With the handful of vehicles I have around the garage, an oil change is typically not a procedure worthy of note. However, this week it was an oil change of a different flavor. The forks on my 1989 Honda XR250R were not working as they should, and with the riding season winding down, a patch fix was in order to enable a few final chilly romps inn the woods before a full rebuild over winter.

This bike was previously left for dead beside a dumpster. I purchased it from the guy who rescued it from the landfill and rebuilt the top end of the engine. Now it runs pretty good, but the rest of the bike is still walloped—front suspension especially. The fork seals abandoned their duties years ago, and for the last few rides I was topping off the forks before the ride and allowing the bumps on the trail to slowly pump the oil past the seals. This made for an okay ride at first, but progressively I found myself fighting the bike more and more as the rebound adjustment worked worse and worse.

Tired of this dance, I decided to pull the beat-down forks off of the bike and slap on a set I had sitting in the spare parts pile. The seals were in better shape, and the bolt-in nature makes it almost as easy as topping off the oil in the set already on the bike. A handful of 12-mm bolts, removal of the front wheel, and a slight tug had everything apart. Then came reassembly.

The clamps that hold the fork tubes can be a bit of a pain sometimes, and there is not a great way to spread the clamp when you need just a bit more clearance to slide the tube into the proper position. In this case I had to use a screwdriver as a small wedge to get just the bit of extra clearance I need. It’s not the right way to use a screwdriver, but in my opinion adaptability is the name of the game when working in the garage. Be creative, be safe, and think outside the box. Solving small problems like this is the easiest way to get a feeling of accomplishment when working on your project.

All bolted back together, the suspension is working like it should and I expect it to hold its oil and make my rides more enjoyable. I find out when I take it out to the trails over the weekend, but the first test is playing around a bit in the yard, at which it succeeds with flying colors. With any luck, the next project in the garage will play out just as smoothly, but you’ll have to tune in next week to see how it all goes down.

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