Front End Love
For the last few days I’ve been completely ignoring the front end of my bike. The engine, the swing arm, the frame; they have all gotten the lions share of attention. Well, today it’s time to give her a face lift. What better way to start than by removing the front wheel, shock tubes and faring?
I received my new Cogent suspension parts a couple of days ago, so lets start working on that.
Fork Tube Rebuild
I’ve made a career of putting together, fixing and maintaining some extremely complex and expensive (multi-million dollar) equipment. Having said that, for some reason, I’ve always been apprehensive about working on suspensions. They have always been something of a black box for me. Well it’s time to shine some light into that box. Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two.
The instructions that come from Cogent, while 100% accurate, were not very helpful. They assume a certain level of familiarity with the installation process that I do not posses. So I did what I always do when faced with inadequate installation instructions: I turn to YouTube. Here is a link to the video I found: CLICK
The pic above shows the components of one of the shock tubes. The left side is the stock components and the right is the Cogent parts. The 2 obvious differences is at the top and bottom of the parts shown. At the bottom of the picture, you can see that the Cogent system has an extra part. They call that the Drop in Damper Cartridge (DDC). The other addition is the pre-load adjuster cap at the top.
After watching the video I linked to above, I found that the installation of the Cogent parts was really pretty straight forward. First, fill the compressed shock tube about half way up with the supplied shock oil and run the shock up and down until no more bubbles are seen in the shock oil. Once you’ve gotten all the bubbles out of the system, it’s time to set the oil level.
“Oil Level” is kind of a misleading term here. In this context we are measuring from the top of the compressed fork tube to the top of the oil. So when we set the oil level, we are actually setting an air gap at the top of the shock. The air gap is largely dependent on the size of the rider and Cogent helpfully provides a chart in the instructions for setting the air gap.
Spring recommendations for the Cogent Dynamics DDC
Riders weight Oil Level (Air Gap)
140-160 lbs 190mm
170-240 lbs 150mm
240-290 lbs 130mm
I’m a big guy, so I went with the 130mm air gap. I was curious and I did a little math based on the data in the above table. For my weight I should really have set the air gap closer to 100mm. Oh well, that’s what the adjustable top caps are for.
Back to measuring the air gap. 130mm is pretty darn close to 5-1/8″. So I took my handy dandy telescoping magnet and made a mark at 5-1/8″.
I decided to use the magnet because it stuck to the side of the shock tube nicely. I just inserted the magnet into the shock tube until the red line was at the top of the tube and left it there. Now Ijust have to pour the shock oil in slowly until the fluid reaches the bottom of the magnet. One note though, I did thoroughly clean magnet before I put it i the tube. It would be bad to have metal shavings floating around in my brand new fork oil.
Now it’s time to see how the Drop-in Damper Cartridge earned it’s name. It’s not quite as simple as dropping it into the shock tube, but it is pretty darn close. Cogent was kind enough to provide me with a tool to lower the DDC into the fork and make sure it is set properly.
The tool is basically a rod with a cup on the end and a magnet to hold the DDC in place. The hex head on the DDC fits into the cup in the tool as shown in the pic below.
It’s important to make sure the nyloc nut is on top, otherwise the DDC will not work properly. Fortunately Cogent thought ahead. The nyloc side will not fit in the DDC tool cup. So in order for the tool to work properly, one has to install the DDC properly.
Once the DDC is in the tool, all I had to do was carefully lower the DDC into the fork oil. Once I got it to the bottom I gave the tool a few wiggles to make sure the DDC was properly seated in the tube. Now all I have to do is drop in the new Cogent spring, pull out the DDC installation and drop in the stock washer that I recovered during disassembled.
In my case, with an air gap of 130mm, the oil was pretty much level with the top of the spring. Now all that’s left is to extend the shock tube to it’s full length, drop in the spacer and install the adjustable fork cap. The threads on the cap and tube are very fine so one needs to take care to not cross thread the cap when installing. Oh, and make sure the the adjuster is backed all the way out. It will make screwing the cap on much easier. After all of that, torque the cap to 20 ft/lbs and put the fork tube back on the bike.
Easy peasy soft and squeezy. I’m not sure what I was worried about. This suspension stuff was pretty easy.
Front Brake Rotor and Caliper
Another famous weak spot of the KLR is it’s mediocre front brake. To remedy this I decided to ditch the stock 280mm rotor for a Galfer 320mm rotor and stainless steel brake lines. The larger diameter rotor will give the brakes more leverage on the front wheel, resulting in quicker stops. And the Galfer brake pads will help too with their better grip. The SS brake lines will have to wait though. I have some handlebar work that I need to do first. Once the handlebars are taken care of, I’ll tackle the brake lines.
While I don’t have much experience with suspensions, I have done brake work on many of my vehicles. So let’s dive in!
Once you have the front wheel off, removing the rotor from the wheel is pretty straight forward. Remove the 9 bolts from the rotor and lift the rotor off the wheel. Done.
Installation is just as easy. Put the rotor on the wheel, install the 9 bolts that were removed earlier and torque them to 20 ft/lbs.
After all of that, it’s time to bolt the front wheel back on to the bike. That was the easy part.
Did I mention the Galfer installation instructions sucked? No? Well, they do. All that they included was a “tips & tricks” sheet. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve done motorcycle brakes before.
The larger diameter rotor means that the stock mounting plate for the brake caliper will not work anymore. It has to be removed and the Galfer plate has to be installed. It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but it’s pretty easy to do.
Once the brake pads are out, the bracket slides out of the caliper like so:
Both of the pins need to be transferred to the Galfer plate. The through pin on the left side of the plate is actually 2 pieces and it is secured with Loctite. The other one is just screwed into the plate really tightly. I couldn’t find any torque specs for these pins, but judging by how tight they were, it is pretty high. When I put the pins on the Galfer plate, I tightened them accordingly.
Once the mounting plate is back on the caliper, I installed the Galfer brake pads and mounted the caliper back on the bike.
Wrapping things up
And to cap off the day’s activities I installed my Eagle Mike fork brace. Installation was a snap. I just pulled up the bottom of the fork gators to make room for the brace and bolted it in place.
One of the nice things about Eagle Mike’s fork brace is that it is drilled and tapped a low front fender. As of right now, I’m going to try and use my stock front fender. We’ll see how it holds up in it’s new home.
That’s it for today’s update, but I’ve still got a few things in store.
Here’s a teaser pic of one of the things I have in store for this bike: