Long days on the dirt road can be a lot of fun, but it can cause several issues with your dirt bike’s fork seals. These fork seals are generally composed of two seals; the Oil Seal and the Dust Seal. The oil seal keeps the oil inside the fork leg, while the dust seal protects the oil seal from dust, dirt, or sand.
The first thing you need to know is when you have leaking fork seals, you can easily do this by checking the fork tube (inner tube) just below the dust seal, if there’s fork oil on the outside of the tube then it’s leaking. Ignoring this problem will cause the oil to drain out of the fork and severely impact your bike’s performance, making it unsafe to ride.
This is why if you notice any leaking, you should replace the fork seals immediately, ideally both seals at the same time. If you haven’t replaced fork seals before, then it’s best to take it to your motorcycle mechanic.
Causes for Leaking Fork Seals
Understanding what makes the fork seals leak will help you stay on top of your bike’s maintenance and avoid any hassle in the future.
- Dirt, sand, water, and other debris can sometimes get wedged between the fork seals and the inner tube. This is the common reason for fork seal leakage and it’s possible to be repaired by carefully cleaning the muck and dirt with tools.
- Wear & tear is usually caused by long usage over a period of time, but in general, the seals provide around 40 hours of riding time before they need changing and can last for a few years with the proper maintenance and depending on the conditions you ride in.
- Dents, scratches, improper installation, and direct impacts can wear down the fork seals’ durability, causing them to leak prematurely. Whether it’s dents or scratches that can be cleaned, incorrect installation or damage during installation, not using the proper lubrication when sliding the seals in place, or simply impacting with stones or rocks on your journey can cause tears that create leaks that need to be addressed, cleaned, or replaced altogether.
Steps to Clean Fork or Dust Seals
Cleaning fork seals or dust seals on motorcycles and dirt bikes is relatively easy; Access the fork legs, slide out the dust seals, then use a fork seal cleaning tool to remove any dirt or dust inside the seal.
Access the Leaking Fork Seals
- Use a clean towel or rag to wipe away any dirt and oil from the lower fork legs.
- Then use a flat-blade screwdriver to carefully separate the dust seal from the upper fork tube, all the while taking care not to damage the seal or the upper tube.
- Wipe any dirt and oil from the dust seal.
Slide the Dust Seal Down & Clean Fork Seals
- Slide the dust seal down
- Use a clean & lint-free cloth or towel over the tip of a small screwdriver
to clean out any dirt under the lip
- Alternatively, a Q-tip or cotton swab seems to work well
Slide the Dust Seal Back Into Place
- Once the fork seal and dust seal are clean, push the dust seal firmly back into place using your fingers.
To Wrap Up
There are several causes as to why your bike’s fork seals can leak, but with proper maintenance and repair, you can enjoy a few years’ worths of adventurous experiences. If you ever do suffer from leakage, clean your fork seals regularly by following these steps so you can always get the best out of your motorcycle or visit your motorcycle mechanic if it needs replacing
With clean fork seals, you can always bike on!