View Full Version : Aprilia Ohlins Forks Install

02-05-2008, 09:51 PM
The major part of upgrading my bike to the R version is installing the Ohlins Gold Forks. The stock Showa fork tubes are 53mm and apparently the Ohlins are 51mm according to forum info. So all I needed was a whole front triple tree (along with the forks) and I'm set. Thanks to RFM who I met on www.apriliaforum.com (http://www.apriliaforum.com/forums) I'm covered on all fronts except the clip ons. I'm working on acquiring a nice pair of stockers although I should have just went ahead and ordered the Woodcrafts set and saved a WHOLE bunch of time waiting. It's a pretty big operation. In the meantime I'll be cleaning everything as much as possible and greasing up the bearings and such. Naturally I'll be powder coating bits and pieces as well to restore the condition back to new or better. Here I have started off by removing the fairing panels and have just begun seeing all the work that I have ahead. It's not a whole lot of labor to do all of this but it's just tons of detail work and remembering where things go.


I took a lot of digital pictures to remind myself exactly how all the wires go back. It's going to be awesome to have everything go back when it's all super clean. Once it's clean it's much easier to keep it that way.

02-05-2008, 09:58 PM
One of the points at which everyone get held up in the disassembly is taking off the upper tree nut from the upper triple clamp. This require a huge Allen wrench and even I didn't have one in all my tools. It's just a huge size that people don't typically have in their tool sets. Here is my solution:


I grabbed my punch with a wrench and snapped it loose with a little force but the whole process took me just a couple of minutes. Obstacle cleared! Time to move on.

02-05-2008, 10:05 PM
Once the upper clamp was removed I grabbed a wrench to take the ignition lock off of it. DOH! One of the two bolts is a stub that is screwed into the lock to hold it on and then rounded off during assembly as a theft deterrent. OH well just more work for me.


I simply just grabbed a Dremel and put a small cutting wheel on it. This is as far as the wheel would cut into it without cutting into the clamp but it is all I needed. I then picked up a screwdriver and simply unscrewed it without any problems. How nice of them not to use Locktite! Thank you Aprilia.

02-05-2008, 10:20 PM
Taking off the tree was a real pain in the butt! I borrowed a front bike stand but that actually holds the bike up by placing the holder underneath the lower triple clamp. I used a small block to put between the exhaust pipes and propped it up with a jack. This was a bad idea but I was desperate to make some progress. I didn't even have time to grab the camera to take a picture. It was pretty scary and the bike actually started leaning to the left enough to fall down onto the jack! I was pretty freaked out but the rear bike stand held it up so it wouldn't flop over onto the ground. Lucky lucky! The bike stabilized just long enough for me to throw the new one into the frame.

Of course I took out the bearings before hand and cleaned them out with solvent. Then I grabbed some synthetic grease and gave them a heavy coat while making sure to smush it in good. The 53mm tree is out and the 51mm Ohlins compatible one is in! That was pretty scary. I heavily recommend using a rope at that point to stabilize the bike from the top or to lift the whole front end up with it completely. That way there is no way to drop it. Due to the other things in the middle of my garage I didn't have a strong enough point to tie ropes to.

I'm still waiting on one clip on since one of the two I paid for was completely bent. I got a refund but it wasted two weeks of waiting for them. I should have my new one soon and be finishing up the front end next week. For now I have the front wheel on and I can move the bike around again. The upper clamps (newly powdercoated glos black =) are on temporarily for this reason and when the new clip on gets here then the real fight begins to move over all the controls. :blink:



02-07-2008, 09:18 AM
Alright, well last night I spent some quality time cleaning all the wires and sorting out how they go back around all the front clamps and forks. LUCKILY I took pictures of the front up close so that I could simply put them on my laptop and use them for reference to secure them back in their original position. If I didn't have them I would have been screwed! Digital cameras are the number one tool!!


Just imagine not having a diagram of the original wire positions and not knowing if the wired go through the forks... around them? under the triple clamps, etc etc. Tricky stuff! Even with pictures you have to play around with them since the whole front end was apart and things were just dangling when I started re-installing the front tree.

