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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Flushing, NY
Tell me about fork oil / very soft front suspension
By way of introduction: I am a new motorcycle rider, and the VN750 is my first bike (after 2 scooters), which I've had for about 7 months. I primarily ride for a commute to work in the city, with the occasional longer trip on weekends.
I'm comfortable doing routine maintenance myself (changing oil, filter, spark plugs, etc.), but am not comfortable doing suspension, tranny/engine or frame work. I lack the space, tools and time to learn to do this, and besides, as I use it for my commute I can't set it aside and work on it on a weekend, over which I typically have other things to do with my family. I'm fine with paying a garage to do this kind of thing if they can take care of it within a day or two (and hopefully, serious work like this is rare).
Now to my problem, on which I need advice and guidance. On Thursday, my bike was knocked over by a car while parked in the street. While there was no body damage otherwise (other than a slightly bent lever), the front end alignment was out of whack: the handlebars weren't straight, and the front wheel was a little misaligned. I could ride it but the front wheel felt wobbly and the bars were off-kilter. I didn't feel safe riding it home, and I couldn't leave it on the street overnight, so I took it to a nearby motorcycle shop for repair.
They told me the fork seals were damaged as well -- they were leaking oil. They took 2 days to realign my front end and replace the fork seals, and I picked up my bike just as they closed yesterday (Saturday).
On the ride home I noticed the front end rode very soft. Every bump and pothole I hit (and in NYC there are a lot of them, even on the highways) jarred the front end like I had no air in the tire. I pulled over and checked it out, but the tire pressure is fine. But I can easily push down on the handlebars (while on the center stand) and bounce the front shocks down all the way, with just my arms.
It seems to me the front suspension is way, way too soft. I did some Googling and it seems this is likely due to the wrong kind or an insufficient level of fork oil being used.
Is this something I can quickly/easily handle myself? It's Sunday and the shop is closed, as are all m/c shops around me, but car part stores and Sears are open. Is fork oil equivalent to a kind of car oil?
They charged me a pretty penny for the fork seal job, too, so it would piss me off no end if they did it wrong. Am I overlooking something obvious?
"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)