Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Biker Chick III” (Music Video)

A short music video montage of an afternoon motorcycle ride with my friend, Amy.

The location is in the Downeast area of Maine.

Categories: 2012 | 4 Comments

Replacing Front Fork Oil Seals

September 20, 2008

(NOTE:  September 20, 2008 was the first time that I did this job.  Since then, I have taken apart the front forks of my motorcycle, countless times!  I have replaced fork seals; slide and guide metals; installed Race Tech Emulators; modified the emulators; changed fork springs; changed fork springs again; and I have changed fork oil.  I have also custom blended my own fork oil concoction as well.  What follows below is a composite of many of those experiences; choosing a few photographs from 2008, 2010, and 2012.)

After barreling down many dirt roads inNew Brunswick, and Québec,Canada, the right fork seal finally gave out.  It began leaking oil.

In the below photograph, the classic visual symptom of a leaking oil seal, can be seen.  There is fork oil weeping out from under the seal, and spilling down the right fork tube.

And, from another time, the left fork seal leaking.

Each time I have done this job, I have chosen to replace both fork tube seals, along with the “slide” and “glide” metal bushings as well.  Probably replacing the bushings is overkill, but I figure that, since I am taking the fork tubes apart to replace the seals, I might as well replace the “slide” and “guide” metals too.

To begin this task, I “cracked” loose the left and right fork caps.  What I mean by that is, I broke the fork caps free, then slightly snugged them back up.  It is VERY difficult to loosen fork caps, once the fork tubes have been removed from the triple tree.  The triple tree acts like a vise; holding the fork tubes “sound and steady”, while the fork caps are broken free.  However, I did not want the fork caps too loose because, of the pressure the next step imparts on to the threads of the fork tubes and fork caps.


….and right.

Next, I used a screwdriver to tighten the fork pre-load adjustment screws, all the way down.  I wanted them as tight as possible.  (I will explain why I did this a little later.).

Moving down the fork, I loosened the, left and right, upper fork tube clamp bolts.

I also loosened the TOP two bolts, (left and right fork tubes), of the lower fork clamp.  But, I left the two LOWER fork clamp bolts tight.

Moving down the fork tubes a little farther, I loosened and removed the aftermarket fork brace I installed in 2007.

A little farther down the fork tubes, on the left side, I loosened and removed the brake line retainer clip…

…the speedometer electrical wire clips…..

….and, the left brake caliper.

I followed a similar, “top to bottom”, sequence on the right fork tube.

I loosened and removed the brake line distribution block bolt.

I also loosened and removed the right brake caliper.

Next, I loosened and removed the axle pinch bolt.  It is located at the bottom front area of the right fork tube.

Then, I loosened the front axle bolt.  (But, I did not remove it.).

With all of the major “tugging” completed, from loosening the above bolts, I rolled my motorcycle up on to its centerstand.  I slid a floor jack, along with a block of wood, underneath the skidplate of my bike.  I pumped the jack up enough that, the front wheel raised up off of the garage floor.  I continued raising the jack until the rear wheel touched the floor; pivoting off of the centerstand.  The bike was now stable with three points firmly on the ground; the rear wheel, and the two centerstand feet.

With the front wheel up off of the floor, and the motorcycle secure, I could drop the front wheel out from between the fork tubes.

I slipped my foot underneath the front wheel, using it to lift up the wheel assembly, (taking weight off of the axle bolt.), and then slid the axle bolt out of the fork tubes and the hub of the wheel.  The front wheel dropped free from the bike.

Next I removed the fender bolts so that I could get the fender free from the fork tubes.

Watch out for the fender bolt nuts!  Sometimes they stay with the fender, and sometimes they hit the floor, bounce and roll away to a dark corner!

Here is the fender clear of the fork tubes.

The next two bolts that I needed to loosen were the, damper rod bolts.  They hold the oil lock piece, and the damper rods in place.  In the second step of this maintenance task, I tightened the fork spring pre-load, all the way down.  The reason I did this was, to place as much tension as I could, on to the damper rods.  The damper rods are located at the bottom of each fork tube.  Sometimes, if there is enough tension from the fork springs, bearing down on the damper rods, the rods won’t spin in the fork tube, while you are trying to loosen the damper rod bolts.

However, if the damper rods do spin, I have found no other way to loosen the bolts, other then using a pneumatic impact driver.  A short pull of the impact driver’s trigger, imparts the quick “energy” needed to break the damper rod bolt free from the damper rod.  Possibly, a battery powered “hammer drill” would also do the trick as well.

