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Front fork leak - OEM or AFM


Old Today, 11:45 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: SoCal, Atl, Pitt,...
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Default Front fork leak - OEM or AFM

My left front fork is leaking. I'm thinking the seal needs replacing. If so I can go OEM, but I'm always looking for a reasonable mods/upgrades when possible.

So I'm considering replacing with Racetech or Ohlins. not the whole front fork, but maybe replace the innards? What are y'all thoughts on Ohlins vs Racetech. Also I'm thinking to replace OEM with Racetech Type 1 gold valve. I don't see any similar part on Ohlin's site though - just the actual fork or springs. Is there a competing valve they make? I won't be doing the work myself, but have a mechanic or indie shop do it.

Also I'm no suspension expert at all and am not sure that I can only replace the valve (along with the seals and maybe bushings?). Will this be an improvement in doing so?
Here's a pic of the Racetech type 1 valve kit:

Thanks for any and all feedback.
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Old Today, 03:10 PM
tentacleslap's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Calgary, Canada
Posts: 300

FWIW, I've had a good experience with Racetech springs, but Ohlins is well... Ohlins

I recently installed a set Racetech springs on my '87 and I'm really happy with it. One thing I like about the Racetech approach is that they take the rider's weight and riding style into account when they recommend rates, (or rates/stacks if you go with the valves). It seems like they put a lot of effort into trying to tailor their recommendations to the rider and they've got a lot of documentation to back it up. I'm a technical guy, so I like to nerd out on that sort of thing, and it's also more beginner friendly to start with a good recommendation and go from there. Ohlins typically offers a range of products without a lot of support to go with it

That said, I've only used their springs and have no experience with the valves/stacks. They seem to promise a lot of benefits, but I feel like suspension is generally a game of compromises, so a bit of research would be your friend if you plan to make big changes. I probably wouldn't bother with just the valves, but if I was going up to stiffer springs the valves might help take some of the edge off. The most important part will be the springs, and they are sold by rate (basically how much force is needed to compress the spring a certain amount) with higher rates meaning a stiffer spring. They also come in progressive or linear, which means about what you'd expect. Next is the preload, which is literally just a short length of tube that pushes against the spring to 'pre-load' it. On adjustable setups, this will be easily changed by tightening or loosening the adjuster. On non-adjustable setups you can swap out the tube for different lengths. Third, you can substitute different weights of oil, and add or remove oil to tune the amount of air that is in the fork (more air = more compressibility). I haven't messed with oil too much, I usually just run the recommended

It's probably a bit of a placebo, but I do like feeling like I'm riding something that's been tailored, and even better after experimenting with different preloads. I find a stiff, linear spring helped me feel more settled entering a corner, and gives a bit of confidence when I need it most (ie right at weight transfer) but if I take the preload too far, it'll feel chattery and unsettled on rough pavement. Plus my old bike dives really sharply on braking, and none of this is helped by the fact that I'm a heavier guy on a big steel bike. I imagine the 954 is at a much better starting-point performance-wise, so you'll want to try and find something that works for you. If they need to come apart anyway, I'd say go for it, but start with a plan so you're not just throwing money at a problem that doesn't really exist

Just my 2c
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