Install "Progressive" Fork Springs On Your Carbed Vulcan


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Instructions are for the 1500 Classic & Carbed Nomad
From Rudi Kiefer, Wilmington, NC VROC #121

Note: Doing the work is quicker than it took me to write this, so it's really not a big job.

Tools needed:

  • Some way to take the weight off the front wheel. I use a car jack on each side of the frame, but there are many different ways.
  • Some small and very small screwdrivers.
  • Wood dowel or similar "tool", 3/4" diameter
  • Woodworker's Kwik-Klamp, or a helper
  • One foot of 1" PVC pipe, the strong kind (schedule-40 I believe it's called), very cheap at the hardware store. Go to a small store where they will cut a length for you, the big shopping centers will make you buy a whole 10-foot stick.
  • Hacksaw to cut the PVC to 4" length.
  • A very sharp knife to get the Progressive springs out of that ^%#@**!!! factory shrink wrap.


Procedure:

  1. Jack the bike up so the front wheel is slightly off the ground.
  2. Block the front wheel in position so it can't swing around. I put a heavy toolbox on each side of the wheel.
  3. Put a blanket on the tank to avoid scratching by dropped tools, etc.
  4. Now do the following procedures on each side:
    1. Remove the chrome cap from the triple clamp. Careful, it's made of plastic and expensive to replace if it breaks. Pry it out gently with a screwdriver or such.
    2. Press down on the bronze-color plug which you see in the top of the fork tube. I used a thick wood dowel. If you don't have somebody to press down on it for you, a woodworker's clamp can be used to apply pressure. Worked for me.
    3. With the plug down, remove the metal retaining ring, using a very small screwdriver. Careful if you work outside, it might go "sproinnnnggg" away into the blue yonder.
    4. Take the plug out and pull the stock fork spring out slowly. I propped it up in a halfway-out position (just stick a screwdriver into it) and took a 1-hour coffee and cookies break to allow the oil to drain down into the tube. This will save you from re-measuring the oil level, although it would be good to do that.
    5. Remove the old spring. Insert the new spring so that the narrow-wound coils face upward toward the handlebar.
    6. Make a 4" long spacer out of 1" PVC pipe available at the hardware store. Get the thick type pipe (schedule-40, I think it's called), not the thin one. It's cheap.
    7. Insert spacer on top of the new spring.
    8. Insert plug. Press down on it and insert the retaining ring.
    9. *Very important*! Check carefully to see that the retaining ring is seated properly all the way around.
    10. Put chrome cap back on.
  5. Take the bike off the jacks.
  6. Go for a test ride on a bumpy road and be surprised!
  7. Learn that the remaining limitation on handling are the stock Bridgestone tires. Do preparatory work on the wife (or significant other) explaining the purchase of 2 new aftermarket tires.

For more pre-load on the fork springs, you can experiment with longer spacers. Some in our group have had good results with 4.25" and even 4.5" spacers.

Enjoy your new suspension, and great handling!

The Doctor

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