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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
03 Firefly - service damping cartridges?

I've beat the crap out of my 03 Firefly, and I absolutely love the damping in this fork. But since I've only changed the oil twice in 2 years of hard riding 2-3 times a week I think the cartridges need maintenance. I went to heavier 7.5 weight oil, and it still doesn't have enough rebound damping. The compression is also a bit "notchy". It used to be butter smooth when the compression damping kicked in, and now you can feel a bit of a bump.

Since new 7.5 weight oil (5 is stock) didn't fix the slow rebound or the notchy compression, does anyone know if you can service the cartridges? Maybe soak them in cleaner and then put them back in?

Or maybe there's some PUSH type joint that services front suspension? I also run a SuperT on this bike, so I can live without my Firefly for a couple weeks.

edit: changed title since this thread wasn't getting any action
 

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noMAD man
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I only mention this because...

BBTC said:
I've beat the crap out of my 03 Firefly, and I absolutely love the damping in this fork. But since I've only changed the oil twice in 2 years of hard riding 2-3 times a week I think the cartridges need maintenance. I went to heavier 7.5 weight oil, and it still doesn't have enough rebound damping. The compression is also a bit "notchy". It used to be butter smooth when the compression damping kicked in, and now you can feel a bit of a bump.

Since new 7.5 weight oil (5 is stock) didn't fix the slow rebound or the notchy compression, does anyone know if you can service the cartridges? Maybe soak them in cleaner and then put them back in?

Or maybe there's some PUSH type joint that services front suspension? I also run a SuperT on this bike, so I can live without my Firefly for a couple weeks.

edit: changed title since this thread wasn't getting any action
I didn't see you mention the fork's lubrication oil--just the damper oil. There's only about 16cc of 5W-40 motor oil in each leg, so obviously this is critical. Unless something has gone awry in the damper cartridge (not real common), the only thing it ever needs is an occassional changing. In fact that's the beauty of TPC. The damper oil is isolated and stays cleaner and uncontaminated longer. That 16cc of oil in each leg, on the other hand, is carried up and down the stanchion and bushing area by a sponge-like device on each travel rod to keep the fork smooth and the bushings alive. I'd end up changing and servicing this oil more frequently than the cartridge oil in my '03 Firefly. Manitou's recommended 5W-40 motor oil is not that critical. I use Mobil 1 5W-30 which is readily available at WalMart. I might suspect that if you've been using 5 or 7 weight fork oil in the legs for bushing lubrication that you indeed might get some notchiness or other odd reactions. Apparently Manitou wants a heavier oil with different characteristics for the lubrication of bushings and stanchions. If fork oil had worked well, I'm sure they would have gladly used it.
 

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Do It Yourself
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WalMart now has Mobil 1 5W40. They are marketing it as Truck and SUV oil. Probably availalbe at your local auto store soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, that answers 1 of my problems. I had always assumed that he semibath just used fork oil. The action has actually been pretty smooth, so I don't think it did any damage to the bushings.

My biggest problems are not enough rebound damping and notchy compression. I'm starting to think the compression problem is the crappy travel adjust binding up, and it might just need to be tweaked. I love the fork, but the travel adjust is pretty lame. I never really use it anyway since I have a fairly steep 69 head angle with the Firefly.

The rebound cartridges are under $40 (I broke one being an idiot a while back), so maybe I'll just order a new one and hope it slows down a bit. I take a fair amount of mid-sized drops with this thing, so it can't be jackrabbit fast. I find it odd that it didn't really slow down with the change to 7.5wt oil, and going to 10wt seems like it will make the compression too slow when I really just need to slow down the rebound.
 

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noMAD man
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I was an idiot too.

BBTC said:
Thanks, that answers 1 of my problems. I had always assumed that he semibath just used fork oil. The action has actually been pretty smooth, so I don't think it did any damage to the bushings.

My biggest problems are not enough rebound damping and notchy compression. I'm starting to think the compression problem is the crappy travel adjust binding up, and it might just need to be tweaked. I love the fork, but the travel adjust is pretty lame. I never really use it anyway since I have a fairly steep 69 head angle with the Firefly.

The rebound cartridges are under $40 (I broke one being an idiot a while back), so maybe I'll just order a new one and hope it slows down a bit. I take a fair amount of mid-sized drops with this thing, so it can't be jackrabbit fast. I find it odd that it didn't really slow down with the change to 7.5wt oil, and going to 10wt seems like it will make the compression too slow when I really just need to slow down the rebound.
LOL! Did you do the incorrect footnut direction when loosening the fork leg? I didn't read the instructions and missed the different method than most forks. I'm a bike mechanic at a shop...I don't need no stinking instructions...Bzzzt! I wouldn't think you did any fork damage using fork oil for bushing lube, but Manitou must be using the motor oil for a specific reason--I'm curious at to why.
 

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Justin Vander Pol
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TNC said:
LOL! Did you do the incorrect footnut direction
Yup, counterclockwise usually means loosen, but not on that bottom nut. I read it, it just didn't register in my thick skull... snap, the thing breaks. I was freaked out since Marz cartridges are crazy expensive, but luckily the Manitou rebound unit is cheap.

Thinking about the semibath oil, it makes sense that its a heavier weight than the damper oil. Thicker oil sticks better and does a better job at protecting your parts. The normal 5wt fork oil is almost as thin as water and runs right off.
 
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