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Old June 28th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #1
shortstuff
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DIY- Replace fork seals, dust seals and fork oil

Requisite tools:
  • Bike/car jack and rear stand
  • Set of allen wrenches (the good kind, but one in your tool kit will be handy)
  • Set of sockets up to 22mm
  • Phillips screwdrivers of varying sizes
  • 1 1/2" PVC pipe, at least 2 1/2 feet long
  • Hammer or mallet to bop said PVC
  • Bench vice
  • A liter of 5w fork oil
  • Oil pan
  • Steel wool
  • Something to measure 12.2 oz of fork oil (360 mL) and a funnel
  • Set of new oil seals and new dust seals (OEM $51)
  • Towels and rags to keept things clean
  • At least a couple of hours and the Service Manual

EDIT: From a later post in this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by CThunder-blue View Post
Going to replace the seals soon. Just wanted to provide some clarification:

The 08-09 factory service manual calls for "SHOWA SS08 or equivalent SAE 10W." The original post should be amended to include this info @Alex so people don't rush out and buy 5W.

First you need to take off the side cowels, the lower fairings, the radiator fairing, and the front fender. Great reference for fairing removal. Note how the rubber piece in the photo has deteriorated-- this is like a bumper for the threads, and if they're as crappy as mine are (and my bike is only a year old) then you may want to replace them, or be wary if they tear in the removal process. You need them to put the fairing back on.


Once you've got the fairings off, you need to get the front wheel off the ground. You do not need any special stands to do this. As you can see, I need to order spools and a rear stand, but made do with some bolts and jacks. We placed a car jack underneath the center of the engine, and if its sqaure, the bike should be very stable when lifted.


Bend the metal that's holding the brake line and pull off the brake caliper, but make sure to bunjee or tie it to the bike so the hose is relaxed and not bearing weight (as you can see with the red bunjee in the picture below). Remove the speedo cable (pliars do the trick) and the bolts holding the black piece thats underneath the fender. Using a 22mm socket wrench on one side, and a 17mm on the other, twist the axel nuts loose and remove the front wheel.

Now you need to get the forks off! Unscrew the four bolts holding down the handlebars, and drape the clip-ons over the side. You'll see black plugs in each fork tube. Removing these is significantly easier with a second set of hands: One person needs to push down on the plug with a large screwdriver while the other person uses pliars or a small flathead to remove the metal clip. Once these are out, you need to loosen up the two clamps holding the fork (picture) and then gently slide the fork down and out.


Keep the fork vertical until you're ready to pour out the oil. Pull out the spring and washer from the tube, and then flip it over and let it drain. Pump it a few times to get out the oil.


Next, put the cylinder in the bench vice and use the allen wrench from the tool set to loosen the bolt that is at the bottom of the lower cylinder. This did not require a lot of torque to loosen, and there will be a little oil left. Check the bolt and washer for wear and tear, and replace these if necessary.


Now remove the dust seal. Gently prying it up and out with a box blade should do the trick.



Then use a small flathead to pry off the metal clip that is underneath the dust seal. Don't lose this!


To separate the cylinder simple yank the two pieces apart a few times. Not too wimpy, but don't lose your grip either. The inner cylinder will pop right out.



Here's what you'll be looking at once you pull everything apart:

Inside the lower cylinder is a pin with a small spring and a silver tapered cap. These will fall out once you pull the fork apart. Clean and dry everything, and pull off the old oil seals (pictured below). Inspect the copper bushing and washer for any dings/chips or damages.


Use the steel wool to gently rub out any imperfections on the tubes and bushings. This is the time to make sure everything is smooth and clean. You don't have to take off the bushing and washer unless you want to.


Now it's time to put the fork back together. Put the pin with the tiny spring through the fork tube and screw on the silver cap with the tapered end towards the top of the fork. Then place this back into the lower (black)cylinder. Put service-removable locktite on the bolt that goes into the bottom cylinder, and screw it in by hand to make sure everything lines up.


Put the fork back in the vice and torque the bolt snug.

Slide the copper bushing down the fork into the lower cylinder, followed by the washer. Use the PVC pipe and a few good hits to knock these about a 1/2 inch down into the lower cylinder. They sink to a certain point-- you don't want to hammer them out the other end. Now slide the new oil seal down the fork (a little oil on the inside lip helps) and slide the old oil seal down on top of it. As photo'd, you will knock the PVC pipe on the old seal, and when you're done the old seal will sit flush with the lower cylinder. Gently pry it back out with a box blade and discard.

Next slide down the metal clip, and finally the new dust seal. Take the fork and slide it back up through the two clamps so that it sits 12mm above the surface of the triple tree. Make sure to measure the two forks the same way so that they're even (second set of hands is helpful here)

Snug the clamps once your forks are at the appropriate height. Measure again to make sure they're even. Put the long spring back into the tube, then the washer, then the collar.


The exact amount of oil is 12.2oz, so we measured 12oz on the slightly generous side. The important thing is that there is the exact same amount of oil in each fork. Because you pulled out everything, and dried everything, you can refill by volume. If you're just changing the oil and do not disassmble the forks, you would measure the distance of air between the top of the fork and the oil level.


Use the funnel to slowly pour in the fork oil. If any of it overflows, you'll have to do it all over again, and that's just no fun.


