Of Minds and Motorcycles

"One that would have the fruit must climb the tree." - Thomas Fuller

My parts finally came in the mail, including new fork springs. So I thought it would be a good opportunity to take apart the rest of the bike, and start figuring out how to rebuild the forks.

I haven't been great about taking pictures the last few days, but here is how the bike looked as of Friday.

just the frame

Today I removed the swingarm, and started tackling the forks. Again I didn't take enough pictures but I'll explain roughly what I've done so far.

fork rebuild

The XS1100 forks are unique in that they're air assisted. There's a valve on the cap of each fork that allows you to pump them full of air much like you would a tire. The way this works is somewhat complicated, but the basic idea is that the more air pressure you have, the stiffer the forks feel, and vice versa. I've read that it was a bit of a fad at the time, and was a short lived addition to fork technology. It kind of fits with the vibe of the bike, with its slow handling and heavy engine; why not add a bit of tunability to your already poor handling muscle bike?

It's like showing up to a nightclub in sweatpants and a mustard stained t-shirt, but with a nice pair of shoes.

Or having a run down apartment with a very nicely renovated bathroom.

The air caps are just annoying. I don't particularly love how they look, and they protrude high enough to interfere with the handlebars, making height adjustment more difficult. I'd make a set of simple looking fork caps to replace them, but it would probably be more trouble than it's worth.

Fork Rebuild for Annoying Air Forks:

Step 1: Remove the valve cap and press the centre of the valve to release the air in the forks. Watch out, oil mist comes out, and you don't want that stuff all over you.

Step 2: Loosen the drain bolt at the bottom of the forks. I've heard this is difficult at times depending on when this was last done. Mine were actually easy to remove making me think the oil may not actually be that old.

Step 3: Place forks upright over a pan and remove the fork caps. Another annoying feature of the air fork caps; I had to use an adjustable wrench due to the size and shape. Although if you were a professional you would simply have the right size wrench for the job. So I shouldn't complain. This step can be difficult with the forks removed, so either do this step while they're still on the bike, or do what I did: attach the triple tree temporarily to the fork and use it as a brace to stop the tube from rotating as you loosen the cap. I should have a picture for this, but I was too busy actually doing it (and kind of enjoying the process). Again watch out, the cap will fly off as the springs are under pressure.

fork spring

Step 4: Collect the oil and drop your wrench in the pan. Yell some profanities, and start cleaning up the oil soaked wrench. Remove the springs from the tubes, and let the oil completely drain while you contemplate what you're going to do next, and while you realize you're late for your family dinner you were supposed to go to.

fork springs

Stay tuned for part 2 of rebuilding forks coming soon.


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