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Old 07-28-2008, 02:34 PM   #1
Reinhold OP
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Fork alignment 07 640a

Whats the correct procedure for aligning your forks after putting the forks back on the bike. Ive read a few different ways and I'm looking for the concensus on the correct way as far as what should be torqued first and last.
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Old 07-28-2008, 02:43 PM   #2
meat popsicle
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So you have probably seen a few threads here on this, including my own posts eh? I guess I could recap if only so that someone can correct me: EDIT: note that parts of the method I posted are under dispute below. Read the thread first before deciding what to do...

1) slide the fork tubes back into the triple clamp

2) adjust the heights of the fork tubes by how much the stick out of the upper triple clamp - try to be as exact as possible, maybe even measure?

3) torque the upper triple clamp pinch bolts but leave the lower triple clamp pinch bolts loose

4) assemble the rest of the front end but leave the axle and axle pinch bolts loose

5) take the bike off the stand and roughly compress the front end repeatedly

6) gently put the bike back up on the stand - try not to upset the front end at all

7) again, still being gentle, tighten the various pinch bolts - don't worry about torquing them yet, and leave the axle for last

8) now torque the various pinch bolts and check the uppers to be sure they are still good

9) torque the axle bolt

10) check for stiction - neduro gives a blurb on this in his spring maintenance guide, which made it into the current sticky index

I thought maybe the rough compression bit should be repeated between torquing the lower triple clamp pinch bolts and the axle pinch bolts but I have not seen that mentioned in any guide I have read.
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:34 PM   #3
Reinhold OP
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Thanks Meat...The bars are looking a little cockeyed after assembly even though I followed the same procedure that you gave. I know its not the bars....it might be my imagination but its driving me crazy. I'll loosen it up and try it again!!
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:41 AM   #4
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Owners Manual Procedure

The manual says Torque the Axle to 60 Nm before you take it off the stand and compress the forks.

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Old 07-29-2008, 06:07 AM   #5
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I disagree with the "leave the bottom triple clamp bolts loose" bit. I torque both the top and bottom triple clamp bolts to the specified torque, doing all to the same torque setting and then increasing the torque setting just for the ones that are higher torque. Then I put the front wheel in, clamp up the rhs axle clamp bolts, tighten the axle nut, tighten the lhs axle clamp bolts, loosen off the rhs axle clamp bolts, take the bike off the stand and "vigorously compress the forks several times" and then re-tighten the rhs axle clamp bolts. This is fairly standard procedure for all the dirt bikes I've ever owned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reinhold
Thanks Meat...The bars are looking a little cockeyed after assembly even though I followed the same procedure that you gave. I know its not the bars....it might be my imagination but its driving me crazy. I'll loosen it up and try it again!!
The problem is almost certainly the rubber mounts. If it's not too bad, give the bars a sudden turn to full lock and "bash" them straight against the steering stop. If that doesn't get it after a couple or three attempts then you need to undo the handlebar mount block, move the bars out of the way (roll them forward so they clear the head area) and loosen off the rubber mounting bolts. With them completely loose give them a good "wiggle" and then do them up again, put the handlebars back on and see if that's better. In extreme cases you'll have to completely remove the rubber mounts and turn them 90 degrees before re-installing them. Good luck.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:39 AM   #6
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Meat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!

You have reversed a critical step in this process. All of the care and alignment in the world will not fix this flaw.

The triple clamps can be tightened top or bottom first. I do the bottom first. Why?? To me it makes more sense. It does the most work and the top is kind of along for the ride. Either is fine, and will not make or break your alignment.

The axle gets tightened first!!!!!!!!! This pulls the shoulder of the bigger diameter side of the axle up against the wheel bearings of the hub and pulls the wheel to one side. THEN, tighten the pinch bolts on the fork feet. This ensures alignment. The wider side is the floating side. Meaning that it is wider/ longer then needed to allow the left leg, "as you are facing the bike to seek its center and not bind. Tightening the axle last loads the fork legs by pulling them into the hub. T
he shoulder on the axle is meant to come against the hub and preload your wheel bearings so your wheel doesn't flop around. It also locks in the lower end of the fork. So no amount of care you take in every other step matters at all. You have just put a huge bind on your fork if you do this part wrong.

Here you go:
Grease or oil your axle now. I like a light oil. It is slippery and allows for easier centering.
1. Tighten lower clamp snug
2. Tighten upper clamp snug
3. Torque the T clamps to the proper torque. About 11 lbs for the bottom and 15 up top.
4. TIGHTEN YOUR AXLE NOW!!
5. Tighten the right side/ skinny side pinch
6. Spread the clamp on the floating foot/ wide side with a small scewdriver. Wiggle the left leg back and forth on the axle. You will see that it seeks its center or zero point. Now tighten the pinch bolts on that side.

NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
EVER EVER EVER
TIGHTEN YOUR AXLE LAST. IT IS #1 MISTAKE AND SEEMS TO MAKE THE MOST SENSE WHEN YOU ARE DOING IT.

