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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How many of you guys are like my dad and never change their fork oil? He's had a 1986 shadow for about 10 years now, I called and asked and he's never changed/checked his. I decided to change my fork oil and this is what I got out of the left leg...



it was thick.. and the spring and spacer were covered in thicker, greasy, poopy looking "crap". It must have gotten water in it at some point. I flushed it out with some fresh atf, worked the forks, drained it again, and refilled with new. In a few hundred miles i'll probably change it again if the seals don't leak. I talked my dad into changing his, ya'll should too!
 

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I've never changed fork oil just to change it. Never held on to a motorcycle longer than a couple of years and my dirt bikes blow seals often enough to keep the oil from getting too old. If your oil looked like it did, why didn't you completely disassemble your tubes, scrub everything out and go ahead and replace the seals and bushings while you were there?
 

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This is why I always remove the tubes when I do fork oil. I spray a half a can of carb cleaner into each tube and work them then drain. I then switch to atf fill work and drain till it runs clean, I have never had to replace a seal.
 

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JIMBO: You do know that carb cleaner is hard as heck on bushings! Brake Kleen might do you a lot better.
 

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Been doing it this way for years and like I said never had to change a leaking seal. The cleaner is in there for about 2 minutes before it is dumped and replaced with ATF. The ATF is cycled and dump about 2 times and then fork oil is put in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've never changed fork oil just to change it. Never held on to a motorcycle longer than a couple of years and my dirt bikes blow seals often enough to keep the oil from getting too old. If your oil looked like it did, why didn't you completely disassemble your tubes, scrub everything out and go ahead and replace the seals and bushings while you were there?
It's on the list, along with some springs. I pulled the springs and spacers out and cleaned them, cut the spacers down and put them back in. Flushed as good as i could with ATF. I have a lot more stuff to do before i pull the forks apart. Like make a seat, riding on a bungee corded sweatshirt isn't very fun.. and put fenders on, as salty/muddy water isn't very tasty!
 

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The hardest part for me with the forks was seating the new seals with a make-shift PVC tool. Everything else really just slid on or apart and was a breeze. Progressive fork springs are only $68, I only planned to do seals and oil but on a whim I ordered the springs and they really are firmer. Used 15w hydraulic oil as well.



(stock top, progressive lower)
 

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Perhaps using a second pvc pipe on top of the pvc driver, that is, pounding the pvc driver with second pvc pipe would have speedy upped the process. Heck, use an extra long pvc pipe and you could drive the oil seal in upside down.
 

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A) How do you know if you need new fork oil?

B) I'm new to bikes, and my 2002bike, probably has 13+ year old original oil in the forks and original seals.

Is changing fork oil and new seals a big job? Can a pretty-good home mechanic do this, or should it be left to a professional mechanic?

How to learn the step-by-step procedure to change the fork oil and replace the fork seals with new ones?
 

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Just follow the change interval in your service manual. If the seals aren't leaking, they're fine. I'm putting in new fork oil @ 8500mi., but only because I'm changing fork springs.
 

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I changed everything up front at 15K miles. The oil was discolored and the forks felt "soft" and compressed fairly easily. They had never been serviced.

I followed this walkthrough exactly - https://youtu.be/vrmYJgcGX30

I'm a home mechanic with basic tools and I managed to do both forks unassisted in a few hours in a very small, messy garage.
 

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I changed everything up front at 15K miles. The oil was discolored and the forks felt "soft" and compressed fairly easily. They had never been serviced.

I followed this walkthrough exactly - https://youtu.be/vrmYJgcGX30

I'm a home mechanic with basic tools and I managed to do both forks unassisted in a few hours in a very small, messy garage.

tobimaru,

Thank you, that's helpful.
 

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JIMBO: You do know that carb cleaner is hard as heck on bushings! Brake Kleen might do you a lot better.
Wow, dont listen to this stupid advice. Brake cleaner contains chemicals which will kill anything not metal.
 

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Perhaps using a second pvc pipe on top of the pvc driver, that is, pounding the pvc driver with second pvc pipe would have speedy upped the process. Heck, use an extra long pvc pipe and you could drive the oil seal in upside down.
I used the old seals turned upside down and light weight cheap plastic often found in the $5 cheap tool selection and tap carefully/gently the new ones in. Be sure to put oil on the OD of the new seals.
 

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JIMBO: You do know that carb cleaner is hard as heck on bushings! Brake Kleen might do you a lot better.
I'd thats some nasty stuff to use also. Mineral spirits for flushing is pretty safe and does evaporate after cleaning.
 

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Wow, dont listen to this stupid advice. Brake cleaner contains chemicals which will kill anything not metal.
If you read the advice it won't be so stupid. There is no way I would pour anything into the fork tubes to flush them out. My recommendation was/is to disassemble the forks and spray all the components down with brake kleen before re-assembly. Brake kleen will not hurt the coatings on the bushings at all whereas carb cleaner will. Brake kleen will not hurt the rubber seals if you happen to spray them either whereas carb cleaner will cause them to shrink a bit.
Fork seals are weird critters. Some put up with all kinds of crap, others are ready to leak before you even get them on the bike. I've been doing my own fork seals on dirt bikes for many years and have never had a problem with one. I didn't learn how to do fork seals by watching youtube videos or asking on online forums, I learned by working next to professional bike mechanics, you know, the kind who actually make a living replacing fork seals.
 

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I'd thats some nasty stuff to use also. Mineral spirits for flushing is pretty safe and does evaporate after cleaning.
I couldn't imagine "flushing" the tubes as you never know if you get everything out. If you are going to remove the bottom hex bolt to drain the forks, I don't see why you wouldn't spend the additional 15 minutes to remove the tubes, disassemble them, clean, wipe and re-assemble using fresh bushings and seals and re-fill with fresh fork oil. At least then you know exactly what's going on inside the tubes.
 
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