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Hello All,

As the title suggests, hoping for some pointers in moving forward with the forks on an '06 CBR1000RR

Background: Bought the bike used, had no issues with the forks. At one point they began to leak oil. It was enough oil after a 20 minute ride for the oil to be 'running' down the stanchions, not enough to get in/on the pads/rotors though. This was both forks.

Had the seals replaced (don't know what brand it was, dude was offering to do seals via Craigslist). They were fine for about 500 miles or so, started leaking again. So I took them to another guy who is now my mechanic (whom I trust). The seals he put in there started leaking after, again, about 500 miles or so. Worth noting that he claims these current seals are 'leak proof'. He explained to me how the OEM seals are a rigid material, while these are more pliable and will contour to the stanchion. They also have metal rings above and below the seal, so you can't really use anything to 'clean' around them. But in any case, he swears they are better than OEM, despite what I've read on these forums.

In any case, once they started leaking again I took the forks back to him to show him. After looking closely, we discovered that there is some very light marring on both stanchions, which he was confident is causing the leaks. The marring can't be felt, doesnt catch on a fingernail, etc, but it is visible under the right lighting. Probably worth noting that he said if they were his forks, he wouldnt even bother with them because the leak isn't really that bad. I say that because, again, I trust his judgement, and he clearly isnt trying to get my money, for what that is worth.

I've searched a bit and have learned that some folks will attempt to polish this type of stuff out. I asked him about it, but he was confident that it was a bad idea, saying that we could try, but I may end up having stanchions that are ever-so-slightly too narrow due to the polishing, and that would just make the leak worse.

So here I am hoping the collective knowledge can offer some insight. Are there places out there that will take forks such as mine and do a refinish of sorts? Polish out the marring and do a sort of 'refinish' to ensure the stanchions are the correct size? All I've discovered so far are places that do it for cosmetic purposes. "Remove rust/oxidation/etc, make your forks look brand new!!!". My forks actually look brand new, they just leak. Is this a costly process? OEM stanchions are ~$500/pair brand new. Wondering if that would be the cheaper route?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Shaun
 

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No offense to your mechanic but the OEM seals are by far the best option. Many people have tried all kinds of aftermarket options and most leak and they ultimately switch back to OEM.
Also anyone telling you a any sort of leak is OK and not to worry about it is clearly not someone I would continue letting work on my bike. It could lead to brake failure, suspension instability due to loss of fork oil, and a possible crash when the fluid ends up on the rear tire
Polishing the fork tubes is not a big deal and if done properly will not cause leaking. Use fine sandpaper (1000-1500 grit), emery paper, even steel wool or scotch rite. Just don't create low spots by polishing one spot heavily. You want to polish the whole tube.
 

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No offense to your mechanic but the OEM seals are by far the best option. Many people have tried all kinds of aftermarket options and most leak and they ultimately switch back to OEM.
Also anyone telling you a any sort of leak is OK and not to worry about it is clearly not someone I would continue letting work on my bike. It could lead to brake failure, suspension instability due to loss of fork oil, and a possible crash when the fluid ends up on the rear tire
Polishing the fork tubes is not a big deal and if done properly will not cause leaking. Use fine sandpaper (1000-1500 grit), emery paper, even steel wool or scotch rite. Just don't create low spots by polishing one spot heavily. You want to polish the whole tube.

Thanks for the reply HRC. All concerns about the mechanic aside,

I cleaned up the forks and went for a ride. Rode maybe 20 miles or so, combination of back roads, freeways, and a few miles on a road that certainly tests the suspension. Took the following photos

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The above are left and right sides respectively. Clearly a ton of liquid on each. I decided to take the forks off, clean them, and reinspect. This time I noticed on the right fork:

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Hopefully these are viewed to the reader as clear as they are to me. Those scratches DO catch my fingernail. And that particular fork, if I manually compress it a few times, shows a lot of oil leaking. The left side isnt as bad, but it does leak a bit of oil when I manually compress it.

I'm wondering at this point if the issue is a combination of shitty seals + the scratches. I've been searching youtube but all I can find is people polishing forks for cosmetics. I haven't really found anything that is suggesting to sand/polish to prevent oil leaks.

Can scratches like these be polished out and allow the fork to still be usable? I'm following what you said about polishing the entire tube, but I feel like although the scratches are fine(ish), if I were to polish the stanchion in that area down to level them out, that would just create an entire section of the stanchion that is now 'low', and the oil would just pour out all around. Am I looking at this the wrong way?

Shaun
 

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Man, others with more exerience will chime in, I am sure, but I don't think there is hope for these forks. They do really look bad. How can it happen all over like that?
 

