Ask a Mechanic: Servicing VPP Suspension Bike Links

Gehrig wants to know… “ can you show me how to service the suspension links and pivots on my new Santa Cruz?”

Keeping your suspension links and pivots clean and lubed is a great way to maximize the benefits of your bike’s suspension design, and bearing longevity. This service should be done a few times per year depending on the weather conditions in your area. Obviously if you’re dealing with a lot of mud and harsh conditions you’ll want to do it a little more frequently.

Fortunately, suspension pivot maintenance is a little easier for owners of Santa Cruz and Intense bikes which feature the VPP suspension design. Most bikes will require you to remove the linkage from the bike before being able to service the bearings and lubricate them. You’ll still have to do this on the upper bearing and linkage assembly which we’ve covered in another video, but it’s much easier on the lower linkage. The lower link on both Santa Cruz and Intense full suspension bikes have Zerk fittings, allowing you to quickly feed grease into the bearings. Here’s how do it.

Start by removing the rear wheel. This isn’t 100% necessary, but it’s nice to have extra room to do your work. Locate the Zerk fitting on the lower link and clean them up a bit so you’re not forcing any dirt or small rocks into the link and bearings. Once the fitting is clean press the grease gun onto the fitting. It will be a tight fit so you’ll have to apply a good amount of pressure and a wiggle or two in order to get it to pop on. The fittings on Intense bikes are a little different and require a needle tip adapter for the grease gun.

Once your grease gun is securely attached, pump the grease gun until you start to see grease squeezing out of the link. Don’t be alarmed, you’re pushing the old grease out of the bearing and replacing it with fresh grease. Pump the grease gun a few more times until you think you’ve flushed the old dirty grease out. There are two separate Zerk fittings on the lower link so repeat the process on the other fitting to make sure all 4 bearings get fresh grease.

Removing the grease gun from the fittings can be a bit tough, especially if you try to just pull it straight off. I’ve found that if you simply leverage the gun at an angle against the fitting it will pop off easily. All that’s left now is to clean up all the old dirty grease with a rag. Install the rear wheel, and it’s time to hit the trail.