Installing Race Tech Gold Valves and Springs

(Does not Cover Changing Bushings or Seals)

(Assumes forks are off of the bike and on your work bench)

 

A Good Chunk of this was Copied / Stolen / Lifted Shamelessly from Thomas Boch

Pictures and Additional Instructions by Rex Magnum-PI

Feb, 2005

 

 

 

TOOLS NEEDED:

 

 


 

1) Unload the Spring:

Look at the very top of your forks and you’ll see the silver preload adjuster in the middle of the top blue colored fork cap.  Back off spring preload adjuster counter clockwise all the way using your 17 mm box wrench.

 

2) Take Off Fork Cap:

Unscrew the blue fork cap while holding the fork tube with a strap wrench (if you have it); if not use a vise with fiber jaws or equivalent, making sure you don't squeeze too hard. You don't want to crush the tube. The springs are not under to much compression so don't worry about things flying.

 

Pull the blue fork cap out a bit.  You will see on top of the spring a washer and then a small aluminum tube spacer and then another washer.  Push the top washer down a bit (you’ll be pushing the spring when you do this) until you can see a small nut on the bottom of the blue thing you just unscrewed.  Shove the washer sideways until it is caught under the nut to hold it.

 

Unscrew the blue fork cap from the rod on which it is bolted.  Do this by holding the nut with a 12 mm box wrench, and then turn the top of the blue fork cap counter clockwise until it comes off.

 

NOTE:  The blue fork cap serves multiple purposes.  It is your fork cap, rebound adjuster, and pre-load adjuster.  When you screw down the pre load adjuster you push it down on the spring, adding compression and, well, loading it.  The rebound adjustor in the very middle of the blue fork cap, the slotted adjustor, also screws done and pushes a rod that in turn opens or closes the rebound valve at the bottom of the rebound piston (which you’ll see in the next steps – it is in the bottom half of the fork tube right now).

 

3) Remove Spring, Old Fork Oil:

Take out the washer, spacer, washer and spring.  This will be messy, so have newspaper covering your work area.  Take out each piece and put it your pan for cleaning.  The spring will be a real mess of dripping oil.

 

Now the fun begins! Turn the fork on its side and pour the oil out of the top of the tube.  The first oil out will look cleaner that the oil at the bottom of the fork tube.  That bottom oil will be grayer from aluminum, and you might also see small specs of metal – perfectly normal.

 


 

4) Remove Damping Assembly (the part that is still in the tubes)

You need to remove the internal fork component, the damping assembly; this is the part still in the bottom of the fork tube.  It is held in by a 10mm Allen bolt you should see through the hole in the very bottom of the fork. This is a little tricky because you actually should have a special square tool to hold the internals, other wise they will just twist when you try to take out the bottom Allen bolt.  But a ¾ inch square tube works just fine.  Put one end of the square tube in a vise.  Slide the damping assembly rod (that was just connected to blue fork cap) into the square tubing.  The square tubing should fit into a square receptacle on top of the damping assembly body that is at this time still buried in the fork tubes. Play around until you have a good hook up.

 

Now remove the Allen bolts.  While supporting the bottom end of the fork tube, take out the Allen bolt with your Allen wrench.  You’ll need a breaker bar or piece of pipe to give you leverage.  If it won’t budge, try an impact wrench.  If you don’t have a 10 mm Allen socket, cut a bit of your Allen wrench off with a hack saw and then place it in a 10 MM socket.  The whole damping assembly will now come out of the fork tubes.  Set the fork tubes aside for now.

 

 


 

5) Take out Valve Body

Now you get to take out the valve body, the part in which you put your new valve and shims. Put the damping assembly back on the square tubing still in your vise.  Support the other end of the assembly, as you’ll be unscrewing the very bottom of the assembly to take out the valve body.

 

NOTE OF CAUTION:  From here on out, the parts are somewhat soft aluminum and easily damaged.  Go slow and easy.

 

Take your 16 MM box wrench and firmly but slowly unscrew out of the bottom the damping assembly.  It will be on tight, give it a good push.  If it is hung up, try SLIGHT heat from propane torch as is might have red Locktite on it.

 

 

 

 

 


 

6) Take Apart Valve Body

Now you take the valve body that you just unscrewed and took out from the bottom of the damping assembly and take it apart.

 

NOTE OF CAUTION:  There will be many small pieces easily lost.  Do this where you can spread out.  Try putting down pieces of white paper on your work bench to keep track of the parts easier

 

You first need to remove a nut on the top holding all the little pieces on the valve body together.  It however has been secured to the valve body by having the top of the threads pushed out.  Put the very bottom of the valve body, the part you had your wrench on when taking it out of the damping assembly, in your vise and gently secure it.  Take your file and slowly and carefully file off the top of the threads enough to where the threads are flush with the top of the nut.  Brush off the aluminum filings.  SLOWLY take off the top nut.  It will be not come off smoothly, so turn counter clock wise a bit, turn it in and out a bit to work the threads, and keep turning it out until it is off.

