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  #1  
Old 08-13-2012, 11:35 PM
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Default 2012 fork spring swap

I swapped Sonic 1.1kg springs for stock in a 2012 Glee. At 300-ish pounds, upgrading suspension is a no-brainer for me.

I wanted to put some stuff up here because I know when I'm considering modifying/ farkling, it really helps to see what/ how others have done it. I hate working on bikes/cars but finances, time, and inherent cheapness mean I DIY anything I can - and I would've loved it if someone had put this stuff up for me.

Pre-prep: you'll need a 12mm hex wrench (or socket) to remove the front wheel - they can be a little hard to find. You'll need a torque wrench that goes to 23 N-m. You'll need a vise or some means to support a fork off the bike to allow fiddling with oil. You'll need fork oil.

Prep: you'll be removing the forks. The front end of the bike will need to be supported off the ground. There are special stands, you could hang by the triple tree from overhead, you could jack/ center-stand, etc. Find a method that satisfies you. I put it up on the center stand, rocked it back, and wedged a length of 2x4 under the front section of the crash bars (I have an ADV).

More prep: loosen (but don't remove) stuff while it's together on the ground. Back the fork pre-load adjusters all the way out, loosen the the fork caps (loosen the top triple-tree pinch bolts before you try to loosen the the fork caps). Your owner's manual has instructions for removing the front wheel. Crack that axle loose while it's still on the ground (there's a pinch bolt involved, too). Take pics or make notes/ marks as to the relationship between your fork caps and the triple tree - the forks slide thru the triple tree; you'll want to put them back at the same spot they started at (unless you're raising tubes on purpose for lower ride height).

First battle: the front fender.

That innocent-looking bolt is red-loctited on to a tapped plate behind the plastic. The plastic is not strong enough to prevent the plate from spinning - you have to hold it from inside/ behind, and you can't do that with the wheel on (at least I couldn't). After an unreasonable amount of cursing...

That's the underside of the fender. To the left you're looking up the channel to the rusty-looking hole where the bolt comes thru from the outside. The "rust" is loctite. To the right is the offending tapped plate.

Strip everything off the forks:
Hang the brake calipers to prevent damage to the brake line hoses. Reflectors just spin off. Speed sensor came off during wheel removal. Fender nightmare already addressed.


When all the pinch bolts for a fork tube are loose, the fork will slide out of the triple tree towards the floor. Be prepared when you loosen that last bolt so the fork tube doesn't fall out - hold on to it or something.

Now quick forking off!!!!

... and remove the fork cap. I think it's a 22mm. Realize that there's a spring in there under some compression - when the last thread lets go the cap will want to get away from you (it's not violent, just enough to make you fumble/ drop it). The fork cap is Aluminum - be careful with it. There's a big fender washer cotter-pinned to the underside of it to prevent the pre-load adjuster from being backed all the way out of the cap.
Here's that happy little chap:


Still in the fork: a 4" long spacer (a 4" metal tube), a washer, a fork spring, and about a pint of oil. You can dump all that out and go fishing for the spacer and washer; you can fish them out of the fork; you can try to compress the top tube into the bottom tube...
Whatever you do, after either some cursing or self-satisfaction, you'll be looking at this:


Last edited by phoenixsteve; 08-14-2012 at 12:33 AM.
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  #2  
Old 08-13-2012, 11:53 PM
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You're supposed to pump the upper tube into/ out of the lower tube to get the last of the oil out. I let mine sit upside-down in a jar while I was doing other stuff - a surprising amount of oil dribbled out.

Ok, springs. That's why we're here.

On top, the longer, progressively-wound stockers. On bottom, the shorter, straight-rate Sonics.

But first: you have to re-fill the fork with (new oil). Do some research - if you're changing spring rates, you might want to change oil weight, too. I'm matching 15wt. oil to the these beefier springs.

So, how much oil? Well, enough oil so that, with nothing else in the fork tube (no springs, no spacer, etc.), and the upper tube pushed down as far is it will go into the bottom tube, enough oil so that the oil level is 150mm below the top of the top tube.
You need a 150mm dipstick - you'll have to McGiver something up. I happen to own a Mighty-Vac, so I notched a stick, measured down it 150mm and made a line. I zip-tied the tube of the Mighty Vac right at the line. Now, with the fork tube over-filled, I slide the contraption down into the fork tube until the notch catches the top of the tube. Then, I can suck out all the oil down to the level of the bottom of my sucking tube, which is 150mm.
A turkey baster with a marked line on it would do this, too, as would any number of McGiver-ed suckers/ dipsticks.
My needlessly complicated fork-oil sucking rig:


Remember pumping the forks to get that old oil out? Pump a few times to get the new oil back in before taking your measurement.

With the oil level set, put it all back together: drop in the spring, the washer, the spacer, and screw the cap back on. Done, right?

Last edited by phoenixsteve; 08-14-2012 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 08-14-2012, 12:19 AM
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Pretty much... but there's some fine print:
Spacer length: I have learned the hard way that you really need to read the instructions that come with your springs. The spacer length of the new set is NOT the same as the stockers. The spring + spacer length is not the same, either (what I assumed). The new spring will have some different length of spacer that works best to get you in the pre-load range that makes sense for that spring.

