Friday, March 12, 2010

How-To: Service 2009 SID Team open bath

Strap yourself in for another How-To. This time we are working with the 2009 RockShox SID Team suspension fork. The purpose to a basic open bath service is to check for any irregular wear on internal bushings, inspect lower leg assembly for dirt contamination, and to top up the oil bath that helps lubricate the stanchion tubes and foam dirt wipers.

Tools required.
-Socket wrench with extension
-deep 10mm socket
-5mm Allen key driver bit
-fork oil (15wt)

Step #1 – Remove the fork from the bike. Not 100% necessary but makes it much easier to work with. If you don't know how to do this turn back now, you're going the wrong way!

Step #2 – Remove all of the air from the negative air chamber on the bottom of the fork.

Step #3 – Remove all of the air from the positive air chamber on the top of the fork.

Step #4 – Firmly grab the rebound adjustment knob with your plyers and pull it out of the fork.

Rebound adjustment knob is really just a glorified 2.5mm Allen key.

Step #5 – In the bottom of the same rebound leg, insert the 5mm Allen key socket attachment and extender (so that it can reach). Loosen counter clockwise a few turns and then tap lightly with your mallet to unseat the chamber from the fork lowers. Unscrew the red bolt the rest of the way.

Tap lightly to unseat

Rebound chamber fixing bolt

Step #6 – Use your deep 10mm socket on the negative air side of the fork and loosen the nut a few turns. Again tap it a few times to unseat the negative air chamber from the lowers. Unscrew the aluminum nut the rest of the way.

Tap to unseat

Negative air fixing nut

Step #7 – You’re pretty much done the hard parts now. If you unseated the chambers properly by tapping them loose with the mallet then the lowers should now slide easily off the uppers. Some oil will come out, that is the old open bath fluid. At this point do not attempt to disassemble the uppers in any way. Do not remove the top caps, ever, and leave the snap rings alone. The internals of the cartridges are unserviceable by you or me.

Step #8 – Now is a good time to clean out your foam wipers. They get dirty and contaminated so you can gently pry them out with a small screwdriver. Rinse them with isopropyl alcohol to clean out the old oil/dirt. I was glad I checked mine since the one wiper had been installed incorrectly from the factory and was pinched under the rubber wiper. To remove the rubber wipers from the lowers just use a large bladed screwdriver to gently pry it out, they should be easy to remove. To get them back in just a tap with the rubber mallet.

Removing the rubber wipers

Oops Rockshox pinched my foam wiper

Yikes, was still able to salvage

Step #9 – Clean everything up. It is easy to get in the nooks and crannies now that it is disassembled. Make sure not to let any dirt find its way into the lowers. Unless there is already dirt and contamination in them you don’t need to flush them out. There are also nylon spacers that sit in the bottom like 1” thick little donuts. Mine stayed in there but make sure they don’t rattle out and also they are oriented correctly when you go to re-install the uppers.
Set your cleaned parts on a clean surface to get it ready for re-assembly.

Step #10 – If you removed the rubber wipers then put them back now. Light tap with the mallet to make sure they are seated down in the lowers correctly. Now saturate the foam wiper with your fork oil, I used 5wt. Install saturated foam wiper back into its channel in the rubber wiper making sure it is flush and seated properly.

Step #11 – Now you are ready to add the new open bath fluid. I used 5mL of 15wt fork oil. Lay your fork on a slight angle so that the fluid migrates to the bottom of the lowers but not on such an angle to let the fluid run out the bolt holes in the bottom. Both sides get the same treatment.

Step #12 – Slide the correctly oriented uppers into the lowers making sure to keep it at such an angle to not let the fluid run out either end. Do this slowly or the rush of air created from sliding the uppers in will blast the new open bath fluid out the bottom of the fork.

Slide the uppers in slowly

Step #13 – When lined up correctly the aluminum bolt from the negative chamber will protrude through the lowers and allow you to tighten the aluminum nut back on. Make sure the little rubber o-ring is seated at the end of the alloy nut as pictured. Don’t torque the nut down yet, just tighten gently.

Don't forget about the o-ring

Finger tighten

Step #14 – Grab your 5mm Allen extension and finger tighten the red bolt back into place on the rebound side of the fork.

Step #15 – Torque both sides down. Probably 4N-m is sufficient or if you don’t have a torque wrench it would be like a 5 out of 10 on the tightness scale. It is not that easy to strip these guys out but they are alloy on alloy so err on the side of caution.

Step #16 – Install the glorified 2.5mm rebound adjustment knob. Might need to wiggle it a little into place.

That’s it. Fill the fork back up with air and hopefully it won’t burst into flames if you’ve completed the steps correctly. Give it a final wipe down to remove your oily fingerprints and shake it up a little to get the fluid coating the lowers. Install it back onto your bike.

All done
As always comments, suggestions, experiences welcome.


  1. thanks for this great service guide, I could not find one anywhere else! Do you have to use 5wt or does it matter (isn't it just lubrication not damping)? I have 15wt in my boxxers and rebas and was going to use same on my friends sids?

  2. The SID uses 5mL of 15wt as well, all I had around was 5wt and since I take my forks apart so often it didn't really matter. 15wt will last longer.

  3. Just realised I posted to use 5wt. Must have mis-read the Rockshox chart. Fixed it in the writeup.

  4. you can open up the cartridges. just use snap ring pliers and a socket to remove the top cap. THats how you switch between 100mm and 80mm of travel.

  5. anything is possible with enough speed

  6. I have started using Judy Butter on the foam wipers and also give the stanchion tubes a light coating of Butter before I insert them back into the lowers. Lasts longer than saturating the foam wipers with fork oil. Just squirt some on and work it into the foam with your fingers. They absorb quite a bit.