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ATF in Forks? #4781130
06/08/18 10:30 AM
06/08/18 10:30 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
maverickfhs Offline OP
maverickfhs  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
So I have seen many online threads about using ATF(or PS fluid) in motorcycle forks.

Question is, I have quite a few types of ATF laying around, can it be any ATF? Or rather stick to fork oil.

What's the take of BITOG about using ATF in fork?


2006 Civic EX 202K/AT
2006 Acura TSX 180K/AT
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4781159
06/08/18 10:46 AM
06/08/18 10:46 AM
Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 148
Displaced Texan in Mexico City
Gimpy1 Offline
Gimpy1  Offline
Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 148
Displaced Texan in Mexico City
The front forks on a motorcycle are an integral part of how the vehicle preforms under steering and braking inputs. They have valving inside designed to meter a specific fluid during these maneuvers. Changing form the OE specified fluid to a fluid that they are not designed for is very dangerous. The seals may not be designed to hold ATF, PS fluid, baby oil, olive oil, or whatever. On a car if you have a from shock failure its bad but on a bike its catastrophic especially if it fails at a high stress load such as entering a turn under braking. If it was me I would only use a the fluid recommended by the OE manufacturer, saving a few bucks is not worth your life.

Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: Gimpy1] #4781190
06/08/18 11:16 AM
06/08/18 11:16 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
maverickfhs Offline OP
maverickfhs  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
Originally Posted By: Gimpy1
The front forks on a motorcycle are an integral part of how the vehicle preforms under steering and braking inputs. They have valving inside designed to meter a specific fluid during these maneuvers. Changing form the OE specified fluid to a fluid that they are not designed for is very dangerous. The seals may not be designed to hold ATF, PS fluid, baby oil, olive oil, or whatever. On a car if you have a from shock failure its bad but on a bike its catastrophic especially if it fails at a high stress load such as entering a turn under braking. If it was me I would only use a the fluid recommended by the OE manufacturer, saving a few bucks is not worth your life.


I hear you, will stick to OEM fluid.


2006 Civic EX 202K/AT
2006 Acura TSX 180K/AT
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4781194
06/08/18 11:18 AM
06/08/18 11:18 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 716
Connecticut, USA
bmwpowere36m3 Offline
bmwpowere36m3  Offline
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 716
Connecticut, USA
Depends on the forks... I've used it (DEX III on hand) in older damper-rod forks. That said, quality fork oil isn't expensive and I use Maxima.

Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4781203
06/08/18 11:25 AM
06/08/18 11:25 AM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 327
Phoenix, Az
MoreCowbellAz Offline
MoreCowbellAz  Offline
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 327
Phoenix, Az
It depends on the type of forks you have, old damping rod style or the more modern cartridge forks. Damping rod forks typically use a heavier grade fluid of around SAE20 which in fact is in the range of most regular ATF's (not the LV variety) than the cartridge types which require like 5-10. That's the biggest factor. Sure, specialized fork oil claims to have all sorts of unique additives that make it better suited, my opinion is that's mostly marketing but opinion vary on that.

That said, I've used ATF for years in my Harley forks which are damper rod forks. Works great. There is nothing in there that is bad for seals, bushings or anything else. It's well developed fluid, and the application is pretty simple. I'd guess it would be too heavy for a cartridge fork but I've never tried it.

BTW the weights you see listed on fork oil bottles mean very little, look at the cSt specs if you want to compare. People take that label as fine science and get in endless debates as to why one is harsh and another isn't, when in fact it's not even an apples to apples comparison.


07 Toyota RAV4 2.4L
07 Toyota Prius Touring
00 Harley Road King Classic
11 Kia Soul 2.0L (mine to maintain)
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4781423
06/08/18 03:47 PM
06/08/18 03:47 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 128
FL
9050lx Offline
9050lx  Offline
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 128
FL
Give it a try.I doubt most forks get worked hard enough to matter most of the time.Worked fine with the old conventional type for me.

Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4781432
06/08/18 03:57 PM
06/08/18 03:57 PM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,371
America's Dairyland
LotI Offline
LotI  Offline
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,371
America's Dairyland
I like how the KLR forks work with DexIII

Itís too thick for the VFR, too stiff.


03 Honda Interceptor
11 Kawasaki KLR 650
12 Ford E450
17 VW GTI
[IMG]http://badges.fuelly.com/images/sig-us/803455.png[/IMG]
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: LotI] #4781433
06/08/18 03:58 PM
06/08/18 03:58 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
maverickfhs Offline OP
maverickfhs  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
Originally Posted By: LotI
I like how the KLR forks work with DexIII

Itís too thick for the VFR, too stiff.


