This is the most important step and basically the “fix” that will solve most riders’ fork headaches. Check out the last photo #6. Tighten down the smaller (disc brake side) fork drop out pinch bolts. Leave the other side loose. Ride the bike and cycle the fork through its travel a few times by bouncing up and down, compressing the fork a far as possible. The one loose leg (larger diameter side) is finding its “sweet spot” on the axel. Gently get off the bike and tighten down the non disc side, loose pinch bolts. Do not mess with the forks drop out. People make the mistake of squeezing the fork legs together thinking they hold the front hub tight.

Wipe off any excess grease and you’re done. This tech tip is just one possible “fix” to eliminate “sticktion”. Suspension forks can suffer problems from severe crashes, bent fork legs, contaminated fork oil, and leaky seals.

Check back soon for an interesting tip on “what to carry in your back pack”. I’m going to reveal my secrets to the world. Soon you can be like me and always save the day. No excuses. I’ll get you back on the trail, like it or not!

Left Click on Images to Enlarge

3 Updates


My fork adjustment does not seem to do anything ... just spins around, shock can not be firmed up at all. Did you have any suggestions on how to fix this issue


Update from: David [Visitor] — 08/12/08 @ 22:44
I have some

Update from: Alex [Visitor] — 03/08/09 @ 03:19
And mine came with my 2003 specialized rockhopper and they are lovely forks!! My adjustments work lovely :-)
And do u guys think there's any point upgradeing to fox??
Thanks slot guys alex

Oh and dave sorry buddy I can't help you :-)

Update from: Alex [Visitor] — 03/08/09 @ 03:24

You are not authorized to write a update.

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