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Should a cheap fork be oiled / lubricated from time to time?
If yes, how?

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Get the manual for your fork or bike which it came with, and read what maintenance is required. Example for Suntour forks (though finding the manual for your fork is better): mbr.co.uk/mountain-bike-videos/… –  Batman Feb 9 at 5:22
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If you are talking chain store cheap, it won't make any difference. –  mattnz Feb 9 at 22:52

4 Answers 4

Lubricating the forks wont affect performance by may increase life and preserve cosmetic looks. Cheap forks typically have a coil spring and a sealed damper unit, neither will perform any better with lubrication.

Oiling the stanchions and dust seals (by Vorac's method above) will prevent dust and water from entering the lower, which over time would cause the fork to stop working, and will help keep the stanchions from rusting.

More expensive forks are different where oil dampers can get damaged if seals are not well maintained. The oil can become contaminated (different viscosity = different performance) and leak oil. Also any metal on metal could cause scratches which would allow to leak through.

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Best is to try. Apply cheep oil form the hardware store (fine machine oil, $1) on both stanchions near the dust seals, compress several times, then wipe off the excess. See if the fork performs any better.

My XCR fork does really begin acting like a fork, after I disassemble it, clean and grease. On the other hand, servicing a similarly-priced fork provided no benefit at all.

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I tried it once, but then suspension got worst... Why can it be? –  Alexander Feb 11 at 10:13
    
@Alexander, no idea. What make is the fork? What is written on it? –  Vorac Feb 11 at 13:52
    
It was a while ago, and I didn't notice what make it was... (it wasn't my bike) –  Alexander Feb 11 at 19:44
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Don't put random oil on a suspension fork. If it has oil inside it, the oil you put on will just mix with it and create a hybrid useless gunge. And definitely don't put WD40 on it. –  Andrew Welch Mar 12 at 21:51

Cheap suspension forks are a gimick. I've never seen a pair of budget forks that give anything like the performance of a higher end fork. Also you should generally never put extra oil on a fork. Sure, clean the stancions etc, but if it was a more expensive fork and the performance had reduced I would considering properly servicing them - e.g. changing the oil / seals etc. Spam forks often have a sort of foam that provides the damping. They sometimes are over-sprung too or the seals generally aren't designed to work from the word go. If you get an entry level marzochhi or rock shox fork these days then generally they would work ok but in the past anything below 150 for a fork was a waste of materials.

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It defiantly helps (on coil spring forks). Way back when, I fryed the RST forks that came on my GF Tarpon on a hot July day in Florida. The fork literally seized. When I got home I pulled the dirt seals off and sprayed a healthy dose of lube (not WD 40 or KY..). The forks started working again but never quite the same, that is to say, they were crapier than just new crap. Regular lubing will keep them going long enough you purchase a plush of fork.

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