Forks seals gone after 19 hours? ? ?

Hi all,

Picked up a new KTM450 EXC. It now has only 19 hours, today I noticed fork seals leaking already, one is worse than the other, but both gone:foul:

I have read some threads and there seems to be an issue with the WP forks on KTM's, but 19 hours, is this fair wear and tear?

This is my first KTM, always had bikes with Showa forks before, never had a problem.

Do think its worth trying to take it back to the dealer?

You may have dust/dirt under the seals and wipers. 35mm film works well to remove the debris. Cut a slight hook at the end and run the film inside between the fork tube and see if that stops the leaks.

Seal savers are great to prevent this again....

Yeh mine are a real problem 280hrs & they started leaking, clean them and now has 286hrs and are fine. I didnt think they'd be worn out


Depending on how it's been tied down to be transported could have been a factor. Place a 2x4 between the front tire and fender to avoid compressing the forks when tying it down. I'd imagine pressure washing could also push dirt past the seal. Just my .02.

I wrecked in some clay and blew them out after 3hrs because dirt got in there. 19hrs is annoying, but doesn't seem unreasonable. FYI-the film trick does work and there is a tool called a seal mate too that I like. Either way, it's not hard to install new seals in open bath forks. I can do them in about an hour each. Good luck!

If dirt dries on the fork tubes and you compress the forks you can/will force some grit past the seal and cause leaking. Pull the outer seal and then rinse everything off then clean with a piece of film or a tear off.

You need to clean them before the grit tears a seal or scratches the fork tube.

Thanks for all the advice:thumbsup:

Have been looking at that seal mate tool, have just made up something similar from a plastic bottle, will give that a go this weekend. Sounds likely as you say that its just dirt trapped in the seal, as I was on a MX track with alot of jumps when the seals went, so I'm guessing I've forced dirt in them on some of the higher jumps.

Hopefully a good clean will sort them out.

BTW called KTM - no warrenty at all on fork seals even after 1 hour, but they did also suggest the film/feeler gauge cleaning method, before I go for a full fork service. Fork service was £82 if I remove from bike first.


The thin plastic gift cards are just right for bending around the fork to get under the seals. Pump the forks while inserted, helps flush the dirt.

Give the seal mate trick a try. If not, and you are handy it wouldn't be a bad idea to invest in the fork tools. It isn't bad.

I had to make a 22mm spanner for under the cap by grinding down a cheap wrench. That was the trickiest part. Otherwise just get a fork seal slide hammer tool and a seal bullet. After that all you need is the seals. It seems daunting at first, but after your first one or two it really will get easier. Go slowly, follow the instructions, and you'll be okay. TT is a great resource for your questions! Cheers.

seals shud last at least 50-100hrs and they don't really "blow out" :worthy:

dirt, a damaged oil seal or a damaged tube will cause a leak...muddy conditions seems to be the biggest problem...pulling the dust seal and cleaning the oil seal will usally stop the leak and insure a longer life...sum like to use waterproof grease between the dust and oil seal.

i've tried the hooked seal cleaning tool and 35mm film negative...i like the film negative the best(it's thinner). :thumbsup:

some use a feeler guage but it will cut the seal lips very easily and i wudn't use one. :busted:

fork skins/savers do a good job in dry conditions but shud be removed and cleaned more frequently than riding without them.

once u get a seal that leaks after every ride it's time to replace.

the new SKF seals (the green ones) have been working for me and are reported to reduce sticktion.


I'm not sure if your forks are similar to my '06s, but you may just need to bleed out the excess air from the top of the forks via the little screw by the rebound adjuster knob.

In the manual it states that you must bleed the forks every so often or the forks can leak some oil. Make sure you raise the front wheel off the ground and take all weight off of the forks before cracking open the bleeder screw. Once you hear the air hiss out, tighten it back up lightly.

thanks for the replies, forks seals are now cleaned out and have been using the bleed screws, just waiting for a test run now...

How much fork oil was leaking? Did it slow or stop when you threw the bike in the garage? If you were able to clean out dirt/debris from the seal chances are you should be good. After a muddy ride, I always clean the seals to keep wear down.

I also bleed my forks after transporting my when I get to the track and also once I get back home.

Also replacing the seals really isn't that bad especially once you invest in the correct tooling.

Just curious. What kind of screwdriver have you guys been using to crack open the fork bleeder screws?

I've been using an L-shaped phillips screwdriver but the clearance is still pretty tight. I don't want to remove the bars each time I bleed the forks or accidentally strip out the heads.

Don't know much about the KTM's but on my WR if you don't reinstall the front wheel assembly correctly (ei: Axle nut/pinch bolts ect...) the lower fork tubes will not seat/line up correctly and cause the lower fork tube/s to pinch inwards causing the fork seal to fail. For example, I can't tighten everything without taking the bike off the stand and rocking the suspension up and down 15+ times to seat everything before tightening the pinch bolts and axle nut. Don't ask me how I know this. :smirk:

I reinstalled my front wheel one time and didn't follow the factory manual and developed an instant fork seal leak. :smirk:

Have you had your front wheel off recently? Just a shot in the dark.


Been out for a couple of rides now. Right fork seal is still weeping, enough to pool slightly at the bottom of the fork.

Been asking around, seems alot of people replace seals with the SKF seals that come as standard on the Husaberg. Same fork different seals, SKF seals highly rated and seem less prone to leaking.

Anyone swapped out their seals for SKF?? The people at KTM where I bought the bike don't seem to know alot about them.

Still a bit :smirk::foul: about having seal problems already, just noticed slight oil weep from that small hole in the pump cover today also, maybe start of pump seals going then???:smirk:

Part Number: R14020

Description: SXS SERVICE KIT

Model: 2010 Hard Parts Catalog

Retail: $99.99

the above rebuild kit includes bushings, SKF seals, etc...

but i don't think the seals are your problem...ether your tearing the seal during the installation, seals installed wrong, forks misaligned, tubes pitted, etc...'s also real easy to damage the seals with improper cleaning :smirk:

:smirk:'s also real easy to damage the seals with improper cleaning :smirk:

That's why I never use a pressure washer on my bikes. Seals get damaged too easily.

Anyways, what kind of screwdrivers are you using to bleed your forks? I don't think my bars would allow me to use a bleeder button since they're so close to the triples.

Rotate your forks so the bleed screw is in front or in back of the bars.

Loosen the calmps and spin the forks.

Rotate your forks so the bleed screw is in front or in back of the bars.

Loosen the calmps and spin the forks.

That's what I did but the clearance is still surprisingly tight for the angled screwdriver I used, and I don't want to have to drop the forks in the clamps every time I bleed them. I'm looking for possible tool suggestions; someone's bound to know.

And is there a proper sequence for tightening the forks in the triple clamps?

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