When it comes to motorbike maintenance, the importance of using the best fork oil often slips under the radar. Your bike demands more than engine oils and brake oils to remain in tiptop shape. As your bike adds more mileage, the fork picks up more and more contaminants. Over time, it would get clogged and lose its ability to move freely.
Fork oils are high viscosity lubricants that allow fluid maneuvering of the fork leg. Therefore, using the best fork oil for motorcycles is a not-to-be-overlooked factor for getting the optimum riding experience.
In today’s piece, we will introduce you to some of the finest fork oil options. We will also break down the things you need to consider before choosing a fork oil for your two-wheeler.
1. Maxima 55901 10WT Standard
The Maxima 55901 10WT Standard is arguably the best motorcycle fork oil because of its unique formulation. It comes fortified with high caliber additives and base oils. As a result, the Maxima 55901 is highly effective in tackling oxidation, foaming, and stiction issues. It also offers minimal sliding friction, which, in turn, enhances the durability of internal parts.
The viscosity of this oil is immune to temperature fluctuations. This particular attribute helps the front wheel to adapt to a variety of terrain conditions. Besides narrowing down non-compliance problems, it also ensures non-stop fork action for extended periods. You can mix this with other oils to regulate viscosity.
- High-Quality Additives and Base Oil: The Maxima 55901 is rich in mineral-infused base oils and improved additives. This makes for a masterful mix that can successfully keep oxidation, foaming, and other fork problems at bay.
- Lubricinol: Lubricinol is responsible for keeping the sliding friction at a minimum. This shields internal components from damage and makes sure they remain functional for a long time.
- Temperature Stable Viscosity: The viscosity levels remain the same when the temperature changes. This enables greater terrain compliance and ensures consistent fork movement.
2. Maxima 54901 5WT Standard Hydraulic Fork Oil
Maxima made their name as motor oil manufacturers, but they also have a wide range of suspension oils. The Maxima 54901 is a lightweight variant of the Maxima 55901 we had already discussed. Like the Maxima 55901, the Maxima 54901 boasts a powerful blend of high-quality additives and base oils.
It scores higher than 190 in the viscosity index, which means it yields the same level of performance in hot and cold conditions. It increases the road tolerance of your fork wheel and gives you more stability while riding on rough terrains. If you want to keep your bike fit for some boisterous road adventure, Maxima 54901 will be a great pick.
- MX Appropriate Service Weight: The Maxima 54901 is a high-performance hydraulic fork oil that is suitable for motocross bikes. 5WT is the standard service weight for MX purposes.
- Anti-Corrosion Properties: It’s formulated with a vigorous mix of base oils and additives, which makes it a potent defense mechanism against oxidation. The oil also combats foaming, seal hardening, and stiction problems fruitfully.
- Temperature Resilient Viscosity: The 190+ score in the fork oil viscosity index makes this oil fairly immune to temperature changes. You will notice no drop in performance levels in different weather conditions.
3. Bel-Ray High-Performance Fork Oil 15W
While Maxima is an excellent brand, there are many alternatives that are up to the mark. Bel-Ray is one of the brands you can rely on if you are looking for the best motorcycle fork oil. It features a handful of proprietary elements and different types of arcane that make it a potent preventive measure against striction and other fork issues.
Bel-Ray’s anti-wear formula gives enhanced protection to bike suspensions. The highly viscous base oils keep the suspension mechanism up and running, no matter how high or low the temperature is. It’s fit for both dual chamber and cartridge applications. Overall, it significantly improves fork action.
Anti-Wear Chemistry: The anti-wear chemistry reduces wear in sliders and tubes to extend the lifetime of your suspension system. It also plays a vital role in maximizing suspension performance.
Friction Modifiers: Friction modifiers maintain the ideal lubricity level for diminishing friction. The friction modifiers are also in charge of modifying the suspension system to match your comfort needs across a variety of terrains.
High Viscosity: The high viscosity of the oil favors a consistent range of performance for years to come. It also grants the oil immunity to temperature swings. It will continue doing its job, even when the temperature is much higher or lower than usual levels.
