Aero: Lowers Install

First, I had to get the bike raised up (don’t do this, you’ll see why in the next step) and ready to work on. Thought I’d show you my workspace so you can all feel better about yourselves and I can whine!

Here you see my bike up on the lift, which has to be propped up on a 1/2″ piece of MDF because my “garage” isn’t level. You’ll also notice the two 2×6’s there … that’s what I have to drive up onto so I can fit my “level” lift under the bike. You can imagine this is a bit of a balancing act.

You might also notice the flash went off and the large amount of shadowing in the back. That’s right, there’s no electricity in this garage and no lights.

Lastly, you might notice how little space is around the bike. That’s what I have to work with here. With the boxes the wife has in there, I probably have about 5 feet of room from wall to wall.

First step was to take the tire off. First thing to do is loosen the two little pinch bolts which are pretty easy to loosen. Just get them loose enough to turn freely.

Next step is to loosen the axle nut. This was when I realized I had to lower the bike back to the ground to get the friction to do that. Whoops. Anyway, I had some misgivings about the axle since I only had (at the time) the tool provided by Honda, which is a POS. I would grab onto it with a pipe wrench and start turning and the darn tool started bending and deforming before the nut even began to move. I asked some people who are smarter than me whether it was reverse threaded or I was missing any important steps and they told me just to get the right tools and get on with it.

So I went down to the store and got a 17mm hex head with a 3/8″ drive. I mated that to my breaker bar and that nut loosened right up. After it was loose, I lifted the bike back up and went about removing the axle itself.

What you see in the picture is my “driver” that I used to pop the axle out of the wheel. After you unscrew it all the way, there’s still about one inch of the bar in the left fork. Instead of trying to balance the tire and pull the axle out, especially since it’d been in there for 5 years now, I used this little driver (just a 9mm socket on one of those quick-change screwdriver combo things) and hammered it out to the wheel. Then it was easy to hold the wheel and slide out the axle the rest of the way.

Next you get to take off the front fender and the front brake. These are both exceptionally easy. In this picture I’ve already removed the four screws holding the fender to the metal bracket that holds it in the fork, but you can’t just slide the fender out, so if I were to do this again, I’d skip that step. Instead, just take out the four bolts holding the metal bracket on, and the two bolts holding the brake caliper on and you can slide the fender right off.

For some reason I didn’t document taking off a few things, but they’re exceptionally easy.

First, you can see I’ve removed the headlamp and signal bar. I don’t think that’s requiredto do, but it makes other bolts easier to reach and gives you a little room to move the steering stem around by freeing up cables.

To remove the headlamp and signal bar, there are just two bolts. That’s it! Once they’re off, you have free room to put those wherever you like.

I also took off the little wire brackets that hold the cables in place. I never really liked those things (they don’t actually seem to hold the cables!), so I think I don’t think I’ll be re-attaching them.

I then removed the steering stem. To do this, loosen the two pinch bolts (one on each side around each fork at the top), and take off the nice shiny nut closest to your speedometer. Don’t make my mistake and start taking off the other two bolts. Those actually hold your spring system in your forks in and you’ll notice that you’re just making a gap appear and not actually loosening anything. Leave those along unless you want to mess with a lot of other parts.

You might see here I’ve even removed the nuts holding the handlebars. Whoops. Don’t need to do that, really. If you want to be neat about it, go ahead, but I just rested them on my tank. Really you should at least put a cloth between them, but I play careful and I’m planning to re-paint anyway, so I didn’t really care.

After you remove that one nut (and washer), and loosen those two pinch bolts, the steering stem will pull off. Pull it straight along the axis, but wiggle a little and it should come right off.

Lastly, you’ll see I managed to remove the upper fork cover on the right fork. This is simplicity itself. There are two bolts. I think it’s a 10mm and an 8mm (I could be slightly off, but they’re slightly different sizes for some reason). Just take those out and the fork cover slides right off the top. No sweat. There’s a little rubber o-ring, and if that’s all gunked up, you might have to pull a touch, but it’s not going to be hard either way.

The next step took a little more force. Now that the upper fork covers are off, you literally have to shove the entire fork down through the lower fork cover, which has o-rings in it, and if your bike is like mine (well ridden), those rings and forks might be a little dirty. It took me quite a bit of effort to get it all they way out.

In this picture you can see the right fork partially sticking out. Have to get it all the way!

Woo Hoo! Got one fork completely out and the lower cover just pops right off.

Here are the rubber covers I’m going to be putting on in place of the lower fork covers. Note that you still want something down there because this is the portion of your fork that will move up and down as you take bumps. You don’t want that getting grimed up with weather and dirt and reducing your performance.

You can see here the ring on the lower fork and the cover that makes the transition between the upper and lower forks. That’s the critical area you want to protect. I don’t know how far the full travel is on these guys (maybe an inch or three), but I’m going to cover the whole lower area just to be on the safe side for now.

You might also note that my bike is very, very dirty in most pictures, but this fork is now pretty clean. You’ll want to make sure at LEAST that you clean the area protected by your new cover so your fork can slide nicely.

Sorry about the finger in the picture. Anyway, here you can see the left fork set back in place with a cover on the lower side and I’m preparing the right fork. Nothing really to this part, just put the covers on (these particular covers took a little effort to get over the lower fork area and are stretched tight on the upper fork area as well … just means they have a nice, tight seal).

We’re getting there! Installing is just a reverse of removing, so I didn’t capture as much of that. Here I’ve put back in the forks (lining up the top bolts to make sure they’re even … don’t worry about rotation as the lower forks can freely turn), I’ve put back on the light assembly, and re-attached the fender. Next I’ll put back on the brake caliper and the wheel.

There was only a /minor/ trick to the wheel for me. I couldn’t get the axle to go back in by myself (I highly recommend a friend be available for this part). I got my wife to come out and look at it while I lined up the left side (downhill side) and she noticed that when I did, the axle nut was getting stuck from moving further in on the uphill side. Just had to perfectly balance the wheel while inserting the rod. Or better yet, have one person line up one side and the other person move and balance the other side.

Method 2 is much, much, much simpler.

While the wheel is apart, I do recommend cleaning and re-greasing the axle and the seals there as well as the brake.

Once you have the wheel basically in place, just lower the bike back down, bounce the front a bit (to make sure it’s settled), and tighten it up. The manual says 58ft-lbs for the axle nut and 16ft-lbs for the pinch bolts. For those of you who read their torque wrench in inch-lbs (like me), that’s almost exactly 700 and 200.

Now we’re done, so let’s see what it looks like!

This was my first time taking the front section apart, and it took me about 4 hours from start to finish. Including time to buy parts at the store. I have to rotate the covers slightly so they’re perfectly straight (you can see some slight wiggle in them, that’s from them not being lined up perfectly), and I want to clean up the look of the lower side of the cover, so I’m going to ask around about that part (maybe just pushing another link over it).

Also, the covers came with pipe clamps. You can see I didn’t use them and I can’t see needing them, but I’ll ask around about those as well. If I find anything else new about this, I’ll add to this document.

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