 

Keep the small pieces secure. Take the nut off and take off all of the small pieces, springs, etc.   Put these pieces someplace safe for now.

 

 

 

7) Clean Everything

Getting everything clean is the biggest step in making your new suspension work.  Don’t skip on this step.  Make sure both pans are clean, and pour solvent into one of them. Use your bottle brush and dish brush and scrub your parts. Start with the aluminum valve bodies, making sure to brush off all of the metal filings.  Dry and put those parts in a safe place least they accidentally get bent or crushed.  To clean the fork tubes, take off the dust seals off of the forks.  Remove the dust seal carefully with a small screw driver and remove the steel retaining ring with the same tool.  Now, scrub and rinse everything (except for the small valve parts of course!), putting your clean parts in your second pan.  Make sure to get all holes and crevices that you can.  Cover the Allen bolt hole with your finger and poor solvent into the fork tubes and shake; that will clean out all of the dirt at the bottom of the tubes.  It really helps to have an air compressor to blow the solvent off of the clean parts.  Pay attention to getting all of the solvent off of the oil ring by sliding the forks back and forth.

 

 

 

8) Shim Stack Assembly – (What all those parts do)

The valves are those gold disks with the holes in them.  They allow oil to pass through when the forks compress to control the damping force.  The Gold Valve holes / passages are larger than the stock valve, allowing more oil to pass through. 

 

The advantage of this valving system is actually in the shims; those tiny washers you have in the kit.  Putting the washers together in a certain way provides a certain amount of flexibility, that is, they will flex down allowing the valve to pass more oil.  The more flex you give it, the more oil is allowed to pass under pressure and the softer the ride.

 

            SHIM STACK ASSEMBLY

The instructions in your kit have a code number for the RaceTech website.  Go to that web site and get a valve shim stack configuration for your particular riding style, weight, etc.  Then refer to the table in your instructions for the configuration.  Although it looks complicated, the only difference in shim solutions is the number of the biggest washers you use.  The more big washers you use, the less flex, and the stiffer the ride.

 

SHIM SORTING TABLE

Decide if you want to have a stiffer track day “Race” feel, or a normal “Street” feel.  If you want the “Race”, use the shims in the package with the “R” on it.  If you want the “Street” riding style, use shims in the package with the “S”

 

Take the page with the table on it, lay it on a flat surface and use it to sort the shims. 

 

First, find two large size washers whose inside holes are larger than the rest of the washers.  These are the check valve washers and are not part of the shim stack, but rather go on top of the valve body under the springs.  Put those in their appropriate boxes.

 

Next, sort the remaining washers (shims) and line them up according to size.  As the sizes are close to each other, place one shim on top of the other, look at it from both sides, and see which is smaller.  Shims also stick together, so rub a shim carefully to separate them if you do have 2 suck together.  When you have them lined up, put them in the appropriate boxes in the table. 

 

Now, you need to sort through all of the largest shims.  There are 2 out of the 20 that are .10 mm thick, while the rest are all .15 mm thick.  The .15 mm thick shims are what you want.  Take your caliper or micrometer and measure the thickness.  When you find the 2 thinner shims, put a .10 on them with a sharpie or some other permanent marker least you mix them up with the others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Size 1

(Smallest)

 

Use 1 per Valve

Size 2

 

Use 1 per Valve

Size 3

 

Use 1 per Valve

Size 4

 

Use 1 per Valve

Size 5

 

Use 1 per Valve

Size 6

 

Use 1 per Valve

Size 7

(LARGEST)

See Race Tech Table for # of Size 7 Shims to Use

 

VALVE 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VALVE 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check Valve Washer 1

Check Valve Washer 2

 

 

 

Two Thin .10 mm Large Shims

 


 

9) Valve Body Assembly – (just what are all those parts?)

Look at the picture below for the order of parts for you valve body as well as a guided tour of the parts in your Gold Valve kit.  Some parts you’ll use, and others you don’t need.

 

 

 

Next, put together the valve assembly according to the picture.  The first thing is the base plate(s).  These don’t affect valve stack stiffness, and is used only to get the assembly tall enough to be able to snug the top nut and flush with the top of the threads.  Start with the 2 stock base plates; you might change and mix these depending on the eventual height you need. Next, put on the shims, starting with the smallest washer first.   Put the O ring on the new gold valve, and put the valve on the valve body, making sure that the side with the cup in the middle is on top.  This “cup” will hold the little cylinder spring spacer that you put on next.  Then, put on the new check valve washer, the new spring, and the stock cupped washer with the cup facing down, and finally the stock top nut.

