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Shock Absorber Wiper Service

The "wiper" is the seal that keeps dust and grit out of the inside of your shock. Its job is to wipe away dirt as the stanchion telescopes into the slider. To perform its job properly, it just be moist with lubricant. When dry, it will hold the dirt against the stanchion and grind away the finish! The wiper should be cleaned and lubed about every 25 hours of riding. (If you ride one short trail weekly, this means once per season. If you're a hard-core long-and-dusty trail rider, this could be once a week.)

If there's a boot (rubber accordion thingy) covering the shock, remove it. It should pull away and lift up from the bottom. Most high-quality modern shocks are built without a boot.

First clean the stanchion tubes. Check for dings and scratches. If there are any rough spots, buff them smooth with steel wool.

In general, you should lube the visible portion of the stanchion tubes of your fork every time you lube your chain. Clean the top of the wiper, using a cotton swab to get around in front. Use a light coating of oil on the swab to pick up dirt and grit.

Now rub a very thin coating of shock lube (example Slick Honey or Red Rum) on the stanchions.

Every couple of months, you should refresh the lube on the inside of the slider.

Using a very thin screwdriver, CAREFULLY pry the wiper out of the top of the slider a tiny bit. Be gentle -- you can easily gouge the soft metal of the slider tube or damage the wiper itself.

Now turn the screwdriver sideways. Gently pry upward, moving the screwdriver around the wiper. Work around the wiper a few times, moving it up about 1 to 2 mm (1/16th inch) at a time. 

When the wiper is free of the slider tube, shove down on the handlebars once or twice. This should catch the lubricating ring and pull it up out of the slider. This ring holds oil to keep the wiper lubed.

Check inside the slider for metal chips, dirt, and grunge. Run a clean cotton swab around the area inside the slider where the lubricating ring sits, cleaning off the top of the bushing.

Now lube the ring. Use a thick oil, such as Red Rum, Slick Honey, or Tenacious Oil.

If the lube ring won't come out, you can get oil to it by tilting the shock as you apply single drops of lube to the stanchion. The goo will slowly ooze down to the lube ring. Once the entire ring is lubed, you're ready to re-seat the wiper.
Wiggle the wiper into the slider, being careful you aren't crimping or damaging the edge. Work around the wiper, moving it down into the slider a bit at a time.

To make the final "snap", you might need to press down with a piece of wood. Don't use your screwdriver to shove on the wiper -- it may damage it.

After lubing, pump the shock a few times by pressing down sharply on the handlebars. If the wiper pops up, you didn't get it seated. Try again.

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