For this How To go-round, we're not only going to service the forks on our '01 Sportster, but we're going to give them a little upgrade.

So we have a blown fork seal on our left side and you can see that because of the oil that's picking up a bunch of dirt underneath the dust cover, and you see the oil up on the fork leg. We're also going to put a heavier duty set of springs in this. The owner rides his bike a lot and loads it down with a lot of gear. If you're going to get in there and change seals, it's also a really good time to change the spring because you're basically doing the same amount of work. So the first thing that we're going to do to this bike, we're going to take the brake caliper off and we're going to take the front wheel off.

This is a 39 millimeter front end on this '01 Sporty and there are a ton of 39 millimeter front ends out there. I think from the mid '80's all the way up into the 2000's on every Sportster, Dynas, even a few softails, so if you have a 39 millimeter front end, this installation is going to be very similar for your bike. Maybe a few things with the brakes and this and that, but basically the whole procedure is very, very similar if you have 39 millimeter front end. So we have a flat jack under the bike, you're going to need some way to support the bike and we have ours jacked up so there's hardly any weight on the front wheel, so we pull the axle out. It doesn't bind up.

I've got a 9/16th's on my nut on the back and a 5/16th Allen, going to loosen this up and pull our axle out. This bike doesn't have a front fender on it. If you do have a fender on your bike, you're going to have to take it off. Also, when I get the wheel and the axle off, I like to put the spacer hardware back the way it was in the bike and put it all back in the wheel and set it to the side. That way I know where the spacers are when I go put the wheel back on.

The next thing we're going to do is take the six millimeter Allen bolt out of the bottom of here. There's a bolt that runs up inside here and actually goes into the damper rod. We're going to pull that out to drain the fluid. They do have little drain bolts right, but I don't really use those. I rarely use the six millimeter Allen in there. Now, you could mess that Allen up really easy and if you strip it, you're going to have a long day. You need a long six mil and I recommend using an impact. If you try just to put a regular Allen key up in there and loosen this thing up, it's probably not going to work. Also, hold onto this (3:04) because it's going to spin otherwise and have a drain pan ready because things are going to get a little bit messy.

This is the bolt right here. This one actually came out pretty easy and it's in good condition. It's not a bad idea to replace these bolts, but you see this little brass washer right here (3:29) . You definitely need to replace the brass washer. If you pull the bolt out, there's no brash washer, it's probably just laying up in there and stuck. You need to get that out, but definitely replace your brass washer and it's not a bad idea to replace that bolt either. If you buy the whole fork seal kit, it'll come with all this stuff.

You're going to have to kind of move this fork leg up and down. You'll hear it gurgle and it'll spit out fluid. So if it's just draining, don't think it's all out. Move the fork leg up and down on there and more will come out. So now we have to take off our dust cover. There's a little slot right here (4:08). We're going to take a flat blade screwdriver and tap on that. Be careful. If it slips off, you do not want to gouge this tube right here. That's bad. That's bad news. So tap on that real gently. Don't over commit because if the screwdriver comes off and scratches this, you're going to be in a world of hurt.

Okay, so this is just a dust cover and you can see, so this is just a wiper here. This isn't the fork seal yet, but you can see it's a little bit split too. It's got a bunch of dirt and grime in there from our blown fork seal. So we're just going to use the screwdriver. We're going to pop the wiper loose. Like I said, don't gauge your tube and then that's going to show us the actual seal. There's a little clip on the top of here (4:54). It's like a wire. We've got to pop that wire off, it comes off real easy, and then we'll be able to pull down on the fork tube and get the seal loose.

Again, if you buy the whole seal kit, this'll come in it. Otherwise you're going to have to reuse it. So now we're going to pull down this fork leg and it's going to pop that seal loose. Right now the only thing holding this fork leg on is this seal. I'm going to pull down. We'll be able to slide the whole fork leg off.

Looking at your damper rod and this little cup here (5:29), if this cup isn't on there, it's down on the bottom there and you're going to want to get it out. We'll set that off to the side and then we have all these bushings here, a couple of bushings and this washer. We're going to want to take those off. This bottom one sitting in a little groove and this top one is floating free there. These will come off real easy. We'll stick a screwdriver in there and pull them off.

Just really gently put your flat blade screwdriver in there, spread them apart. And one thing that's nice to do is I like to set them in order when I take them off. I'm going to pull the dust cover off, too, and the wiper. At this point, you'd think just slide the new fork seal and stuff back up on here. I don't really like to do that because there's so many little lips and stuff like that right here. It can damage your fork seal and you're not going to know until you get it all back together. And then your new fork seal leaks again. So what we're going to do is we're going to take this whole tube off. We have to take the tube apart anyway to put our new springs in. So we're going to pop the top cap off here (6:38) and once that's loose, we'll take these two torx out, we'll take the whole tube off and then we'll rebuild everything on the table.

And the procedure's going to be the exact same for the other side. So whatever we do to this one, we're going to do to the other one. So now we have to take our cap off. Now, this would be the proper tool (6:54). This is what you want to take this off there. If you don't have this tool, you can do it with a big wrench, or God forbid, a Crescent wrench. You have to be very careful. You can see this isn't a normal style nut and you're going round these edges off and like I said, you'll have a real big problem.

Also, this is under a fairly significant amount of spring pressure because your fork spring is in there, so if you're taking this off, you want to keep some pressure on it, because otherwise the thing will go shooting across the room or go flying into your gas tank. So once you break this loose and you're working it off, keep a little pressure on it. Otherwise, it's going to want to take a ride.

There we go. That's your cap. If you buy the kit, you get a new O-ring for the cap also. Put these away in a safe spot. We did a pretty good job here. We didn't damage our cap.

