Fork oil change - BMW R1200R Forum : BMW R1200R Forums
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post #1 of 23 Old 04-15-2016, 06:12 AM Thread Starter
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Fork oil change

OK, I've only just done my 10,000 km service, but the suspense is killing me. I'm very confident with meeting the service requirements for my LC but at 30,000 km I'm due to change the fork oil and the BMW manual specifies a complex tool to compress the fork springs.

Anyone willing to share the technique specified in the Haynes manual for disassembly/re-assembly of each fork leg? The books aren't yet available here (to my knowledge) and OS freight is prohibitive.

01 June 2015 Thunder Grey Exclusive LC with touring pack, high seat, comfort pillion seat, Techspec tank grips, F800 Sports panniers, Givi V47NT topcase, Evotech radiator guard, Barkbuster Carbon handguards, Possum-Spotter LED running lights, dual USB charging outlets, Zumo 550 GPS, Stop Alert brake light flasher and (for winter) Puig 7651W Sport screen. Die Straße gehört mir!
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post #2 of 23 Old 04-18-2016, 01:03 PM
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OK, I've only just done my 10,000 km service, but the suspense is killing me. I'm very confident with meeting the service requirements for my LC but at 30,000 km I'm due to change the fork oil and the BMW manual specifies a complex tool to compress the fork springs.

Anyone willing to share the technique specified in the Haynes manual for disassembly/re-assembly of each fork leg? The books aren't yet available here (to my knowledge) and OS freight is prohibitive.
I can't help with Haynes (as yet) but RaceTech sell a compressor for upside down forks which looks like it may well do the job - no idea on price though.
I also wonder whether it's possible to do an oil change by partially draining the forks by loosening the top caps and inverting, then repeatedly flushing them with ATF or similar, like power steering on a car. Might end up as half a job being worse than none though.
On a similar note, I occasionally look at those beautifully finished fork tops and wonder what on earth you would use to unscrew them with that wouldn't chew them up - an acetal lined socket possibly?
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post #3 of 23 Old 04-18-2016, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Sprigger. The flush-style method also crossed my mind, but setting the oil level becomes problematic.

If you had a precision scale, I suppose you could weight each prior to draining, then fill until they weigh the same.

01 June 2015 Thunder Grey Exclusive LC with touring pack, high seat, comfort pillion seat, Techspec tank grips, F800 Sports panniers, Givi V47NT topcase, Evotech radiator guard, Barkbuster Carbon handguards, Possum-Spotter LED running lights, dual USB charging outlets, Zumo 550 GPS, Stop Alert brake light flasher and (for winter) Puig 7651W Sport screen. Die Straße gehört mir!
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post #4 of 23 Old 11-27-2016, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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30,000 km is fast approaching, so this topic arises again.

The Haynes manual has been available for a while and takes a lot of the technicality out of the procedure, with just a couple of simple home-made tools required to be fabricated in place of the complex BMW special tool. So it isn't as scary as first thought when you view the BMW manual, even the ESA version.

One thing not mentioned in the Haynes manual is the caution required when removing the legs from the bike to avoid scratching. A work colleague picked up his S1000RR from a service some years ago to find zig-zag scratches on the gold forks.

I note that the Haynes manual doesn't bother to remove the dampers, just pumping them to remove the old oil and letting stand upside down for a while to allow drainage. Once you are at that stage of disassembly, though, removing the dampers isn't much extra effort (just need a replacement washer for each leg).

One puzzling thing, though, is that the BMW manual specifies 7.5 W oil, whereas the Haynes manual states 10 W across all models. I've already bought 10 W oil as part of an online purchase, so am tempted to go with that. My preference is for heavier rather than lighter damping and it seems the damping has softened a little since new anyway - if I don't like it, it isn't too much effort to change it later.

Has anyone done a fork oil change yet, and what spec did you use?

01 June 2015 Thunder Grey Exclusive LC with touring pack, high seat, comfort pillion seat, Techspec tank grips, F800 Sports panniers, Givi V47NT topcase, Evotech radiator guard, Barkbuster Carbon handguards, Possum-Spotter LED running lights, dual USB charging outlets, Zumo 550 GPS, Stop Alert brake light flasher and (for winter) Puig 7651W Sport screen. Die Straße gehört mir!
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post #5 of 23 Old 11-27-2016, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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BTW, a good mate recommends kerosene for flushing away old oil and debris. To give you an understanding of his credibility, he keeps a Benelli Tre on the road, and is on a first name basis with the Benelli engineers, having sorted a lot of teething problems for the bike on their behalf. (Don't you just love passionate Italian engineers ...)

