Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner

alleviating play in shock bushings with aluminium foil (on a bmc superstroke)....

5601 Views 20 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  seadna
i suspect i'm in for a barrage of people saying i'm a moron on this one, but i have some vertical play in the linkage of my bmc superstroke, and it boils down to either the bushings or the reducers. and it looks like it might be the bushings. disappointing given that i've only had the frame for about 3 months, and have only been riding it in dry conditions.

anyway, seeing as i live in china, and am broke, it's not easy to get a hold of new bushings, so, because i felt i should do something i wrapped a few layers of aluminium foil around the bushings and reinstalled them. the result is that the play is gone.

is this a solution, even of a temporary kind? as it's softer than the other materials will it itself wear out or will it just accelerate the wear on the bushings?
how about if i changed the foil layer regularly?

i guess it probably isn't a useful fix, but if it isn't good, just how bad is it? will i damage the bushings trying it out for a few rides? am i completely assways?

on a separate but related note, this hassle has finally tipped me over the edge and convinced me to put a rigid fork on my hard tail (which doubles as trail bike and tourer).
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Conventional aluminum foil will crush very quickly. I had an old MRP swinglink from a travel kit for an old Spec Enduro that had a switchable "chip" that you moved 180 degrees to change travel. It had a tiny bit of slop in it, so I tried a bit of good aluminum foil wrapped in a layered manner on this chip. It didn't last a 10 mile ride before the slop was evident again. Foil is too soft IMO to be effective in these types of applications. There are probably some situations where foil could be effective, but at key suspension component locations is probably not one of them.

Did your bike's shock use two-piece "top hat" style spacers or a thru-axle style? I strongly recomment the thru-axle style. They promote longer bushing life for obvious reasons.
what i used is thicker than conventional foil, it's actually the back of a tube patch, but from what you're saying the difference that makes will most likely be a matter of minutes.

anyway, it is a thru-axle.

actually the bushing is visibly tarnished, kind of surprising, given the amount of time i've had the bike, and the dry conditions it's been ridden in. disappointing, but given that it was one of the 600us frames on jenson, i'm not feeling too hard done by. i'll post a picture of it next time i take it apart, which will probably be tomorrow or the next day when the foil has disintegrated after i've ridden it around to the local shops to discuss the problem.

unfortunately it's a hard tail world over here, so i doubt i'll get much help. also, the level of knowledge is pretty low in the bike shops....

thanks for the feedback
See less See more
I don't have anything good to say about this. If the shock bushings are wearing, replace them, don't keep riding your bike. Riding your bike with a little bit of play can cause the suspension mounts to ovalize, which can't really be cured. The foil-in-the-mount or with the bolt trick is a temporary fix, and I never had real good luck with it. In other words the shock mount continued to ovalize and you'd have to cram ever-larger peices of stuff in there. If I recall I was using the metal from a soda-can. IMO if you continue to ride it with play or with an inserted "spacer" of some kind, it will continue to ovalize. It's a warrenty issue, but a lot of companies are somewhat crappy on this issue.
On the old MTB I use to commute the square taper cranks had been taken off and put back on enough that they were getting close enough to touch the chainstays when installed & torqued properly.
I decided to try and re-use them by shimming the holes with pieces cut from a Coke can. That was 3 or 4 years ago, still going strong.
hmmm, so in essence. crap.

to clarify, there's no spacer between the bushing and the shock mounts, just between the bushing and the shock reducers, but i guess you mean that the mounts would be ovalised anyway, by the increased forces the bushing is subjected to due to the play?

i guess i'll get onto bmc, see if there's any joy to be had

yeah, the square taper bb and all the attendant simplicities aren't without their appeal. unfortunately if you're going to go hi-tech you're going to be faced with ever tighter, mnore finicky tolerances. well, if nothing else this has given me the needed kick to make sure i get the reba off my hard tail before i take it for a trans-continental
What you can also do is remove the reducers and ovalize them a bit on purpose....Yes, on purpose.
If you carefully clamp them into a vice (only the part that gets inserted into the shock's eyelet) they should seat in your shock pretty tight.
I used to do it all the time while waiting for new hardware to arrive and sometimes this temporary fix lasted for more than a year. :thumbsup:
That's common wear on many bikes. Some bikes wear out shock bushings faster than others. 3 months would be a very short interval, there might be alignment issues.

