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Thread: Leaky Fork Seals - Preventing and Replacing

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    Leaky Fork Seals - Preventing and Replacing

    I intended to take photos and do a write up, since I spent today rebuilding my Ohlins R&T forks on the R1, but being there is a ton of documentation, videos, etc, I decided to just recap and give some advice.

    First, Prevention and Information

    Fork seals and the dust seal/wipe, serve a purpose of keeping the oil in the forks, and keeping the oil clean by preventing dirt from getting inside the forks. Seals degrade over time, as they move on the lower fork legs where things like bug debris, road grime, and more wear on the seals, here are some ways to help make sure they last as long as possible.

    1. Keep the lower fork legs clean. If you are on a ride and see they are covered with bug guts, or other debris, take a wet rag and wipe them down. After you return from a ride, do the same thing, clean the lower legs. This will prevent that crud from entering the forks, and in turn potentially damaging the fork seals.

    2. Fork Seal Cleaning tool. Although you can do this with a somewhat rigid piece of plastic, like a clear plastic cover out of a 3 ring binder, or something similar, one of these tools might be handy to have in your tool box:

    http://www.amazon.com/Motion-Pro-Sea.../dp/B0039LDF4A

    I have one in mine, and when one of my forks started leaking recently, I used it to clean the dust seal, and in turn the fork seal. It stopped the leak, and I got another month (roughly 1200 miles) of riding without a leak. First signs of a leak and I will be using it to clean out the seals.

    3. Dust cover, most dust covers have a double wiper in them, and in between those two wipers sits a lot of debris. You might be tempted to take a screw driver or something to try and clean it out, don't, you can easily scratch the lower fork leg and in turn cause even more issues, and possibly never getting a good seal after it.

    So in short, keep the lowers as clean as possible.

    Replacing fork seals.

    You will need special tools for a cartridge fork, possibly a cap removal tool, spring compressor, retaining clip, thin wrenches, oil level gauge, bleeder rod, cleaners, fork oil, seals, and time and patience. I did purchase a video to rebuild my Ohlins forks from this guy:

    http://www.onthethrottle.com/product...deo-downloads/

    The video was straight forward and worth the $5. Great tips are in the video for doing the entire thing, and he has videos for all kinds of different bikes, not just Ohlins. I would highly suggest getting one if you are going to tackle your own forks and the rebuild.

    I previously bought a set of tools from Traxxion, and they came in handy, but of course Ohlins being difficult required some special tools. I used a flat wrench from my bicycle tools, only a few mm thick to help remove the fork cap, and I had to buy a fork cap tool, but luckily I had pretty much everything else. To hold the fork in a vise, I would recommend some aluminum vise jaws, these are the ones I bought:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o09_s00

    They also come with plastic jaws. They did great holding the forks without a scratch on the casing. If I was doing a lot of these, which I am not... I would get this, just because of how nice of a tool it would be, oh to dream:

    http://www.amazon.com/Motion-Pro-Ver...944527&sr=1-23

    But that's stupid for something I will probably do once a year from now on, so my bench vise with aluminum jaws should be perfect.

    Make sure you have plenty of towels, a bucket to collect the oil, and potentially a torch to make removing the seals a bit easier by heating up the outside of the fork. Take your time and lay everything out in the order you removed it, and read up on your specific forks to make sure you have recorded your preload, compression and rebound settings, and then set them to the appropriate settings for dismantling, as some require zero preload, and even setting compression/rebound to all the way out.

    I will be making sure I keep my fork lowers cleaner than I have been, and the moment I get any type of a leak, I will be attempting to clean the seals right away to prevent damage.

