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I'm looking at getting front suspension for my bike for long (several months +) off-road tours (think Great Divide). I was thinking about whether it would prevent requiring maintenance/servicing to cover & seal my stanchions with something. For instance, I could take a large innertube, slide one up each leg of the fork and tape it to both the crown and lowers to completely seal off that area from grime and wet.

Note that normal boots don't actually seal off the area in this way.

Would this or any other similar measure prevent wear on the suspension?

  • Do you follow the recommended service and rebuild instructions from your fork manufacturer? AFAIK its about a service every 30-50 hours of riding. – Criggie Oct 11 '17 at 2:07
  • Note I mention long off road tours, in which case servicing once a week would be infeasible. – Ryder Bergerud Oct 11 '17 at 2:31
  • I suggest you check the service recommendations from the manufacturer of your fork. If they say 50 hours service, then thats what they recommend. – Criggie Oct 11 '17 at 3:56
  • Unfortunately this is unrealistic for the situation I describe – Ryder Bergerud Oct 11 '17 at 15:14
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    If you don't want to maintain the fork, it'll keep working longer than the service intervals suggest. But it'll get slimed up and stop at some point. Once you get there, it's major rebuild (or bin) time. Why not a rigid fork for your adventures? Choosing appropriate kit is half the battle really. – alex Oct 11 '17 at 15:28
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There are a couple products that already exist for doing what you describe.

Although i think you could also probably use a tube like you said, however if dirt did get in, the tube might keep it pressed against the stanchion which could result in scratches. The tube may also balloon when the fork was compressed due to the non-breathable nature of a tube.

The first that comes to mind of existing products is the Lizard Skins Fork Boot, they also make them for rear suspension as well which i have used. I have not used the Fork Boots but i have been happy with every other Lizard Skin product i have used. They are a breathable neoprene material but protect the stanchions. Image below

enter image description here

In addition, in my opinion the best defense is keeping it clean and well maintained. Wiping off the stanchions when they become dusty in addition to using a proper lubricant designed for stanchions to reduce friction can go a long way for fork life. One example is Wet Seal by Miles Wide, there are a lot like it though. Wet Seal was developed in part by Suspension Experts who in my opinion do awesome fork work so it is what i would recommend but there are others available as well.

enter image description here

This stuff also works pretty well for stanchions, just don't get it on your brakes!

enter image description here

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  • I believe a front mudguard would be better than a boot. General consensus in MTB community is boots do far more harm than good, there is a reason they stopped putting them on forks in the 1990's, and there is only one maker of them. – mattnz Oct 10 '17 at 20:49
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    I would have to agree, i would prefer a decent mudguard in addition to general maintenance and keeping them clean over running some sort of cover on stanchions for MTB use. Although a long dusty tour ride i could see using a cover like the fork boots. – Nate W Oct 10 '17 at 21:30
  • I had the same boots as shown here. They were fine in the dry to keep dust out, but just collected filth in the wet. – alex Oct 11 '17 at 6:37
  • So the impression I'm getting is that the lizard skin boots are good dry, bad wet (because dirt is penetrating with the wet)? – Ryder Bergerud Oct 11 '17 at 15:16
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    i personally think your best bet for a long excursion is getting it serviced before the ride, and then staying on top of keeping it clean and lubricated whenever possible – Nate W Oct 11 '17 at 17:14

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