Front fork oil in a motorcycle acts as dampener to the vibrations coming from the front wheel and provides smooth riding experience to the bike rider.
In order to keep the front suspension in good working condition, the fork oil should be changed regularly.
So, how frequent should you change the motorcycle fork oil? While the exact replacement time can be found in the bike’s owner manual, as a thumb rule, the motorcycle front fork oil should be changed every 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometres) or annually.
Usually, the change interval for the fork oil ranges from 10,000 miles to 20,000 miles depending on the motorcycle manufacturer and model.
A general replacement rule of changing the fork oil every 10,000 miles or annually should keep the front suspension in good working condition.
Let’s discuss the oil change and other important aspects of the fork oil in detail below.
Fork Oil Change Interval
The main function of the fork oil in a motorcycle is to dampen the vibrations coming from the front wheel to the main frame.
Over time, the dampening properties of the oil decrease and needs to replaced with a new fork oil.
The exact replacement time of front fork oil in a motorcycle can be found in the bike’s owner manual. Usually, the change interval ranges from 10,000 miles to 20,000 miles depending on the motorcycle manufacturer and model.
As a thumb rule, the motorcycle front fork oil should be changed every 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometres) or annually.
Here is an example of the recommended change interval for the front fork oil of a Harley Davison model.
As the owner manual says, the fork oil should be drained and refilled every 10,000 miles travelled, or once in a year.
While other motorcycle owner manuals might recommend a different interval on when you should change the fork oil, the distance frequency would still be around 10,000 miles to 20,000 miles range.
So, it is safe to assume that changing the front for oil for every 10,000 miles of distance travelled or once a year, whichever is earlier, should keep the forks and front suspension in a good working condition.
For more info, here is our guide on fork oil.
Symptoms Of Bad Fork Oil
Forks connect the motorcycle frame to the front wheel. The vibrations coming from the front wheel due to its traction on the road should be dampened by the front forks to the rider seated on the frame.
That’s why, a good suspension is essential in the forks to absorb the vibrations coming from the front wheel and not pass it to the rider.
A good fork oil will provide comfort and smooth riding experience to the bike rider.
On the other hand, if the fork oil is old and is not in good working condition, the riding will not be smooth as it once was and you will start noticing it in the handlebar as well.
So, the main symptoms of bad fork oil are – increased vibrations on the handlebar and the riding experience is not smooth as it once was.
If you are facing these symptoms while riding your motorcycle, you should have the front forks inspected.
Front Fork Inspection
Along with checking the fork oil, you should also check both the forks in your motorcycle to ensure they are in the right working condition.
First, examine each fork for any sign of damage, scratching on the slider surface, or if there are any fork oil leaks.
If any damage or oil leakage is found, the fork seals are likely to be cracked and should be replaced. Best to consult the motorcycle dealer or visit the service shop.
To inspect that the forks are working properly, position the motorcycle on a level ground first. Parking the bike on a flat surface is prerequisite for all inspection of the bike components.
Next, while holding the handlebars and applying the front brake, pump the forks up and down several times.
If you detect roughness or excessive stiffness while pumping the forks up and down, the fork oil, most likely, is not in its optimum working condition. The fork oil must be replaced.
Drain and refill the forks with a new fork oil in your motorcycle.
Front Fork Oil Capacity
The front fork oil capacity varies across motorcycles depending upon the manufacturer and the model.
Typically, the motorcycles will have the front fork oil capacity in the range of 100 ml to 200 ml (0.025 to 0.050 gallons).
The above figures are an approximate figure observed across different motorcycles. There can be exceptions to this capacity figures. We have even observed the front for oil capacity as high as 300 ml in some high cc bikes.
Fork Oil Change Cost
If you are changing the fork oil in your motorcycle by yourself, then the oil changing cost would be around $20.
On other hand, if you are taking your bike to the dealer or a service shop, there will be additional service charges which might take the overall oil change cost to around $30 to $40.
Does Changing Fork Oil Make A Difference
Changing the front fork oil in your motorcycle will make a huge difference in the comfort and smooth riding experience for the bike rider.
Changing the fork oil will mean the new oil will have higher dampening properties and hence, are in better working condition.
The oil will dampen the vibrations coming from the front wheel to the main frame.
As a result, the handlebar will face lesser vibrations, and the riding experience will be much smoother.
To help you choose the fork oil, here is an infographic showing fork oil viscosity at 40 degrees Celsius.
How often should you change your motorcycle brake fluid? The thumb rule for changing brake fluid in a motorcycle is every 2 years. This is because brake fluid absorbs water and moisture overtime and also deteriorates in quality due to the heat generated in the braking system, as time passes by.
How often should you change engine oil in a motorcycle? The frequency of oil change depends on the type of oil used in the motorcycle. Mineral oil should be changed every 2000 miles. For semi-synthetic oil, the frequency of oil change is every 5000 miles. And synthetic oil should be changed every 8000 miles.