My previous two bikes would wear out the shock bushings enough to notice some loose play when picking the bike up off the ground every 6 months on the end that pivoted the most. While waiting to get new bushings and to delay the interval, I'd snip some sandwich baggie pieces and stuff the reducers back into the shock bushing, sandwiching the plastic baggie material into the bushing to do similar as you did with aluminum foil. It would last for a few weeks to a month or so.

it seems i put things incorrectly. sometimes a little knowledge is worse than none.

anyway after an hour or two lying in bed pondering the whole thing i realised that what i thought was the bushing, was actually the shock mount. the reason for this mistake was that it was the space between the reducers and the bolt that were moving and had play, rather than the bushings.

one of the reducers was pushed so tight into the bushing that it took me twenty minutes and a hammer ot get it out. so it seems that due to the tightness of the bushings the shock was pivoting on the bolt, leading to the reducers and the bolt wearing down, as well as the point where the side of the reducers touch the frame. not ideal

i guess this could also be explained by the shock bolts not being torqued sufficiently. they were tight, and i haven't adjusted them since i got the frame except to check that they were tight, but i didn't use a torque wrench, so i can't be sure it was torqued high enough, i guess. so perhaps this whole issue stems from that

also it looks like there might be some misalignment on the rocker mount... will look at that again later

anyway, there's some wear on the upper shock mount, but practically none on the bottom mount, so i'm thinking maybe if i gently sanded (with 1000+) either the bushing or the part of the reducers that sits in the bushing, that that would allow the shock to move more easily where it's meant to move.

i could also try getting new reducers, which is perhaps the proper solution, seeing as i still need to lose the play caused by the wearing of the reducers in the wrong places.

here are some pictures. the worn reducers and bolt are from the top. i've shown the most worn sides on the frame, other sides, seem fine. strangely the almost impossible to extricate reducer was on the bottom, and it doesn't show wear in the wrong places. this doesn't bode well for my theory and maybe suggests misalignment?so what do you think, does this seem a likely situation, or have i gone astray?

anyway, thanks for the help so far.

ps. it's clear now that my bushings are on two piece spacers, not a thru-axle.


See less See more
seadna said:

it seems i put things incorrectly. sometimes a little knowledge is worse than none...

ps. it's clear now that my bushings are on two piece spacers, not a thru-axle.
Just to be clear, the pictures you've posted are of the reducers and shock-mount bolts not the DU sleeve type bushing in the eye of each end of the shock. This is what's typically referred to as "mounting hardware". It appears you've damaged the reducers as well with your "hammer" removal process :nono: At the very least you're going to need new reducers. Your bolts appear to be shouldered (not threaded on the contact area) so that is a plus. I'm not sure if you will be able to get "off the shelf" thru-axle style reducers to fit your frame and I'm not sure where to send you to look either. It's possible that a competent machinist could turn something for you on a lathe. Probably would be cheaper then trying to import something. See if you can find a machine shop and take in your linkage and old reducers and see what can be done :thumbsup:
See less See more

yeah i know that they are the reducers, and that the du bushings are still in the shock eyes.

i admit that the hammer removal was not my finest moment. in retrospect two or three alternative ways of getting that off have come to mind... i have an offhand tinker and bash approach to matters mechanical, which doesn't really cut it with more expensive parts.

anyway, i'll try to pick up new reducers, which should be possible if they're a standard size, as there is a fox dealer in town. let me guess though; they aren't a standard size!

otherwise i'll track down a machinist, but bikers, of all people, should be aware of how inconsistent mainland chinese machinists can be. especially here in the west... still, worth a shot, and could even be interesting to look into.

thanks for your help, it's pretty cool, and without it i would be quite stranded, as local shop owners seem, on average, to know even less than i do... i guess we're all learning
See less See more
Looks like you have an alignment issue.
You should go through all your suspension bearings and make sure they are installed properly, and in good shape. I've seen 2 different frames with poor alignment. 1 had a bearing that wasn't seated properly from the factory, and caused wear similar to yours. The other had a bearing that was destroyed and threw the alignment off.

Once you get the alignment dialed, put in the new reducers with a little bit of Slick Honey grease on them. The reducers are suppose to fit tight. I can't get the upper ones out of any previous shock I've had unless they were worn. If they come out easily, then the bushing needs to be replaced.

The mounting hardware has one purpose, pinch the mounting area tight enough around the reducers so they don't move. Make sure you get that stuff tight enough. If not, you'll start ovalizing the mounting holes like others have mentioned.
See less See more
If you're going to make those Spacers the Diameter that inserts into the DU Bushing should be:

1/2" DU Bushing - 0.498" - 0.502"

12mm DU Bushing - 11.966mm - 11.984mm

If you need DU Bushings and a Bushing Tool then I'm your Huckleberry :thumbsup: Remember installing DU Bushings with anything other then a correct tool will leave you in the same situation before the new bushings.......:thumbsup:
well, i'm kind of tired now, so just a quick update.

spent a good while fiddling around with things, noted the following:

the top mount mounts to the shock perfectly, only the bushing moves, no play, feels good.

