Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Forks: known state

I've read a lot about the SV650's front suspension and I get it: The forks are the result of a compromise to keep the cost of the bike down. There are a gazillion threads on every relevant forum about how to improve the front suspension on an SV, and I quickly got lost in the forest of emulators, springs, and GSX-R swaps. So I decided to rebuild my stock forks to ensure that they're giving me their 100%. This way I'd know exactly what I'm riding on before considering upgrades.

The plan went like this:

  • Set my sag (and create new spacers if necessary)

  • Replace the age-old fluid with 15w oil filled to the stock level

  • Replace the oil seals and wipers (the wipers were getting hard and cracking)

Setting sag

Ideally, you'd have three people available to set sag: One person to hold the bike, one person to measure, and yourself to get on the bike since the sag is being set for your weight. I only had 2, so Harbor Freight's Baxley knock-off held the bike (it did an okay job).


The conclusion was that the stock SV was pretty much sprung for my weight. Score, so I won't have to make longer spacers for the forks. That was easy.

Rebuilding the forks


I got all the parts I needed to do the job (just fork seals and wipers), and finally found the time one Saturday. Well, buying parts ahead of time does you no good when the parts are crap.

I bought a set of Leak Proof Seals for the 2001 SV650S from motorcyclesuperstore.com. I'm usually very happy with motorcyclesupertore.com. But these Leak Proof seals were garbage. First of all, they look nothing like the image motorcyclesuperstore.com has up for them. Second of all, the Leak Proof seals are not firm and they don't fit tightly. They are mushy, squishy round rubber rings that would amaze me if they could seal at all. To make matters worse, one of the seals had loose pieces of rubber stuffed into the recess (on the oil side). I thought these seals were supposed to keep particulates out of my forks.


So I dashed to a local Suzuki dealer to get a set of OEM fork seals for the 2001 SV650S. Thanks goodness they had them in stock. While I rejected the Leak Proof seals as soon as I slid one onto the fork slider, I did make use of the wipers that came in the Leak Proof kit. We'll see if they're good for anything.

My Haynes manual helped enormously with disassembling the forks. The pictures were priceless.

Finally, reinstall


I finally got the chance to put things back together in the post-set-the-clocks-back dark. I even copied Mike and pushed the forks up through the top triple a few extra millimeters <--this was to account for the taller 120/70-17 I've got on the front (as opposed to the stock 120/60-17).


Anyway, I took the SV for a ride to meet a buddy for lunch today, and the forks are definitely less divey with the new 15w fork oil. I didn't get the chance to really push it hard or test it on challenging surfaces, but in time...

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