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XS650 forks question

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by BBQRider, May 23, 2016.

  1. BBQRider

    BBQRider XS650 Enthusiast

    I recently purchased a pretty nice (all original) 1983 xs650. She only has 6800 miles on her. This is my first Xs and I believe I'm in love. As you guys know it's a pure joy to ride. I've been through boat and car projects but this will be my first bike project. I've owned a few other bikes but always kept them pretty stock. My first (of many I'm sure) questions is in regards to the front forks. They seem pretty spongy and nearly bottom out with firm braking. Im just curious if it's a given that a 30 year old bike needs new springs or could a simple fork oil change be the fix? I realize I can answer my own question with the oil change but I guess what I am really asking is, how can I get the optimum performance out of the stock forks on somewhat of a budget. My goal is to build a tracker that will feel like its running on rails so I'm just trying to chart my course carefully. Thanks in advance for any input.
  2. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    search minton mods and cartridge emulators on here. yeah the springs are kinda weak, your bike has a 3 position preload on the top of each fork. Where are they set? slightly heavier oil filled a bit more with the preload increased may be enough for you, or not.

    MY current iteration is 10-30 motor oil filled higher, mikesXS el cheapo cart emulators, stock springs, with late model adjustble caps, no added preload. I have a hard time deciphering what is good fork action, but guessing I now have a bit too much damping and still kinda weak springs. A set of 35mm sportster springs is in the wings. Next up; slightly off set handle bar clamps and a "fork cap reinstall clamping tool" to speed up the change routine. I keep thinking about a way to be able to set the preload on the cart emulators without pulling the whole thing apart!
  3. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

  4. BBQRider

    BBQRider XS650 Enthusiast

    I will start by checking the preload and changing out the oil and go from there. I'll let you know what I find. I read some on the Minton mods and there seems to be a lot positive feedback on that procedure. Thanks for helping a rookie!
  5. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Added to post above, and a note; loosen top triple pinch bolts before trying to remove the caps!
  6. XSLeo

    XSLeo XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    The Minton mods is a inexpensive upgrade. It cost mostly time.
    Experimenting with different weight oils and oil levels isn't costly either. There is a common recommendation of 6 inches down that I have found works well.
    With fork caps and springs out compress the forks completely, put in about 8 ounces or so. This will be a bit too much but that's ok, you will draw out the extra.
    A clear plastic hose of a few feet long and a zip tie is the tool you need to draw out the extra.
    Put the zip tie around the hose, snug it down 6 inches from one end. Slide this end down in the fork tube till the zip tie is even with top of tube. Suck on the hose to draw out excess oil. Or get a vacuum tool to do the sucking for you.
    The more oil leaves less air space above the oil, this acts as an air shock when riding. This help minimize brake dive.
  7. BBQRider

    BBQRider XS650 Enthusiast

    Well I finally got a chance to check out the forks today. After bleeding them I found the caps are on the softest setting. I like Xs Leo's idea of filling the forks and using the zip tied hose to get the level right. I'll probably stick with 10 weight oil. I know I can adjust and readjust as often as I would like but in order to save a little time would anyone recommend just going ahead and bumping them to the highest setting? Or should I take one step at a time. Just fyi, I weigh in at about 165. Thanks for all the great tips and advice.
  8. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi BBQRider,
    all that the 3-way fork adjustment (just like the 5-way shock adjustment) does is change the spring pre-load.
    It don't change the spring rate at all.
    Adjusting the fork oil volume &/or viscosity &/or tinkering with the fork internals will change the damping.
    You soon reach the limits of what you can do to improve XS650 stock forks.
    Then you just gotta live with it or swap in a better set of forks.
  9. BBQRider

    BBQRider XS650 Enthusiast

    While I had the forks opened up I went ahead and ordered a set of progressive springs for them. I figure it's gotta be worth the small investment. You can definately see a difference in the quality of the springs. So here's my question. When working on the forks I used a ratchet strap to support the front of the bike to the ceiling. In the process I Made some adjustments and when putting them back together I raised it up to a level that made it possible to get the caps back on. For reference the tops of the springs ended up about flush with the tops of the fork tubes. If I remember correctly, when I took them apart the springs protruded out of the tops about an inch or so. If this makes sense, did I mess up (is there more air in there now)? Or is this ok?
  10. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Compare spring lengths? but if you are using the adjustable caps, you should be fine. Add preload as needed.

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