I have a VFR too smile

Do you use Honda SS8 fluid or something different?


2006 Civic EX 202K/AT
2006 Acura TSX 180K/AT
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4781492
06/08/18 05:02 PM
06/08/18 05:02 PM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 327
Phoenix, Az
MoreCowbellAz Offline
MoreCowbellAz  Offline
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 327
Phoenix, Az
Nice bike, the VFR's. Always wanted one.

Those bikes have cartridge forks don't they? If that's the case, it would stand to reason they may like something lighter. Honda/Showa SS8 is almost identical in viscosity to DexIII and many other ATF's which are more suited to damper rod forks. I assume that KLR has cartridges, so I guess whatever works works! In any event, back to your original question, ATF certainly will do no harm.

The main reason I use ATF isn't even cost, although it is about half the cost, it's more because I try to avoid keeping special purpose lubes laying around unless there's a noticeable performance improvement. I use ATF in the forks, shocks, and primary on my Harley, plus transmission and power steering on some cars. Shoot, I even use it with acetone as a penetrant on seized up bolts. So.......it's a convenience thing that also happens to perform equal to or better than more expensive specialty alternatives in those applications.

Last edited by MoreCowbellAz; 06/08/18 05:04 PM.

07 Toyota RAV4 2.4L
07 Toyota Prius Touring
00 Harley Road King Classic
11 Kia Soul 2.0L (mine to maintain)
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4782470
06/09/18 07:36 PM
06/09/18 07:36 PM
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,371
America's Dairyland
LotI Offline
LotI  Offline
Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,371
America's Dairyland
Originally Posted By: maverickfhs
Originally Posted By: LotI
I like how the KLR forks work with DexIII

Itís too thick for the VFR, too stiff.


I have a VFR too smile

Do you use Honda SS8 fluid or something different?

Currently running Redline Lightweight as itís close in cSt to SS8 but has amazing an amazing VI


03 Honda Interceptor
11 Kawasaki KLR 650
12 Ford E450
17 VW GTI
[IMG]http://badges.fuelly.com/images/sig-us/803455.png[/IMG]
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4782497
06/09/18 08:06 PM
06/09/18 08:06 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 143
Western NY state
Truckedup Offline
Truckedup  Offline
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 143
Western NY state
ATF is about a 7.5 weight? I have a set of 96 VFR forks on a 81 750 and use 10 weight fork oil....


World's second fastest vintage Triumph 650, 133 MPH
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4782689
06/10/18 01:54 AM
06/10/18 01:54 AM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 4,812
New Zealand
Silk Offline
Silk  Offline
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 4,812
New Zealand
ATF is all I ever use, although sometimes will use a hydraulic oil like ISO32, 46 etc.


1987 BMW R65 - Penrite V Twin 20/50
2005 Nissan Expert - Gulf Western 10W-40
1996 Volvo T5 - Penrite HPR15 - 15W-60. Ryco syntec filter.
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: Silk] #4782692
06/10/18 02:11 AM
06/10/18 02:11 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
maverickfhs Offline OP
maverickfhs  Offline OP
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 2,177
VA
Originally Posted By: Silk
ATF is all I ever use, although sometimes will use a hydraulic oil like ISO32, 46 etc.


Just curious, what's the weight of hydraulic oil? Is it similar to hydraulic jack oil or something?


2006 Civic EX 202K/AT
2006 Acura TSX 180K/AT
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4782823
06/10/18 08:11 AM
06/10/18 08:11 AM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,524
Jupiter, Florida
Cujet Offline
Cujet  Offline
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,524
Jupiter, Florida
I've had great results with Mobil 1 ATF in older motorcycle forks. Just seems to hold up well and provide good damping.


People who count on their fingers should maintain a discreet silence.
Re: ATF in Forks? [Re: maverickfhs] #4784361
06/11/18 09:24 PM
06/11/18 09:24 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 176
New Mexico USA
CCI Offline
CCI  Offline
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 176
New Mexico USA
I've tried ATF, seems like fork oil works better all the way around. "Better" is a function of the bike in question and how you ride it, of course. But even with Progressive Suspension springs preloaded to my riding style, I didn't like the ATF a lot. It certainly helped with the extension speed, putting the front wheel on the ground faster, but I never liked the compression rate.

An uneven, unpredictable, or too fast rate of loading or unloading in a curve can be unnerving, this changes your effective trail, and the rear suspension can even get involved in the dance, which can be sickening.

If you push into corners hard or ride on somewhat rough roads I think regular fork oil works better, and it does come in different viscosity which can help you fine-tune to your style.

If you don't push the bike hard it doesn't matter.

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