Can Motorcycle Forks be Straightened to Get You Back on the Road

by Karen Neill

Motorcycle Repairs

As motorcyclists, we all know accidents can happen, and when they do, as long as you, the rider are unharmed, the damage to your vehicle is secondary. It might feel at the time like the end of the world if you drop your motorcycle or are involved in a collision with your bike, but believe me it is not. Having your health and walking away from an accident is the most important thing. Damage can be fixed. Yes, it can be expensive and inconvenient but life is far more precious.

When accidents do happen there are ways of marking repairs that can save money and save an item from being replaced. One of these instances is fork straightening.

Brief Description of Motorcycle Forks

Disassembled Fork Assembly Showing Individual Key Components

All motorcycles and scooters have some form of front suspension.  From most Vespas and their single-sided style front suspension to a Triumph Rocket 3, the looks and style may be different but the concept is the same. Cushion the ride and provide optimal handling.

The most common type of motorcycle and scooter front suspension is known as the ‘front fork’. These mostly work on a hydraulic / piston & spring method with an upper and lower yoke (also known as a ‘triple tree’) to retain them and connect them to the frame of the bike.

How do Forks Get Damaged?

Contrary to belief it is remarkably easy to damage the front suspension and forks on a motorbike. For example, I can speak from the unhappy experience of leaving a disc lock on my front wheel and driving off without removing it! Once I had picked my bike up and recovered from the embarrassment I found that I had not only damaged my front brake disc but also my fork lower.

Bikes can fall over and be dropped easily, this can damage forks but also head-on bumps or collisions or bumping into the back of a car can be likely culprits.

How to Tell if Your Forks Are Bent

There are several ways to tell if your forks are bent. A few are listed below:

  • The front wheel is closer to the frame or belly pan than usual
  • Steering misaligned (this does not always result in bent forks but it in some cases can be)
  • A ‘bulge’ at the front or rear of the fork stanchion (the chrome part of the fork tube)
Bent Fork Next to Straight Fork

If you are unsure in any way, visit us at Zenith Motorcycles for a fork service and we can take a look for you and discuss the next steps.

Or if you are more technical and happy to have a go at a deeper check, try the following:

  • Put your bike onto a stand (front wheel off the ground).
  • Loosen all of the pinch bolts on the yokes, triple tree (one leg at a time).
  • Rotate the upper leg in the yokes. Except for the load of the spring, it should turn pretty freely. If it’s bent, you’ll feel a bind every 180 degrees as it passes through the bent spot.
  • Tighten that leg back up and repeat on the other leg.

So, My Forks are Bent. What do I do Now?

The next step is to visit your local trusted motorcycle garage and they should discuss the options with you. In some cases, the fork stanchion may be bent beyond repair and only replacement will resolve the issue. However, if your forks are not bulged or damaged too badly it is sometimes financially viable to have them professionally straightened. At Zenith motorcycles we do not straighten forks in-house, rather we send them to a professional engineering service to let the experts work their magic. A good engineer uses a high-powered press and specialist tooling as well as decades of knowledge to bring your forks back into shape and tolerance.

Fork Straightening

I have tried before to straighten my own forks using a friend’s press and believe me it is not an easy thing to do, which is why I outsource to professionals. Let’s just say, I ended up having to buy a complete set of new fork stanchions for my bike after damaging them beyond repair in the press. Front steering and suspension repairs are not something anyone should ever ‘bodge’, so I urge you that if you have any doubt please leave fork straightening to the professionals.

How Much Does Fork Straightening Repair Cost?

Fork straightening costs differ depending on what suspension system your bike uses. Expect to pay upwards of around £100 per pair for conventional and scooter forks and from £140 for upside-down forks.

Can Motorcycle Forks be Straightened FAQ

2 thoughts on “Can Motorcycle Forks be Straightened to Get You Back on the Road”

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