To keep the lower portion of the fork tubes from spinning, (the portion of the fork tube that the damper rods are bolted to.), I slid a “star drill” I had on hand, through a brake caliper bolt hole, on each fork tube.  It was the only thing that I had that was long enough, and slim enough to pass through the caliper bolt holes!

Using my impact wrench, with a 6mm, “impact style”, Allen wrench attached to it, I gave a quick, short “burst” with the trigger.  The idea here was to just break the bolt free, but not loosen it all the way.  If I did, fork oil would start pouring out of the bottom of the fork tube!  (I learn most things the hard way……..).  The idea here was to treat the damper rod bolt, just like I did the fork cap; break the bolt free, but snug it back up, so that oil won’t leak out.

Then, I moved to the middle of the fork tubes, and I loosened the lower, fork tube clamp, bolt.  I did this last loosening, one fork tube at a time. Again, I have learned the hard way; once that lower fork clamp bolt is loose, the fork tube wants to slide out quickly!

[Note: This next step is important!]

With a fork tube free, I completely backed off all pre-load tension that I had applied, with a screwdriver.  I did this because, the following step is to remove the fork cap.  I want ALL tension off of the fork cap as I spin it free from the fork tube!

Then, I dumped out the fork oil.  When the fork oil is fairly old, and “used” up, I will dump it into a storage container.  I can then dispose of the oil properly at a later date.

When the fork oil is still fairly new, I will dump it into a clean container that will allow me to reuse it.

As I dump the oil, “pieces and parts” will want to tumble out of the fork tube, along with the oil.  The spring spacer, spring / spacer washer, and fork spring will all want to slide out of the tube.  In my fork configuration, I also have to watch for the Race Tech emulators tumbling out of the fork too.

In next photograph, I have “pumped” the fork tube, several times, to force more fork oil up and out of the damper rod assembly.  If the fork tube is not pumped, residual fork oil is left in the bottom of the tube.  When the damper rod bolt is removed, excess fork oil will spill all over the place.  (Like I said, I learn things the hard way!).

I use a very deliberate motion of compressing all the way, and extending fully, the fork tube assembly.  It takes about three to four, “compressions” and “extensions”, to “burp” the remaining fork oil out of the tube.  As I do this, I keep the open end of the fork tube over the catch container.  That way, I can collect the rest of the fork oil that will be pumped out of the fork tube.

In the previous photograph, while pumping the last bit of fork oil out of the fork tube, you can see the, fork spring spacer, the spring / spacer washer, and the spring from the tube, “draining” excess oil, in an old bread pan, along with the fork cap.

Once the fork oil, and the “loose parts” are out of the fork tube, I can then remove the damper rod from the fork cylinder.

I inserted a 6mm Allen wrench into the bottom of the fork cylinder……

…and removed the damper rod bolt.

At this point, I can tilt the top of the fork tube downward, give it a little shake, and the damper rod will slide down and out of the tube.

The photograph below, illustrates the internal parts of my fork tubes.

From the bottom left, moving to the right: Damper rod; a Race Tech Emulator sits on top of the damper rod; the fork spring sits on top of the emulator; the spacer washer sits on top of the fork spring, (I use two fork spring / spacer washers.  No particular reason!); the spacer; and the fork cap.

Here is a schematic diagram of what the complete assembly looks like.

Once the “guts” of the fork tube were removed, I could begin the process of separating the fork tube from the fork cylinder.

Using a screwdriver, I pried up the dust seal, and slid it up and off of the fork tube.

Looking down into the fork cylinder, there is a seal “stopper ring” that needs to be removed.  Here again, I used a screwdriver to pry the “stopper ring” free from its groove, and up and out of the fork cylinder.

At this point, the fork tube can be separated from the fork cylinder.  To do this, I grab the fork cylinder in one hand, (the bottom end of the fork assembly), and I grab the fork tube with my other hand, (the silver, “working portion” of the fork assembly), and I give a couple of very sharps tugs; pulling the cylinder and tube apart from each other.

Below is a photograph of the fork tube separated from the fork cylinder.  I turned the “guide metal” sideways in the fork cylinder so that it can be seen clearer.  On the fork tube is the, “slide metal”, the seal spacer, and the seal.

