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Old 02-24-2004, 02:19 AM
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Default Oil doesn't live forever

     

A little straight talk about suspension fluids

Oxidation is the death of your suspension fluids. All petroleum products are subject to oxidation, with resulting degradation of their composition and performance. This process is accelerated by heat, and/or the presence of water, acids, or solid contaminants. The actual progression of this phenomena is actually mind splitting. For those of you who choose to run your fluids to their point of complete failure here is a description of what is happening. What is known to us as simple “fluid breakdown” is pretty ugly when viewed at the description of a petro-chemist or industry professional. While I know a little bit about oil I could not and never would consider myself an expert. But I do know enough that I can share something with you that I feel is important. Oxidation ain’t pretty.

The first reaction products of oxidation are organic peroxides. Continued oxidation catalyzed by peroxides, forms alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, and organic acids, which can be further oxidized (heaven forbid) to form high-molecular-weight, oil-insoluble polymers; these settle out as sludges, varnishes, and gums that can impair component operation. Pretty cool how your fluid grows “fungus” isn’t it? The organic acids formed from oxidation can also be corrosive to metals. So, you can see that as the process of fluid degradation occurs, the fluids begin to reach a point where self destruction compounds and speeds the process along. Once you start to oxidize, your shock or forks performance are in a downward spiral. Eventually you have a fluid in your shock/forks that has no real value anymore relative to its requirements. All it’s doing at that point is speeding up internal component wear. Really, this can happen so gradually that you are not noticing it. In my quest to create my own fluid blends I actually had a couple failures before I learned some lessons in compatibility. I had one fluid give out on me in one day of riding, and then the performance of the shock stabilized on a fluid that I considered as having no “nutritional value”. I had a loss in viscosity that I felt immediately when it went, and I’m fairly certain in saying that while your stock fluids may not have this happen quite so abruptly, they don’t last very long either. I’ve known many stock fluids to begin a nosedive well before 20hrs of use.

There is only one simple answer to prevent this. While there are ways to improve oxidation resistance of fluids, the fact remains that the simplest of answers to prevent “fluid breakdown” is maintenance. Period! This stuff is extremely important to the suspension equation. The fluids are your damping medium. Without it you have nothing but springs and friction, and in a reduced state you have poor performance and along with that your comfort factor goes right out the window. You’d be surprised how quick some fluids begin their trip to the morgue and you would be very wise to keep it alive as possible. I won’t tell you how often you need to change your oil, but I will tell you that if you have over one season on it you’re missing out on a better ride. I will try to post some more info about fluids but I felt this would be a fair start in giving you something to chew on.

Last edited by Shocknut; 02-24-2004 at 02:22 AM.
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:26 AM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

Thanks Shocknut, very informative. I know when I just changed my fork fluid, I noticed a big difference. Some of it was probably the Motorex, some of it was probably the fact that it was new fluid.

Regardless, I agree 100%.

Now a question, Does the same apply to the rear suspension? I'm assuming it does, I've just not thought about it.

I think I need to get my shock done shortly too.
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:35 AM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

Oh yeah, the instance I related on my own blend failure was with the shock. It's kinda like if somebody tied you to a tree and whipped you for an hour and left you to starve. It's unreal how bad some of the oil is on the stuff I work on.
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Old 02-24-2004, 10:40 AM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

Thanks Shocknut! Very very interesting.
I'm amazed at the chemical reactions going on after the organic peroxides kick in. It's good to know that any good stuff becomes harmfull stuff after a while. The bad eats the good, and it becomes ugly... :yum

Last edited by sebastienpayant; 02-24-2004 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:21 PM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

EEWWWW YUCKK
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:13 PM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

Just think of all the riders that tear their bikes down every winter for a "tune-up". New plastic, powdercoat, bearings, etc, only to take the suspension off and set it on the shelf till it's time to reassemble the bike.
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:42 PM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

I don't like to think about that Tryce but it's a funny thing. Snowmobilers are the same way, even worse I think. Spend $1000 on colored crap and completely neglect the mechanicals of the machine.
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Old 02-24-2004, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

i know exactly what you mean shocknut.
i service alot of forks here, and the fluid in almost all of them looks like thin mud.

i change mine every year and it still looks bad.

also i have found that the new stock fluid only lasts about 3 months before turning to yuck. i always re spring all my bikes, so i get to change the fluid after a month or so, and it always is yucky. from the suspension breaking in no doubt.
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Old 02-25-2004, 05:15 AM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

How tough is it to change the fluid in th shock? I know it'll need to be re-filled with nitrogen, but is there anything more to it. (I think I just asked a loaded question).

I'll look at my manual (thanks YP) and see what it says.
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Old 02-28-2004, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Oil doesn't live forever

I changed the fork oil on my yz after 3 rides and it showed signs of contamination... a few metal particles/cloudiness. I'm not sure what they put in the yz forks new... it was super thick goo. Glad I got it out of there.

The shock is up next... woody to answer your question the shock is easier and less time consuming than the forks. Get the fluid out, clean internals with solvent, then filler up and bleed... You can take it to a dealer or shop to have it recharged... the local one here charged me $10 last time.
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