Front End Tips

08 Jun 2010 3:48 PM | Anonymous

Here are some more tips from Ellis Tull of STS that will help you when working on the front of your bike...

Installing the Front Wheel

Never use a hammer when installing the axle. One of the most common mistakes with suspension is having the forks binding. People will spend hundreds of dollars on their forks and install the front wheel incorrectly, the forks can’t work properly. On most big bike axles a 19 mm hex socket will fit in the end of it. Install the wheel, turn the axle in with the hex socket, hold the axle nut with the appropriate size wrench and tighten the nut to the specified torque.  Then tighten the axle pinch bolts to the proper torque and you are done, simple.

Bleeding Air from Forks

When riding, your forks will build up air pressure. It is important to bleed this out through the bleed hole on the top of the fork, as the more air built up in the forks the firmer the forks will feel. Make sure the forks are cool (wait 10 min. after riding), make sure the front wheel is off the ground and before opening the bleed screw clean any dirt that can fall in the bleed hole. When you open the screw you will hear the air escaping, tighten the screw when finished but be careful not to tighten the screw to much as it can strip easily.

Tightening the Steering Head Bearings

Your steering head should have enough drag on it that the front wheel won’t flop over by itself with the front wheel off the ground. Make sure that your top triple clamp bolts are loose, loosen the steering stem lock nut located under the bars on top of the steering stem, tighten the slotted nut under the top clamp to the desired tension, torque the stem nut to the proper torque then tighten the top clamps. The steering head bearings can be used as a poor mans steering damper.

Fork Seal Maintenance

To get better life out of you fork seals, after each ride pull down your fork wipers and clean under them with a brake clean that won’t harm the rubber seal. Pump your forks and you will see dirt run down the fork legs. Keep spraying the brake clean and pumping the forks till the grit stops coming down then slide the wipers back in place. After you wash your bike take the time to wipe your fork tubes clean. If not done there are water spots and grit that will stick to the tubes and prematurely wear the seals on your next ride.

Front Tire Pressure

Check your front tire pressure religiously, buy a good quality gauge, and experiment with different pressures.  Check tire pressure before a moto and record it, then after the moto check it again and record it. There will be as much as 2-3 psi more after the moto.  Lots of times when your bike is handling poorly it can be traced back to incorrect tire pressure – too little pressure will make the bike push in turns and too much pressure will cause the suspension to feel stiff.

Fork Tube Height

The height that you run your fork tubes in the clamps can dramatically change how your bike handles. Sliding your forks up in the clamps will make your bike more nimble in corners an turn better, by sliding them down in the clamps this changes the attitude of the front end and makes it more stable at speed. One thing to remember is that slight changes in height will make a huge difference on the track.  Also remember that if you change the front end make sure not to get the rear out of balance in height. Sometimes a slight change in sag might be needed. On some forks there are lines that are machined into the forks at the top by the cap. You can use these as adjustment guides. I like to use a set of calipers with a depth gauge.

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