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Just noticed my left fork seal is leaking. I was planning on rebuilding both forks over the winter.

I have two options:

1: head straight home, about 1200 miles ish, mostly through the Great Plains.

2: my original route: head west to black canyon, then down towards the million dollar highway, over to great sand dunes, then home.

Option 2 adds a couple days and several hundred miles through twisty roads.

Is it safe to put down that many miles on twisty roads with the seal leaking?

I was going to order a seal doctor but it won’t get here in time so I’m gonna try to pick one up on the way.

I’ve read tons of threads on rebuilding forks and cleaning the seals but I didn’t see anything about what to do in this situation if you are a few days from home and if it’s safe to ride.

Thanks
Mate,

remove the legs from the triple clamps, and take the bare legs to
a motorcycle shop... preferably a Kwaka dealer as they should have the seals and dust covers in stock as well as the special tools needed for forks. They should appreciate that you've done the largest (but simple) part of the work too.

Tell them you had a leak and to replace the oil, the seals and the dust covers.

Most motorcycle mechanics have done the job many many times and there should
be no problems and cost less than a total of $200.

Having said that, when you get the legs back, check they
are the same length... (within a millimetre or 1/25 inch) as there is a male thread and lock nut in the system that can effect the overall length of the leg... and "experts" have failed to notice
that feature on your type of fork legs. On second thoughts, tell the technician
about the leg length situation when you hand the legs over... that way, if he doesnt already know that, he (or she) is forewarned and has no excuse not to get that right in the first place.

Have fun,

Alan
 

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And the only thing I’ll be replacing is the fluid, dust caps and seals right?
I'd been riding my KLX in this boggy black "dirt"... having bulk fun.
A day or so later my front brake seemed to fail... It was bulk fork oil on the (one and only) disc.

Upon inspection I discovered that a match head sized lump of the black shit I'd been riding through
had dried like cement on the inner fork leg and was pushed in and out of the seal, destroying the seal.

So, to avoid any possibility of that happening again I fitted fork gaiters while the inners were removed
from the outers during the seal replacement... Virtually never seen
on USD forks... but worked for me.

If you ride in wet dirt much you may want to do it too while the forks are apart.
After I fitted the gaiters I noticed that when the forks were compressed I was getting
negative clearance between the disc and gaiter... so I fabricated a small shield
out of thin aluminium sheet that fixed with the existing fastners down at the
bottom of the fork leg.

My KLX 650 with gaiters(y)
sold to pay rent and school fees :-(
183596
 

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I've been using "fork gaiters" for awhile, a model named "FORKSKINS", and my seals have stayed in VG condition. You can see them in this pic of my '15.

IMG_2244 by Ed Copeman, on Flickr

HIGHLY recommend them!

(y)(y)

:cool:
 

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Cool... they are probably a lot easier to fit than the old
rubber/vinyl/plastic? concertina style jobs too
You remove the fork legs, work the FORKSKINS down from the top, and then I used a black "zip-tie" to hold them.

They've been on my '15 for 62.xxx kms (38,5xx miles), and FIVE years...!

The paperwork says "Fits fork tubes w/ a diameter of 44mm to 50mm.", w/ a 'part number' of 0406-0010.

(y)(y)

:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Update:

Doesn't seem to be leaking anymore, is there an easy way to add a little oil or at least check the level with the fork installed?

As far as the dealer.... I don't trust them. Just about every job I've tried to have my local dealer do for me has been botched. I trust myself more even though I've never done this job. Dealers botching repairs seems to be the norm per Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and my personal experience.

I've been wanting to upgrade my suspension. Gonna do the R1 rear eventually, but the front is probably gonna first. I've been looking for a right fork to salvage the parts from to rebuild my left fork but the ones that are usable are a little expensive and usually I've been finding them in pairs.

If I'm gonna take the forks apart, would it be worth it to change the springs too? I'm 6'4"/180lbs ish. I'd like to set it up for riding 2 up or with luggage. I'm not sure how to tell what type of springs I would need to better suit my bike with my weight and weight with passengers or luggage.

Gonna be a winter job so I've got a couple months of riding before I'll actually need all the parts.

Even the R1 swap is a little intimidating honestly. I think more so on the R1 swap just for sourcing the correct parts. I've read detailed write-ups but havent seen any links for springs or bushings. I'll keep digging.
 

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Update:

Doesn't seem to be leaking anymore, is there an easy way to add a little oil or at least check the level with the fork installed?

As far as the dealer.... I don't trust them. Just about every job I've tried to have my local dealer do for me has been botched. I trust myself more even though I've never done this job. Dealers botching repairs seems to be the norm per Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and my personal experience.