I slid the oil seal, and the spacer, (looks like a big washer), off of the fork tube.  I used a screwdriver to pry the “slide metal” off of the fork tube.

I installed a new OEM “slide metal” bushing on to the end of the fork tube.

I slid the “oil lock piece” into the fork cylinder and tilted the cylinder up, so that the “oil lock piece” would slide to the bottom of the fork cylinder.

Using a finger, I coated the “slide metal” with a film of fork oil.  I then carefully slid the fork tube back into the cylinder, and down on top of the Oil Lock Piece.

Next, I put a thin coat of fork oil on the inside of the of the fork cylinder, where the Guide Bushing gets installed. I started the Guide Bushing into its slot, then used the metal spacer, (“The Big Washer”), to “set” the Guide Bushing home; lightly tapping the the Guide Bushing in place using a hammer and the metal spacer.

After the fork tube and fork cylinder were back together, I slid the damper rod down the fork tube.  I didn’t just drop it down the tube, as could be inferred from the photograph below.  I tilted the fork assembly so that the damper rod would slide down gently.

When the damper rod was in the bottom of the tube, I added a new “crush washer” to the damper rod bolt, and I installed the bolt into the bottom of the fork cylinder; tightening it as much as I could.  Once the fork tube assembly is clamped back into the triple trees, I can properly torque the damper bolt to the proper specification. called out for in the Suzuki Service Manual.

Next, with the fork tube compressed into the fork cylinder, I slid the oil seal spacer over the fork tube and down into the fork cylinder.

After that, I slid a new oil seal over the fork tube, and pushed it down, as far as I could towards the fork cylinder.  The side of the seal that needs to face “downward” is the open side; the side where the “spring” can be seen inside of the seal.

I used a screwdriver to gently “nudge” the seal a little closer to home.

The next step is to “set” the seal.  Some riders have used a piece of PVC pipe, of a diameter that will slide down over the fork tube, and bear against the seal.  They will “tap” the end of the PVC pipe, with a hammer, to set the seal into the neck of the fork cylinder.

When I did this job, I did not have a piece of PVC pipe on hand.  Nor, did I have access to a vehicle to go purchase some!  So, I cut a wooden wedge to do the job.  I tapped the end of the wedge; working it around the seal, so that the oil seal would be evenly pressed into the fork cylinder.

When the seal was set in place, I added the seal retaining ring on top of it, and I also slid the dust cover into place too.

It was now time to refill the fork tube with fork oil.  Before I did so, I slid the Race Tech Emulator down the fork tube, and made sure that it was sitting on top of the damper rod.

[Note:  The next step is important.]

Then, I poured some fork oil into the fork cylinder.  Not all of it, though. I poured just enough so that I could pump the fork assembly; “sucking” fork oil down into the damper rod area.  It usually takes about three, or four, really good “pumps” to be able to feel the hydraulic resistance of the damper rod valve system.

Once the air had been pumped out of the bottom of the damper system, I began the process of filling the fork tube with fork oil.  The first thing I needed to do was to make sure that the fork assembly was standing, “plumb” and vertical.  The fork tube needed to be fully compressed into the fork cylinder.

I like to have an air space, over the fork oil, of 150mm.  That measurement is from the top edge of the of the compressed fork tube, and down to the top of the fork oil.  So, I intentionally overfill the fork tube with fork oil.  With a “turkey baster” I suck out the excess fork oil; bringing the level down to the 150mm mark.

If you look at the photograph below, the bottom edge of the piece of blue tape, wrapped around the turkey baster, is 150mm up from the turkey baster’s tip.  To remove the excess fork oil, I slide the turkey baster down the fork tube, until the bottom edge of the tape comes in contact with the top edge of the fork tube.  I squeeze the “bulb” of the turkey baster and remove the excess fork oil, until I can’t pick up anymore.

When I have enough fork oil in the fork tube, I slide the fork spring in place; down the fork tube.  I will add the spring / spacer washer next.  Then, I will extend the fork tube out as far as it will go.  I will slide the spacer in next.  Finally, I will CAREFULLY compress the “guts” of the fork tube, with the fork cap, and tighten it down.

To tighten the fork cap, down into the fork tube, I will hold the bottom portion of the fork assembly between my feet.  I will also “clamp” my knees to the works too.  Using my left hand, I pull “upward” on the fork tube, and using my right hand, I press “downward” with the fork cap; slowly and carefully threading the cap into the fork tube.  I DO NOT try to tighten the fork cap completely at this point.  I do that once the fork assembly is clamped back down into the bike’s triple tree.

