Make sure your forks are parallel

I learnt something from the suspension dude at Pro-Action recently and thought I'd pass it on to others.

He told me to make sure my forks were parallel when installing them.

How could they not be I asked?

He explained that when tightening the axle nut, because the fork leg binds to the axle it can pull the forks out of alignment.

To prevent it happening, loosen the two pinch bolts on the right fork axle and tap a screwdriver into the pinch gap to open it up and release pressure from the axle.

Then bounce the forks up and down a few times then tighten the pinch bolts up. Done - forks are parallel.

I had never even considered this but it can and does make a difference.

The only thing to be wary of is putting anything metallic into the pinch gap to hold it open. That metal is relatively soft and a screwdriver can deform it at its contact point fairly easily. I recommend using a wooden or plastic wedge of some sort. Normally, the bouncing is all that is needed to align it properly on my bike. I tighten the outside pinch bolt on the non-threaded side of the axle prior to the bounce and it seems to work just fine...SC

I torque down my axle nut with the all pinch bolts loose, using a chainsaw multi-tool to keep the axle from turning. Then I bounce the front end a couple times and tighten the pinch bolts.

I've never had issues with tube alignment over the past two years on my WR, but for the last week, I can't get them to align. I've moved the tubes around, loosened the lower tripple clamp bolts, loose axle pinch bolts, axle tightened, axle not tightened while bouncing on the bike etc... Might have to give this pinch gap thing a go.

Yep, learned this trick on my own. I bought a brand new 1996 RM250 because it one the shootouts that year and supposedly had great suspension. The freakin forks were so stiff it regularly tossed me on the ground when I hit a root or rock. Then one day changing the front wheel, I wondered if the forks were binding up. So I did what you described and it was like a new bike!

And not to hijack the thread, but I've seen riders just wrench down the lower triple clamp bolts like a gorilla. That binds forks up, too. But I'm sure you knew that.

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