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Discussion Starter #1
My 2009 Nomad had the original brake and clutch fluid until this past week. I have 18,000 miles in three years on the bike but due to circumstances have ridden less this past year than in the first two years. Anyway, I changed the brake and clutch fluids this week and was appalled by what I saw coming out. They were both badly discolored and full of particles. I used almost an entire quart of fluid to get them both running clean and particle free. Believe me when I tell you I will do this annually from now on:))

I also changed the front fork oil and frankly I don't know what the engineers were thinking when they created a design that requires you to take the whole front end of the bike apart and put it back together in order to do routine maintenance. Why isn't there a drain in the bottom of the forks?? I spent half a day working with a local mechanic to get this job done. What a pain in the %^&*.

Coolant change will be next, but I gotta get over the fork oil change first before I start into that.
 

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Brake fluid is hydroscopic. It absorbs moisture and deteriorates once opened to the air. I've head about the fork oil and haven't yet gotten motivated enough to change that on my 800. Good advice though. Even anti-freeze has a usable life. It retains the ability to not freeze but the anti-corrosion components get consumed and you have no protection.
 

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just did my brake fluids as well, 09 classic with 12,000 kilometres, filthy like you said.
I have the flushing and replacement fluids for the radiator flush, but have not done that as yet. hmmm fork oil, must look that up to see whats involved.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Is fork oil on the routine maintenance list?
Changing the fork oil is not on the routine maintenance list but it was recommended by my mechanic Todd. The fork oil was very dirty after three years and 18,000 miles. Here is verbatim what the manual does say, including all of the grammar mistakes from the poor Japanese to English translation: "Front forks operation inspection: Pump the fork up and down 4 or 5 times, and inspect the smooth stroke. If the forks does not smoothly or noise is found, inspect the fork oil level or fork clamps (see Front Fork Oil Change in the Suspension chapter)."

In order to change the fork oil you need to disassemble the entire front end of the bike - remove windshield and headlight, remove brake calipers and front fender, remove front wheel, remove forks, compress the top plug in the fork with a gear puller, drain the oil, measure and refill with the correct amount of oil, and then reassemble everything. It is a LOT of work. It will be a few years before I do it again:))
 

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I went to a heavier fork oil when I added my front fairing to the bike, made a big difference in the ride


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The problem with not changing fork oil is the same problem with not bleeding brakes. You'll lose a seal! Every see guys with bikes that have some miles and some years on them fighting brake problems? Calipers going bad, lines corroding, etc.? If they'd change the brake fluid annually, that wouldn't be an issue! (Plus it's super easy)
 

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Devil's advocate.

Far be it from me to step on the hooves of any sacred cows (Actually, I love to do it!:D), but I'm not convinced that you're not doing more harm than good by changing brake fluid. Since the fluid IS hygroscopic, almost any moisture will be introduced into the system through the master cylinder reservoir. To bleed the wheel calipers, and then top off the reservoir with fresh fluid only pushes the moisture-laden fluid down towards the wheel calipers. This is not a system that recirculates the fluid; the fluid remains mostly static where it is.
In the following pic, you will notice that the fluid enters the caliper in the middle between the two pucks. If you open the bleeder and pump fluid from the master cylinder to replace the caliper fluid, any new fluid will not replace the fluid below the entry point. Since moisture is heavier than the fluid, any moisture will remain at the bottom of the caliper and continue to corrode the lower puck and bore. Why not just remove, throughly clean the calipers and replace the o-rings and replaceable seals when you replace the brake pads? If you don't replace the pads for years at a time, just remove the calipers and clean and replace the seals every couple of years or so. At least you will be able to change out ALL the fluid when you do this.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
It should be changed every time you put a new front tire on the bike.
This makes a lot of sense to me, given that the wheel will be off the bike anyway. Good thought!
 

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Is fork oil on the routine maintenance list?
Every 15,000 miles for the 1500, but I had mine done for the first time at 45,000. 15,000 is overkill-- unless your seals are leaking... I admit, 45,000 is a bit much but 30,000 seems perfectly reasonable. My shop charged me $250.00, which I thought was a deal when I saw the entire front end off the bike.
_____________
IntheWind
'06 1500 Classic
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Anyone ever used silicone fluid in lieu of DOT4? I use it on my Jeep and trailer. Meets DOT 4 specs and isn't hydroscopic. Anyone?
Silicone fluid has the advantage of not absorbing water, and it does not attack paint. However, silicone fluid is DOT5 and your brake system must be designed for it. It expands somewhat with heat and is not used for motorcycles because of the small size of the master cylinder reservoir. Also, all of the components in the brake system (especially the seals) must be specifically designed for silicon fluid. Do not use it in your motorcycle.
 