4. Maxima 56901 15WT Standard Hydraulic Fork Oil
If you have recently upgraded to heavier components, then it’s time to upgrade your fork oil too. The Maxima 56901 15WT is widely considered as the best fork oil for advanced suspension systems. It won’t flow as smoothly as the lower grade Maxima oils, but it’s a sacrifice worth making because of the higher viscosity index numbers.
What makes this product stand out from the crowd is its use of fork-oriented additives. The special ingredients combine with the base oils to provide superior lubrication. That means minimum friction and a high firewall against oxidation, foaming, and other stumbling blocks. It’s crystal clear in appearance. So, it’s easy to notice when you would need to change it.
15WT Oil Weight: Comes with a higher weight to properly address oxidation, foaming, and stiction issues in advanced suspension systems. It’s stiffer than the previous Maxima oils we had mentioned. Which makes it more heavy-duty than the other two.
Higher Temperature Tolerance: The Maxima 56901 is even more tolerant than the previously discussed Maxima products when it comes to temperature changes. It can operate with the same efficiency at various levels of adverse temperatures.
Lubricinol: One of the additives used in this oil is Lubricinol, which has a marvelous track record of slowing off friction. This makes all involved components less prone to wear and keeps them in perfect shape on and on.
5. Lucas Oil 10771 Fork Oil
Lucas Oil is another highly rated fork oil brand that we must talk about in our article. According to the laws of thermodynamics, metal expands to a larger shape after increased exposure to heat. The suspension system of your bike could also inflate in size upon overheating. Lucas Oil 10771 Fork Oil specializes in dealing with such thermal expansion cases.
Lucas Oil produces a wide range of auto-maintenance product, but their specialty is in fork oils. Their formulation does an excellent job in keeping the friction and overheating problems in check. The product is also highly efficient in evading oxidation and foaming. On top of that, it’s not restricted to a specific suspension type.
More Responsive Handling: The fork system can only serve its purpose efficiently if its capable of making fluid movement. Lucas Oil 10771 makes your suspension system more responsive than ever.
Anti-foaming Properties: Foaming can lead to severe problems in a hydraulic system. It can be the culprit behind increased oxidation and friction. The Lucas Oil 10771 specifically targets foaming, for establishing a well-functioning suspension system.
Blocks Seal Hardening and Static Friction: Hardened seals are more susceptible to leaking. Leaky fork seals will jeopardize your riding experience to a significant degree. Lucas Oil 10771 offers proper seal maintenance and prevents static friction.
6. Maxima Racing Oils 10wt V-Twin Fork Oil
Say goodbye to those awkward nosedives once and for all, using Maxima Racing Oils 10WT V-Twin fork oil. This is a product aimed towards riders who never shy away from rough terrains. The V-Twin fork oil is a brilliant combination of authentic base oils and dynamic add-ons. It is equivalent to HD type E, which is ideal for racing bikes.
It comes with a 10WT weight, which makes it one of the best weight fork oil for sportsters. It exhibits optimum dampening characteristics and keeps the unit free from oxidation. The Lubricinol formula plays a vital role in decreasing the friction and keeping the internal machinery wear-free.
Premium Quality Chemicals and Base Oil: To maintain the level of high performance associated with the Maxima name, the V-Twin fork oil boasts a state-of-the-art formula including premium base oils and additives.
High Viscosity: Scores 151 in the viscosity index, which makes it incredibly stable. Its performance remains the same despite huge changes in the surrounding temperature. Perfect for all-season use.
Detergent: The detergent infused formula makes for an ultra-clean cleanse that eradicates dirt from the furthest corner of the suspension. It also keeps the interior rust free and enhances the durability of components.
7. Bel-Ray 10W Fork Oil Liter
The Bel-Ray 10W Fork Oil Liter is quite greasy compared to its weight. It streams nice, which makes it very convenient to use. But the oil has sufficient viscosity to withstand alterations in temperature. It also prioritizes keeping the motor parts safe from friction and extend their lastingness.
The Bel-Rey 99320-B1LW goes with all kinds of suspensions. Whether you use it on a cartridge or a dual-chamber system, you can bank on getting the same level of service. The oil has a very low tolerance for foam and rust build-up. It keeps the seal flexible and boosts fork activity substantially.
Applicable On All Suspension Types: The Bel-Ray 10W Fork Oil 99320-B1LW is compatible with all kinds of suspension systems. Works equally well in cartridge and dual-chamber systems.