From here the assembly is reverse of disassembly.  I slid the fork tube up into the triple tree.  I snugged up the bottom bolt of the lower fork clamp.  Then, I snugged up the top fork clamp bolt, then back down to the top fork clamp bolt of the lower fork clamp.

I torqued the upper fork clamp bolt to the Service Manual’s specification.  I did the same to the lower two bolts as well.  Here is a secret about this though.  When I torque the two bolts, of the lower fork clamp, I do so by tightening them “back and forth”.  What I mean by that is, I tighten the top bolt, then the bottom bolt, then the top bolt again, then the bottom bolt again.  You see, as one bolt is tightened, then its “brother” next to it, (the first bolt), becomes loose again.  Both of the lower fork clamp bolts must be tightened in this manner; first one, then the other, then back to the first one, then back to the second one.

Finally, I torqued the damper rod bolt at the bottom of the fork assembly, than tightened down the fork cap at the top of the fork assembly.  Using a screwdriver, I adjusted my spring pre-load where I like it.

Then, I started on the other fork tube……..

As a final note to this article, I weigh about 185lbs with all of my riding gear on.  I categorize myself as an aggressive rider, and I like to ride rough roads.  The best front suspension configuration that I have found for me is; stock Suzuki fork springs, 10 weight fork oil, with a 150mm air space over the oil.  I have Race Tech Gold Valve Emulators installed as well.  These emulators have the stock “yellow”, pre-load spring adjusted to just “one turn”.  I have modified the top plate of the emulator by drilling four 1/8”diameter holes through it.  All of this works perfectly for my riding style, and riding conditions!

Categories: Front Suspension | 36 Comments

Replacing The “Cush Drive” Absorbers


Last year, (the 2008 riding season), during one of my typical weekend trips, I found myself stuck in a campground, just south of La Tuque, Québec.  Although I was grateful to be in this particular campground, the reason I was stuck there was an act of my own carelessness.

The previous day, while passing through the beautiful city of Victoriaville, Québec, I hit a baseball sized piece of, “drainage ditch” basalt.  The chunk of rock had fallen off of a truck and was lying in the road.  I was motoring along, within a line of cars, and of course, following too close to the bumper of the car in front of me, and I ran over the stone, (with both wheels!), before I had a chance to swerve around it.   It wasn’t until another two hours of riding passed, that I discovered that the rear tire had suffered a, “pinched” sidewall puncture.  A slow leak had developed, and was increasing due to the heat build up, from the increased friction of a slowly deflating tire..  Through various methods, I was able to limp back to, Camping et Marina Mékinac.

While I waited for a new rear tire to be delivered to the campground from Montréal, I spent my time listening to my French lessons on my mp3 player, writing in my journal, and checking over stuff on my bike.  Before leaving on this particular trip, I had had a discussion with a riding friend of mine, concerning knowing when the “cush absorbers”, (located in the rear sprocket carrier.), are worn out. “If the sprocket carrier drops out on its own, then the absorbers are worn.”, came the reply of how to diagnose the issue.

Remembering this discussion, I walked over to the rear wheel of my bike; it was leaning up against a tree.  I picked it up, with the sprocket side parallel to the ground, and gave the wheel a slight jerk.  The sprocket carrier fell immediately to the ground.  It looked like the cush rubber absorbers in my sprocket carrier were due to be replaced!

Here is a short video illustrating that test.

The above video was shot onOctober 11, 2009.  This is 30,000+ miles since I did the original test back in 2008 in the campground.  Obviously, I wasn’t too concerned about what I discovered!

(The story of the flat tire, what happened, who I met, and how I got out of that situation, will be documented in another article in the future!)

Here are two schematic diagrams of what I will be referring to in this article.

The absorbers, (they are made of rubber), are item #6 in the below diagram.

They fit into the corresponding “pockets” in the hub of the rear wheel.

To do this job, I had to remove the rear wheel.  Most riders, who do their own work on their bikes, (such as replacing chains, sprockets, rear brake pads and changing rear tires), have come up with their own specific way of removing, and installing, the rear wheel of their bikes.  I would like to share my own method.

First, I have to get the rear wheel of the bike, up off of the ground.  I believe that a centerstand is the first, “maintenance category”, aftermarket part that should be purchased, and installed, on an adventure style motorcycle.

