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I just did the 20,000 mile service on my 03 Ultra over the Christmas break. Did everything to spec, plus changed both tires, and installed a MRC clutch. The final required maintenance item (preceeding the road test) was to swap out the fork oil. Wha?? I've never swapped out fork oil on any of my previous bikes, why would it be required at 20K on a HD. Dunno?? Anyone have any experience with the life span of the fork oil and why it would need to be swapped out so soon? It's quite a bit of work to pull the forks off and swap out the oil, and if it's not a critical reqirement then I'd rather not do it. But then, if not changing the oil with ruin the fork seals or something else then I'll swap out the oil. Just never had to do this before. Comments anyone???
 

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You likely do not need to change it at 20k. The MoCo changed the interval recommendation to 50k in the '04 or '05 manuals. I'd ride on a few more thousand.

When you do need to swap it, it is an near all day job. You have to disassemble the left leg because you bike has a cartridge fork on that side. You will need a spring compressor to do the job. Better get a manual.
 

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0043--Licensed to Doof!
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I do mine every 10K. Why? 'Cause thats what I've always done. I ride hard and this way I know my fork oil is optimal. I have a 2003 EGC too, I put mine on a lift, and pull the front forks off, run them down to my local HD stealer, hang out for about 20 mins, and pay for the 1/2 hr. service. The tools needed to do them your self cost about $420.00 all together. I figure I can make a LOT of trips and still be ahead!!
 

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YoDA, your signature line says ride hard, do you? If so then change it and while you're at it put in a heavier oil. You'll be amazed at how much the ride improves.

Do a search, there are a number of threads concerning fork oils.
 

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And I'll add that "changing fork oil" is part of maint on any bike, especially if it gets ridden. That stuff can get nasty over a period of time.
 

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Geezer-Glide said:
The tools needed to do them your self cost about $420.00 all together. I figure I can make a LOT of trips and still be ahead!!
Not sure what tools are need that I don't know about. Bought oil last spring at 20k, still haven't done it, 34k. I have not noticed it get worse, but sometimes you don't if it is gradual.

Only special tool I know of vac pump about $50 craftsman, less generic. Might need a lift, but you should get one anyways. Tires changes, breaks ect. That will save you alot of money.
So to my knowledge
$50 manual
$100 craftsman lift
$20 oil
$50 pump

Probably missing something. I bought SE oil, one thickness up. There is 2-3 weigths of SE. I do alot of touring so didn't want to to heavy.
 

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berserker said:
Not sure what tools are need that I don't know about. Bought oil last spring at 20k, still haven't done it, 34k. I have not noticed it get worse, but sometimes you don't if it is gradual.

Only special tool I know of vac pump about $50 craftsman, less generic. Might need a lift, but you should get one anyways. Tires changes, breaks ect. That will save you alot of money.
So to my knowledge
$50 manual
$100 craftsman lift
$20 oil
$50 pump

Probably missing something. I bought SE oil, one thickness up. There is 2-3 weigths of SE. I do alot of touring so didn't want to to heavy.
Your bike doesn't have the cartridge left leg to service like a his does. BTW, you could have save your bucks on the vac and used any vacuum cleaner and about a bucks worth of rubber hose to suck the oil in.
 

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I haven't done it yet. So duct take the hose to the vac hose? But I was thinking of getting a pump for draining gas tank. Could suck with vac but would be messy. Any cheap tricks for that?

Last time hoses, funnels and duct tape. Was covered in gas though. Rather not do that in the winter.
 

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Beserker,

After you have drained the forks, put the screw back in one leg. Put one end of a piece of rubber tubing the right size in the other drain hole with the other end in a container holding the proper amount of fork oil. Take the schrader valve outta the fitting on the back of the bike. Put a piece of fuel line over the air fitting. A hose clamp works well to hold it on. Put the other piece of fuel line in the vacuum hose and seal it with a wet rag. Turn on the vacuum and suck the oil in. As soon as the last bit of oil is sucked in, yank out the tube from the drain hole and put the drain screw back in, then cut off the vacuum. Repeat for other leg.

For the gas tank, I'm guessing you have a FI bike. If so, why not run it as low as you can and then just take it off and drain the gas out of the crossover hose.?
 

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Got a carbed bike. The gas will not come out the petcock without vacuum. Your right running the gas down is the best. But I stopped off the tank for storage. I might just look into a cheap harbor freight type pump. Not going to use it much.
 

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berserker said:
Got a carbed bike. The gas will not come out the petcock without vacuum. Your right running the gas down is the best. But I stopped off the tank for storage. I might just look into a cheap harbor freight type pump. Not going to use it much.
You ain't never siphoned gas?:D

If you are concerned with sucking up gas you can do it by blowing.....Put your hose in the tank, then seal up the opening around the hole with a wet rag. Blow in to the hose and build up pressure. After you get it blown to where you are having trouble pushing in more air, lower the end of the hose, and take stick it in your gas can. The pressure will cause it to start siphoning on it's own.
 

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I've always just found the Mity-Vac to be a very useful tool, changing fork oil, pulling a vacuum on the petcock, bleeding brakes, bikes and cars and a few other uses.
 

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This was how I did it on my 04' Ultra with cartridge forks. Now granted I had my outer and inner fairing off (inner fairing off to the painters) but you should be able to do this by only removing the ignition switch, and fairing switch cap. If not you may have to pull the outer fairing cap as well.

Method below is for the left cartridge fork. Reason? You have to inject the fluid from the bottom because the way the valving is on the cartridge it will not accept fluid from the top fork nut area.

Drain both legs and measure the amount. Mine was roughly 11 oz per side. Get a 60cc or larger syringe and pour about 12-13 oz in a clean cup. The extra fluid will account for some that you will lose during this process. Draw up as much clean fluid as you can into the syringe. Now remove the fork cap nut at the top of the fork assy. This will relieve pressure as you stick the syringe in the bottom of the fork leg drain hole and inject the fluid. Now, before you remove the syringe, take the fork cap nut and thread it in some. This will cause a vacuum to where to can remove the syringe and quickly plug the drain hole with your thumb without losing much fluid. Then draw more fluid in the syringe, insert into drain hole and before injecting remove the fork plug cap to relieve pressure. Repeat the process till it's full. Always remembering to remove the fork cap when injecting or installing the fork cap when removing the syringe to complete the process. It is true that some oil can not be drained simply because it is retained in the cartridge. But I wouldn't worry about it.

Right side conventional fork method: You can get some plastic tubing to install on the end of your syringe and inject the fluid from the top of the fork assy under the fork cap nut. Of course, remember to install the drain plug first.

If you can't find a syringe, you can find suction guns at parts stores, Grainger etc to inject the oil. Tractor Supply should carry fairly large syringes.

This gun should work nicely:

http://www.jcwhitney.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product?storeId=10101&Pr=p_Product.CATENTRY_ID%3A2004282&TID=100&TID=100&productId=2004282&catalogId=10101

Plus you could find a double male pipe thread nipple to screw into the leg then slip the hose from the gun over it. There are all kinds of possibilites if you think about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey guys, thanks for all the feedback. The snow is off the ground, the roads are dry, and so I don't think I can stand just working in my shop this weekend--I'll be out for a good long ride!! However, as soon as the snow hits again (probably next week :crying: ) then I'll pull the forks and take them down to the local Stealer. Sounds like the simplest thing to do and not too $$$.

So along these same lines with respect to the fork oil, here's another question (because I just don't have a clue about fork oil). So what happens to fork oil to make it need to be replaced?? Probably a stupid question. Does it break-down and not perform it's function (ie. will the shocks eventually just bottom out and stay there), or what??
 

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YoDA said:
So along these same lines with respect to the fork oil, here's another question (because I just don't have a clue about fork oil). So what happens to fork oil to make it need to be replaced?? Probably a stupid question. Does it break-down and not perform it's function (ie. will the shocks eventually just bottom out and stay there), or what??
The fork oil lubricates the moving parts in the forks as well as helps to dampen the ride over bumps. Eventually the oil will lose viscosity and pick up dirt, which hinders it from doing its job effectively. Without the fork oil, the front end will react more like a pogo stick when it hits bumps.
 

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What Road King said. The loss of viscosity is what makes the difference in the ride. You will be amazed at how much better the bike handles with new oil.
 
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