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How to install your HHB Fork Brace on 34mm Forks

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by lidirtrider, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. lidirtrider

    lidirtrider XS650 Addict

    I’m not quite as creative a writer as some other folks on here, so I’ll just give a straightforward, step-by-step of how I installed the new Hugh’s Handbuilt Fork Brace on my 34mm forks.

    Please understand, that I am not saying that this is how it will work with every 34mm fork. This only to show others that it is possible, and that I was able to make it work for me. These forks have had all the miscellany tabs cut off, except for the fender mounts, and right side caliper mounts. You may need to perform other modifications to the fork and/or the brace.

    With that being said, this thing is RAD, and it fits…well, it fits like it was made to be there.

    So here’s how I did it, and the tools you will need.

    A SHARP flat file
    Padded clamps. I used Irwin quick clamps
    6mm Allen Wrench
    Locktite. I used Red, because it’s all I had.

    First, you have to remove the front wheel. You should know how to do this by now so I won’t go into detail about that.

    I don’t have a front brake caliper on this bike yet, but it would certainly be easier if you remove it as well. You don’t have to take off the line, just unbolt the caliper from the fork leg.

    Before I even tried to put the brace on, I took a few measurements to see if there would be any obvious clearance issues. The only spot I could see was the distance between the front and rear tubes of the brace and the outer edges of the fender mount tabs on the forks. Both measured right at 81mm.

    However, the mounts have a slightly increasing taper from inside to outside, making it too thick for the brace to slide around.



    In order to gain the clearance I needed, I decide to file down the sides of the mounting tabs. I didn’t go nuts taking any measurements here. I simply held the brace above the mounts, made a pencil mark, and went nice and slow with a sharp file until I was able slip the brace in place. I only ended up taking off about 1 millimeter from each fender mount.
    If you do it right, the brace will fit right in, and will cover the flats you just filed.


    Once you get the mounts filed down so the brace fits, you can wiggle the brace into place.
    To do it, you will have to start with the lower fork legs rotated outwards.


    I positioned the brace so the oblong holes were to the rear, slid it up into the forks rotating the legs as needed to clear the drain hole screws. (Sorry no pics of that. I was working alone, and ran out of hands.) Slide the brace up above the fender mount tabs and then rotate the legs to their normal position, then lower the brace and line up the mounting holes. Remember, this brace is made to be stiff. It may not drop right into place. I had to clamp the brace from both sides and squeeze it to get it into place.


    Put a drop of loctite on each bolt, and put them in finger tight before you remove the clamps. It is just easier if you need to reposition the brace. After all the bolts are in, remove the clamps and tighten the bolts with a 6mm Allen wrench. You don’t have to go crazy, just tight.

    Reinstall your caliper and wheel, and show your friends how cool you are now that you have a genuine Hugh’s Handbuilt Fork Brace on your 650.

  2. 650Skull

    650Skull SSSSSSSSSlither Top Contributor

    Simple fix to a problem that shouldn't be there.
  3. Punkskalar

    Punkskalar Hugh's HandBuilt

    Great write-up, looks like it works great on the 34mm forks with minor mods.

  4. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    The brace shouldn't be a tight fit between the lowers, it should be a slip fit. Once you removed the clamps, the brace is going to spring back out and bind your forks. Nice going. You're going to need to bend it so it is a nice slip fit without the need for clamps (unless you don't mind riding around with the clamps on there all the time, lol). Now, it can't be too loose either or that will pull the legs together when the mounting bolts are tightened, binding the forks yet again. It needs to be a perfect slip fit between the lowers. This is just plain old common sense but I see a tremendous lack of it around this place, lol.
  5. nevermind
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  6. Punkskalar

    Punkskalar Hugh's HandBuilt

    Agreed - this is the same thing mentioned in the Minton Mods write-up from 1981

    "Okay, so your bike’s fork flexes. What can you do about it? The answer is as simple as bolting on a fork brace. We used one of the braces sold by Racer’s Supply. These braces are made by Racer’s World, cost $59.95, and work. The brace is made of two pieces of steel tubing bent to fit over and around the bike’s fender and welded to steel bars drilled to fit the fender-mount lugs on each fork. Some care should be exercised in fitting this brace to your bike’s fork. Individual motorcycle tolerances make it almost impossible for Racer’s World to make every fork brace fit every bike. It is very important that the fork brace be a slip-fit between the fork legs. If there is any stress between the brace and the legs, there will be an undesirable increase in fork stiction. Usually only a bit of filing is needed to fit one of these braces. Just be sure that the fit between the legs and the brace is snug and does not result in any side pressure on the fork legs. "

    On any fork brake you may need to lightly file the mounting tabs down for a slip fit... :thumbsup:
  7. maynard911

    maynard911 old guy who likes bikes

    Definitely the best looking tubular type brace I've seen.
    I would not recommend using red locktite to mount it as those bolts will need to be removed occasionally for fork servicing (or in your case painting the brace) and you could end up messing up the threads in the fork bosses.
  8. lidirtrider

    lidirtrider XS650 Addict

    Its not so tight that it flexes or binds the forks at all. It is more of friction fit I guess you can say. I used the clamps to draw it in to make it easier to position the brace. If you have a friend, you could have them squeeze it a bit while install the hardware.

