So you noticed little oil rings on your upper fork tube, or oil is leaking down onto your rotor. Most likely you have a leaking fork seal. The danger is obvious, it is important to fix it ASAP. This can be done in an evening your first time, and shouldnt be more than $50 in parts.
There are many ways to go about this. Some people may want to replace other components of the suspension while the forks are off, but write up is just for the fork seals. I am not a professional mechanic. By doing things this way, you assume all liability for damage to your bike. This should only be used as a helpful giude to supplement the OEM manual. These links should prove helpful as well:
What you will need:
Front headstock stand (or floor jack and 2x4)
Replacement fork seals
Replacement dust covers (optional, are yours in good shape?)
Replacement O-ring for fork cap. (optional)
1 quart of oil. (I used 10W-30 since my fork oil is 10W)
1000cc of fork oil.
fork oil gauge or ratio cup
27mm deep socket, ratchet.
6mm hex key
5mm hex key
small flathead screwdriver
Seal driver (or homemade device)
Start by breaking the fork cap loose. Do not remove it yet, just pop it loose so it is easier to remove later.
Put the rear of the bike on a stand, then either jack the bike up or use a front headstock stand to get the front wheel off of the ground. I used a jack with a 2x4 on the stock headers. I do not recommend this way, but it was my only option. Remove the ram air covers, front calipers (hang them out of the way with something, dont let them dangle by the lines), front wheel, front fender.
Measure the distance from the top of the fork tube to your triple, or clip-on, so you know where to replace it.
Now you remove the fork.
Loosen the upper triple clamp bolt (6mm). To get at this bolt, you will probably also have to loosen the clip-on and slide it out of the way a bit. Two hex bolts the clip-on in place, a 6mm and a 5mm (covered by plastic cap).
Here is a picture of the upper triple bolt:
Now loosen the two 6mm hex bolts on the lower triple clamp. These are the last two bolts holding the fork up, so have an assistant (a hot girl is ideal) hold the tube to keep it from dropping out.
The tube should slide right out. Take your small screwdriver and pry off the dust cap. If you did not buy new ones be careful not to damage them.
Slide the seal off of the fork tube. Now use your small screwdriver to remove the retaining clip. Start at one end and work your way around. Take care not to bend or break this clip if you are re-using it.
This picture shows the clip half out and half in... Notice the leaky oil that we hope to fix.
Now there is nothing holding the oil seals in. From here there are two paths: Completely disassemble the fork or fill it with oil and compress it to pop the seal. I chose the more simple, less damaging route.
Finish removing the fork cap. It will pop off with some force, so be ready for it. Now, use your cheap oil to fill the fork. Stuff as much oil in as it will hold. Then install the fork cap. Tighten it, but dont torque it off.
Here is where you will need to get creative. Find a wall, shelf, or anything sturdy to jack against. A chunk of wood against a car tire will work also. I put the socket back on the fork cap while compressing it, to prevent damage to the top.
Get your rig set up with the bottle jack, and put something under the fork to catch the oil that will seep out. (oil drain pan not pictured)
Compress the fork with your jack until you hear a little pop and oil seeps out. Back the jack off
and examine your fork seal. One end of it should be close enough for you to pry it out with your small screwdriver. Work your way around the seal until you can grab it and slide it off. Be careful not to scratch your fork while doing this, or its trashed!
Once the seal is off, set it aside. Dont pitch it yet. (unless you have a seal driver).
Remove the fork cap and drain the oil. All of it. Pumping the inner tube will help speed up the process. Make sure to get as much out as possible.
Once you are sure all of the oil is out, take your new oil seal and apply a thin coat of oil to the inner surface (much like an oil filter O-ring). Making sure it is right-side-up (writing up), slide the seal down the inner tube and into place. If you have a seal driver, use it, or if not, place the old seal on top of the new seal and use a flat head screwdriver and rubber mallet to tap it into place. Work your way around the seal, then pull the old seal up a bit and check your work. Be fairly gentle, so the new seal doesnt get damaged. You are done when the new seal is completely below the groove for the retaining clip.
Once the seal is seated, re-install the retaining clip. Double check that the ring seats completely in its groove. Once the clip is in place, install the dust cap. Again, use the seal driver or rubber mallet (no screwdriver this time) to tap it around the edge into place.
Now if you have a fork oil level tool, use it to fill the fork with the proper ammount of oil, or if you are using a ratio cup, measure the appropriate ammount (476cc) and pour it in. Pump the inner tube a couple of times. At this point, you should use a tape measure to slide down into the tube to measure the oil height. Remeber this measurement so you can get the second fork oil level equal. Install the fork cap, then install the fork in the triples, sliding it up so it is in the right place (per your measurements earlier) and tighten everything down.
After you finish the other side, re-install everything, and lower the bike, dont forget to torque the fork caps off.
Go ride and enjoy the few hundred dollars you saved!
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