How sharp do all those wires look when they are cleaned up? What a big difference. My fluorescent zip ties are good for 3hp at least. I'm loving the black powdercoated speedometer/front fairing bracket. It's much less annoying then the silver color.


I also put the repaired oil cooler bracket back inside under the radiators. Thank goodness for skinny hands because it's frustrating getting all the bolts in the tiny little mounting locations. PLUS the nuts that secure them aren't magnetic! So if you drop them you can't use a magnet to get in there and remove them. You might be reading this wondering where the parts could fall in the bottom of this bike that a person would have a hard time getting them out... trust me: when you do this yourself you will be wishing you could use a magnet.

I'm still waiting for one more clip on to wrap up the assembly. But I had plenty of cleaning and fixing up to do in the meantime. I modified the way the oil tank secures to the side of the bike a little bit so that it doesn't put so much stress on the rubber mounts.

These pictures were taken in night mode with my Canon G5. This caused a good amount of color bleed since the built in flash SUCKS bad on this thing. When I get a Speedlight my pictures will look twice as sharp in the shop. But with Laguna Seca coming up I probably will have to save up my play money for the races. B)

02-07-2008, 09:44 PM
Not that anyone cares out there but you never know. I have mastered the art of brake caliper cleaning! The easiest way to clean brake dust is to use acid and to rinse the acid dust off with a spray water bottle. About the best acid for the job can be found in Mag Wheel Cleaner made by companies like Eagle 1. This stuff comes in a acid resistant squirt bottle (acid ruins regular bottle pump mechanisms pretty fast) and it's thicker than usual so it can foam out a little when you pull the trigger fast. This allows the acid to stick to your work so that it just doesn't roll off like water.

Just grab an acid brush and cut the bristles down to about a centimeter so they poke in small places easier than they would if they were long. I buy acid brushes from Harbor Freight in packs of like 50 pieces for $2.00 maybe? They are really cheap. Finally super clean brake calipers. They look like a million bucks when they are spit shine clean. I went ahead and cleaned off the pads and retainer pins as well. I didn't even use gloves. I recommend some but I was in a hurry and as long as you keep spraying the brake dirt off with water the acid doesn't have a chance to get a hold of you.

Acid dilutes SUPER fast with water so when your hands are wet you won't even feel it. Just work fast. I wouldn't leave raw acid on the parts so when you spray some on there don't let it work for more than 15 seconds before you start cleaning. Then when you are done brushing the dust off just spray with the water bottle quickly and it washes away extremely fast. It's pretty amazing and MUCH faster and better than using Brakeleen spray. USE EYE protection. It's sooo easy to get pressurized brake cleaner in your eyes from sprayback and acid can fling off your brush as well. I would rather get acid in my eye though... it dilutes instantly with the water and won't hurt nearly as much as Brake Cleaner Spray.

Check it out:

03-11-2008, 08:39 AM
So here is the final result:

The whole upgrade was definitely worth it. I'm convinced that the Showas were not serviced properly because the action was way too stiff. I have only had this bike a few months so I didn't take the time to service them since I wanted to upgrade to the Ohlins. What a huge difference in performance. Just riding normally on the freeway the action is much more smooth. Before the front end change I installed new tires and discovered my front rim was bent pretty good. You can even see it in the picture if you look closely under the lettering on the tire. I won't be pushing the limits or really testing the front end at all until I have my new wheels on. I have some OZ wheels coming in the mail as I type this. :lol:

More updates coming in the near future! I haven't even made any changes to them as they were set up for a person of the same size as me. They were recently serviced with new seals as well so I'm ready to go.

One final note: DOUBLE CHECK YOUR TORQUE SPECS FOR THE OHLINS SETUP - The torque settings are NOT the same as with the Showa forks.

03-14-2008, 08:40 PM
Here is a better look at the differences between the caliper bolts of the Ohlins forks and the Showas. You can see how I grinded down the larger one to fit temporarily in the Ohlins recessed locations. Then I hit up AF1 for a set of the correct allen head bolts.