I rolled the bike up on to its centerstand.

Then, I removed the cotterpin from the axle-bolt. (You may notice that my axle nut is on the left side of my swingarm.  This is opposite from the Suzuki OEM setup.  I will explain why later.).

I have replaced the OEM cotterpin with a larger stainless steel cotterpin.  I did this so that the stainless steel metal would resist corrosion better then the OEM steel cotterpin, and also that the stainless pin is a softer metal and will resist metal fatigue, (from bending and unbending from repeated removals and installations).  Other riders have found better solutions then the cotterpin.  I just haven’t made the change yet.

(NOTE: I stopped using any cotterpins in 2009.  I changed over to using a hitchpin instead of a cotterpin.)

Here I use two screw drivers to pull the cotterpin out of the axle.

I pried up with the screwdriver that I am holding.  This technique keeps the cotterpin from flying across my shop area……

Next, I loosened the rear axle.

After that, I loosened the chain adjusters just a bit at either end of the swingarm.

At this point, I slid a wooden wedge underneath the rear wheel; lifting the weight of the wheel off of the axle.

I can now, very easily, slide the axle out of the swingarm!

I removed the wooden wedge to let the wheel drop free of the swingarm.  Usually, the axle spacers drop out when I do this.  If they don’t, I reach up and wiggle them out.

Now, I roll the wheel as far forward as I can, until it fetches up against the rear side of the swingarm cross-member.  Then I remove the chain from the rear sprocket.

The rear wheel will now roll out from underneath my motorcycle.

The sprocket retainer is supposed to be “free floating” on the inboard side of the sprocket carrier.  Mine was frozen to the bearing due to water corrosion.  I tapped it out using a hammer and screw driver; the plastic handle acting as the “punch”.

I cleaned up the sprocket retainer with some Scotchbrite and set it aside for later reassembly.

Here, I am using a small wire brush to clean the crud off of the “ears” of the sprocket carrier.

Next, I removed the old absorbers with a screwdriver.  I found out that there is a “tab” that is molded into the absorber that has to be freed from the hub.

I also used my wire brush to clean up the crud in the cush-housing.

Here’s a photo of the original absorber next to its new replacement.  They look exactly the same and I couldn’t detect any wear, (smaller size), when comparing the old absorber with the new one.

Again, I used a screwdriver to work the tab of the new absorber into its corresponding hole in the hub.

I placed some grease around the sprocket retainer and slid it back into the sprocket carrier.

I placed my rear wheel, brake disc side down on top of an old boat cushion.  Probably a better solution was to place my wheel assembly on top of an old rear tire.  By doing this, the brake disc makes no contact with the ground and doesn’t receive any stress when installing the sprocket carrier assembly.  I didn’t think of doing this at the time…….  But, I didn’t have any problems either.

Even though the new absorbers didn’t appear to have any difference then the old absorbers, it took quite a bit of pressure to drive the sprocket carrier “home”.  I was surprised enough at what effort it took to press the carrier into place, that I separated the two, just to make sure I didn’t have anything misaligned!  I didn’t!

I tested the assembly with a couple of good “shakes”.  The wheel didn’t drop away from the sprocket carrier I was holding in my hands.

Time for reassembly.

First, I examined the axle spacers and axle.  I cleaned mine up with some Scotchbrite so that I could visually inspect them better.  See the grooves in the spacers and axle?  I need to replace mine.  I will do that before the 2010 season.  I gave each a light coating of grease before reassembling them.

I rolled the wheel forward, until it hit the swingarm cross-member.  Then, I placed the chain over the rear sprocket.

I reached in, and slid the axle spacers into their “home” position.  A rider can’t mix them up.  They are different sizes.  They can only be installed on the axle and against the wheel hub one way; no matter which direction you choose to install the axle.

Now, the tricky stuff!  I installed the rear brake caliper back on to its track.  Then, I slid the axle bolt through the swingarm adjuster, and the caliper arm, to hold the brake caliper in place.  This is the reason I mentioned earlier as to why I have flipped around the rear axle.  Doing this, has the axle acting as another pair of “hands”, to help hold things into place, while installing the rear wheel.

From here, I placed my wooden wedge on the floor; judging about where the rear wheel needs to be when I roll it backwards, away from the swingarm cross-member.  Then, I rolled the wheel backwards. I adjusted the wedge, so that the wheel gets “lifted” up, and aligned with the swingarm, chain adjusters.