the bottom mount doesn't look good. no matter how hard i tighten it (within reason) there's slop and the shock isn't turning on the bushing, rather the reducers are turning on the mounting bolt and against the side of the mount on the frame. i tried the bottom bushing and reducers on the top mount and that worked fine, so the bushing is good, and the reducers can't be in terrible shape. (i suspect the top mount is less stiff than the bottom mount, and also has a lot more more grip on the surface, so maybe the reducers still need replacing)

not so good.

so basically i need to somehow tighten the reducers against the frame so that they stop moving.

the sides of the reducers may have been ground down by this turning, as may the frame at the mounts, (that's before i even think of the mount holes having ovalised), so i'll try to get new reducers for the bottom, and see if that enables me to tighten it up so that the bushing becomes the path of least resistance

if that doesn't work i'll get onto bmc, probably (not sure what their customer service is like, but i'll know soon).

but is there any way to lock those reducers in? loctite? spacers between the reducers and frame? if i say that it's the frame mount that's damaged and try to do something to prolong it's life might one of those work. i mean, it seems that if i got the mounting hardware locked down (no matter how i do it) so the bushing worked again it wouldn't do any more damage to the frame.

anyway more investigations on this interesting (to me at least) topic after some sleep. thanks again, nice to be able to throw ideas out there and get critical responses. i'm learning, and even having fun, despite the concern that i'm giving my frame an autopsy!
See less See more
A cut piece of soda/beer aluminum can works great as a spacer.
seadna said:
but is there any way to lock those reducers in? loctite? spacers between the reducers and frame? if i say that it's the frame mount that's damaged and try to do something to prolong it's life might one of those work. i mean, it seems that if i got the mounting hardware locked down (no matter how i do it) so the bushing worked again it wouldn't do any more damage to the frame.
Not a good idea. I suggest you get a set of calipers then start measuring the components. Once you have those measurements then call the frame manufacture to see if the frame mounts are still within factory spec.
thanks 4life, you are the sensible voice urging restraint on this one. contacted bmc and will just wait for a bit.
seadna said:
thanks 4life, you are the sensible voice urging restraint on this one. contacted bmc and will just wait for a bit.
Thanks :D I come from the school of thought.....measure twice, cut once.......:thumbsup:
I've fixed several friends 7points with that type of problem.

First, I make sure that the reducers are long enough so they barely fit into the frame mount. If they're not long enough you can use thin washers to make them fit tight.

Second, I go the the hardware store and buy strong, fine thread pitch bolts & nylock nuts to replace those pins. They're probably either 6mm or 8mm diameter.

Then I put it together and torque it down nice and hard.

Those reducers have to be clamped tight between the frame mounts or you'll get the wear and slop you're experiencing.
mtnbiker4life said:
If you're going to make those Spacers the Diameter that inserts into the DU Bushing should be:

1/2" DU Bushing - 0.498" - 0.502"

12mm DU Bushing - 11.966mm - 11.984mm
Why is the 1/2" style reducer allowed to exceed one half inch, and the 12mm style not allowed to exceed 12mm? That seems odd.

If you are a through-and-through DIY'er, like me, it makes perfect sense to simply add some clamping power with improved mounting bolts and spacers, and reduce the bushing/reducer interface friction by gently sanding either. However, I imagine it's often better to just explain your situation to the manufactuer(s) and get the right equipment, not some makeshift stuff.
That said, I would source a new mounting bolt out of a stainless steel dowel pin [ see part # 91585A204 at ] and thread each end just long enough to get a nut and washer on one side and a nut, washer, and lock-washer on the other. An appropriate dowel pin will be slightly oversized, but still hand-fit much more tightly in your frame than a standard metric bolt will, as bolts are generally slightly undersized. IMO, the extra snug fit is worth the process of threading the dowel, because it will work to minimize ovalizing in the frame, should the reducers start slipping as the shock is constantly changing the force on the dowel in opposite directions. The external threads on the pin will allow you to apply proper force on the reducer without fear of stripping any tiny hex sockets. [For reference my frame manufactuer sugguests torquing the M8 socket cap screws and bolts on their mounting hardware to 20N*m ].
I would see if you can get slightly wider reducers, as I believe they are commonly made in widths such as 22mm and 22.2mm, for example. It is my speculation that the 22.2mm is made for worn, or looser frames. If that route doesn't work, I would sand down a stainless steel washer to the right thickness.
If the reducer/bushing interface really is amazingly tight, and you can't get ahold of any different ones, I don't see any harm coming from lubing them, or as a last resort minutely sanding the reducers down. These are the parts that are going to need the most precise fit, and if you were to remove too much material you'd be screwed.
I hope by posting this I won't lead anyone to ruin... but it made sense to me~
See less See more
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.