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I've been through this a lot with my 06 1000RR. The reason your seals keep leaking is that the bushings are likely bad. I know they likely look just fine but they are worn enough to be a problem. Buy some new OEM bushing and put them in when you change seals, your problem will likely be gone. Also, those "Leak Proof" seals are junk, toss them and don't look back. The OEM seals are the way to go. I have also used All Balls seals with success.

On my forks I tried the Leak Proof seals and they leaked immediately. I then even replaced my lower stantions with new. The only thing I have found that stops them from leaking is new seals and bushings.

HTH
 

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No offense to your mechanic but the OEM seals are by far the best option. Many people have tried all kinds of aftermarket options and most leak and they ultimately switch back to OEM.
Also anyone telling you a any sort of leak is OK and not to worry about it is clearly not someone I would continue letting work on my bike. It could lead to brake failure, suspension instability due to loss of fork oil, and a possible crash when the fluid ends up on the rear tire
Polishing the fork tubes is not a big deal and if done properly will not cause leaking. Use fine sandpaper (1000-1500 grit), emery paper, even steel wool or scotch rite. Just don't create low spots by polishing one spot heavily. You want to polish the whole tube.

All of this plus new bushings. :)

As a matter of fact I just ordered another set of bushings for my 1000RR. I think they were $35 shipped.
 

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Summary: Epoxy repair for fork seals

Background: My '07 has 77,000 miles, my forks have leaked twice, and I have fixed them both times by epoxy repair.

Details: The first time my forks started leaking was 2017, I used the seal cleaner tool (link below), and it worked for 2 months but started leaking again. Upon closer inspection, I found that I had pitting/chipping in the chrome, about 1/16-1/8". After putting the bike up on a front wheel stand, I pulled the front wheel, since the pitting was on the inside of the fork leg. Using 2000 grit sandpaper, I lightly sanded the chipped area to remove any sharp edges. NOTE: I was not trying to fair in the area; that is another possible repair, but then you might create an oblong issue. After de-greasing, I used 2 ton epoxy, and used a toothpick to apply the epoxy. After drying overnight, used the 2000 grit sand paper again to cut down the epoxy until ti was flush with the fork leg. This repair worked for about a year, and then it started slowly leaking again. I had bought a spare bike for parts, and it was time to swap those fork legs over (August 2019). Those legs had similar chipping (both legs, last 3 pics), and used the same epoxy repair. With the 2nd set of fork legs, and the epoxy repair, today my fork legs are LEAK FREE!

Lessons Learned: I've been riding since 1990, always sport bikes, first bike was an '87 Ninja 600.
1) Always used OEM fork seals
2) Inspect your fork legs yearly, most times if you have a very minor chip, you can use 2000 grit sandpaper and fair out the sharp edges, and it will seal fine.
3) ANY fork oil leak is NOT okay, in the worse case it gets on your brake rotors and you can't stop!

Seal cleaner tool (buy the Motion Pro brand):

Post with odometer pic:

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sketterman, what is the mileage on your bike?

I would install new OEM seals.

If the vertical grooves are not deep enough to catch a finger nail, I don't think that is the source of your leak.


You can do a quick check on your bushings by putting it upon on a front stand, has to be the one that goes to the lower triple tree, remove the front wheel, and see if you have any play in the bushings by holding the outer tube, and seeing if you can induce any play in the fork leg.
 

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When servicing forks: New OEM seals and bushing- EVERY SINGLE TIME!
I also recommend polishing the fork legs until they are mirror smooth. It might be necessary to get new legs or have them reconditioned (I believe Traxxion Dynamics or Racetech offers the service).

Instead of trying to fix a seal leak, disassemble the forks, clean them properly and have a real good look at the components. Suspension is important and is the medium through which the tires communicate back to the rider.
 
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I agree that only OEM seals are worth the trouble. I hate fixing things more than once. Also, the bushings are a wear item that may need replacing along with the seals. Did you only have the seals replaced? If yes, then why? Since the forks were apart, then you might as well replace all the wear parts. Cheap insurance. There's also a few other items that need replacing during a rebuild like the bottom bolt/copper washer and o-ring on the top. Were those replaced? Look at the manual you can find here free and you see what we're talking about. I recently rebuilt my forks and used this manual along with other help from here and online. Wasn't too bad since I knew what to expect. Now it rides like a brand new bike. Night and day difference.

As far as the fork tube scratches issue goes, I'd try polishing them. Or maybe a body shop/machine shop can help. I have some teeny tiny pits on mine from rocks but not enough to worry about since they don't leak. But your problem looks like bushings scratching the length of the fork. Not good but possibly fixable. You can get used fork for around $350.
 

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SKF seals are supposed to be good as an option other then oem. Otherwise they are all junk.
I'd send those forks off for a professional polish. Your mechanic using "no leak seals" plus not catching the scratches tells me you need a new mechanic.
 
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