Fork Seal and Steering Bearing Replacement

The fork seals had small leaks and the steering was a bit notchy, so I decided to tackle fork seals and steering bearings.

I removed the handlebars, because I also installed bar end turn signals at the same time. The handlebars can stay on to replace fork seals only, but have to be moved out of the way to access the dust caps. If you remove them, take a pic, so it’s easier to figure out how to route the cables during reassembly.

I also removed the front wheel and fender and the dust caps over the fork springs that are still visible in this picture. I made my own special tool for the cap removal, just two 4 mm bolts through a piece of aluminum do the trick.



Next, drain the fork oil. Remove the rubber dust cap at the bottom of the fork leg, remove the 13 mm nut by holding the Allen bolt, then push up on the Allen bolt to drain the oil.

Take off the fork lowers and remove the fork seals. I used a tire iron to lever them out. They come out easily.


Slightly push in the new fork seals, make sure they are straight.

I used a 36 mm nut to drive in the fork seals with a small rubber mallet. Again do it slowly and make sure they are straight.

If you don’t do the steering bearings, start reassembly by carefully inserting the fork lowers over the legs. A little fork oil on the lowers helps to prevent the seals from damage. Guide the bolt at the bottom of the fork legs through the hole and tighten with the 13 mm nut. Install rubber dust cap at the bottom of the fork legs. Add fork oil as per spec, install wheel, fender, and dust caps at the top of the forks. Install handlebars (if you have removed them). Enjoy the smooth ride!

Continue below for replacement of steering bearings.




Remove the upper triple tree by removing the two spring inserts and the center nut (all 36 mm). Look at my other post for “fork spring replacement” on some more detail here.

Remove the two bolts that hold the headlight and figure out a way to hold it in place (see two pictures down how I did it), then remove headlight ears.



Remove the notched nut under the triple tree and the dust cap. In my case some nasty 45 year old grease finally saw the light of day.

Hold one hand under the bottom of the triple tree and carefully tap the top with a rubber mallet, the triple tree should come out relatively easily.



I found that it worked ok to hold the light in place this way, I am sure there are better ways of doing it though.

You can see the bearing outer race puller tool sitting on top of the frame. The races came out so easily! I never do this again without a special tool.



The lower race had some clearly visible markings.



I also used a special tool to pull the bearing off the triple tree, although I believe I would have gotten it off pretty easily with out the tool, but it was more fun this way!


The bearing would not slide up over the part where the notch is for the steering lock,  I had to file that area down a bit. 

To install the RACES do this: Leave races in the freezer for an hour or so, they will go in much easier. Guide them in straight and use old races on top to tap them in. Make sure they are seated all the way.

To install the BEARING over the steering stem, heat it in the oven to 200 F. Install dust cover on the bottom of steering stem and install bearing. When cooled down pack with grease. 


Insert triple tree, upper bearing (also pack with grease), dust cap, notched nut. Tighten the notched nut so that there is no play in the steering, but also make sure that steering still moves easily.

Reassembly is pretty much in reverse order. One hint though: Before tightening down the top triple, make sure headlight ears are oriented correctly. You can’t move them later. Ask me how I know!

Reward yourself with a ride to the best BBQ in Texas!