High Viscosity: The abundance of high viscosity base oils in this product makes it considerably thick. The thickness remains unchanged in the event of abrupt temperature changes.
Improves Fork Action: Focuses on keeping the friction as low as possible. This insulates the suspension system from premature decaying. It prevents seal hardening, foaming, and oxidation so that the overall fork performance improves.
8. Maxima 20WT Standard Hydraulic Fork Oil
Our love affair with Maxima fork oils continues, as we enlist yet another Maxima product as one of the best fork oil for motorcycles. Maxima 57901 is a heavier variant of Maxima 56901, which was rated as 15WT. This item targets bikes which often experience bumpy rides. It’s suitable for MX professionals.
The elements used to concoct this solution have been purposefully picked to reduce fade and maximize fork performance. This inspires better fork resistance and makes your biking sessions safer and smoother than before. It holds up extraordinarily well in case of temperature and weather changes.
Active Ingredients: The base oils and additives used in this oil make an immediate impact on your suspension system. You can easily notice the enhanced fork activity after starting to use this formula.
Lubricinol: The use of Lubricinol gives Maxima fork oils an extra edge over their competitors. They drastically cut down the friction, which makes the suspension system exceptionally durable.
Temperature Stable Viscosity: With a formidable viscosity score, this product will give you sufficient thickness to properly lubricate the bike fork. And this thickness remains vastly unaffected by temperature.
9. Spectro Oil Cartridge Fork Fluid
The penultimate entry in our list would be this cartridge fork fluid from Spectro Oil. If you have a cartridge fork, this undoubtedly the best fork oil you can buy. The fact that it caters to a specific fork group makes it less versatile than the other products we’ve mentioned here. But, if your bike fork matches its criteria, then you can rely on this oil to take good care of your fork.
Rated 25W, you can categorize this Spectro item as a heavyweight fork maintenance liquid. It’s perfectly weighted for fork maintenance in racing and mountaineering bikes. It’s s semi-synthetic formula that leaves no stickiness on the suspension but never leaves it out unprotected.
Semi-synthetic Oil: To bring you the best of both worlds, the Spectro Oil Cartridge Fork Fluid combines synthetic oils with mineral oils to cook up a semi-synthetic formulation. It offers better protection at a lower price.
High Viscosity Index: Semi-synthetic oils demonstrate high viscosity, which makes them effective lubricants. These oils also stay the same despite drastic changes in temperature.
Zero-stick Protection: It doesn’t leave a sticky texture on the components after application. But, it continues to shield your suspension system from oxidation, foaming, and stiction for prolonged periods.
10. Maxima Racing Oils V-Twin Fork Oil
We are going to wrap our list with another Maxima product, the 20WT version of the V-Twin fork oil. For those of you, who often embark on challenging rides, this could be the perfect fork oil. When you are riding at high speed or through difficult trails, you would want your forks to have lighting fast reflexes. The V-Twin 20WT is just what a demanding bike fork needs.
The detergent in the formula cleans out accumulated gravel from the suspension system and allows it to move freely. It also does wonders in avoiding corrosion, foaming, and seal hardening. The highly viscous lubricant stays on for a long while. And the best part is, it has a wide range of temperature compatibility.
High-Quality Ingredients: Made of selected mineral oils and other beneficial additives. It does a more-than-satisfactory job in boosting fork activity and extending the life span of internal components.
Detergent: Dirt and gravel accumulation hampers free mobility of the fork, which results in reduced responsiveness. The detergent-included fork oil cleans out the contaminants and enables a better range of motion for the suspension.
Lubricinol: All Maxima fork oils come with Lubricinol, Maxima Racing Oils V-Twin Fork Oil is not an exception either. The compound has proven to be quite successful in regulating friction in suspension systems.
Best Fork Oil- Buying Guide
Why Fork Oil Matters?
Getting a consistent performance from your suspension system is the primary purpose of using a fork oil. The oil ensures the suspension remains lubricated despite high temperatures. It continues to absorb shocks in various terrains. In a word, you want to remain assured that your suspension has got your back when you ride. That’s why selecting the right fork oil matters.
Now, why don’t just use water in the valves? Why would you need to purchase a fork oil to get a regular shock feel?
