Saturday 26 December 2020

Triumph Tiger 955i Fork Reassembly and Installation

I was looking at nearly $70CAD to get the 'special Triumph Tool' for tightening the locking nut on the triple tree.  That special tool consists of two bits of machined metal the same thickness as the nuts and seem absurdly expensive for what they are (maybe they're made out of gold and I'm just being stingy).

My cunning plan was to get a set of big deep sockets ($66 from Amazon) and an adjustable slip nut wrench from Canadian Tire for $16.  For twelve bucks more than the bizarro Triumph tool I'd get a socket set of sizes I don't have (29-38mm!) and a weird adjustable wrench for thin big nuts that didn't cost me nearly seventy bucks.  I had to take a millimetre off the slip nut wrench thickness wise, then it fit like a charm.  The long socket fits over the top of the triple tree so I was able to tighten the top 38mm nut against the one underneath using my improvised kit that cost a bit more but included 8 other hard to find big, deep sockets.

It worked a charm and held the lower nut tight while I dropped the big'old 38mm socket on the top one and tightened against it.  If I ever need a big weird thin adjustable wrench I have one in the toolbox now.

The steering always felt fine but having cleaned up all the bearings and put a not-stingy-factory amount of grease on there before putting it all back together has made it silky smooth by comparison.  The bearings were in good shape after a visual inspection but the cleanup and heavy greasing have really improved things.

I put the gaitors back on the forks.  I initially thought I'd have to replace them but a soak and scrub in hot, soapy water followed by a drenching in ArmorAll seems to have brought them back to life.  They were kinking where they shouldn't and were starting to look untidy, but the scrub/soak means I should get at least another year or two out of them, which is good because they aren't cheap and they're bloody hard to find.

The rejuvenated forks with new 15 weight oil (I'm 6'3" and 240lbs) look fantastic back on the bike.  It always surprises me how dark and opaque the fork oil is when I empty it out after a couple of years use.  It might not be dealing with combustion but it's still got a tough life.  I think a 2 year rotation of fork oil is going to be the new normal.

With the top clamp out I couldn't help but want to have a go at the spotty paint on it.  I'd hand painted some flat black rust paint on it a few years ago when it started to get scabby (it has a tough life over engine heat and with keys and other things banging off it).  That flat black was a quick fix and bugged me since I see it a lot in the saddle. While it was out I was able to mask off the top clamp and paint it up - disco blue metallic.  Why be dull.  Looks great with all the cleaned up fasteners, and it'll match my repainted hand covers (which I still have to hand paint some magic back on).

Next up is installing the Hel brake line kit I've got waiting to go in (Bike Magazine convinced me that anything this old shouldn't be depending on old, factory rubber lines).  The Tiger was due a brake fluid change anyway so it's a cost cut into regular maintenance.

The Hel lines come fantastically packaged (many stickers!) and include all the bits and pieces you need to install them.  Next up will be draining the brake lines and upgrading them, then the front end can go back together.

In other news, I got the old tires off with the spoons.  I'd describe this as more trouble than it's worth - next time I'll go see Lloyd at my local motorcycle shop and have him do them.  I couldn't get the new tires on the rim so I took them in to school and our auto-shop teacher gave me a hand mounting the new ones (new inner tubes too).  That was problematic too as we couldn't get the rear to sit on the bead (it stuck on the inner one).  I was finally able to get it to pop on with 60psi and some soapy water at home.  All that to say the tires are ready to go back on too.

Once the front brake lines are on I'll rebuild the front end and it'll be fully updated and /or maintenanced.  It'll then be time to do the same thing with the back end.  It'll be my first swing arm and rear suspension service so I'll be learning as I go.

There is some good advice on Tiger servicing at   He did Hagon shocks on his Tiger (a good future project) and he has a lot of helpful tips on there too, for example: the Haynes manual suggests removing the exhaust but he suggests removing the swingarm and rear shock together, which I need to do anyway if I'm going to service it.

Those Hagon shocks can be custom built to rider size, which will help me since I'm not in the average size range.  I just had a look at the site and they'll do me two custom front shocks and a rear shock for about £1000 (about $1750 Canadian).  If the Tiger becomes a life-long bike I'll make that commitment.  It's not cheap but it's still less than three new car payments (or a new bike).  That they're customized and include life long warranties and repairs is useful on a long term machine.

With any luck I'll have the front end sorted and reassembled by the end of next week while I'm off work.  I can then get into the swingarm and rear chassis maintenance over our January COVID lockdown.  It's good to be busy in the garage when I can't be travelling and riding during this long, strange and stressful winter.

I'd rather be doing this, but working on the thing that lets me do this makes the riding gratifying as well as thrilling.  The deep familiarity I'm gaining with long term ownership is next level.

FOLLOW UP:  It all went back together nicely.  I'm on to swingarm and rear suspension maintenance next.