Tuesday Tip:
Aligning Your Forks

We’re back with Yamaha’s Jonathan Belding for your Tuesday Tip. This week, Jonathan goes over something most of us probably don’t think much about: aligning your front forks. As Jonathan explains, if your front forks are not aligned properly on the front axle, you may notice a different feel in the performance of the forks, as well as possibly binding.

Like a lot of maintenance tasks, this one seems simple enough, but with a few pointers from an experienced wrench like Belding, you can be sure you’re not missing any key steps or overlooking common mistakes. Here’s how it’s done in four easy steps!

Required Tools/Materials:

  • Appropriate combination or box-end wrench
  • Torque wrench with appropriate socket
  • Waterproof grease
  • Shop rags
  • Scrubbing pad

Step 1: Install Front Axle
Jonathan reminded us not to hammer the front axle into place. Doing so can damage the end of the axle and prevent the front forks from properly aligning. “If you’ve got everything clean and properly lubed, the axle should slide in without problems,” said the Yamaha mechanic.

Your axle definitely needs a thin layer of grease, but it must be clean first. Before reinstalling the axle be sure to clean off any buildup. You know that black junk on there you always just ignore? Clean it off! Start with a shop rag, and then use a scrubbing pad to really make the axle shine. Don’t forget to also clean the inside of the hub, rubber dust seals and collars.

Step 2: Tighten Front Axle and Brake-Side Pinch Bolts
“After the axle is in place, the next step is to tighten the axle bolt and the brake-side pinch bolts,” explained Belding. With this side tightened down, you can move to the other side of the wheel and make sure everything is aligned.

Step 3: Align Front Fork
“To align the front fork, push and pull on the bottom of the fork assembly to make sure the fork moves freely on the axle. You can feel where the happy medium is in the center. If it’s pushed in too far, or pulled out that can cause binding and it won’t feel the same. Just work it until you feel it settle,” said Belding.

Sounds easy enough. Check out the photos on the right to see examples of what Jonathan has described.

Step 4: Tighten the Remaining Front Pinch Bolts
Your last step is to tighten the two remaining front pinch bolts to the proper torque, and you’re good to go!