Being on the road requires you to constantly keep an eye on your bike. Bolts get loose, tire pressures drop, and parts get worn out.
Leaking Fork Oil
If you notice that your seals are leaking oil, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to be changed. Changing an oil seal requires the separation of the fork. During this process, there is the risk of damaging the bushings inside. The leaks might occur due to dirt stuck between the seal and the stanchion (inner tube). Therefore, one should avoid changing the seals straight away if it is unnecessary. Before jumping into conclusions, here’s a little trick I learned on the road.
Find a piece of plastic, ideally something with a thickness similar to a coca-cola bottle or a negative film strip. The plastic should not be too thick but must be strong enough to be able to get between the seal and the inner tube without collapsing.
Cut out the plastic in the shape of a hook (similar to the image below). Make sure you don’t leave any sharp edges that could damage the seal.
Remove the dust cover by carefully prying it off the outer tube. Clean any leaked oil and use the piece of plastic to reach underneath the oil seal. Slide it all the way round in a way that the “hook” shaped plastic pushes out any debris. Don’t panic, quite a bit of oil tends to come out during this process. Once you’re done with this, give the fork a good number of pumps, and ideally, even a short test ride, so that any excess oil comes out.
If you finish cleaning and testing and the fork is still leaking oil, repeat this whole process another time to make sure there is no trapped dirt left.