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Old 07-29-2008, 07:02 AM   #7
meat popsicle
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I just knew it! Thanks a million Zerodog (and desmonc too) for correcting me AND saying why the axle gets tightened first. I thought, incorrectly it seems, that tightening the axle first would not allow the fork tube feet to adjust... I'm off in a bit to make a note above to look below and correct my posts in other threads.

JayBo1, I thought leaving one of the triple clamps free allowed them (or is it the forks?) to adjust during the compressions in case they were not square. I note in Zerodog's method he does not do the compression bit - he has a much gentler method for adjust fork feet alignment.
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Old 07-29-2008, 02:47 PM   #8
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I respectfully disagree 100% with your mini-dissertation. The triple clamps are the defining geometry that positions your forks, NOT the axle clamp. If you really get down to it, the PROPER way to align forks is to follow this procedure that I cut and pasted from this site: http://www.calsci.com/motorcycleinfo/Suspension1.html

Quote:

"You need a center stand or engine jack to do this. You must be able to keep your front wheel in the air with the bike immobile.
  1. Put the bike on its center stand. Do whatever is necessary to get the front wheel in the air. ˝" is fine.
  2. Remove the fork caps so that your springs are loose and your front end moves up and down freely.
  3. Loosen the front axle, the fender bolts, and all the triple clamp bolts. If you have a fork brace, loosen that too.
  4. Lift the front wheel, sliding it up the fork tubes until you hit the bottoming stops inside the forks. Use a tie-down to hold the wheel up in this position, with the forks bottomed out.
  5. Now, with the forks bottomed out, the fork sliders are inside the fork lowers as much as they ever will be, and the forks are lined up as perfectly as they can be. Now is the time to tighten everything, the triple clamp bolts first, then the axle, then the fender bolts. If you have a fork brace, tighten that last.
  6. Release the front wheel so that the forks extend fully, topping out. Replace the fork caps."
To elaborate further, the triple clamps, when aligned properly relative to one another (by the process noted above for example), are an immoveable, established geometry that cannot be changed except by damage from a crash. They are essentially two sets of parallel holes through which the tubes slide. The bottom of the fork tubes MUST be allowed to seek and establish their own positioning by the above process OR the process noted in the previous thread. NEVER tighten the axle bolts first, NEVER. If you go to the Factory Connection web site (they do Kevin Windham's suspension) they too recommend doing pinch bolts, pushing up and down on the forks and THEN securing the axle bolts. These guys have FORGOTTEN more about suspension than you or I will ever know.
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Old 07-29-2008, 10:02 PM   #9
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To all that has been said I would add, first clean the axle and the slider tunnel with Scotchbrite or some such. A dirty axle and tunnel won't slide very well or not at all and center won't be found. Now oil or grease is an option.

Forget the torque wrench sometimes just to get a feel for it in case you crash far from home and have to get set up.

Last try it by bouncing it, if it feels good and the bars are straight, ride it.
Remember this is an art not a science.
If shit is bent be creative.
Vent the forks before you go.
Consider checking the steering head bearings for tightness.
b.
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Old 07-29-2008, 11:07 PM   #10
meat popsicle
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Spanker,

But the calsci method does say to torque the axle bolt before the axle pinch bolts (aka fender bolts)... Of course if you do not compress your forks, and use the bounce method to allow the forks to self-align then you'd have to torque at least one of the triple clamp's pinch bolts.

Speaking of that method, and particularly the part about compressing the forks and locking them before proceeding, is it assuming that the fork sliders wobble? Is that the case folks? I could see a set of worn out forks wobbling, but do the newer ones wobble too? If not then I see no reason to compress the forks. That aside, I do not think it would be easy to compress my 0.50 trussed forks, even without the air spring, while the bike is on my Rino Stand. Maybe with a ratcheting tie-down, but I am already sweating just thinking about it.

I checked out Factory Connection and they forgot to mention the axle bolt at all...

http://www.factoryconnection.com/basicSetUp.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by FC
When installing your forks torque the triple clamp pinch bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications (generally 15-16 foot lbs.) After you have installed the front wheel and slide the axle through, push down on the handlebars a few times to insure the axle lugs are seated squarely on the axle before tightening the axle pinch bolts. Improper installation can cause binding in the forks and harshness/stiffness in fork action.
One more note: ZD took the trouble of posting why it is necessary to torque the axle first. Didn't that make sense to you?

Hey ZD, what do you make of this next comment about shock installation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FC
When installing the rear shock, lift up on the rear wheel when tightening the shock bolt. Tightening extended can throw off your sag measurements.
I did no such thing... but while I have your attention, might I ask you why you don't do the fork rough compression method, and instead do your much gentler screwdriver bit?
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:52 AM   #11
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Spanker, you are 100% correct that the triple clamps do most of the alignment of the fork. But what I was stating was that tightening the axle and lower pinch bolts in the wrong order will bind your forks. And possibly let your front wheel wobble, and help wear out your wheel bearings faster.

