I have a 1982 Honda gl500 silverwing and last year I had the front fork seals replaced. They lasted about a month and the left one started leaking again. Now the local repair shops tell me that 1. this is a common problem with this cycle, 2. They don't work on cycles this old any more, 3. one way to "fix" this problem is to use a 50 wt racing oil and very low (if any air psi), and 4. I was told to just add 11 oz of 50 wt per side.

I am 76 yrs old and not mechanically up to snuff on Motorcycles. so my real question is how do I add the heavier oil without tearing the fork all the way apart? Or is this not really a good fix?

  • If that guy can’t do forks on old bikes then he can’t do bikes period - find another, better, mechanic : the do exist. Is there a forum or an owners club for Honda? What about a local bike club? They may have suggestions.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


First question first, there should be a nut (the size of the tube) on the top of each fork tube that you can remove. Then find a way to get the old oil out. Some forks have a small drain plug at the bottom of each fork. If not, maybe a long vinyl tube that you can put down the fork and apply vacuum.

I don't know what weight the normal fork oil is, but heavier (higher number) fork oil is going to make the front suspension stiffer and less compliant.

Second, I don't think heavier oil is the ideal solution. Something is causing the seal to fail. It could be bad seals, they could have been damaged during installation, but it's usually damage to the fork tube itself. The damage may not be easily seen, you may be able to feel it with your fingernail or with a bright light. If you can polish the scratches out you can probably solve the problem. It will require new seals, depending on how much damage is being done to them now.

Good luck! I hope it works out. I think that guy no longer working on old bikes is probably the best news yet. His troubleshooting/workaround skills seem weak.

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