Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment

The Shock Treatment Center staff at QBP has an affinity for all things suspension- and hydraulic brake-related. Their extensive historical-to-current knowledge makes them an invaluable resource in any bike shop, bringing a pulse back to more than 1,400 shocks, forks, brakes, and seatposts each year.

The Shock Treatment Center (STC) is staffed full time by two gentlemen you should definitely know if your shop has suspension parts and hydraulic disc brakes coming through the door. Mark Woker and Don Amundson have a combined 31 years of shop and industry experience that can be unleashed at a moment’s notice—and often is. STC is the department here at Q Central to swing through for all sorts of geeking, tweaking, and teching out about the stuff they do best. “Between the two of us, there is little that we have not seen on the suspension and disc brake front,” says Amundson.

Woker has been a mechanic for 20 years, putting in nine years as a service and warranty manager at a Twin Cities shop before starting in QBP’s Custom BikeBuilder/STC in 2009. In that time, he’s attended and graduated from STU (SRAM Technical University) three times over. After a four-year stint in QBP’s Customer Service, where he acted as a tech and returns trainer, Woker became heavily counted on by coworkers for answers to the toughest questions. He’s taught hundreds of shop folks a cool thing or two over the phone, and now he’s returned to STC to soak once more in 5 weight and mineral oil.

Amundson started in an area shop in 2003. A year later, he moved to QBP’s BikeBuilder department. Occasionally he’d fill in at STC, and by 2005 he was full time, becoming the STC tech lead in 2006. He also does tech training, inventory planning, special order purchasing, and STC customer service. Amundson has been factory trained by every brand that STC services. He’s trained on-site several times at QBP’s biggest suspension vendors: five times at STU, four times at Marzocchi, and twice at Manitou. Smaller vendors sometimes come to Q to provide training, and Amundson sometimes goes to them—but in the end, STC is fully factory authorized on everything they service.

Considering the volume of work that comes through STC, you can be sure their advice is valid and their service is solid. The Shock Treatment Center is one of the most capable and comprehensive service centers for suspension- and hydraulic brake-related tuning and repair in the bicycle industry, all but eliminating the need for shops to keep an expensive inventory of parts in stock, or keep customers waiting to get back out on the trail.

Suspension service shouldn’t be something dealers or consumers are afraid of, Amundson says. “We’ve seen cases of a forks, shocks, or brakes not working properly, and the user keeps riding this way because they fear the repair will be too costly. When caught early, most things that can go wrong with these components can be remedied with a basic overhaul. It’s mainly when problems go unattended that the overhauls turn into repairs with more costly parts needed.”

Suspension performance degrades slowly over time, and casual riders often don’t realize things aren’t as smooth as they could be. For forks and brakes, the STC pros recommend that riders have service performed at least once a year to ensure top performance and help prevent bigger issues down the line. For some bikes, this can be as simple as fresh oil and new wiper seals on a fork or shock, or a bleed on a disc brake. For bikes that are on the trail 10 hours or more a week, they suggest servicing at least twice a year. Overall, frequency of service depends on riding time and conditions. Riding in wet, muddy, or sandy conditions will increase service intervals.

“The biggest thing you can do to help keep a fork or shock working its best for a long time is to keep it clean,” Amundson says. “Some riders look at caked-on mud and grime as a badge of honor, showing the world how extreme they are. This is the worst thing you can do to a fork or shock. We’ve seen many a fork or shock come in with dirt built up around the seals, only to find big scratches and worn-out stanchions under all the grime.”

After every ride, Amundson advises that riders use a damp, soft cloth to wipe the stanchions clean of mud and debris, paying special attention to the wiper seal area. Dry them with a clean rag and apply a favorite stanchion lube. There are some good fork- and shock-specific lubes out there, but plain fork oil on a clean rag will lubricate things quite nicely as well. He suggests avoiding chain lube, which can have an unpredictable effect on seals.

STC wants every shop with a QBP account to be confident that they can serve their customers with world-class suspension and disc brake repair and maintenance, fast turnaround, and access to the largest stock of service parts of any distributor service center. If a specialty part isn’t in stock, STC can get available service parts from any of its vendors in about two weeks. STC is a warranty center for RockShox, Avid, Cane Creek Double Barrel, and Tektro disc brakes, and can perform work on those brands, as well as on Magura, Manitou, Marzocchi, Maverick, White Bros., X-Fusion, Hayes, Hope, Formula, and Shimano disc brakes. Dealers can quickly determine if a fork, shock, or brake is still serviceable by checking the list of qualified repairs when filling out the STC work request on qbp.com.

Available services from STC don’t stop with the basic overhaul. Their vast knowledge gets put to good use with custom tuning and setup offerings on new products through the Custom Adjust ’Em Program. Dealers can pick virtually any new fork, shock, or brake from the catalog and get it tuned before it’s shipped to the shop. This can include a travel change to dial in the axle-to-crown height on a fork; installation of a different tune kit for a rear shock; or a trim-and-bleed for a new set of brakes so they can be bolted on and be ready to rock when the dealer receives them.

One of the other cool services offered through Custom Adjust ’Em is called Race Prep. “With the Race Prep service, we disassemble the new product from top to bottom, ensure everything is as it should be, then re-assemble it using Buzzy’s Slick Honey on all the seals, and set proper oil levels,” says Amundson.

Average turnaround time on incoming services is three days, and Custom Adjust ’Ems get out the door within 48 hours. Amundson adds: “If a dealer is sending something in that they need back as quickly as possible, we offer Premium Service for a small extra charge, which moves their repair to the front of the line as soon as it gets here and guarantees a 48-hour turnaround provided we have all the needed service parts in stock.”

Dealers are invited to give Amundson and Woker a call if they’re unsure about model years of parts that need service or anything else that they want to send to STC. QBP’s customer service agents have tools to identify fork models and years, and can assist dealers with general troubleshooting or RA setup, as well.

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