 

NOTE OF CAUTION: SNUG ONLY ON THE NUT / YOU WILL STRIP OR BREAK THE VALVE BODY IF YOU OVER TIGHTEN

 

Check the height of the nut.  You should have the nut flush or just a few threads showing above the top nut, and the valve should be snug in the valve assembly.  If you need to move the valve stack of parts up or down, take away / mix and match old and new base plates until you get the correct height.

 

If all looks good, then back off the nut, put the Red Loctite on the threads, and snug the nut back down.  SKIPPING THE RED LOCTITE WILL CAUSE VERY, VERY BAD THINGS TO HAPPEN

 

10) Spring Spacer

Now you get to use the hacksaw to create your new spacer for your spring.  Your new spring is shorter than the stock spring, but you want your new spring, spacer, and washers to be as long as the old stock spring, spacer, and washers were.

 

Line up your stock spacer and your stock spring on a table.  Next to this do the same with your new spring and the long aluminum spacer tubing that came with your new springs.  Mark on the long spacer tubing at a point where the old and new spacers/spring are the same length.  (The new spacer will be longer than the old one.)  Cut the spacer tubing to make your new spacer, deburring and smoothing your cut.  Line up your new spacer and spring next to your old spacer and spring to confirm that the new assembly is the same length as the old.  Now cut another piece of the spacer tubing to make your second spacer.

 

Why the new spacer?  The RaceTech people want you to have 15mm starting preload or compression on the spring, the same as on your stock spring.  If you put the new spring in without a larger spacer, not only would you not have a slight compression/preload when you put the fork cap back on, but you would have actually have slack and the fork would have to compress just to have the spring come in contact with the preload adjuster.  You in fact would not have a preload adjuster at this point, as the only force that would compress the spring would be the weight of the bike.

 


11) Fork Reassembly

It’s all down hill from here.  Put the forks back in the order that you took them apart, except for the fork springs, spacers, and the blue fork top cap.  You need to leave those out and off for now until after you add the oil.  Remember to use the square tube to hold the internal assembly while you put the Allen bolts back in the bottom of the forks.    Don’t forget the copper crush washers that go between the Allen bolts and the fork bottom.  If you leave out the copper crush washers and / or the Allen bolts are not tight, you will leak fork oil.

 

You need to next “equalize” your rebound adjustor and your fork cap nut height.  This is important to ensure that your rebound adjustors each have the same range, and that the damping assembly rod is the same height from the fork cap on both forks.  Take each fork cap, and turn the rebound adjustor all the way out counterclockwise.  (Trivia point:: there are 20 clicks in total in our rebound adjustor, but we only need 12 to give us the usable range we need).  From the complete counter clockwise position, turn in clockwise 13 clicks (one extra to be conservative).  Now, put the blue fork cap on the adjuster rod as far as it will go (do not force!).  Spin the adjuster rod nut up until it is snug against the blue fork cap.  Do this for both forks.  Now both have the same range of rebound “clicks”.   Take off the blue fork cap, but be careful to keep the nut in the same place.

 

12) Fill with Fork Oil, Install New Spring

You need a little help in keeping a hold on the damper rod.  First put a wire around the nut on top of the damper rod of the damper assembly, and keep the loose end out of the fork tubes.  This will help you keep a hold on the damper rod.  The rod will drop in the tube lower than you can reach, and you don’t want to tip the oil filled fork tube upside down to grab a hold of the rod!

 

Now, get the turkey baster, and measure exactly your recommended oil level from the bottom of the baster– e.g., 130 mm.  The RaceTech web site gives you the oil level with the shim stack code, suspension settings, etc.  Put a piece of duct tape around the baster at that point for easy reference.

 

Now, with the fork tube secure and pointing straight up, fill the tube ½ of the way with oil.  Move the internal damper assembly all the way up and down in the fork tubes to purge the air in the forks using the string to help you pull it back up. 

 

Fill the fork tube until you think you’re at 130 mm from the top, and see if you can pull any oil into the baster, having put the baster in only as far as the 130 mm mark.  Keep putting oil in the fork until you can get oil in the baster.  Then suck out the oil until it won’t come out at that level.

 

You are now ready for the final steps.  Make sure the nut on the damper rod has not moved since you set the height in the previous step.  Thread the wire through your new Race Tech spring, followed by the stock washer, your new spacer, and the second stock washer. (Yes, you need to use the stock washers). Take the wire off, and screw the blue fork tube cap back onto the damping assembly rod all the way down to the nut, and then snug gently together.  Screw the blue top cap back into the fork.

 

The RaceTech web site gave you compression and rebound suggestions per your riding style and weight when it gave you the shim stack code.  Set your forks to those settings.  Preload setting is a different topic, but needs to be at 25 – 35 mm race sag setting.

 

DONE!