Many riders prefer to work on their own motorcycle. From oil changes, to brake bleeds, to complete engine rebuilds they do it all, except fork oil refreshes or fork seals. For a couple bucks you can do refreshes and and fork seal changes yourself. When looking online there are posts upon posts on how to do it, but never a good complete list of tools needed to make it happen. So here we go….
If fork refreshes are going to be a consistent thing, do yourself a favor and get a good vise. A vise is not a must but it makes life a lot easier! A vise will give you the extra set of hands that you WILL need while doing work. Once you have a vise get yourself a set of aluminum vise jaws. They fit over the vise and keep your vise from destroying your forks. This is a MUST if you use a vise. I have seen these at local stores like Rural King. You can also pick up a set at Traxxion Dynamics or Race Tech.
The next big thing is a spring compressor. A spring compressor does exactly what it sounds like, it compresses the spring so the fork cap can be removed. There are 2 types, the one Traxxion Dynamic sells requires some muscle, but can be bought for fairly cheap. Race Tech also sells one that uses a box wrench or drill to compress the spring, but is more expensive. The nice thing about the Race Tech spring compressor is it can be held in a vise, keeping it at a nice level to work on. Both will work great, its just a question of cost.
The next thing that is a must is a oil level tool. The most accurate way to measure oil is by pouring oil to the top of the fork, bleed the fork, and then removing oil to a certain level. Every tech manual will give you a level to set the fork at, and to do this a oil level tool is needed. Motion Pro, and Traxxion Dynamics both sell one. These basically are a syringe attached to a tube with a long rod. The rod lets you adjust adjust the level; the problem is after extensive use the seals and plastic on the syringe go bad and make them useless. Race Tech came up with a different method; while they are quite expensive they will last a life time since they are made of aluminum. Again price and amount of use should dictate your choice.
Earlier I mentioned bleeding the fork. This is required to get all the air out of the cartridge and give you a accurate level to measure the oil in the fork. To do this a fork bleeding tool is used, which is basically a rod threaded on both sides. They usually come in sets to allow for different sized rebound rods. Of the Motion Pro, Race Tech, and Traxxion Dynamics versions, I personally favor the Race Tech ones. They seem to thread the best and have little bleed valves.
The last specialty tool is a fork seal driver. These are used to to seat the new seals into the outer tube. There are ways to do this without a driver, like using the old seal, or I’ve even seen people use a piece of PVC pipe. They all work, but again if this is going to be a consistent evolution then it’s usually better to have the right tool.
Everything else you need will more than likely be in your tool box. Flat head screw driver, metric combo wrenches, a big crescent wrench (sometimes used for breaking the cap free), bucket/container to collect the old oil, a metric socket set, a ft/lb torque wrench, and red loctite. So as you see for a few bucks you’ll have all the tools to replace your own fork seals and do basic fork refreshes.