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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Does anyone actually change this as recommended by dealer? It seems like a lot of work to go through if your fork seals do not need to be replaced. That and I have a hard time believing the synthetic oil they put in there breaks down as the synthetic oil in the transmission of my car is guaranteed for the life of the transmission as is the oil in the rear shock.
 

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I changed the fork oil in both my Gen 1s, and was surprised at how much 'crap' was in it. When I raced enduros, most of us used ATF for fork oil, which is what I did.

On my D2D ride last June, the seals 'let go' on my Gen 3's forks. I complained, so Kawasaki replaced them under warranty, but I had the mechanic refill them w/ the ATF that I supplied.

Incidentally, when I had to replace the seals on my '08 (done at the AZ dealer) TOO much ATF was put in one leg, thus BLOWING the NEW seal! I had them re-do it w/ me standing-by, w/ MY caliper to measure the oil-level, and did the SAME when the BC dealer 'did' my '15's fork seals. BOTH working OK now.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
At what mileage did you change the oil on your gen ones?

I just had to buy some transmission fluid for my VW automatic and it's super expensive, even the alternative brands (all German or European) are on average $30/litre, the OEM stuff is $50/litre. Cheapest was Amsoil, but it was still only slightly less than $20 a bottle. Synthetic single weight fork oil is $10/litre in comparison. What was the reason for using transmission fluid? What viscosity/weight is it, what kind?
 

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I have an off-road bike (GasGas TXT 250, 2-stroke) that uses ATF in the transmission. I buy the ATF at Walmart, at just over $2 per quart, and I change it frequently.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Tech-Automatic-Transmission-Fluid/16213433 It works fine for the transmission, anyway, for that bike.

Part of the reason for changing street bike fork oil so often is because of the way the fork springs tend to "flake off" their surface as they are being used. Those flakes end up in the fork fluid, and that, over time, will degrade the fork fluid. I agree that changing the fluid is a bit of a pain on our V, but if you allow your self enough time and patience, it shouldn't be too difficult to do. I recall Gustavo did a how-to on this forum several years ago, with lots of photos. It just takes patience and know how. And a heated garage, maybe. ;o) I plan to do mine soon. I was planning to overfill it slightly to help combat front end dive. But after reading the post above, I might not overfill it, and just go with a heavier spring and heavier for fluid. Hmmmm.....
 

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Yes , the fork oil change is easy and will extend the life of the bushings and seals ... if you get the oil level right...

The service manual spec on my 2013 is 2.5 inch on the left fork... and 3 inches on the right fork... that's with the spring out and collapsed down.. Race Tech has a spec of 70 mm left and 100 mm right leg on there charts...

10 wt. oil or if you like a quicker rebound and comp feel go with 5 wt.

The factory oil after only 5000 miles will turn to a silver color with all the metallic specks in it...

Often after a fork oil change on my bikes the handing will improve quite a bit...


 

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ATF and fork oil is virtually the same fluid, as they are both for hydraulic system applications... I now run straight Maxima synthetic 10W which I really like.

Racing Fork Fluid - Maxima Racing Oils

Dexron III / Mercon V ATF with a viscosity of 7.5 cSt @ 100°C is about equivalent to an SAE viscosity 10 Weight fork oil...
Maxima 10W fork oil has a viscosity of 7.72 cSt @ 100°C, and Amsoil 10W is 7.3 cSt @ 100°C.

Original Showa SS8 10W fork fluid in the Versys does look and smell like ATF, but is actually of a slightly lighter viscosity of 36.47 cSt @ 40°C, 7.24 cSt @ 100°C.

You could upgrade to a synthetic ATF with a higher viscosity index for better viscosity stability in temperature variations... Also, viscosity can vary depending on which brand and type of ATF.

Forks typically operate at about 26°C (78°F) in 21°C (70°C) ambient temperature.