Then, I pushed the axle through the swingarm and wheel; out the other side.

Next, I installed the axle plate, washer, and nut, and lightly snugged it down.

I adjusted the chain to my desired tension. I believe that it is best to adjust a chain while the motorcycle is on its centerstand.  (The Suzuki Owner’s Manual method of adjusting the chain tension, is to have the bike on its sidestand.)  By doing this, I am free to rotate the rear wheel to determine where the “tight spot” is of the chain, (New, or old chains have “tight spots”.).  I make the chain adjustment with the chain at its tightest spot.  I leave my chain looser then the Suzuki recommendation.  That’s because, with the bike on its centerstand, there isn’t any weight on the swingarm; adding additional tension to the chain.  I also often ride on very rough roads and I prefer a “slacker” chain for riding in these conditions.

Once the chain was adjusted, and the wheel was aligned properly, I tightened down the axle nut, and added the cotterpin to finish things up.

The final task was for me to “pump up” the rear brake peddle.  I learned the hard way by NOT doing this once!  When I went for a test ride, and came to a stop sign, as I began to apply the rear brake, there wasn’t any!  I had forgotten to “pump up” the rear brake system after removing the rear brake caliper.  Boy, did my heart leap into my throat!

Categories: Maintenance / Upgrade Tasks | 4 Comments

Fabricating Homemade Swingarm Removal Tools


It’s January…….  In Maine……..  I am in the process of replacing my cushion lever and swingarm bearings on my 2007 DL-650.  I have 62,885 miles on the bike and I have never done any maintenance in this area.

I decided not to order my bearings ahead of time before I started this job.  I wanted to fully disassemble the back end of the bike before I placed an order for parts to make sure my list was complete for the parts that I needed.

There are two “special” tools that are needed, (to purchase, or to make), to remove the swingarm pivot axle.  The cost of one of those tools is between $50 – $90, (a socket to remove the pivot axle locking nut).  The other tool is a 19mm, (3/4″), hex head, (Allen wrench), socket.  The hex head wrench costs around $18 – $20 at a local Napa store.

The left side of the swingarm pivot axle is a 15/16″ nut which is fairly straightforward.

On the right side of the bike, the pivot axle locking nut and the pivot axle itself, have to be removed.

This is what the “working relationship” between the two look like.  The locking nut is threaded on to the pivot axle.  The pivot axle is threaded into the frame of the motorcycle. (What looks like “goo” or grease around the nut is actually dried silicone.  I use silicone to keep the left and right rubber, pivot axle covers in place.).

I purchased a 1/2″ drive, 1 3/16″ impact socket from Napa.  It cost me, $8.78.

I wrapped masking tape around the rim of the socket so that it would be easier to mark where I needed to make the modifications to it so that I could remove the pivot locking nut.  I checked the fit…..

…..and, made my marks.  The depth of the “teeth” only need to be about, 3/16″ – 1/4″ deep.

I cut verticle “kerfs”, following my lines, with a hacksaw.

I used a Dremel tool to cut out the spaces between the “teeth”.

Dremel has a fiber reinforced wheel that works perfectly for this type of a job.  The wheels come in 5 units per package, (Dremel #426).  I burned through two wheels to complete the cuts I needed to make.

I checked the fit of the socket again and “tuned” the teeth with a mill file.

Here is a photo of the finished homemade pivot axle locking nut removal tool.

I snapped the socket on to my 1/2″ drive ratchet, slid my trusty copper pipe “cheater bar” over the ratchet’s handle and gave it a tug.

The locking nut broke free and spun off, (there is thread-locker on the threads).  Here is a photo of the locking nut and the socket I modified.

Next I needed to make a tool to remove the actual pivot axle.  I have several old sparkplug sockets lying around.  Often you will find that, smaller sized sparkplug sockets have a “hex head” and by coincidence, they fit perfectly.  The one in the photo below is from the very first socket kit I purchased to work on my 1969 VW bus I bought back in 1979 as my first car.

I have heard that, others that have chosen to go this route say that, they could slide a ratchet extension through the sparkplug end of the socket, and have it lock into the drive portion, (doing exactly the opposite of how you would normally use the sparkplug socket and extension).  Out of the half dozen sparkplug sockets I had on hand, only one would allow me to do this.  There is a “metal barrier” between the drive side of the socket and the working end of the socket.  An extension can’t pass through the body of the socket and reach the drive end portion.  The extension is blocked by the excess metal.