In other words, if your spacer is too long you'll be adding lots of pre-load to the spring and you'll be topped out (forks at full length, no extension left). Too short and it's not enough pre-load (you'll be bottoming out the forks regularly on bumps).
The suspension travel has a fixed range - on our bikes, that's around 150mm". With you on the bike, apparently you want to be somewhere around 35 - 40mm compressed. That leaves you with 110mm of "down" and 40mm of "up" travel available in the forks for maintaining contact with the road (and absorbing the shock of those bumps so your spine doesn't have to).

Blah, blah, blah... set your spacer length right. I'll be opening mine back up to change them.

More fine print: remember that compression that wanted to shoot the fork cap off when you took it apart? Enjoy putting it back on - you'll need to overcome that pressure while not cross-threading the cap on the tube. I don't know any tricks here - this is just a sucky, fiddly, job as far as I know. At this time you'll also realize (if you haven't already) why you loosened the cap while it was still on the bike - there's no convenient way to hold the tube whilst torquing the cap on... and off.

At some point you should be looking at a complete, sealed (albeit loosely) fork.
Paying attention to right/left and front/ back, and having some means to snug at least one of the pinch bolts while maneuvering the fork, slide it back up in the triple tree to the same height as when you started.
Snug up the cap, if necessary, before snugging the top pinch bolt.

TORQUE the pinch bolts to 16.5ft-lbs. The three pinch bolts are the only thing that hold your fork tubes, and therefor front wheel, on. It would be ugly if your forks decided to suddenly adjust themselves up 2' while you were going 90mph thru rush hour traffic.
Alternately, it would suck to crush/ distort one of your fork tubes - a costly (and needless) rookie screw-up.
If you don't own a torque wrench, buy one, borrow one, or steal one (not mine, please) for this job. If you're going to work on a motorcycle, you're going to need a torque wrench.

Ok, put everything back the way you found it.

Check your pinch bolt torques. Test ride it. Check your pinch bolt torques again.

Last edited by phoenixsteve; 08-14-2012 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:24 PM
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Default Just a note:

I loosen the top pinch bolt, then, before I loosen the lower one, I break loose the fork cap. It is much easier when held in place by the lower fork clamp.

Then I loosen the bottom clamp and slide the fork tube out.

If you are working on a cartridge fork, you can use the same technique to loosen the bottom bolt that holds the cartridge in place.

Hope that helps someone.

Nice writeup bye the way.

Last edited by kbyte255; 11-27-2012 at 02:42 PM. Reason: kudos
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Old 12-16-2012, 03:53 PM
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phoenixsteve,
Thanks for posting this, as I'm about to put Intiminators in. kbyte is right: Loosening the top triple-tree pinch bolts first, then loosen the fork cap, then loosen the bottom triple-tree bolts is the right way to do this.

Could you tell me if you could ever find a reliable way to know what the stock 2012 spring rate is? I notice it's a different part number than the '06-2011's which are 51171 27G00, and the 2012 Adventure is a 51171 11J00. I see where the stockers were rated at 0.65. I'm HOPING the 2012 is a bit stiffer, but, I cannot find that information anywhere. Thanks, if you know it. And, if you don't, thanks again for posting this procedure!
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Old 12-16-2012, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackheart View Post
phoenixsteve,
Thanks for posting this, as I'm about to put Intiminators in. kbyte is right: Loosening the top triple-tree pinch bolts first, then loosen the fork cap, then loosen the bottom triple-tree bolts is the right way to do this.

Could you tell me if you could ever find a reliable way to know what the stock 2012 spring rate is? I notice it's a different part number than the '06-2011's which are 51171 27G00, and the 2012 Adventure is a 51171 11J00. I see where the stockers were rated at 0.65. I'm HOPING the 2012 is a bit stiffer, but, I cannot find that information anywhere. Thanks, if you know it. And, if you don't, thanks again for posting this procedure!
I measured phoenixsteve's stock set a couple of months back. Basically 0.65 for the first 3" of spring travel, an inch of transition, and then 0.85 for the rest.

http://www.stromtrooper.com/dl650-20...ring-rate.html
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Last edited by RichDesmond; 12-16-2012 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:06 PM
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You can do the job with the forks in place if you don't change the oil.

A preventer lashing that pulls the extended center stand forward might prevent it from collapsing and dumping the bike if you pull back too hard on a big wrench on a stuck bolt.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTRider View Post
A preventer lashing that pulls the extended center stand forward might prevent it from collapsing and dumping the bike if you pull back too hard on a big wrench on a stuck bolt.
Great idea. Don't ask me how I know.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:55 PM
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I once had a BMW R90S sitting on its oil pan when it came off the center stand and jack stand with no wheels. I'll never let that happen again.
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greywolf View Post
I once had a BMW R90S sitting on its oil pan when it came off the center stand and jack stand with no wheels. I'll never let that happen again.
Yep, one time will cure ya.
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