All right. We have our fork legs and tubes and everything up here on the table. And take this time to get these as clean as you possibly can because you don't get a lot of chances to clean out the inside of your fork legs. So make sure you get all the gunk and the old oil out of there, they'll operate a lot better. Clean up the tubes if you can. Don't use anything abrasive on the tubes, though. Just use a rag and maybe some solvent. So now we're going to start reassembling these. We need to take this big thick washer that we took off with the bushings. It's got a little bit of a bevel on it. If you feel it, one side is flat and one side has a bevel. The bevel side goes down (9:48). So the flat side is up towards the top of the forks, and the bevel side is down, and then we're going to take the thicker, shorter bushing and it will go on here (10:02).

And then the taller, thinner bushing will go on. And there's a little groove, you can see it and it'll snap right in there (10:12). So you can feel it snap in there like that. Now our bushings and the washer is on. We're going to slide the actual fork seal over the top. I'll probably take a little oil or something just to get it to go on there nice. And then there's two sides. You can see this deep groove side (10:33). This is the side that goes down. Remember to put that on from the top. It's going to be kind of a snug fit, which is great, and we'll slide that down over the top like that.

So now we're going to put our lower on. Make sure your cap is on the bottom of your damper rod and then we will slide these together here. Now that they're together, we can take our new screw and our new copper washer. You can reuse your old screw if it's in good shape. You definitely need to get a new copper washer. We'll take this on our six millimeter Allen. We'll get it started. Now that we've got that back together we're going to put our seal in. You're going to need a fork seal driver (11:40). If you don't have a fork seal driver, you could use a piece of PVC that fits inside your lower leg and over the top of your upper.

You'll see a groove in there once we get below it. And once you see that groove, you know they're all the way down and then you can put your clip in. Put the clip in the groove, just make sure it's seated all the way around the groove (12:08). But now we can slip the wiper over the top.

With the wipers on, you can put your dust shield back on if you want. You don't have to have it on there, it's strictly up to you. We'll do the exact same thing on the other leg. We'll install them back on the bike and we'll get the new heavy-duty springs, spacers and fluid in there while they're on the bike.

I'm going to slide the legs back on here and we're just going to snug them up. We'll talk about height here in a second and where to set them. Right now we're just going to snug them up and get them so they're just hanging there.

So to set these at the right height, there's a little bevel (13:53). You can kind of see the color change in the tube. You want to set the edge of the bevel right at the top of the top triple clamp here. And then we're going to torque these screws here to 30 to 35 foot-pounds.

So we're replacing our stock spring here (14:35), which is this wobbly one with our heavy duty fork springs here, which seems a lot more taut. The windings are a lot tighter, but you can also tell it's shorter. That's because we have to cut a spacer to fit. Spacers come in the kit and in the instructions for your year, make and model, it'll give you the length of the spacer. After you cut it, if you cut it with a Hacksaw or something, make sure you get all the burrs off it. You don't want those burrs floating around in there. So it doesn't really matter which way the spring goes in. I like to put the tighter windings at the bottom. A lot of people do. They say the fork can be a little bit quieter. But we'll go ahead and put our spring in here and we'll cut our spacers to length. It's two inches for this bike. We'll put the spacers in and then we'll get the fluid filled back up and get our caps back on.

So they got these cut and you want to make sure you cut them nice and straight. You don't want an angle because that affects your height. And then take a piece of Emery cloth or sand paper and clean off your edges before you put the spacer in there so you got no burrs.

We're going to fill up our fork legs with fork tuner oil. Refer to your manual. Every bike can be a little bit different. For ours, we need 10.2 ounces per-leg, so make sure you have something to measure out the oil with. Also, you can kind of tune your suspension a little bit with the weight of oil. A lighter weight oil is going to allow it to compress a little faster. Heavier weight is going to be a little stiffer front end. So we're going to pour our 10.2 ounces in here. I like to pour it in there and then leave the cup sitting in there so it all drips out and that has a chance to all flow in there and not hang up.

Okay, so now we have our fluid and springs in there. We're going to put our spacers in now that we have them cut to length. The kit comes with these little flat washers (17:01). The flat washer has to go in there before the spacer, so I kind of stick it on my finger and make sure it goes in flat. Then the spacer will go in. Then we have to compress this down while we thread this (17:20). And let me tell you, this is going to be a good time for you. It's going to be super fun. Sometimes it helps if you lower the bike down or if you get up on a stool or something, get some leverage and press down on it while you turn. This is probably going to be the most difficult part of the install, but once you got it, you're good to go.

One trick to help you get these started is to take the spacer out and feel right where this grabs threads (17:54). Right where it's about going to grab, you want to make some marks. Okay, it just grabbed right there so I'm going to make a mark on my cap and then on my top triple clamp. I'm going to start the cap right before that mark because I know that's where the thread grabs. So I'll put my spacer back in there and when I push down, I know I have to start right there. You only have a limited amount of range to twist that, so if you start it way back you may twist it and then not get it started.

We've got our wheel with our axle and all of our spacers left in the correct place from when we took it off. So we're going to put the wheel on, torque the axle and everything back down, and then we'll put our brake calipers back on.

We're going to torque our axle nut anywhere between 50 and 55 foot-pounds, and then we'll come back over to the other side and do our pinch bolt at 20 to 27 foot-pounds. The last thing we have to do is put our brake caliper back on, unless you have a fender on your bike, then that will be the last thing you do. So we're going to torque these to 25-30 foot-pounds. If you have a different bike, be sure to check your manual for your torque specs.

There we have it, no more leaky fork seals and brand-new suspension internals on our Sportster.