He advises that kerosene is used to thin oil for testing. It doesn't have the anti foaming agents that fork oil needs, but it is just a higher fraction from the same base. Being such a low viscosity it can thin and carry away debris easily, and drain to within a few drops.

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post #6 of 23 Old 11-28-2016, 07:43 AM
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A dealer carried out my fork oil change at 18000mi and I've no idea what went in there - presumably BMW recommended oil but the bike does feels firmer again - maybe just placebo effect. I used the dealer to keep up the warranty.
Ive just changed fork oil on an old Triumph Sprint and used cheapo 5W fork oil as a flushing agent to avoid disassembling the legs fully - in the past I've used ATF to flush which is even cheaper .
I've used ATF as fork oil in the past as well - I seem to remember it's around 12 - 15W
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post #7 of 23 Old 11-28-2016, 10:18 PM
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I would go for the 7.5 weight. Maybe 10 would actually be ok but if it doesn't work out you have to pull the whole front end apart again. I can't imagine why Haynes would contradict what BMW specify, do they know more than the people that built the bike? I'm not sure on the maths of oil viscosity but wouldn't 10weight be 25% heavier than 7.5?
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post #8 of 23 Old 11-28-2016, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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The product data sheet for Castrol fork oil (the oil I have) makes an interesting observation - "Fork oils with the same grading; e.g. 5, 10, etc., may be significantly different in viscosity. For example, Castrol Fork Oil 5 is essentially the same viscosity as some products marketed as 2.5 grade oils."

So I might just go with the 10 W and see what it feels like. Who knows, it may be the same viscosity as BMW 7.5 W - at least I'll know for the future. Besides, Castrol only make fork oil in 5, 10 and 15 W grades, and it's my brand of choice.

There's an interesting calculator for mixing oils (of the same formulation/manufacturer) on this site. This would indicate a 60:40 mix of 10 and 7.5 W respectively.

On the subject of ATF, I've used Dexron ATF before as a flushing agent in my F800 forks (and it was the specified fork oil for my Ducati SS900). I intended to do the same with the R, but my colleague assures me that kerosene is safe to use, and being thinner, will flush better.

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Last edited by Panzermann; 11-28-2016 at 11:08 PM.
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post #9 of 23 Old 11-28-2016, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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Correction:
"There's an interesting calculator for mixing oils (of the same formulation/manufacturer) on this site. This would indicate a 60:40 mix of 10 and 5 W respectively."

01 June 2015 Thunder Grey Exclusive LC with touring pack, high seat, comfort pillion seat, Techspec tank grips, F800 Sports panniers, Givi V47NT topcase, Evotech radiator guard, Barkbuster Carbon handguards, Possum-Spotter LED running lights, dual USB charging outlets, Zumo 550 GPS, Stop Alert brake light flasher and (for winter) Puig 7651W Sport screen. Die Straße gehört mir!
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post #10 of 23 Old 11-29-2016, 04:03 AM
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The product data sheet for Castrol fork oil (the oil I have) makes an interesting observation - "Fork oils with the same grading; e.g. 5, 10, etc., may be significantly different in viscosity. For example, Castrol Fork Oil 5 is essentially the same viscosity as some products marketed as 2.5 grade oils."

So I might just go with the 10 W and see what it feels like. Who knows, it may be the same viscosity as BMW 7.5 W - at least I'll know for the future. Besides, Castrol only make fork oil in 5, 10 and 15 W grades, and it's my brand of choice.

There's an interesting calculator for mixing oils (of the same formulation/manufacturer) on this site. This would indicate a 60:40 mix of 10 and 7.5 W respectively.
If you put in 10W and know the quantity, and it's too harsh, then maybe just slacken off the fork caps and siphon off the relevant volume of fluid and replace with lighter. I played around like this with a Tiger after I'd "Race-Tech d" the forks and it was less painful than pulling the forks for each tweak.
Useful tip to use kerosine/paraffin (uk) thanks
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