Goldwing suspension upgrade, part 1

After last September’s Wingstock, where I was able to ride a Traxxion-equipped Goldwing, I had pretty much decided to go forward with the suspension update. The hard part for me was the cost – it ain’t cheap. I finally rationalized that I would spend the money but that I was going to do the wrenching myself. I was going to replace tires over the winter and as part of that I was going to have the wheels powdercoated.

The first step was to disassemble the front end in order to extract the forks. Removing the fenders and calipers was fairly simple and I used a trick I’ve used for a long time – a muffin pan. I put the bolts and nuts in the muffin pan in the order I removed them and wote a note about which side of the bike and where they came from. I didn’t know how long the bike would be disassembled and I didn’t want to rely on my memory during reassembly.

With just a bit of luck, I was able to remove the forks without removing the top shelter. So, I packed them up and sent them off to Traxxion. Surprisingly, I had them back exactly 8 days after the UPS guy picked up the box. I had the rebound-damping adjustable fork caps installed. Having the forks back was great, but I wasn’t quite ready for reassembly just yet. I wanted to replace the steering stem bearings too. Since you have to disassemble the bike to this point plus a fair amount more, doing it now made a lot of sense. I removed the meter panel and top shelter and to give me additonal room I decided to remove the meter assembly as well. I know the rubber hoods on the plugs are a pregnant dog to reseat, but I decided the additional room was worth it. I removed the handlebars, the top triple tree, and finally the steering stem came out. Fred’s maintenance DVDs had entertained me to the point that I was able to replace the bearings fairly easily. The OEM bearings were in fine shape, and were well-greased from the factory. Removing the lower race from the stem destroyed it, so the OEM bearings were tossed. Reassembly was fairly easy, the most important part is to be sure the new races are seated completely. I chose to use a lower torque value than a lot of people used as I think the excessively high torque value will dampen the steering and slow the rate of left-right and right-left transitions. I chose to go with 15 ft-lbs, as that is the torque value for the GL1500 stem bearings and they were tapered roller bearings too. With the stem bearings replaced and the top nut torqued to spec, completing the reinstall of the forks and the remainder of the front end took less than an hour. The axle slipped through the newly-powdercoated wheel/new Bridgestone tire and the alignment was perfect. I torqued the remainder of the bolts and then put the front fender pieces back on. Front end work completed.

Now the real fun begins…

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