Automatic Tranny Fluids -

Viscosity Index / Viscosity [email protected] /Viscosity [email protected]

163 38.8 7.5 = Amsoil PAO-Synthetic Multi-Vehicle ATF
173 28.18 6.11 = Valvoline MaxLife DEX/MERC ATF
171 35 7.1 = Mobil Multi-Vehicle ATF
145 29.5 5.83 = Mobil Super DEXRON-VI ATF
176 36.3 7.6 = Mobil 1 PAO-Synthetic ATF
198 34 7.5 = Redline Ester-Synthetic D4 ATF Dexron III / Mercon / API GL-4
213 32.3 7.5 = Redline Ester-Synthetic C+ ATF
............ 5.5~6.0 = Ford Mercon SP ATF
............ 8.3 = Honda CVT Fluid
Fork Oil Amount:

Right Fork Leg Approx. 410 mL (13.9 US oz.) (when changing oil)
478 ±2.5 mL (16.2 ±0.084 US oz.) (after disassembly and completely dry)
Left Fork Leg Approx. 415 mL (14.0 US oz.) (when changing oil)
487 ±2.5 mL (16.5 ±0.084 US oz.) (after disassembly and completely dry)

Fork Oil Level:

Right Fork Leg 75 ±2 mm (3.0 ±0.08 in.) (fully compressed, without fork spring, below from the top of the outer tube)
Left Fork Leg 65 ±2 mm (2.6 ±0.08 in.) (fully compressed, without fork spring, below from the top of the outer tube)

I let mine drain completely, sitting upside down in a pan and leaning up against a floorboard heater for a couple days. I also wiped the spring clean and cleaned out inner fork tube with a clean lint-free towel taped to the end of a stick (giant Q-tip). It then needed about 478ml rignt and 487ml left for correct level.

Original Showa SS8 (SAE 10W) fork fluid has a viscosity of 36.47 cSt @ 40°C (104°F), 7.24 cSt @ 100°C (212°F) and 167 viscosity index... It also looks and smells just like ATF.

Fasteddiecoperman used WalMart's Super Tech High Mileage ATF made by Warren Performance Products (WPP), most likely the equivalent of www.wd-wpp.com which has a viscosity of 34.5 cSt @ 40°C, 7.3 cSt @ 100°C, and 187 VI... Viscosity and viscosity index vary between different types and brands of ATF, and between different brands of 10W fork fluid.
Synthetic ATF typically runs about the same price as synthetic fork oil. Conventional ATF is actually cheaper than conventional fork oil... I still like using actual synthetic fork oil, which is specifically formulated for it, although even non-synthetic ATF's pour point is significantly lower (colder) than fork oil.

Racing Fork Fluid - Maxima Racing Oils

Also available in petroleum based for less.

Fork Oil - Maxima Racing Oils
 

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I did it recently with 2500 miles on it. I just beeded the fork compressor and piston rod puller, which you can get for less from Traxxion Dynamics. I got their Fork Spring Compressor Kit for $36.95, and the Kawasaki piston rod puller from http://www.cheapcycleparts.com/Street.aspx for $15.05... I was able to do it without a floor vise or any help... Oil was already a bit dirty and black. I also wipped off black wear residue from fork inner tubes, spacers and springs. When reassembling my forks, I had to back off fork cap from screwed all the way in by almost 3 turns (10.5 turns screwed in on the rod) to give rebound damping adjuster 3 turns of adjustment range, so I also screwed in left fork's cap in by 10.5 turns before tightening its lock nut. Extended fork length is affected, so they should both be set equally.
 

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At what mileage did you change the oil on your gen ones?

I just had to buy some transmission fluid for my VW automatic and it's super expensive, even the alternative brands (all German or European) are on average $30/litre, the OEM stuff is $50/litre. Cheapest was Amsoil, but it was still only slightly less than $20 a bottle. Synthetic single weight fork oil is $10/litre in comparison. What was the reason for using transmission fluid? What viscosity/weight is it, what kind?
On my '08 I changed the fork oil at 30,800 miles using WalMart "High Mileage" ATF, then AGAIN at 56,590 miles (same ATF).
I was VERY careful on getting the oil-levels CORRECT as per the SERVICE MANUAL each time, BUT at 57,532 miles my right fork started to 'seep', so I had the seal changed (used ATF), then at 61,604 miles the LEFT started seeping, so its seal was changed, ATF used to refill.

In retrospect, I probably should have just done BOTH at the same time....

On my Gen 3 - BOTH forks started seeping during my D2D 2016 ride (around 12,000 miles!!!), Kawasaki replaced them under warranty, and I supplied the ATF (AND stood-by w/ MY calipers to ensure that the oil-levels were CORRECT...!).





(NEVER had any problem on the '09 till my low-side onto the left-side on the Dempster in June '15 which caused the LEFT fork to leak - AMONG other issues - it was an 'insurance write-off' after I returned to Kelowna....)

 
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