April 26, 2021 6 min read

Fork seals on a motocross bike take quite a hammering due to the rough and dirty terrain that these bikes are used in. The constant shock-absorbing wears out the components, and the dirt and grime get under the seals and damages them or simply causes them to leak oil.

Replacing fork seals on a dirt bike can cost you between $200 and $400 depending on your bike and the shop you take the bike to for the job. Costs can be reduced by doing the job yourself, but this is time-consuming, or you can perform regular maintenance on the seals to extend their lifespan.

Leaking fork seals are a typical maintenance issue that all dirt bike riders need to deal with at least every two or three months, and it can be an expensive outcome in both time and cost to have the bike in the shop to take care of this issue. Maintenance and cleaning of your fork seals can help to prevent costly replacements.

What Does It Cost To Replace Fork Seals?

Fork seals on a dirt bike take a lot of abuse, and they do wear out from time to time and, consequently, need to be replaced. This is a task that every dirt bike rider is going to have to face about three or four times a year, mostly depending on the terrain you ride and the frequency with which you ride.

Replacing fork seals takes time, and while your bike is in the shop, you are not spending time at the track honing your riding skills.

The costs for replacing the fork seals can become a fairly significant cost factor in the maintenance of your dirt bike, given the fact that they need to be replaced a few times a year.

The costs to actually replace the fork seals can vary considerably and will be influenced by your bike, the availability of the parts, and your location.

The replacement cost can be between $200 to $400 per time, and if you need to do this frequently throughout the year, it could add up to about $800 to $1600 per year that you spend on replacing these components on your bike.

This cost doesn't factor in lost time on the bike or the inconvenience of getting the bike into the shop for this maintenance task.

There are some means that you can use to reduce these costs and some that will help you to reduce the frequency with which you need to change the fork seals.

Are Fork Seals Hard To Replace?

One of the methods through which you can reduce the cost of replacing the fork seals is to tackle the job yourself. This will reduce the financial cost but will require a time commitment from you to get the job done. You can expect the job to take about 2 hours from start to finish if you know your way around the front forks. However, if you are fumbling your way through the job for the first time, you can expect it to take 3 hours or so to get the seals replaced and the bike back together. 

Fork seals on a dirt bike are not particularly hard to replace, but they do take some time to replace because you have to dismantle the entire front fork assembly. Due to the work involved, it is preferable to replace both fork seals at the same time rather than only doing one, even if one of them is still in working condition. You can keep this one as a spare.

If you are going to tackle this job yourself, you will need to have some appropriate equipment to make the job go a lot smoother.

  • A factory pit mat will help to keep the floor of your garage or workshop clean and prevent fork oil from leaking all over the floor while you dismantle them. Risk Racing has the perfect Factory Pit Mat that will do this job for you, and it will bring some style to your shop at the same time!
  • You will also need a bike stand that will get the wheels of the bike off the ground so that you can remove the front wheel and then the forks. You will need a sturdy and robust bike stand for this, and once again, our innovative dirt bike products are just the ticket! The Risk Racing RR1 Ride-On Bike Lift will make getting your bike elevated a breeze, or you can use our more traditional but still innovative Adjustable Top Stand (ATS), which is adjustable for any model of bike. It has a magnetic frame, so you can stick your tools and nuts and bolts to the frame so they don't go astray during the job.
  • Replacement fork oil will be necessary to replace the oil in the forks once the job is complete. You will need about 17 – 18-oz (500ml) of oil per fork, so 35 - 36-oz (1 liter) of fork oil for the two forks.
  • New seals to fit onto the forks.

The actual process to replace the fork seals will require the bike to be on a stand so that the front wheel will be off the ground.

The first step would be to remove the front wheel, the brake calipers and then undo the mounting brackets for the forks in order to remove them. The actual removal of these parts and the replacement of the seals would differ from bike to bike, so you should consult your bike's owner's manual for this task.

 

How To Clean And Treat Leaking Fork Seals

Another way to reduce the frequency with which you replace your fork seals is to do frequent maintenance and cleaning to extend the life of the fork seals. Much of the damage that is done to the seals that reduce their lifespan is the grit and dust that gets under the seal.

This dust and grit not only cause the seal to leak fork oil which is annoying, but it also wears away the seals and compromises their integrity sooner, requiring more frequent replacement.

The grit that gets under the seals can also score the fork tube, which will compromise the effectiveness of the seal on the tube, and may result in some expensive resurfacing of the fork tubes or even their replacement.

Fortunately, maintenance of the fork seals to stop leaks and extend the life of the seals is now an easy and fast procedure. This is thanks to the Risk Racing Seal Doctor, which is designed for exactly this task!

The Seal Doctor is a specially designed tool to get under the fork seal and clean out the debris that has collected there to cure any leaks on the fork seal and extend seal life.

The time taken to clean both front fork seals will literally take you under 5 minutes. This would be 5 minutes well spent if it saves you having to replace fork seals or contend with leaking fork seals!

To use the Seal Doctor, you simplypry loose the dust cover of the fork seal, slide it down the fork tube a little way and then clip the Seal Doctor around the fork tube.

Slide the Seal Doctor up and under the seal and rotate the Seal Doctor 360-degrees to scrape out the dirt and grit from under the seal.

The unique design of the Seal Doctor willchannel the dirt and grit down into notches on the tool so that when you extract the tool, the dirt comes out with it.

After you have rotated the seal cleaner, slide it down and out from under the seal. Unclip it from the fork tube, and give the fork tube a thorough wipe down with a clean cloth to remove any dirt from the tube and any excess fork oil that may have leaked out during cleaning.

The final step in the task is to slide the dust seal back up the fork tube and reseat it into position. Clip the Seal Doctor back onto its protective tube and toss it into your toolbox till you need it again.

This solution is so simple that it would pay to keep a few of them around. One that stays in your garage and one in your toolbox, and another in the glove compartment of your truck! You will be glad to have the Seal Doctor around the next time you have a fork seal that is leaking!

Conclusion

While changing fork seals is not a very expensive maintenance task once-off, if you have to do it multiple times a year, the costs start to add up. It does not make sense to keep spending this money if you can extend the life of the fork seals by using a simple, quick, and easy-to-use tool like the Seal Doctor.

Cleaning out your fork seals with this tool will not prevent you from having to change the seals at some point, but it should reduce the frequency and thus, save you some costs. The bonus is that it is a quick and easy fix for leaking fork seals, even at the track!


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