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Far be it from me to step on the hooves of any sacred cows (Actually, I love to do it!:D), but I'm not convinced that you're not doing more harm than good by changing brake fluid. Since the fluid IS hygroscopic, almost any moisture will be introduced into the system through the master cylinder reservoir. To bleed the wheel calipers, and then top off the reservoir with fresh fluid only pushes the moisture-laden fluid down towards the wheel calipers. This is not a system that recirculates the fluid; the fluid remains mostly static where it is.
In the following pic, you will notice that the fluid enters the caliper in the middle between the two pucks. If you open the bleeder and pump fluid from the master cylinder to replace the caliper fluid, any new fluid will not replace the fluid below the entry point. Since moisture is heavier than the fluid, any moisture will remain at the bottom of the caliper and continue to corrode the lower puck and bore. Why not just remove, throughly clean the calipers and replace the o-rings and replaceable seals when you replace the brake pads? If you don't replace the pads for years at a time, just remove the calipers and clean and replace the seals every couple of years or so. At least you will be able to change out ALL the fluid when you do this.

Not necessarily true...thorough flushing of the system on a regular basis WILL replace all the fluid within the calipers. The procedure I established 30+ years ago has proven to do just that.

The internal passageways within calipers garantees that the fluid is distibuted to the lowest point of the calipers and will flush out the old fluid.

I have seen where brakes have not been flushed and bled on a regular basis and eventually the brakes fail to operate. In disassembling these systems we find lots of bad stuff, relly bad stuff.

One other thing, flushing and bleeding the brakes once a year also offers the benifit of restoring braking power. I have found that in one year the fluid has deteriorated enuff that it compromises the braking affectiveness.

Bottom line, flush and bleed ALL hydraulic systems once a year, they will opearte better for longer periods of time.

RACNRAY
 

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Wouldn't moisture laden, worn fluid contaminate fluid as it comes out of the bleeder screw? The reason I ask is, when I bled my brakes, which I do not believe were ever done (bike is an '06, bought it in '11), , the stuff came out jet black, and in the process, ended up coming out perfectly clear just as it came out of the bottle! I would think that the fluid would be contaminated with whats in the caliper, even though it comes out of one side of the puck.

I would also think that as the fluid comes out one side of the puck, because there is no air in the system, it would 'suck' the fluid out of the brake caliper. The same type of setup is used for those little garden fertilizers you stick on the end of your hose, liquid fertilizer is in the bottom, a hole is on the top of the bottle, and water runs on top of it. The water running on top sucks the liquid fertilizer out of the bottle.

That takes a while, but take a thicker fluid, no air, and much less of it, and I think the same COULD happen with a brake caliper. I'm not an engineer or a mechanic, but it 'makes sense' that this is the reason why fluid might be replaced in the caliper!

I'll test your theory though if I remember at the beginning of next season when I bleed my brakes again! I'll pull the calipers apart and see if the fluid on the inside, after the bleed, is clean and clear, or has evidence of being beaten up with heat, moisture, etc.

I did experience markedly improved braking power after bleeding a bike that had not been bled in 5 years though.
 

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My 2009 Nomad had the original brake and clutch fluid until this past week. I have 18,000 miles in three years on the bike but due to circumstances have ridden less this past year than in the first two years. Anyway, I changed the brake and clutch fluids this week and was appalled by what I saw coming out. They were both badly discolored and full of particles. I used almost an entire quart of fluid to get them both running clean and particle free. Believe me when I tell you I will do this annually from now on:))

I also changed the front fork oil and frankly I don't know what the engineers were thinking when they created a design that requires you to take the whole front end of the bike apart and put it back together in order to do routine maintenance. Why isn't there a drain in the bottom of the forks?? I spent half a day working with a local mechanic to get this job done. What a pain in the %^&*.

Coolant change will be next, but I gotta get over the fork oil change first before I start into that.
Tell me about it, I've already pulled my forks to change the oil and my first major hurdle at this point is getting the top fork lids off. HOW DO YOU REMOVE THEM?. The Kawasaki service manual gives no detail or instructions on how to do this. Twisting and prying so far has been futile!
 

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I am not going to discuss frequency or lack of frequency concerning Fork Oil, but if you are going to pay someone to change out your fork oil, why not spend a couple extra dollars and have them drop some RaceTech Gold Valve Cartridge Emulators in your forks. You will be amazed at the upgrade to the old damping rod forks. While your at it you can determine if the spring is the appropriate spring rate for the amount of weight you, your passenger, and gear you carry on the bike.

Especially important for those who mount a fairing on a bike not designed with a fairing.

I had Traxxion Dynamics rebuild my front end on the Voyager and it is now amazing! Unfortunately, it now makes me realize that the rear suspension is so so.
 

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I am not going to discuss frequency or lack of frequency concerning Fork Oil, but if you are going to pay someone to change out your fork oil, why not spend a couple extra dollars and have them drop some RaceTech Gold Valve Cartridge Emulators in your forks. You will be amazed at the upgrade to the old damping rod forks. While your at it you can determine if the spring is the appropriate spring rate for the amount of weight you, your passenger, and gear you carry on the bike.

Especially important for those who mount a fairing on a bike not designed with a fairing.

I had Traxxion Dynamics rebuild my front end on the Voyager and it is now amazing! Unfortunately, it now makes me realize that the rear suspension is so so.
Thanks for the tip. If you know where I can get those emulators for "a couple of extra dollars" let me know ;).
 
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