I have a 1996 1500l VN1500C, my front is a bit mushy and I'd like to change the fork oil. I'm new to this Vulcan, and my manual isn't very descriptive. Can anyone help me and give me directions? Thanks.
Jack / block the bike up so that it stands upright, and the front wheel is four inches or so off the floor.
If you look at the top of the fork tube, you should see a plastic chrome cover. Slip a knife edge under the cap and carefully pry it off. Look in the top of the tube, and you should see a gold-ish colored steel plug with an indent in the middle. You need to push down on that plug with a punch or screwhdriver and peel the wire retainer out of the groove. It's kind of a three handed ordeal, but it's a lot easier to do with the fork tubes still mounted on the bike. The plug is going to be under spring tension, it won't shoot off and implant itself in your forehead or anything, but you don't want to launch it. Set the plug and wire retainer aside, don't loose them. Repeat for the other tube.
Unscrew the speedometer cable nut from the speedometer drive and remove the center cable thing (not sure what its proper name is), set it aside where it will stay clean and undamaged. Remove the front wheel (let me know if you need detailed help with any of these steps), don't lose the spacer on the left side. and don't drop the speedometer drive. You might have to move the wheel around a bit to spread the brake discs and allow the disc to drop out of the brake.
Unbolt the brake caliper and tie it up with a piece of twine. Don't let it dangle from the brake line.
Unbolt the front fender and drop it straight down. Set it aside.
You should be looking at a blocked-up bike with naked fork tubes. Each tube is clamped in two places. Pry out the chrome caps that hide the allen bolts. Loosen both bolts and slide the tube down out of the clamp. Don't dump the springs and spacers out of the tube. Repeat for the other side.
Put your finger over the opening on the tube, hold the spring in place, and dump out the oil. Now, tip out the contents of the fork tube carefully. There will be a spacer that looks like a piece of tubing, a thin washer, and the fork spring. Lay all this stuff out in order someplace clean and safe. Repeat.
Hold the tube upside down and pump it to expel the oil. If it's discolored or gloppy, fill the tubes partially with oil, pump them up and down to rinse them out, and drain them again until they're clean. Let them stand upside down for a while to drain the oil out.
That's basically it. If you need to replace the fork seal and wiper, now's the time to do it. Put the springs in the tubes and remount the empty tubes. Add your oil, pump the tubes up and down to expel the air, install the spacers, and reinsert those silly plugs. The rest is just reassembly. Note that the speedometer drive has one or two 'ears' that mate with recesses in the wheel hub. If you don't get the speedometer drive seated right it will seem like the wheel is too wide to go back into place. You also have to juggle the spacer on the rotor side of the wheel. It's handy to have a couple of wooden blocks to slip under the tire as you're jiggling the axle / speedometer drive / wheel / spacer / profanity together.
You'll have to search around for the oil and oil quantity for your bike. You'll need a dollar store measuring cup that reads in milliliters, or a plastic baby bottle. Other than that, the rest is just common hand tools.
Yes and no... some bikes have oil drain plugs on the forks. Mine's a VN1500A and it doesn't, I think your bike has the same forks. You could rig up a long tube on an oil suction gun and suck the old oil out. That won't get it all, but it might help, especially if your forks are just low on oil.
If you go the 'suck' route, you'll have to measure with a tape measure to get the right level. Make sure you pump the tubes to expel the air and let the oil settle for a while.
But, on the other hand, if your oil level is low, you really should investigate that. It's probably because of leaky seals that need to be replaced.
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