    And you're right it is common sense. If you don't like what you see here, then leave. If you dont think the brace is good, don't use it. This thread is a "How To Article." Lets not get off topic, there are other threads for that.

    As I stated, this is how I installed this brace. I welcome criticism, comments and questions. However, I will not tolerate sarcasm meant to degrade me or any other user of this board.

    Muckroot likes this.
  9. blknoel

    blknoel Got bike! In bits!

    Not to take sides or anything but I believe 5twins knows what he's talking about and it could only do you good and not harm if you heed his advice.

    A fork brace is a simple device to stiffen up the front end and reduce flex. But as all things that need fabrication, human error is always a factor. No 2 fork braces from 1 shop will be identical.

    To keep both fork legs straight and parallel from triple clamps all the way down the axle holes, even 1 or 2mm play is out of the question. Which is why what a brace needs is essentially a slip fit. Not too loose to drop in without getting caught, and not too tight to need 'clamps' holding it in.

    If it was tight, when you release the clamps the brace indeed is going to spring back out as he said, and imagine for example 2mm deflection right at the middle of the tubes could store enough tension to cause them to bend under a hard bump.
  10. 650Skull

    650Skull SSSSSSSSSlither Top Contributor

    lidirtrider. Nice write up. Definitely have the skills to explain a procedure.

    I have my mikes XS forkbrace off at present so i thought i would use a clamp, Single and the same type as above, to squezze the bottem in. 2 get a movement of 2.5mm i had to use a lot of force and the brace has a higher arch, meaning it takes less force than HHB's brace to reduce the opening.

    I have to concur with blknoel, and 5twins. Any force to reduce the opening of the brace, will in all likelihood course binding or problems down the track.

    In the pic above It shows the brace has slots in the mounting lugs to allow for movement, which depletes the reason to have the brace on there.
    Maybe it is for any variation in differences between the mounts from one fork to another, but 34mm fork guards will interchange with 35mm fork guards and vice versa so i don't think that is the reason :confused:

    I have placed 34mm guards and 35mm guards against one another and confirmed the mounting hole center to center are the same. Also measured the mounting lugs from the 34/35mm forks and again the c/c is the same. Refer to pics below. First 3 are 34mm, second 3 are 35mm.
    Phone camera

    Allowing for human error and at times lack of the right tools for the job and just a lack of basic mechanical knowledge, i don't think this fork brace with slots where it mounts is engineered properly and coupled with the first part of this paragraph could/will result in a false security and a fork brace with the potential to allow movement in the forks.

    Sorry Hugh, just as i see it.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  11. lidirtrider

    lidirtrider XS650 Addict

    I must, must, must reiterate. The brace can and did slide in place without the clamps. I used the clamps in order to more easily position the brace to the mounting holes. The mounting bolts went right into the center of the oblong hole on the brace. I believe it was Hugh's intent to account for any variances in manufacturing. As I also stated in the beginning of the article, I took some measurements to see if there were any obvious clearance issues. I did measure the distance between the forks and also the the distance between the mounting plates on the Brace. There was less than 1/2 a millimeter difference. It seemed insignificant, so I do not take any pics of that. I will remeasure if it will please the masses.

    Thanks for the compliment Skull. I tried to cover everything I could think of. My aim was not make a critique of the brace rather just to document how I installed this brace on these forks.

    Blknoel, I'm not discounting 5twins advice. I know exactly what he is saying, and I appreciate the input. I just feel like he should be a little less condescending when dispensing said advice.
  12. wherearewe

    wherearewe Rub on Ya Titties

    I'd probably use a good anti-seize compound with some washers. You wouldnt be taking the brace on and off that often i doubt, and if you did use Red Loctite a little blast with a propane torch before loosening would go a long way. And that is a sexy looking fork brace.
  13. lidirtrider

    lidirtrider XS650 Addict

    Yeah I hear ya. I have been moving crap around and some items have gone missing. Red locktite was all i had at the moment. Besides, I've always been a little leery about stuff getting loose around large rotating objects.

    You think it looks sexy here? You gotta see one in person. I'm just gonna shoot this thing clear to show off the welds.
  14. Just to add to this thread, I installed my fork brace today. Mine too is installed on 34mm forks. First off, there was no way the brace was going to bolt up without some machining to my fork legs. What I ended up doing was taking exactly 1mm off of one legs fender mounting bosses. I'm thinking, ideally, 0.5mm off of each legs bosses would be the way to go, but I'm lazy, either way, it worked. I ordered this brace knowing there would need to be some mods, I have no problem with that. It's just I have a hard time believing that this brace bolted up with a slide fit without machining. After machining, mine slid nicely between the fork legs and it looks kick-ass!
  15. arcticXS

    arcticXS XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    That's a really nice build! The white/ light grey frame looks good, and seat and tank is perfect. What are you planning to use for footpegs and controls? Have you found any good, vintage looking rearsets that don't interfere with the kickstarter?

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