his article was originally published in the June-July 1997 issue of Cycle World's Big Twin magazine. Few riders are willing to delve into the deep, dark innards of their Harley’s front fork. It’s as though whatever goes on in there is some mysterious combination of rocket science and black magic. Which explains why, aside from maybe changing oil or slipping in new springs, most people leave fork repair, maintenance and modification to the guys down at the local shop. It’s easy to see why. In the rear suspension, things are pretty uncomplicated, because most shocks, including the stockers, have—as your VCR might say on the back—no user-serviceable parts inside; so, the most common way of refurbishing/modifying/upgrading the rear suspension is simply to bolt on a new/ different/better set of shocks that are configured for your bike. Zip, zap, four bolts and you’re done. A front fork presents an entirely different challenge. Sure, complete fork assemblies are available in the aftermarket, but they’re generally not a cut-and-dried, bolt-on proposition; you have to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish (lowering the bike, raising the bike, improving the ride, improving the handling, changing the look), then determine which of the available forks will get the job done. You also have to assess the new fork’s impact on steering (small changes in fork dimensions can have large effects on steering behavior); and if the swap also involves triple-trees, you’ve got to deal with more possible steering-geometry changes, along with getting the right steering-head bearings and figuring out how to mount all the stuff that attaches to the front end—brakes, fender, headlight and so on. So, while a fork swap can work wonders, it’s not a job that most backyard mechanics feel comfortable taking on. Besides, swapping forks isn’t always the answer. Unlike the shocks, Harley forks are user-serviceable; they’re pretty straightforward assemblies that most riders with any kind of mechanical experience can easily cope with. And if you can get them apart and back together for routine maintenance and repair, you also can do so for modification, whether installing longer or shorter tubes, different damper rods or a lowering kit.