Meat I have seen that about the shock bolt thing. I don't believe it. If your shock linkage, bolts, and other mating zones are that worn out that it would matter, you have other problems than setting sag correctly. In general you also set your sag after the shock is on.

I was shown how to do that method with the feet a long time ago by an old timer. And the axle method also came from racing downhill mountain bikes. The forks are very sensitive to binding from misalignment.
The bounce method is ok for the forks too. A lot of guys do it. I worry a bit about yanking the bike back up onto the center stand or lifting it back up onto a motorcycle stand with the pinch bolts still loose. If you think about it, you just undid all of the bouncing by leaning the bike over to lift it. The bounce method is ideal if you have a helper hold the bike up right while you tighten the clamps

Zerodog screwed with this post 07-30-2008 at 08:08 AM
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Old 07-30-2008, 03:58 PM   #12
meat popsicle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zerodog
...

Here you go:
Grease or oil your axle now. I like a light oil. It is slippery and allows for easier centering.
1. Tighten lower clamp snug
2. Tighten upper clamp snug
3. Torque the T clamps to the proper torque. About 11 lbs for the bottom and 15 up top.
4. TIGHTEN YOUR AXLE NOW!!
5. Tighten the right side/ skinny side pinch
6. Spread the clamp on the floating foot/ wide side with a small scewdriver. Wiggle the left leg back and forth on the axle. You will see that it seeks its center or zero point. Now tighten the pinch bolts on that side.

...
ZD,

I just ran thru this and I have one question on which axle clamp gets tightened first. When I torqued down the axle bolt first I found that the wider axle clamp (on the port side) was pinched between axle bolt and the axle spacer, so it can't wiggle back and forth. But the skinner axle clamp (on the starboard side) has plenty of wiggle room.

Is that what you meant? Not the wide axle clamp but the side where the axle sticks out further once the axle bolt is torqued? I think your right/left above is facing the bike, which makes sense, but I am stuck thinking of them while seated on the bike...

I tried neduro's trick of not using the front brake while trying to compress the forks and found that they did indeed move much easier with a small amount of force than I recall they did previously... so I think I am better aligned at this point. Thanks again

Quote:
Originally Posted by neduro
...
In addition, you want to make sure they are properly aligned and don't have excessive stiction. The first (and easiest method) is to push down on the bars without holding the brake. It should be possible to get a very small motion with a small amount of force. If not, your bike rides like shit and deflects where it shouldn't, and you need to fix that.

If you have to push hard, and the smallest motion you can get is a big one, quantify the problem by measuring from a fixed point on one half of the fork to a fixed point on the other half. First, pull up and let the bike settle to the resting point. Then, push down and let the bike rise to the resting point. The difference between the measurements shouldn't be more than a few millimeters, if it is, take everything apart, try to find the source, and reassemble carefully until the problem goes away.

Some older KTM forks (03 USD WP's seem to be bad this way) have a lot of stiction that it's hard to get rid of... now you know why it's hard to hold a line through the rock garden.
...
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Old 07-30-2008, 06:35 PM   #13
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Yes I am using the perspective of looking at the bike straight on. As you would while putting on the front wheel. The wide side, I mean the larger diameter side on left side/ opposite the big nut that tightens the axle.
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:02 PM   #14
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One more note: ZD took the trouble of posting why it is necessary to torque the axle first. Didn't that make sense to you?

Yes it does make sense. In the case of my Husky, tightening the axle bolt establishes the positional relationship of the axle to the left fork leg, that's it. It does not establish the relationship of the spacing of the lower fork legs relative to the top fork legs. Again, this is my bike. When I tighten the axle pinch bolts, left and right, I have now "pinned" the lower fork legs. If the spacing between both lower legs are not the same as the top, binding will result. Do what you think is best and ride!
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:58 PM   #15
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Yeah, ZD threw a curve ball there by quoting sides not from the riding position (as per normal) but from standing in front of the bike. In river terminology, you name sides always facing downstream; this is shortened to "true left" and "true right" to make it absolutely clear.

The point about the axle sequence is simply that on most bikes, the axle pulls the wheel bearings hard up against one fork leg, and the axle is 'fixed' to that side as it is torqued up. The other fork leg floats freely on the axle, to allow for various tolerances in the width between the fork legs. All the bouncing and stroking is doing is trying to locate the other fork leg at the correct width for optimum suspension performance - and then you lock it in place.

The very confusing part about the KTM is that you need to tighten the RHS ("true" right ) pinch bolts to hold the axle so you can torque it up. Then you must release the RHS pinch bolts and go through the alignment process.

I must admit I've been using ZDs method lately. I should go through the process of removing the springs and stroking the forks to locate everything. But then you should do that to locate the cartridges, too... Heck the Ohlins guru here reckons you shouldn't even cut preload spacers yourself, because if the are not absolutely square they will push the fork springs into the tube walls, causing poor performance.

[edit: our posts crossed, so I'm repeating the other chaps]
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