Oily Shock - Big Deal or No?

Looking for a second opinion from the bike mechanics around here:

After my last ride I noticed an oily sheen on the shaft of my rear shock (Fox Float DPS). I took the bike to a LBS in Halifax and was told that a little bit of oil residue is nothing to worry about, that it’s only an issue if there’s oil dripping from the shock and/or there’s issues with the damper. True or false?

Up till last week I’ve never seen any oily residue on the shock after a good day of riding, regardless of temperature, trail difficulty, etc. My concern was that one of the seals may be crapping out on me. Thoughts?

I think that is not a good thing but @a.mart is the guy to definitively answer this

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If you haven’t had it recently serviced, and it just started doing it, it may be a bad thing. If the shock was recently serviced, it may get a bit greasy because of the grease that often gets packed into the seal area. My shock has had a bit since @a.mart serviced it, but it’s smooth like butter. One other tell around a blown shock is if the rebound adjustments make little to no difference.


How old is the bike, or when was the shock last serviced? The shock service interval is 100 hours.

Bike was purchased new in Oct 2020 and has not had a shock or fork service done yet. Granted it’s an estimate but I’ve put less than 50 hrs of riding in so far.

A little moisture is normal and actually a good thing. A little moisture means your seals are being lubricated and therefore not dry which causing sticking suspension and if they get too dry the o-rings could fail completely.

I have found that the Rockshox Deluxe/ Super Deluxe like @brightwhite had serviced tends to push out a little more grease/ oil which is not an issue other than it can be annoying to have to wipe your shock off after a ride. I have seen a couple do this and the only thing I can think of is that it has something to do with the little coil spring that that particular shock has sitting on the stanchion under the air can.

A little moisture is not a problem, a lot sure is though as it usually means a failed damper. But again, like @brightwhite said, an easy test is to crank your rebound to max rebound damping and compress the shock, it should extend very slowly. if it does not return slowly then there may be an issue with it. Less air pressure in the can will make this more noticeable. I compress all dampers while they are apart with the air can off and they will pretty much stay compressed with the rebound damping at max and then if you start backing the rebound off the shock will pop back open.

Another check is if you depress the schrader valve and a lot of fluid comes out, then your damper is probably passing fluid into the air can. A little fluid is normal, but I came across a blown damper the other day and there was probably 15ml of fluid in the air can. The air cans only get 3ml at most during a rebuild.

And you could also just have a failed air can o-ring that is allowing the oil and grease that is in the air chamber to leak out. Is the shock holding air pressure properly?


I actually don’t know. I’m picking up the bike today after work so I’ll check when I get home. Thanks for the advice, folks!