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Do I really need to change fork oil?


BiggyD
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I am one of these guys that change fluids and stuff like that when needed .I have a 2005 1500 Vulcan Classic FI. Brake/clutch and coolant are fluids to keep fresh.The bike mechanic that lives down the street from me has always told me that other than the basics, just leave the fork oil alone. If there are no leaks/problems (right amount of fluid) you don't need to change it.

Of course this is just my opinion :). I have never had issues with any of my bikes by just doing the necessary/safety maintenance :)

Den

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If you don't change the fork oil a couple things happen.

1. the dampening action tires out and you don't have the same ride control and comfort as you once did. This happens so gradually you don't notice it.

2. the fork oil get contaminated by moisture from air and then the insides of the fork start rusting. That rust in turn will eventually wreck a fork seal. If you plan on only keeping the bike 5 years you don't have to do anything to keep it running, but to keep it at it's best change the fluids as the manufacturer recommends. I've seen forks that the fluid has not been changed in 10 years and it is nasty inside. Once the rust has started you can't stop it. Fork seals every year then become the norm and it's not the fault of the seals, but of the rust that is happening inside.

3. yes forks are sealed, but are not 100% sealed against air and moisture. Those that wash their bikes with water get water contamination in the forks more than others.

Donald

- but then again I've only been running a bike shop for 13 years

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If you don't change the fork oil a couple things happen.

1. the dampening action tires out and you don't have the same ride control and comfort as you once did. This happens so gradually you don't notice it.

2. the fork oil get contaminated by moisture from air and then the insides of the fork start rusting. That rust in turn will eventually wreck a fork seal. If you plan on only keeping the bike 5 years you don't have to do anything to keep it running, but to keep it at it's best change the fluids as the manufacturer recommends. I've seen forks that the fluid has not been changed in 10 years and it is nasty inside. Once the rust has started you can't stop it. Fork seals every year then become the norm and it's not the fault of the seals, but of the rust that is happening inside.

3. yes forks are sealed, but are not 100% sealed against air and moisture. Those that wash their bikes with water get water contamination in the forks more than others.

Donald

- but then again I've only been running a bike shop for 13 years

That's why I always say that it's just my opinion :) and I"m sure you know more about bikes than I do so certainly respect yours. I should correct though, he did not say "never" change the fork oil just that with to days bikes, you don't need to run it to the shop every time they say to change the fork oil. I have been dealing with the same mechanic for over 20yrs. so I guess I trust his suggestions.

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Most Harleys have a drain on the forks

Most Japanese bikes do not

Regarless you are very wise to do a complete dissambly of the forks to wash out all the particles with a solvent before replacing the fluid.

Otherwise your brand new fork oil is contaminated right off the bat with filings that are left in the forks

Donald

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As a result of this thread I got mine done yesterday. With 56200 km on my 05 Vulcan 1600 Classic it had never been done. I never noticed any difference in handling when I picked up the bike and have no idea what the oil looked like that came out.

I would assume the seals looked fine as they weren't replaced. I don't know and didn't ask if they normally replace the seals when doing the change. I was charged $18.85 for fork oil, $6.99 brake & electrical cleaner and $85.00 for 1 hour of labour. The total with taxes $131.18.

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I`am not 100% about this but I think you went the hard way around with this . On my forks and the ones I have changed there has been a drain plug at the bottom of the fork . and to put the oil back in you shouldn`t have to take the sping clip off . Lots of extra work . But I could be wronge in your case . Just a thought for next time . ;):)

He's got a vulcan. They don't have drain plugs (no drain plug was on their list of good ideas, with a plastic oil pump gear). He did exactly what the service manual recommends. I know this because I did mine while I had the front end apart. Someone had done them before him I assume, because IIRC Ma Kaw uses 10W fork oil. Dexron (ATF) will work gine, but will degrade (turn purple - silver) faster than fork oil. Every 2 to 5 years is probably right for ride control. I live in the rain forest (Vancouver island) and moisture inside has never happened to me in any span under 2 years. Of course, if a bike is stored outdoors, all bets are off

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you have a v-star classic?

He's got a vulcan. They don't have drain plugs (no drain plug was on their list of good ideas, with a plastic oil pump gear). He did exactly what the service manual recommends. I know this because I did mine while I had the front end apart. Someone had done them before him I assume, because IIRC Ma Kaw uses 10W fork oil. Dexron (ATF) will work gine, but will degrade (turn purple - silver) faster than fork oil. Every 2 to 5 years is probably right for ride control. I live in the rain forest (Vancouver island) and moisture inside has never happened to me in any span under 2 years. Of course, if a bike is stored outdoors, all bets are off

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