Leaky Forks

I just bought my first motorcycle! It is a 1986 VF500F. I am BEYOND STOKED! I am a new rider with zero experience on motorcycle mechanics but I am willing to learn. I need to replace the fork seals. Any recommendations on a place/website where I can get the parts needed? Is it a difficult procedure?

You can find the seals everywhere (Honda dealers, MCparts dealers, industrial parts dealers) and changing the seals is quite easy if you follow the manual.

Welcome to the wonderful world of V4,
Fork seals are fairly straight forward to do,a good manual will make it a job anyone with even basic mechanical knowledge can perform.
I would be looking to see why the seals have failed,worth checking if the chrome on the forks is damaged or pitted at all.
With only 14k on it I don’t think the bushes will be that badly worn that they require replacing but worth checking while the forks are apart anyway.
The only tool I would highly recommend using is a seal driver,either one for 37mm forks or an adjustable one,both available on eBay at a reasonable price.
Regards Bif

make sure that when you put everything back together and slide the fork seals on the stanchions please make sure that everything is thoroughly clean and don’t put any grease around the seals or near the c clip and washer that hold the seal in place, Many a time I have stripped forks to replace the seals and found people had greased them this causes the seal to fail as the grease lifts the seal and allows oil to get past it

Welcome Santa, the 500 is a lovely bike so good luck with the fork seals. Have you got a mate who might be able to help ?


I’ll be doing mine on the 500 soon, so if he’s not done his by then, i’ll do a pictorial writeup.
It’s fairly simple anyway. (From memory)

  1. Remove Brake calipers (They get in the way) take the front wheel out, remove mudguard/fork brace.
  2. Drain fork oil. (as the forks can be pressurised, get the drain bolts out and use a bicycle pump to push the oil out, so remove the bolt in the very bottom of each fork leg first)
  3. Remove dust cover from fork upper, and circlip holding in fork seal.
  4. Slide fork lower leg down, repeatedly to shift out the seal. Don’t need to be massively gentle with this.
  5. From there, you should see the fork upper leg bushing, slide that gently over the end of the fork and remove the seal.
    6.LIGHTLY lube new seal with clean, fresh fork oil, slide into place.
  6. Replace bush, slide fork back together, replace bottom fork bolt. Note on some VF models there’s a channel cut into the very bottom of the damping rod, to clear the drain bolt on the right hand leg, if you don’t put this in right, the fork leg will clunk around and not sound nice (Don’t ask me how i know this)
  7. Drift seal back in. Either use the old seal cut on one side so you can slide it back over the fork leg plus a small rubber mallet, or a long 1/4" extension and very gentle taps with a hammer til it’s all seated home.
  8. Replace circlips, dust cover and refill with fresh fork oil to the correct volumes (These bikes have TRAC on the left fork, so volumes will be different to each leg. Don’t fill them the same, it won’t feel quite right when you ride it).
  9. Refit front wheel and calipers.
  10. Bounce the forks a few times to check everthing is settled, and check fork alignment in case you nudged anything.

Hope this helps.

Did you used to work for Haynes Tassie ?

Heh, Nope.
Ex Cosworth F1 engine builder, so i know one end of a spanner from the other.
If i worked for Haynes, then then i wouldn’t have made so many spelling/grammar errors (now corrected)

ALL the VF range forks are pretty much the same, so those instructions should work for all.
Very little difference, tbh.