    After 14,000 miles on these seals, they were finally ready to be serviced since they were leaking, but that is some amazing life... Ohlins actually suggests you replace your oil in the forks far more frequently than I did. In fact they say something like 4 hours of track time, once a year, or something like 3,000 miles, whichever it sooner... And at $40 for a set of seals, and $30 for a liter of oil, heck no. I'll replace my oil every other oil change from now on, and the seals once a year, or if they leak. This year (since April) I have ridden close to 11,000 miles, 5 track days, and plan to ride a lot more, now with fresh seals, I shouldn't have any more leaks..
    Michael
    2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale S (Street/Track)
    2007 Yamaha R1 (Street/Track)
    2014 Honda Grom (Pits/Street)
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    Track Day Star barstow's Avatar
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    I think I'll save this so I'll have something to read next time I get on a plane. (smiley face)

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    Quote Originally Posted by barstow View Post
    I think I'll save this so I'll have something to read next time I get on a plane. (smiley face)
    Michael
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    World SBK Champ Blackbird66's Avatar
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    I'll try to shoot a photo of the tool I made when I get out to the shop.
    But
    You can take a 2x6 a pair of long bolts, some washers and a pair of wing nuts to make a super cheap wood clamp to hold your fork tubes with for rebuilding.

    AF1 racing in Texas also has a tool for removing ohlins fork caps for about 1/2 the price of the Ohlins tool.

    The stock Ohlins fork seals don't last but about 10k miles ( street average)
    Or at least the model that comes on an Ape, but GSXR1000 seals ( 2007,08,09 I think off hand) are a direct fit, have no noticeable difference in stiction but last for many more miles ( thanks again Common Wealth).

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    Tech Admin Railing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird66 View Post
    I'll try to shoot a photo of the tool I made when I get out to the shop.
    But
    You can take a 2x6 a pair of long bolts, some washers and a pair of wing nuts to make a super cheap wood clamp to hold your fork tubes with for rebuilding.

    AF1 racing in Texas also has a tool for removing ohlins fork caps for about 1/2 the price of the Ohlins tool.

    The stock Ohlins fork seals don't last but about 10k miles ( street average)
    Or at least the model that comes on an Ape, but GSXR1000 seals ( 2007,08,09 I think off hand) are a direct fit, have no noticeable difference in stiction but last for many more miles ( thanks again Common Wealth).
    I didn't buy the Ohlins fork tool, Kyle's racing sells a nice one for a decent price.

    I have seen plans for homemade fork holders, but I bought the Race Tech Fork tool that looks like this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Race-Tech-Fork.../dp/B000GV6UIE

    It did the job extremely well, and then the $11 aluminum vise inserts didn't scratch the forks, so it worked out well. First one took me longer than the second, and I would say I could rebuild the forks in about an hour now that I have done it and know what to expect.

    Especially the face that there are holes on the fork inner tubes and if you pull them out of the fork lower too much before you drain the oil, you dump said oil all over the floor, the side of your tool box, and your shoe. But don't ask me how I know that.

    So far, no leaks.

    In terms of fork seals, I read about the GSXR seals after buying the Ohlins seals. I already have a set of the GSXR seals on order to have on hand for the next change, and a bottle of Ohlin's R&T fork oil ready for the next change.

    I figure I will have another 10,000 miles on the bike by June, so I will need to do it by then.
    Michael
    2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale S (Street/Track)
    2007 Yamaha R1 (Street/Track)
    2014 Honda Grom (Pits/Street)
    2006 Yamaha FZ1 (Street)
    2004 Suzuki GSXR750 (Track)
    2000 Suzuki SV650 (Street/Track)

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    ........CEO........ .Cheetah.'s Avatar
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    I just usually will swap the entire front end when I have a leaky one......

    2007 Honda 600RR / Will / CEO

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    Quote Originally Posted by .Cheetah. View Post
    I just usually will swap the entire front end when I have a leaky one......
    Must know some generous people then...
    Michael
    2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale S (Street/Track)
    2007 Yamaha R1 (Street/Track)
    2014 Honda Grom (Pits/Street)
    2006 Yamaha FZ1 (Street)
    2004 Suzuki GSXR750 (Track)
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