Change Fork Oil The T-Stan Way
For Non Cartridge Type Forks (pre 2001 Nomads & Carbed Classics)

From Stan Harper



[Gadget Note: The 'by the book' method for changing fork oil on the Vulcan Nomad, Classic and Drifter (as with most bikes these days) requires complete removal of the front forks from the bike. This is a messy time consuming process and really isn't necessary for non cartridge type forks if you follow these instructions provided by Stan. He will mention Progressive brand springs in the text. This is completely optional. If you choose not to change springs just ignore the mentions and move on.]


Tools and Equipment Needed:

Some way of lifting your front tire off the ground. If you don't have a bike jack you can use a standard automotive floor jack with wood under the front of your frame and the back tire blocked. Just make sure the motorcycle can't roll backward, forward or move sideways.

Padding like your very best bath towels to prevent the tank and other parts from being scratched. You can put these back in the bathroom when you're finished and nobody will ever know but you (you hope)

1- Wooden dowel about 2 feet long and the size of a broom handle. Actually cutting the top off a broom handle would work just fine.

1- Very small flat blade screwdriver

1- Piece of wire with hook at one end or long bolt so you can lift spring from the fork tube

1- Rubber band

1- 3 foot length of craft wire (piano wire or anything thin but fairly stiff)

1- Large (60 cc) syringe (you can probably get one from your vet or a feed store)

2- 1 cup measuring cups

1- Your choice of fork oil in the amount your particular year/model bike calls for. It's in your owners manual.


T-Stan says:

This was a very easy deal. Had I known how easy, I would have done it sooner. Along with balanced volume of fresh fork oil, of proper wt.. I recommend the Progresive Springs as money well spent. Ride is firmed up stable, but no jolting, I feel rebound is just way better.

OK, I did it with the help of a neighbor, so this was a 2 person deal.

Keep everything clean especially anything going into fork tubes and prevent any unwanteds from entry.

With bike on bike jack and front wheel just off ground. Stabilize the front wheel so it can't move side to side.

Use something to pad so you won't mar the tire or wheel.
Pad the fuel tank very well, the entire tank and especially pad the speedo area.
Remove the handlebars and carefully pad the front of risers as handlebars will rest there as well, lay them on the padded speedo housing area. They will sorta droop down some, and come to rest against the riser and speedo housing.

Carefully remove the chrome plastic fork tube caps.
Under the caps you see the gold colored caps that are held in with a ring clip. Clean this area so crud won't fall into fork tube. This is where you need a helper.

Now with(I used) a wooden dowel the size of a broom handle(easy on hands)about 2' long, have the helper push down on the gold cap dippled in center(shape dowel to fit in here without sliding). There is spring tension but not real hard too push. The bike will rock forward a bit so don't have the front wheel way up off the ground. There is a stop(just goes down a little) so it can be held against stop.
Working from opposite side of bike. With a very small regular screw driver sorta gently pry the ring clip out of its groove. With gold cap still being held by helper. Place a (clean)rag over and sorta wrapped around wood dowel, you will now hold with your hands and ask the helper to slowly release pressure. It will move up about 2 inches with spring tension and then no more pressure.

Remove plug, spacer and washer. Course same procedure other side. I layed mine where the same plugs, spacers and washers(retrieve when spring is pulled out) went back in as they came out and on same side.

You can see the spring w/ washer on top. It is down a bit so you'll have to hook it with something and pull it out. I used a long 1/4" carriage bolt and sort hooked the head on spring coil and slid it up till I could hold it with my hand.
Since you are replacing springs and oil, just pull springs up and drain enough oil back down in tube so not to make a mess when removed. A rag or paper towel placed under to catch oil drips till ya can stand them up where oil that will run off won't hurt anything(previously picked place). If you have new Progressive Springs they look just about the same.

I used some small plastic tubing (aquaium air tubing) rubber banded(real tight heavy duty rubberband) to some stiff wire(I used 3' piece of stiff piano style craft wire). Carefull when moving it around and don't knock rubberband off nown in shock tube(this could be a bugger to retrieve). I have heard of some using a stiff tube as well. Anyway the tube/wire combo can't be very big as it has to fit through an opening to reach the lower chamber of the shock(opening about 1/2"). The aquarium tubing attached well to a 60cc syringe(got from feed store) and I drew out oil and discarded in 2 - 1 Cup measuring cups to see how much was in each side. I sucked till it gurgled good. Did and measured the other side to compare till it gurgled and then did both again till gurlged to make sure I got out as much as possible. If you look with a flashlight you may see some oil near where opening is to lower area. Suck this clean too.

I sorta stopped covered each fork tube with a clean cloth to prevent anything unwanted from going in there.

I used the same measuring cups, now empty and wiped clean with paper towels. My cups had ml measurments as well as oz. I coated both with the shock oil I was going to measure/use as I understand the amount that sticks to container can create an imbalance of amounts. I measured 250ml in one cup and 100 ml in other cup. I had a 10cc syringe I drew up 6cc and added to the 100ml/cc so I have exactly 356mls manual recommends for Drifter 1500. I used Amsoil(synthetic) med. wt. Shock Therapy Fluid, though many many fork oils and wts. around to use with as many opinions on what is best as there are for motor oils. I used this as had it already for use on another bike. Wet the clean funnel as well as some will stick to it. Pour the 356ml into fork tube. Repeat same on other side. Place stopper cloth back.

If installing Progressive Springs Cut 2 spacers 3 1/2" long from 1" PVC the thick kind (schedule 40)used in most water pipe applications, remove all burs and smooth even ends. PS instructions say you can cut the original spacer to 3 1/2" but it is steel.
Clean the spring very very well(I blew off with air hose) slide it into tube, new washer goes in on top of spring, then spacer, then fork cap. PS instructions say no differnce which end is up or down as long as same. One end has tighter wound spring.
Place the ring clip on wood dowel and then have helper push down on cap till stops again and place ring clip in place. It is very important to make sure it is inplace all the way around. Do the other side same. Save the wood dowel for use the next time oil changed.
Install plastic caps, re-install handlebars.
Remove front wheel braces deals
Let down off jack
Put the old srpings, spacers(metal), washers in PS box for storage.
Go for a test ride, I think you will like it.
T-Stan