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Motorcycle Suspension Service Best Practices

A leaky fork seal is more than just an eyesore. A loss of fork oil will at best degrade the damping performance and cause a failed inspection. At worst, the fork oil can coat the front brake disc and tire, leading to an unsafe motorcycle.

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the damping chamber might need its own special tool on some designs like the yamaha yz450f.
sportbike forks often require a spring compressor tool like this item from traxxion dynamics.
a very common fork tool is a damper holder. this will keep the damper from turning as the bottom bolt is loosened or tightened. make sure to have the correct tool for the specific fork as there are several different types.
one of the most basic and handy tools for fork work is a fork oil level gauge. this will allow you to quickly and accurately set the oil level.a set of quality fork seal drivers is a must. these are not one-size-fits-all, so be sure to grab the right diameter.in addition to special tools, there will be a need for additional parts beyond the basic seals. sealing washers and o-rings often need to be replaced anytime the fork is disassembled. usually, the stopper ring for the fork oil seal is not included in a fork seal kit. sometimes, this clip cannot be reused. this often occurs on “right side up,” forks where the outer fork tube is on the bottom. this common type of fork is susceptible to catching water between the dust and oil seals. the water will rust out the stopper ring.Changing the fork bushings at the same time as the fork seals is a great way to help the customer. You are already there, and installing new bushings takes little more time than putting the old ones back in. If the customer complains of a clunky feel to the front suspension stroke, the bushings may be past their prime. Most bushings have a built-in wear indicator. If the Teflon coating has worn off more than the specified amount (usually 75%) they need to go.It’s springtime, and all those bikes that hibernated through the winter are returning to service. This is a prime time for fork seals to start leaking. A leaky fork seal is more than just an eyesore. A loss of fork oil will at best degrade the damping performance and cause a failed inspection. At worst, the fork oil can coat the front brake disc and tire, leading to an unsafe motorcycle.

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All damping rod forks are essentially serviced the same way — the service becomes less straightforward when the level of suspension technology is more advanced.

Before starting a fork seal service, take some time to make the proper preparation. The best place to start is a quality service manual that will have the factory specifications, procedures and special tool requirements. Reading through the procedure before the job is started will help you make a better estimate for the customer and complete the job in less time.

The most common specifications you will need are oil volume, oil level, oil type and torque specs. It is also good to know the service limits for the related components like fork spring free length. Note any special procedures such as oil bleeding to make sure the rebuilt fork performs as it was intended from the factory.

Having the necessary special tools to complete the job is vital. Replacing fork seals doesn’t take that long even on complex forks, unless you realize mid-course you don’t have the right tool for the job.

If you service motorcycles, you will replace fork seals. Being prepared with specifications, procedures and special tools will make this common job a breeze.

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