planning for this for months, I finally took advantage of the bad weather of
late to find the time to change the fork oil. The OEM stuff has been in there
for 20,000 miles, which is a bit too long. Most of the original oil is cheap,
lowest-bidder splooge anyway, let alone when you use it for too long.
While a manual always helps, changing the fork oil is pretty straightforward.
If you have any experience from doing it to dirt bikes or the like, they come
apart the same way. No special tools are needed and the oil recommended by Honda,
SS-8 Pro Honda oil (10wt), is modestly priced at $5 per 16oz bottle.
This is a bit of advice they don't tell you in the manual:
- Use a 24mm socket on the fork caps. Trying to use a metric crescent wrench
can scratch them and then you have to look at them every time you ride.
- First loosen/remove the handlebar, then loosen the fork cap while the forks
are still tight in the triple clamps. You don't want to have to clamp the
fork tube in a vice to loosen the cap if you wait until they are off the bike.
- Write down your settings for preload height, the fork height above the
triple clamps, and the "tension" setting. The preload adjuster is
removed with the fork cap so if you guess when reinstalling, a different feedback
from the road might be from the new oil or the new preload settings.
- Disassemble one leg at a time. That way if you have a doubt about a setting,
you can refer to the unmolested side.
- When the forks are off, clean the chrome sliders completely. A stuck-on
bug can eventually nick a fork seal enough to cause it to leak if left long
enough. Regular chrome cleaner and a pad work fine. Check for nicks and scratches
while you are up close and personal.
- The fairing doesn't need to come off to access the front end.
- Make sure you have a front-end stand that
lifts the bike by the steering stem. The more common type that lifts by the
fork leg bottoms doesn't help much when one leg is off.
- For some strange reason, the right side fork oil was a bit fresher than
the left. It actually still had a bit of the original red color, while the
left side was foul smelling black water.
recommended oil height is 130 mm (5.1") from the top, which is with the tube
bottomed out and the spring removed. The capacity is rated at 15.2 oz per leg,
but measuring the height is more reliable. Just remember to pump any trapped air
out of the dampening circuit by stroking the center rod up and down several times
while it is upside down, draining into the drain pan. Specific fork-oil-height
tools, like the one from Race Tech, make the measuring easier and more consistent,
but they aren't necessary. If you already have a brake bleeder hand-pump, you
can just measure 130mm from the end of the hose and suck out any excess oil.
This doesn't make the front end any less likely to bottom out, as that is controlled
by the spring rate. It does make the front end feel a bit firmer in that it
feels like a bit less freeplay. Smaller bumps are a bit less noticeable and
it does track a bit better.
This would be a good time to bring out a 14mm box end wrench and screwdriver
on the next ride. Then make a few passes on your preferred road and try a few
different settings. The best suspension is just the best that you've
I tried adjusting the fork height a bit. Raising the forks just .20" made
a big difference, but not a good one. It made the back feel like it was chasing
the front, the steering took more effort, and it wanted to fall-in in corners.
I returned to the original position of the fork cap 1.640" above the triple
clamp. This might help to compensate for a smaller front tire than original,
but remember your stock height as a baseline.