Fork leak - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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Fork leak

One of my forks is losing oil through the dust seal area. How serious of an issue is this? Is it still safe to ride? It isn't a huge leak, but it's leaving the tube that slides into it wet. I've seen a couple drip runs.

Can I just keep topping it off (to the correct level) while I wait for money for seals?
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 09:35 AM
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My concern would be the seal letting go all at once, oil and motorcycle tires don't mix, and a flat suspension is uncontrollable, it's all spring action after the oil is gone.

A pair of oil seals on ebay usually runs between $8-22. Dust seals can be reused if they aren't rotten.
Sometimes you catch a complete set of oil/dust seals, for around $30. Amazon usually has some too.

Getting ready to do mine soon, just need some fork oil.

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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 10:23 AM
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Never heard of a fork seal "letting go" and shooting oil out. Most leaks put out less than a teaspoon of oil a month, (depending how many miles you ride)

The suspension won't collapse and given only one seal is leaking the other fork should keep you from danger. As you lose more oil the front suspension will be a bit more crappy, but it wasn't that good to begin with...

I'd not bother adding more oil, just wipe off the tube before you ride. As mentioned fork seals are not expensive, but you'll want to replace both while you're at it. Add the cost of fork oil, and really it's one of the cheaper repairs, provided you do it yourself. Takes longer to do than it takes to explain.

The fork will still function even if you lose all the oil. But I wouldn't let it go that long.

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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 10:57 AM
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I'm really surprised. (edit: maybe not really)

Never said they popped out every day. You have a seal that's obviously deteriorated, worn, and already leaking, maybe it won't pop, maybe it will. Wouldn't be the first time. All it takes is to lose a chunk of dead rotten rubber. Want to roll the dice, go ahead.

KM, I want you to let all the oil out of one fork on your bike, and get back to me after a fun ride through some twisties.

I never said the forks would collapse. Quite the opposite, more like a pogo stick. I said flat, as in no hydraulic dampening.

Why replace both sides at the same time, since it's no biggie to let them leak? ahem

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Last edited by Spockster; 05-09-2014 at 11:10 AM.
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 11:36 AM
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Actually have riden a bike with no oil in one fork. Ride not good, but not bad enough to be a safety issue. I assumed the OP would be smart enough not to go diving through twisties with a bad fork. Didn't say the ride be great, just said the bike still be ridable.
There is a misconception that both forks need to be "balanced" the same. They don't. There are several bikes that have dampening in only one fork, some with rebound in one and compression in the other.

Even if the seal did "let go" it still wouldn't shoot oil out with much force. Most would hit the radiator if the bikes moving, not the front tire. Again assuming he's smart enough to keep an eye on it.

He asked if he can ride the bike until he can fix the seal, I say he can, and I stand behind that. Loading up a set of "what ifs" is not a fair comparison.

His choice here.

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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 01:41 PM
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I figured you to be the last to scrimp on safety and call it "what ifs", and the last in favor of that sort of 'tuning' on stock VN forks.

If you don't think it can be a safety issue, I won't try to change your mind. Except to say, I've seen fork seals blow out and they can gush oil. How do you know where most of the oil will go?

Didn't mean he had to park it, just meant to watch it and ride accordingly until it's fixed, soon. I definitely wouldn't push it to see if screwed up forks handle better than stock.

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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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I ride to and from work, and the corners are modest, but not twisty. I stay under 50,and I haven't felt any ill effects so far.

Side note, I had my tire balanced and the guy couldn't do it because in his words "my machine is saying your tire is shaped like an egg".... Thanks shinko... I'll have to take it to someone with a precision machine, lol. I would static balance it but I can't get a hold of any weights haha
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 04:32 PM
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If it's truly egg-shaped it needs to go back where it came from. Don't think balancing will fix that.

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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 06:15 PM
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my shinko's required no weight added... installed with the pink dot at the valve stem. thats a key point, at the factory, they know where the lightest spot is, and mark it for that reason.

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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-09-2014, 06:24 PM
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Blown seal....



A penguin takes his car into a shop complaining its leaking oil somewhere. The walrus mechinic says he will put the car up on a lift and check it out. "May take awhile," he says, " there's a few places to eat in town, go have a snack and come back in about 30 minutes."

The penguin leaves and finds an ice-cream shop a few doors down. He has a huge vanilla cone and returns afterwords.
He walks into the the shop and the wrench turns to him and then says "It looks like you blew a seal.."

The penguin a bit embarrassed wipes some left over ice cream off his beak
and says "Oh no no, it's ice cream...really!"

Safety is a matter of odds here. Anything is a gamble. My opinion here is the odds are not that bad for him to ride the bike a little while. I've seen folks that were totally unaware their forks leaked ride for months that way.

Again, his call.

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