In theory, water appears to be the perfect candidate. It can hold its liquid form between 33°Fand 211°F and hang on to its viscosity. So, it can provide consistent rebounds and keep the suspension moistened. Moreover, you don’t need to spend a dime on it.
That said, water misses out on two important aspects. Number one, it can’t prevent oxidation, rather it accelerates it. Number two, it does nothing to reduce friction. Without controlling the friction, the components will wear out rapidly.
Therefore, it’s essential to use a fitting fork oil for the well-being of your motorbike’s suspension system.
Look For Higher Viscosity Index Numbers
Viscosity indicates the rate of flow of a certain liquid. The lower a liquid ranks in viscosity index the higher its transmission will be. While choosing a fork oil, look for high viscosity numbers i.e. higher thickness.
If you use a fork oil that has a high viscosity index number, it will not change its viscosity for a wide range of temperature changes. As we have discussed earlier, constant viscosity is a must for the lubricant to maintain constant shock feel. Therefore, high viscosity number for oils are preferable over lower viscosity number ones.
In hydraulics, most mineral oils used have a viscosity index number around 100. Fork oils have significantly higher index numbers as these are formulated by mixing mineral oils with other additives. We would recommend picking a fork oil that scores north of the 100 mark.
There Is No Standard Viscosity
Selecting a fork oil could be tricky if you only rely on the viscosity index numbers. It’s the wild west out there when it comes to standard viscosity number requirements. Any manufacturer has the freedom to create an oil to any viscosity it wants. So, what’s marketed light for a specific brand might be heavier than another brand’s medium version. So, do an in-depth research before deciding on a certain product.
No Need To Move Away From A Winning Formula
At this point, you must realize how complicated it is to pick your first fork oil. But, if you do manage to find a product that can deliver the ride feel you feel comfortable in, it would be a smart decision to stay put with it. Moving on from a working product could disrupt your riding experience and damage your confidence.
Compare Viscosity At 104°F
If you don’t have any other option but to pick a new product, then you have to compare the viscosity of the new fork oil and your old fork oil at 104°F (40°C). The closer the viscosity index numbers will be at the said temperature, the more interchangeable the oils would be.
You can find the viscosity index numbers at various temperatures for all fork oils at their respective manufacturer’s website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the ideal oil weight for fork oil?
Oil weight highlights the viscosity of an oil. In other words, it shows how effortlessly an oil flows at a certain temperature. An oil graded 5W will flow faster than a 10W oil. Heavier oils will make better fork lubricants. There is no universally recommended oil weight, it varies from bike to bike. But, as a rule of thumb, most riders would benefit using oil weights ranging between 10W-15W.
Q. Is there a difference between fork oil and shock oil?
Both fork oils and shock oils are suspension fluids, but they differ in formulation and viscosity. Fork oils come with supplementary additives, like detergents, for example. Shock oils, on the other hand, are primarily made of synthetic oils.
Q. How often should I change the fork oil?
After a certain cycle, the fork oil starts to lose its lubrication abilities. You should replace fork oil annually. If you are a frequent rider, you should use new fork oil every time you hit 10,000 miles in mileage. These are all rough estimates. Depending on the state of your suspension system, you might need to change it earlier.
Q. How much fork oil do I need to use?
It depends on the design of your motorcycle front wheel. You should check the manual or the bike manufacturer’s website for accurate information. Alternatively, you can measure the amount of oil you took out and measure it. Then, refill the same amount. This is not the best way to do it, but if you don’t have access to the right information, this could be a useful failsafe.
Q. Can I use motor oil as fork oil?
In theory, synthetic motor oils could be used as makeshift fork oil. But, it could be risky. So, stick to using conventional fork oil.
You can think forks as the motorcycle equivalent of a car’s shock absorber. It absorbs the compression and rebound of the suspension springs and ensures better traction. Forks attempt to nullify any unwanted motion and stabilize your bike in the bumpiest of trails. So, a well functioning fork is an absolute necessity for a safe and sound motorbike journey.
To get the best out of your motorbike fork, you have to use the best fork oil. For your convenience, we have highlighted the best fork oil offerings available for purchase. See which one of these fits your needs the best, and pick the right one to safeguard your suspension system.