I've been wanting to upgrade my suspension. Gonna do the R1 rear eventually, but the front is probably gonna first. I've been looking for a right fork to salvage the parts from to rebuild my left fork but the ones that are usable are a little expensive and usually I've been finding them in pairs.

If I'm gonna take the forks apart, would it be worth it to change the springs too? I'm 6'4"/180lbs ish. I'd like to set it up for riding 2 up or with luggage. I'm not sure how to tell what type of springs I would need to better suit my bike with my weight and weight with passengers or luggage.

Gonna be a winter job so I've got a couple months of riding before I'll actually need all the parts.

Even the R1 swap is a little intimidating honestly. I think more so on the R1 swap just for sourcing the correct parts. I've read detailed write-ups but havent seen any links for springs or bushings. I'll keep digging.
The leak may have stopped because there is no oil left in the leg.
I don't think topping the oil up is a great idea without doing the seals and dust covers first.
ie you dont want more fork oil leaking onto your brakes.

Seeing as you don't trust your dealer, get a factory service manual which will
have a step by step guide on fork seal replacement. You may need
some specialist tools though.

One more thing, I'd be wary about riding the bike until its fixed. If all the oil has leaked out
you have dry metal to metal of the inner and outer part of the legs grinding together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I stuck a clam shell back up the seal and it came out with oil so I think theres still some in there. It wasn't a big leak.

Gotta get a creative way to get the front end off the ground to pull the forks. Thats really been the only thing keeping me from attempting this job
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Do I need OEM Kawi seals or will these work? This is the same brand I used to rebuild my brakes and everything is holding fine.

 

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I stuck a clam shell back up the seal and it came out with oil so I think theres still some in there. It wasn't a big leak.

Gotta get a creative way to get the front end off the ground to pull the forks. That's really been the only thing keeping me from attempting this job
I have a hack that works... assuming your versys is a 650.
I used it to extricate the fork legs from the yokes of my Gen II.

It's easy, but you need a trolley jack
something like this: LiftMaster 2.5 Ton Low Profile Jack Ver. 2, New mode 2022 | eBay

If you have a trolley jack already, or are happy to buy one,
let me know, and I'll make a little video outlining how to deploy it.
 

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...Gotta get a creative way to get the front end off the ground to pull the forks. Thats really been the only thing keeping me from attempting this job....
I have front and rear 'pit-stands' from TREX, so here's how I do it:

Big Red by Ed Copeman, on Flickr

OTOH - when I needed to remove the steering-head to grease the bearings, I first raised the front as above, then made a square support from 2 x 4's to place UNDER the crash-bars, added 'tie-down' supports to attach the handle-bars to where my garage-door opener attaches to the ceiling, (JUST IN CASE!!!),

forks off:stem stand copy by Ed Copeman, on Flickr

built a support (scrap lumber, AGAIN!) to fit under the muffler and on top of my floor-jack to stabilize everything.

jack-adaptor1 by Ed Copeman, on Flickr

P6011075 by Ed Copeman, on Flickr

HOPE this helps you a bit.
 

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One of the handiest tools in my shop and cheap... I don't use the black things, but you can make a support for your oil pan, etc... the front end isn't all that heavy.
If you get one, be sure to grease the main screw first...


183914
 

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When I did my front tire I have a rear paddock stand then took off the right lower fairing so I could get a jack on the engine case near the oil filter. After I lifted the front high enough to get the front wheel off the ground I used auto jack stands under both driver foot peg mounts. I let it down just enough so it was supported by the jack stands and the jack on the engine case. I have an old screw post jack from a GM truck but a hydraulic bottle jack would work also. I did something similar to raise the forks in the triple tree when I lowered the bike.
 

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When I did my front tire I have a rear paddock stand then took off the right lower fairing so I could get a jack on the engine case near the oil filter. After I lifted the front high enough to get the front wheel off the ground I used auto jack stands under both driver foot peg mounts. I let it down just enough so it was supported by the jack stands and the jack on the engine case. I have an old screw post jack from a GM truck but a hydraulic bottle jack would work also. I did something similar to raise the forks in the triple tree when I lowered the bike.
The hack I mentioned a couple of posts ago is similar, but no need for a paddock stand.
 

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I stuck a clam shell back up the seal and it came out with oil so I think theres still some in there. It wasn't a big leak.

Gotta get a creative way to get the front end off the ground to pull the forks. Thats really been the only thing keeping me from attempting this job
Here's that little video I made:
Versys 650... Lifting the front for steering bearing or fork servicing
 

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I'm probably overly cautious, but I would NEVER lift a bike like THAT video showed.
 
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