centering forks?

i just took my forks off to get them valved and im scared when i get them back that i wont be able to put them in straight and correctly. is there any method you guys use or do they only go in the right way or do you allign them by installing the front wheel and going from there?

Its easy enough, just measure 10mm above the top clamp to the fork cap. Snug the top clamp leave the bottom one loose. Make sure there are no burrs on the axle mounting saddles. When you mount the front wheel, snug the axle in the leftside fork first. Then tighten the pinch bolts, then grab the front brake and bounce the front end a bit to center the axle in the right side fork saddle, then snug the pinch bolts on the left side. Then tighten up the rest of the clamps. Go ride.

This question strikes a nerve with me because it takes an old and now incorrect process and passes it on from generation to generation.

However, this is not some 2-stroke chat board. Here at ThumperTalk we find new ways of doing things better.

This means a new process for aligning forks so that we don't have to then post something 6 months later asking why forks seals always seem to wear out so quickly.

So here goes.

Bolting the wheel on and bouncing up and down on the front with the axle cinch bolts loose does an okay job. Sometimes it works "okay", other times it does more harm than good.

So around here we find creative methods for "measuring" the distance between the forks with the wheel off, then duplicating that measurement after the wheel has been re-installed.

Nothing but pure accuracy. And you'll feel it!!

You can use a large caliper, a pre-fitted gauge, or just about anything that holds it's position and can fit between the forks after the wheel is installed.

And of course, make your adjustments via the right casting.

Think precision!!


whoops...I meant to be the first to post.

[ July 17, 2002: Message edited by: DaveJ ]

sounds like im gonna have some fun come monday :)

One more thing to check, if the axle has been dropped or possibly hammered on or like mine neither, the right-side of the axle with the hex-hole in it can get deformed very easily, with the wheel off the bike make sure the right side of the axle will pass thu the fork leg easily, most of the time it will up until the last quarter-inch or so , at that point, get a file after it and re-round it so it passes easily thru the leg, if its not perfectly round when you tighten the axle-nut it will pull the right leg over and be out of alignment even after the above process Dave described if its off enough. Jimbo


1. Tighten right

2. Tighten axle nut

3. Tighten left

4. Loosen right

5. Adjust

6. Tighten right

Jermey Wilkey from MXtech said to make sure the saddles dont have any burrs and the axle slips through easily. If the axle is smooth and the saddles dont have anything to hang up on, the fork should be straight sitting statically. You shouldnt have to wrestle with the axle to get it through.

The easiest I've found is with the left side tight, spin the front wheel and then grab the front brake. The jolt will cause the fork to relax into position on the axle. If you intentionally cock the fork to one side or the other you can watch the fork jump back into relaxed position when doing this.

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