Tell me about fork oil / very soft front suspension - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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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)
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robardin View Post
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?

I would call the shop and tell them there is a problem and have them correct it. Don't let them BS you.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 12:41 PM
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Sorry to hear about your bike getting knocked over and subsequent problems with the front end suspension. It`s especially a PITA when you rely on the scoot for transportation. I do not know what the difference is, and I`m not 100% sure about this, but I do not believe that there is any automotive oil to substitute for the fork oil. I`m sure someone else will respond soon to confirm or refute this.

As regards your front wheel misalignment, I may be able to offer some helpful info, if it should be needed again in the future. My forks were twisted about 25* out of line last June, when I hit the guardrail and ditch. My buddy rode the bike 4 miles home like that for me. I eventually put a jack and piece of 1x6 under the engine, to jack the front end up just enough to take the weight off the front wheel. I then loosened the two clamp bolts holding the fork tubes on each side. My adult daughter held the handlebars while I gripped the tubes and twisted them back straight again, (eyeball straight anyway). Knowing you can do this may allow you get yourself and the bike home, if it should happen again.

I hope you can get the problems with bike and careless/incompetent bike shop resolved soon and too your satisfaction. Good luck.

Gordon

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 12:50 PM
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Unless you weigh 500 lbs, you should not be able to bottom out the front forks just by pushing down on them.
The shop more than likely did not only use just the wrong oil..but I'd wager did not use enough...if in fact they put any in.

The stock springs are a bit soft to begin with, this is why most install the Progressive fork springs.... but if all they did was change the fork seals, and the bikes front end is suddenly soft...they ****ed something up....so I would take it back.

If you have the money left...have them install the Progressive fork springs, and make sure the oil quantity or level is correct. I'd go with 15w Bel-Ray fork oil.
You should just have to pay for the oil and springs, as they still have to fix whatever it is they did wrong.

MY guess is they forgot to put oil in one of the forks or just did not use enough. But something is wrong if you noticed a marked difference after they "fixed it".

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 02:59 PM
 
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yeah +1 on taking it back to whoever did it.... and dont let them bs you saying you need to pay for them to do it again... if they forgot its their problem and they need to correct it on their tab...
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. While I was exaggerating a bit about "bottoming out" the front end suspension with my arms, it wasn't by too much. I'll bring it back to the shop on Monday. Let's see how slimy they try to play...

"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)
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 05:02 PM
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I used hydralic jack oil. It states on the use for section that is is good for motorcycle fork oil.
The manuel specifies the amount of oil to use and how to massure it.

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Last edited by niterider; 03-15-2009 at 07:49 PM. Reason: spelling jack
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 06:03 PM
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I put automatic transmission fluid in my honda cb400,the manual called for it..I liked it better than fork oil...I plan to use the same in the vn750....

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 07:48 PM
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Could it be that they left the top spacer out??

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-15-2009, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Could it be that they left the top spacer out??
I find your ideas intriguing, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

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