Whether you use your dirt bike for racing or just tearing up the countryside, you love to get it dirty. That’s great, as dirt bikes are supposed to get grimy. To keep your bike in tip-top shape, though, you must regularly wash off built-up dust, dirt, mud and trail debris. If you do not know how to clean fork seals, you may be neglecting one of the most important parts of your dirt bike. 

Cleaning your dirt bike fork seal must be one of your top priorities. After all, dust and dirt can wreak havoc on your bike’s fork seals. Without proper care, you may shorten the effective lifespan of your bike’s fork seals. 

Tools for the Job

Keeping your dirt bike’s fork seals in tip-top shape is not difficult if you have the right tools. In fact, you should probably add fork seal maintenance to your bike’s overall maintenance schedule. To keep your bike’s fork seals clean and happy, you need the following tools:

  • Alcohol-based suspension cleaner
  • Shop towels
  • Flat screwdriver
  • Pick
  • 8mm T-handle
  • Suspension grease

When choosing suspension cleaner for your bike’s fork seals, you want to look for an alcohol-based product. Even though acetone-based products are available for purpose, they tend to be hard on fork seals. As such, if your seals encounter acetone, they may not last as long as they should. 

Once you have gathered the necessary tools for the job, you are ready to begin work on your bike’s fork seals.

Step 1: Remove Fork Guard

To properly inspect and clean your dirt bike’s for seals, you need to be able to access them. Of course, your bike’s fork guard stands between you and your fork seals. Therefore, to begin your project, you must first remove the fork guard. You can likely do this with an Allen wrench or socket. After you have removed the fork guard, you can access your bike’s fork seals.

Step 2: Dislodge the Fork Seal

When you have removed your bike’s fork guard, you should be able to clearly see the fork seal. To remove the fork seal, slide a flat-headed screwdriver beneath the top of the seal. Then, gently work the seal downward. If you are worried about causing seal damage, you may want to use a pick or specialized tool to dislodge the fork seal. With some care, though, a flat-headed screwdriver works fine. Either way, though, you want to be careful not to hit the tube. Scratches, dents and dings on the hardware may make it impossible to effectively reseat fork seals.

Step 3: Clean Inside the Joint

After you have moved the seals downward, you can begin to clean the joint. Using an alcohol-based fork seal cleaner, liberally spray the area inside and around the joint. The cleaner should encourage dust and other types of grim to roll down the tube. Simply wipe any debris you find away using a clean shop towel. You may need to spray a significant amount of cleaner into the joint to be sure you dislodge as much dirt as possible. 

If you want an exceptionally clean joint, you may choose to use compressed air to blow any remaining dirt away. While this is not necessary, it may help you locate and remove remaining grime from your fork seals. Naturally, though, when working with compressed air, always wear eye protection and a dust mask. Even a tiny particle of dust can wreak havoc on your eyes and lungs. 

Step 4: Pump the Fork

As you probably know, dirt has a way of working itself deep inside fork seals. To be sure you have removed as much grime as possible, pump the fork upward and downward. Then, spray cleaner to wash away built-up grime from hidden places. If you had a seal leak before you began your project, you should continue to pump the fork until you no longer see oil. On the other hand, if you are merely removing dirt and grime instead of leaked oil, continue cleaning fork seals until your shop towel comes out clean. 

Step 5: Clean the Seal Itself

After removing as much dirt, grime and oil as you can from the tube, you must focus your attention on the seal itself. Using an alcohol-based cleaner to remove contaminants from the seal is your best bet. Again, if you use an acetone-based product, you may inadvertently damage the seal. This could shorten its useful life, causing you to replace the seal sooner than you otherwise would have. When cleaning the seal, be gentle. You do not want to stretch or damage the seal. 

Step 6: Lubricate the Dust Seal

Before reassembling your fork seal, you must lubricate the dust seal. Suspension grease works perfectly for the job. You do not, however, want to put too much grease on the seal. Instead, apply only a small amount to the tube. Then, work the grease around to ensure you have an even coating on the dust seal. 

Step 7: Reconnect the Dust Seal

After you are confidant that your bike’s fork seals are clean and in good shape, you are ready to reconnect the seal. Simply slide the seal back into place. If you have sufficiently worked grease onto the underside of the seal, it should easily move to where it needs to be. Do not apply too much pressure. Instead, consistently push against the seal to make sure it seats properly. Check to be certain that the seal sits flush against the fork arm. If it does, you are ready to reattach the fork guard and take your bike for a spin.

Know that you know how to change fork seals on a dirt bike, you can add routine seal maintenance to your bike’s overall maintenance schedule. Remember, because leaks, dirt and grime can damage your bike’s suspension system, you do not want to ignore your fork seals. 
Still, knowing how to clean fork seals is only part of the battle. When working on your dirt bike, you also need to use only top-grade components. By shopping for the best fork seals on sale, you can be certain you are keeping your bike ready for any off-road adventure.