Well I learned a few things about my bike, 02 flht. It has sealed wheel bearnings, I like that. It has a cartridge fork (whatever that is) so they only recommend changing the fork oil every 20k, which is good but the bad thing is it looks like you have to rip the whole fairing off, not good.
Only the left fork has a cartridge, the right one is conventional, and you are right they are a huge pain in the a$$ to maintain with a faired bike, Ultra's in particular.
It's almost like it was designed specifically to force people into having the work done at a dealer. I suspect it will either not get done or you will pay handsomely on top of the regular service.
My 02 is getting there and when I take it apart I will come up with a way to service it without disassembly subsequently. They must think we are stupid, this much labor for a simple maintenance operation is utterly unacceptable.
Haven't messed with any fork oil changes on 02 FLT's yet but why couldn't you just refill it thru the drain hole using a Mityvac to pump it in. Would probably have to allow for a little spillage but sure beats taking half the front end off. I've done other front ends this way years ago and it worked OK. I think I like my front air suspension better and better.
I think it would be difficult to get the proper amount of fluid in there and to get the levels right. It would also be difficult to properly drain the cartridge side. It might be quite hard to figure the exact amount of spillage when pumping fluid in against the pressure that will develop considering the fork legs are not vented.
Don't mind taking them apart once in a sporting sense and I'm confident something simple will come to mind for the future at least on my personal bike.
Could someone explain what is a catridge fork, I suspect it is something the engineers came up with to make it harder for the home guy to work on. I found this out because I was asking the parts guy about progessive springs, I like the forks but thought I could put progessive springs in at oil change, looks like you can't do it. The service writer also said I should change my brake fluid every year, I can't believe thats necessary.
A cartridge fork is very similar in concept to an automotive McPherson strut except the spring is inside the tube.
It is a much better system in theory as you have real valving to control damping instead of a simple orifice tube.
Like everything else in life, you can have a $2K Ohlins nitrided upside down cartridge fork with premium adjustable damping or you can have a $20 Showa POS like we have. Not to say Showa doesn't make good ones, they just make the full range.
Same thing as comparing a strut from PepBoys with one from Penske, it's just easier to swallow if the bike is cheap.
Thanks Hippo , so maybe a cartridge isn't bad, it sounds like in the future you will be able to get different types of cartridges for the type of ride you want. It just seems like one type for, every rider weight is kind of dumb . I am very happy with the forks now but I guess I can't leave good enough alone. I suppose you will need a special tool to change them. dll66 , Boy my last Nissan pickup had 150k and I never changed the brake fluid, unless they did it when I had a brake job at about 80k. my last tacoma i only kept for 2.5 years never changed the brake fluid now I have an 02 prerunner trd, which I really like and plan to keep for 150 -200 k so maybe I will start having my brake fluid changed every couple of years, I have to look in my manual I don't ever remember seeing that in any manual I have had.
The fork oil gets nasty if yu don't change it. On my old 88' flht I change is several times by using a vacum pump at the air adjust valve and sucked it in from the drain hole. But the new forks have no air valve. I bet you can build an adapter to connect an A/C manifold to the drain hole of the fork. connect vacuum pump behind the manifold and after you suck a vacuum on the fork, use the A/C manifold to let the vacuum pull in a premeasured amount of oil from the same hole. That's the same way they put oil and refrigerant into an air conditioning compressor. Sure would bet removing the forks.