Fork gaiters are fantastic. I absolutely love them. Why? Because in 40’000 miles and 3 winters I never had to touch the fork seals or stanchions on the YBR as I had fitted a pair of these! They provide protection against the elements and more importantly, stone chippings flicked up from other vehicles, which will chip the chrome away, letting rust set in, forming pits which will tear fork seals apart. This will result in leaking fork oil, which, if left unchecked, could lead to damaging the fork’s internal components, poor suspension performance (a safety issue as the bike’s handling will suffer!) and an MOT failure. Replacing the seals alone is not enough because the pitted stanchions will just damage the new ones quickly again. You can get the stanchions re-chromed or buy new ones (or even clean out the pits and fill with an epoxy like Araldite, but that’s time consuming and requires skill). But, why spend your time, and possibly a lot of money depending on what you choose to do, on that when you can easily prevent these issues in the first place?
Tools/parts I used:
- Ariete 07907 fork gaiters.
- Lithium grease.
- Copper grease.
- Silicone grease.
- 3/8 inch drive breaker bar.
- 3/8 inch drive 10-60Nm torque wrench.
- 12mm ring spanner.
- 12mm crow’s foot spanner.
- 8mm, 12mm, 19mm 3/8 inch drive sockets.
- A small drift or flat blade screwdriver (not pictured).
- A semi-permanent thread locking compound such as Locktite 243 (blue) (not pictured).
Basically the sequence of steps is as follows:
- Remove the front wheel.
- Remove the brake calliper.
- Remove the front mud guard.
- Remove each fork and install the gaiters on them.
- Installation is the reverse of removal!
Okay let’s go! So to remove the front wheel, we must first disconnect the speedometer drive cable – use the drift or flat blade screwdriver to push the retaining tab in whilst pulling the cable end away from the speedometer drive unit:
Push the brake calliper against the disc so that the pistons retract, in order to make it easier for the disc to slide away when you remove and re-fit the wheel (if you have to push hard to get the calliper to move or find it difficult to slide the brake disc in when refitting, it may well need an overhaul due to corrosion occurring around the slider pins or piston seals, causing seizure, especially if you have been riding over winter):
Now, undo the wheel axle nut with the 19mm socket and breaker bar. You may need to hold the bolt side with a spanner as you do this. I didn’t. Tip: this nut is tight! You should position the breaker bar so that you are pushing it away from you/down to the ground in order to undo the nut. It’s much easier and safer, especially if a tool suddenly slips:
Next push out the axle carefully, whilst supporting the wheel. You may need to drift it out if there is corrosion that has caused it to seize. In that case, you can screw the nut back on with a few turns and hit it with a hammer, or do it properly with a suitable sized drift. Penetrating oil, such as Plusgas can also be useful in helping to unseize corroded components. In my case since the bike is new, I managed to push the axle out with my hand! Once the axle is removed, the bike will suddenly fall onto the back wheel! Be prepared for this and as the front wheel comes free, pay attention to the speedometer drive unit on the right side and spacer on the left side – they do sometimes like to fall out by themselves!
Roll the wheel forward to remove it completely (don’t worry about the mud guard, it can bend a little bit upwards to get out of the way) and lean it up against a wall, being careful not to let it lean on the brake disc or rim.
Now it’s time to remove the brake caliper – firstly, undo the bolt holding the brake cable guide to the mud guard with an 8mm socket:
Use 12mm sockets to remove the two bolts holding the caliper to the left fork. Beware that they are quite tight as thread locking compound was used in the assembly process. Also, support the calliper when it falls away – it is advisable not to let it hang by the hose, but bend a wire coat hanger or use a bungee or some string etc so that you can hang the calliper from the handlebar (confession time: I have let it hang from the hose and have never had a problem!).
Now it’s the mud guard’s turn! This is a little fiddly. Remove the remaining four screws holding the mudguard on and slide it downwards and out of the forks. The workshop manual says you can slide it upwards but that didn’t work for me. If your tax disc holder is installed here, it will fall away as well. There is a little bit of flexibility so don’t worry about bending the mud guard a small amount in order to get it free. Also watch out for the stay – a metal plate in the centre, underneath the mud guard, used to bolt it to the forks, that will likely fall away.
Okay we’re almost there. Now we must remove the forks. Start at the top. The forks are held to the top yoke vertically by a screw and washer, which is a little unusual as they are usually ‘pinched’ horizontally. Anyway, work on one fork at a time. Remove the top screw and washer – I had to use the 12mm crow’s foot spanner on the breaker bar for this as it was very tight (too tight for the ring spanner) and space is at a premium (you can’t fit a socket on this screw because the handlebar is in the way). You can of course displace the handlebar if you want better access. I didn’t have a problem though, but be careful with an open ended spanner as it’s easy to round off fastener heads by mistake:
Now undo the bottom yoke pinch bolt with a 12mm socket and support the fork leg as it will want to slide out quickly:
Carefully withdraw the fork – you may now notice some surface rust from the bottom yoke. It cleans off with some kitchen paper quite easily. It’s a good idea to use silicone grease and wipe some over the stanchion. This will do two things; it will make fitting the gaiter much easier and it will form a protective barrier against corrosion on the stanchion:
Now slide the gaiter over the top of the stanchion and pull the wider part over the leg. Be sure to orientate it so that the air hole at the bottom will face rearwards, as in, facing the rider when sitting on the bike – this will ensure that water doesn’t get inside the gaiter:
Now all that remains is to reinstall the fork. Installation is basically the reversal of removal, apart from the fact that you will do up the top bolt/washer before the bottom yoke pinch bolt. Now is also a very good time to get some copper grease on the fastener threads (particularly fork top bolts, pinch bolts, and mud guard bolts) as it’s unlikely that you’ll be undoing them for a while. Corrosion will set in, increasing the chance of them seizing and snapping when you do need to get them out in a year or so after a winter of riding (yes, it happened to me on the YBR with the mudguard bolts!):
Be generous with it, just wipe away any excess that causes a mess, you really can’t use too much of this stuff, and I absolutely swear by it! Word of warning: on fasteners that require thread locking compound (in case they might rattle loose), you should use that, rather than copper grease (specifically the brake calliper mounting bolts). Thread locking compound also keeps corrosion away from the threads.
Those all-important torque settings:
- Fork top bolts: 42Nm
- Bottom yoke pinch bolts: 30Nm
- Mud guard mounting bolts: 10Nm
- Brake calliper mounting bolts: 30Nm
- Front wheel axle nut: 54Nm.
Finally, put some general purpose lithium grease all over the axle, apart from the threaded part (it’s bone-dry from the factory!) before installing the front wheel. You might want to put some copper grease on the threads of it too, as it’s quite exposed to the elements where it is.
When installing the front wheel, pay attention to the speedometer drive unit – there is a notched section that aligns with the fork leg.
Finally, make sure the tops of the gaiters are against the bottom yoke. You may want to secure them with cable ties, or stainless steel jubilee clips, but I haven’t found it necessary myself.
Now, isn’t that lovely?