What I learned from doing my forks - that the manual does not tell you - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 09:43 AM Thread Starter
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What I learned from doing my forks - that the manual does not tell you

I did my forks the other night. Here's what I learned in the process. I'm posting this in the hope others who may wish to attempt this may find reading it helpful, in addition to the other resources out there like the service manual (the bible), other threads on this site and the many good HOW TO videos on YouTube. It's really not hard to do IF you have the right tools and can be done in three hours (first time) and probably half that on a second or third attempt when you have some experience.

The secret is to first read through the manual's fork section and also watch a few HOW TO service inverted forks videos on YouTuve so you know what you have to do and have a fork seal driver and the two Kawasaki tools previously mentioned or a home fabbed replacement for them.


  1. not all fork oils are the same - For the Versys 650 the manual recommends Showa SS8 fork fluid. Looking this up on the Internet I was able to determine this translated into a fork fluid with a viscosity (cSt @ 40C) of 36.8. 10W fork fluids have viscosities closest to this however they still very widely by brand from 10cSt @ 40C for Ohlins to over 40cSt @ 40C or White Power. Note since viscosity changes with temperature it is compared at the same temperature, 40C. You should care more about the viscosity than the weight when selecting a fork oil to use. You can also blend your own viscosity by mixing oils of different viscositys. Lots of info on the Internet on this. Many fork oil manufactures publish tables for blending. A thinner viscosity will reduce compression damping while a thicker oil with increase it. It will also effect the setting you use to achieve a specific rebound damping on bikes with forks that allow you to set rebound damping. Synthetic fluids perform more consistently over different temperatures.
  2. you need some special tools - in particular you need the piston rod extender and fork spring retaining clip in the manual or you need to fabricate something to do their jobs if you are handy. I purchased the piston rod puller/extender for about $30 from the dealer and fabricated a spring retainer out of a plate of steel that I drilled and ground a 9.6-10.0mm slot in, to slide under the top cap bold and above the spacer so you can remove the top cap (see manual). A friend slipped a screw driver in the preload spacer holes to get leverage and pulled down on the preload spacer while I pulled up on the piston puller to expose the bolt on the top of the piston rod and slipped the plate under it. With the plate in place it is easy to get a 14mm wrench around this bolt to hold it in place while you removed the top cap.
  3. there is no need to replace the bushings unless you have a very high mileage bike
  4. do replace the fork seals and dust wipers unless you have access to a shop and tools where you can easily do this if and when the seals fail down the road, I used an all balls kit which was relatively cheap
  5. the old fork oil was noticeably dirty after 27,000km of only road riding. I'm sure it would be even dirtier with some off road and dirt road riding. Despite this the viscosity and condition of the old oil looked OK. If I was paying for someone to do my forks I would just wait until the fork seals failed to have the forks looked at and change the oil
  6. now's a good time to examine the chrome part of the fork legs for scratches that can damage new seals. Wet sand if necessary to remove scratches.
  7. have lots of clean rags and paper towels on hand
  8. you need a bench vise, ideally with some soft hold inserts to avoid damaging the forks
  9. the motion pro 41mm fork seal driver was invaluable in seating the new fork seals and dust seals although you could probably fab one up if you are really handy. Pushing these down with a screw driver is a recipe for destroying your new seals
  10. the right fork leg has the rebound adjustment and the axle retaining bolt, don't mix up the fork legs, they're not the same inside
  11. read the fork section of the manual and watch a few upside down fork HOW TO videos on YouTube if your like me and have not done this before, before you do it
  12. a syringe you can get for free from most pharmacists makes a great tool to measure fork oil level, don't with the needle.

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Last edited by twowheels; 03-13-2018 at 10:55 AM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 12:58 PM
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Just finished re-valving my right fork last night. Big improvement and super glad I did it. I blended my own fork oil to right at 40 cSt at 40C. The combination of the more compliant shim stack and the more viscous oil seems to have hit the happy point where you get better control over low speed fork velocities and softer initial compliance with high speed velocities. Pretty happy overall.

I did get two things wrong initially: 1. be very careful your shims are totally seated when putting the bolt back in to the cone. Mine were off just a hair and it trashed the shims in a 1/4 turn and I had to buy some more and wait for them to come in. And 2. Turn the rebound adjuster the full three turns in before reinstalling the cap onto the damper rod. The manual says allow for 1.5 mm measure from the base of the preload adjuster to the top of the rebound adjuster but its not super clear in its measurement and why you do it.

Keep it rubber side down and enjoy the ride
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharkynrk View Post
Just finished re-valving my right fork last night. Big improvement and super glad I did it. I blended my own fork oil to right at 40 cSt at 40C. The combination of the more compliant shim stack and the more viscous oil seems to have hit the happy point where you get better control over low speed fork velocities and softer initial compliance with high speed velocities. Pretty happy overall.

I did get two things wrong initially: 1. be very careful your shims are totally seated when putting the bolt back in to the cone. Mine were off just a hair and it trashed the shims in a 1/4 turn and I had to buy some more and wait for them to come in. And 2. Turn the rebound adjuster the full three turns in before reinstalling the cap onto the damper rod. The manual says allow for 1.5 mm measure from the base of the preload adjuster to the top of the rebound adjuster but its not super clear in its measurement and why you do it.
I never did this. I just left the preload where it was and will adjust once I get the bike on the road. Hope it will not cause issues.

As for the shim stack I did not detach the piston rod from fork so left this part in. There is no need to remove it unless you plan on altering the shim stack. Have not ridden my bike yet due to snow so the end results are still unknown.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 06:22 PM
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It's not the preload adjuster, its the rebound adjuster just FYI. If you have the full three turns of the rebound adjuster your likely ok. I think its only if you pull the damper rod from the cap and slide it out that it has to be adjusted to have enough clearance.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-13-2018, 10:48 PM
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Thanks for sharing.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-14-2018, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by sharkynrk View Post
Just finished re-valving my right fork last night. Big improvement and super glad I did it. I blended my own fork oil to right at 40 cSt at 40C. The combination of the more compliant shim stack and the more viscous oil seems to have hit the happy point where you get better control over low speed fork velocities and softer initial compliance with high speed velocities. Pretty happy overall.

I did get two things wrong initially: 1. be very careful your shims are totally seated when putting the bolt back in to the cone. Mine were off just a hair and it trashed the shims in a 1/4 turn and I had to buy some more and wait for them to come in. And 2. Turn the rebound adjuster the full three turns in before reinstalling the cap onto the damper rod. The manual says allow for 1.5 mm measure from the base of the preload adjuster to the top of the rebound adjuster but its not super clear in its measurement and why you do it.
NVM.... I just saw your other post

'08 Versys.. Givi rear rack, JCW trunk and E21's, Givi shield, Madstad bracket, Speedy peg and mirror brackets, lowering kit, SC Seat, R1 Shock.. other stuff. '09 KLX250 setup for singletrack. 2011 Xterra, '80 CJ-7

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Last edited by abramsgunner; 03-14-2018 at 04:16 PM.
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