You can see the “barrier” down inside the drive end of the sparkplug socket.

Using a hacksaw, I cut the drive end of the sparkplug socket off just above the metal barrier.

I knocked off left over burrs with a mill file and snapped my new 19mm hex head wrench on to my ratchet.  (I used a 1/2″ drive to 3/8″ drive adaptor).

I slid my copper pipe cheater bar over the end of the ratchet handle…..

…..and gave the wrench a tug.  The pivot axle broke free, (there is thread-locker on the threads).

I pulled out the pivot axle and removed the swingarm.

You will notice that there is not a centerstand, or a jack holding my motorcycle up in the air.  That is because I chose to hang my bike from my garage ceiling rafters.  You see, the exhaust system also needs to be removed to get the swingarm off of the bike.  That also means my skidplate, and mounting hardware had to be removed too.  Therefore, there was no way to support my motorcycle from underneath.

I drilled two holes through the ceiling joists and made some loops out of large battery cable wire I had squirreled away in a box.  I added some thread-locking “D-rings”, some rock climbing webbing and a come-a-long to lift the back end of the bike up in the air.

I didn’t like how the bike swayed back and forth, pivoting off of the front wheel, so I added, left and right “stabilizing straps” to the crashbars; utilizing standard ratchet straps.

Since starting this project on New Year’s Day, I moved the original “pick up” point from the rear of the bike to the passenger footpeg brackets.  The original setup put too much strain on the rear of the bike.  I couldn’t unlock and remove the seat.  The passenger footpeg brackets work better.

Nice, unencumbered way to work!

Categories: Maintenance / Upgrade Tasks | 4 Comments

Changing The Motor Oil With A Skidplate Installed

January 2, 2011

This past summer, (2010), I shot new photographs of my technique of changing the motor oil in my DL-650 with a SW-Motech skidplate installed.

I roll the motorcycle up on to its centerstand. (I modified my SW-Motech centerstand by welding extra “feet” on to the “soles” of the OEM feet, so it is nearly 3/4″ taller then a stock SW-Motech centerstand.)

I loosen the two rear bolts that hold up the aft end of the SW-Motech skidplate. ( 13mm)

I press the aft end of the skidplate to the floor.

I loosen my oil filler cap to let air vent into the crankcase as the old oil drains out.

I loosen the oil drain plug…..  ( 14mm )

….then slide a modified, one gallon solvent can underneath the motor, and finish unscrewing the drain plug; letting the old motor oil drain into my homemade “catch can”.

When the oil appears to be drained out, I rock the bike, “up and down”; pivoting off of the centerstand, to “jiggle” more oil out of the crankcase.

I then reinstall the oil drain plug and tighten it up.

Next I slide the “catch can” up the incline of the skidplate and underneath the oil filter.

Using a Suzuki OEM filter wrench and a 17mm socket, I loosen the oil filter…

…just enough to let the oil in the filter drain out into the “catch can”, BEFORE I completely remove the oil filter from the motor housing.

When the oil filter is empty, I remove it from the motor and drop it into a modified laundry detergent container to drain more.

I inspect the oil filter area of the motor to make sure that the gasket from the old filter hasn’t been left behind, and that the area is free from dirt.

I have only used OEM Suzuki oil filters on my motorcycle.  At 84,000 miles in 4 years, why change now?

And, I follow the directions printed on the side of the filter.

Before installing the new oil filter, I will wipe some fresh oil around the new gasket…

….and cinch it down as per the printed instructions on the side of the oil filter. (Refer to photograph above.).

I will fill the crankcase with fresh oil.  (As with the oil filter, I have only used Suzuki 4 stroke motor oil in my bike, for the same reasons that I use their oil filter.)

I usually overfill the crankcase just a little bit….

….because I know that when I start the motor…. (Don’t you just love the “factory look” of my cockpit instruments and layout?)

….the sightglass will show “low” after the oil has made its way around to all of the “nooks and crannies” of the motor and has filled the oil filter.

I then top up the crankcase to the proper level.

The waste oil I drain into a laundry detergent container.

During the winter months, I take all of my used motor oil to my local motorcycle dealership so that they can burn it in their service department furnace.

I then re-attach the rear end of the SW-Motech skidplate and I am ready for another 3 – 4,000 miles.

Categories: Maintenance / Upgrade Tasks | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at