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Can You Ride a Motorcycle with Leaking Fork Seals?

Can You Ride a Motorcycle with Leaking Fork Seals?

Most riders do not care about a leaking fork seal and keep riding their motorcycles instead of getting them fixed. Fork oil leaking may indicate the fork seal is damaged and unable to hold the fork oil inside the tube. If you maintain your motorcycle regularly, you can become better at recognizing issues with the forks and why they leak.


The fork oil inside the fork tube ensures better compression, damping rates, and more comfortable rides. When the fork oil starts to leak, it makes the bike uncomfortable and unsafe to ride. Read this article to learn if you can ride a motorcycle with a leaking fork seal.

1. Can You Ride a Motorcycle with a Leaking Fork Seal?

You should not ride a motorcycle with a leaking fork seal as it can be unsafe.


The leaking fork oil can enter the front brake and caliper, making it difficult to stop. Low fork oil in the fork tubes means the front suspension will have poor shock absorption, making the motorcycle unstable and difficult to ride.

2. What are the Forks on a Motorcycle?

Forks are the front two pipes/legs on a motorcycle and include the front suspension and brake. The handlebars are also attached at the top of the forks with a triple clamp. The motorcycle forks provide shock absorption and steering capability.

3. What is Fork Oil?

The oil inside the fork tubes helps dampen the impact of shocks by slowing down the suspension’s compression and rebound to ensure less fatigue and better comfort while riding.

4. What is a Fork Seal?

A fork seal is a simple rubber component fitted to the outer fork tube to prevent fork oil leaks. A fork seal is also protected with a dust cover seal that is visible on the fork to keep dust from entering the fork tube.


The fork seal is installed to maintain the fork oil level according to the motorcycle owner’s manual. Low fork oil can result in poor suspension performance. Meanwhile, excess fork oil can cause leaks, resulting in poor shock absorption and braking.

5. The Risks of Riding a Motorcycle with Leaked Fork Seals

5.1 Poor Shock Absorption

It is important to have the optimum amount of fork oil in the fork tubes to recover from jump landings, bumps, and potholes. You can injure yourself if riding a dirt bike on off-road trails with low fork oil.

5.2 Imbalance and Poor Handling

Most of the time, only one of the front fork legs will leak oil, creating an imbalance between the shock absorption capabilities of both fork legs.


Imbalanced shock absorption and damping in the front fork legs can make steering and handling difficult, especially if you are off-roading on a dirt bike.

5.3 Degraded Braking

Leaked oil can enter the front brake assembly, including the brake calipers and pads, which can negatively affect braking. If your brake pads become lubricated with leaked fork oil, it can reduce the motorcycle’s braking capability. To avoid getting in such a dangerous situation, make sure to inspect the fork oil level and for any signs of leakage regularly.

6. What Causes Fork Seals to Leak?

  • Dust trapped inside the fork seal and fork tube
  • Worn-out fork seals
  • Excessive fork oil
  • Damaged inner tube
  • Scratches on the inner tube
  • Air leakage from the motorcycle air forks due to built-up air pressure

7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

7.1 When Should Fork Seals Be Replaced?

Inspect the fork seals regularly for leaks. The intervals for when you should replace the fork seals depend on the type of motorcycle you ride and the riding conditions. A motorcycle used for casual rides on smooth and paved roads only needs to have its fork seals replaced every three years. However, if you use your motorcycle for daily commutes or go off-roading, you should replace the fork seals every year.

7.2 How Long Do Fork Seals Last?

If the fork seals are regularly cleaned and maintained, they can last for more than four years. They can be treated with WD-40 to remove rust and dust. You can also remove debris from the fork seals by using a Motion Pro seal mate.

8. Final Words

Riding a motorcycle with leaking fork seals can be risky as it reduces shock absorption in the front fork. If only one of the fork seals is leaking, it can create an imbalance in the front forks’ performance and impact handling and steering. Leaked oil can also enter the front brake’s caliper and pads, making it difficult to stop the motorcycle. Therefore, you should not ride a motorcycle with leaking fork seals.


Maintaining and replacing your fork seals can ensure a safer riding experience.


If you want to improve safety, you can find several aftermarket parts available at Viking Bags, including crash bars, fairings, and sissy bars. For a more comfortable experience on longer rides, you can install good-quality motorcycle seats, handlebars, and backrests available at Viking Bags. You can improve your motorcycle’s storage capacity by installing saddlebags, sissy bar bags, tour packs, and handlebar bags.

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