Putting the black caps back on the forks is easier than taking them off, simply push down with the screwdriver and put the clip back in. Re-assembly is self-explanatory, and I would highly reccommend keeping your bolts organized (another DIY thread)

I hope this makes things easier for anyone else willing to get their hands dirty!

(2 pdf's attached, second one might print better; the content should be the same between the two)
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Old June 28th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #2
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nice job on the diy - were yours leaking or were you just putting in heavier weight oil
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Old June 28th, 2009, 06:08 PM   #3
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My right fork seal was leaking. I was very frustrated because the bike has a less than 1600 miles on it, but once we pulled everything apart we found a pretty decent-sized chip of metal on the copper bushing and a scratch on the inside of the lower cylinder about 6-8mm long (circled in the photo) which was likely causing the leak.


I smoothed out the chip and the scratch, and hopefully that will do the trick. Otherwise I know which parts I'll need to replace. I bought the bike with 800 miles on it, and I don't know if the kid tried wheelies on it, or if it was just poor workmanship on Kawasaki's part. Or maybe just really bad luck? Who knows
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Old June 28th, 2009, 06:13 PM   #4
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thanks for the DIY
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Old June 28th, 2009, 06:46 PM   #5
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Nice job! Will add it to the list right now...
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Old June 28th, 2009, 07:40 PM   #6
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Great job, Stacey!!

Who's the mechanic?
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Old June 28th, 2009, 07:45 PM   #7
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First off I'd like to say thank you for doing such a great DIY. I was thinking about getting my front forks powdercoated and now if I decide to do this I know how to take them off. Noob question time. Changing the fork oil to something heavier would make the front suspension less prone to diving under breaking(Without changing the springs) correct? I know this isn't what you were trying to accomplish but just wondering.
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Old June 28th, 2009, 07:46 PM   #8
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Old June 28th, 2009, 07:47 PM   #9
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heavier oil, more oil or stiffer springs will stiffen up the front end.
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Old June 28th, 2009, 08:04 PM   #10
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Thanks Kelly...heavier oil seems like the cheapest way to go. When I get back home ill check my manual and see what we have in there stock and figure out a more appropriate weight for what I want...has anyone changed their oil out to something heavier for this reason?
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Old June 28th, 2009, 10:28 PM   #11
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Actually, Matt... putting a bit more oil in there would be the easiest. Pop the cap, pour in about an ounce of suitable oil and see how you like it. If that doesn't help, then consider going to a heavier oil.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 04:36 AM   #12
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Great job Stacey! Thanks, now I know that I don't need the front stand I was thinking about.
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Old June 29th, 2009, 08:47 AM   #13
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Awesome write up, good deal!
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Old June 29th, 2009, 08:59 AM   #14
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Great job!
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Old July 1st, 2009, 05:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M-Oorb View Post
Thanks Kelly...heavier oil seems like the cheapest way to go. When I get back home ill check my manual and see what we have in there stock and figure out a more appropriate weight for what I want...has anyone changed their oil out to something heavier for this reason?
When I was talking to a friend of mine in the shop, he said that heavier oil is appropriate if you're a heavier person. If I was 100lbs bigger, I'd probably have put in 7w as opposed to 5w. I've heard that adding a little bit more can make all the difference though. Just make sure it's the same on each side!
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Old August 13th, 2009, 04:06 AM   #16
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Cheers for the writeup! Got my forks in pieces ATM because I bent the tubes in a lowside, this will give me a bit more of an idea how to get them back togethor! But I dont have new seals I can just hit the pipe onto just the one seals, yeah?
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Old August 13th, 2009, 04:59 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortstuff View Post
When I was talking to a friend of mine in the shop, he said that heavier oil is appropriate if you're a heavier person. If I was 100lbs bigger, I'd probably have put in 7w as opposed to 5w. I've heard that adding a little bit more can make all the difference though. Just make sure it's the same on each side!
I have heard of people putting in 10w or 15w for this purpose
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Old August 14th, 2009, 10:58 AM   #18
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FYI - It is easier assemble the forks out of the triples.

After they are completely assembled, then stab 'em into the triples.
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Old September 28th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #19
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This probably will sound like a stupid question, but, how do you know if you need to replace the fork seals? How often is this done?
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Old September 28th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #20
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it'll leak and you'll see oil going down your fork, tires and such.
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Old October 4th, 2009, 09:12 PM   #21
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How much are the replacement seals and such? Where did you buy them?

OK, I just re-read and saw the "OEM, $51" part... I'm assuming that you got them from a dealer. Anyway, I'd like to go ahead and add stiffer springs and heavier fork oil while I'm at it, especially if it's going to cost me another $51 if I have to take it apart again. Where should I look?
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Old October 6th, 2009, 11:06 AM   #22
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Get the seals from the dealer. They are the same #'s as the ones from K&L, K&S but they don't leak. I used 3 different K&S and/or K&L seals and they all leaked within 20 minutes at the track. I think because the only bike that used them was from the 80's, so they were probably old. The OEM ones worked fine.

This was on the new gen forks. The older gen seals from those Co's work fine.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 12:23 PM   #23
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Old January 21st, 2010, 10:15 AM   #24
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Has anyone rebuild the forks in an attempt to stop a wobble in the front tire? I've heard that this may be a problem with the 250s. I'm not sure how much effort I should put into fixing this challenge. If I let go of the handle bars, the front end wants to wobble.The tire appears to be in good condition. I am going to check the alignment of the rear wheel, to make sure it is not contributing to the issue.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 09:28 PM   #25
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For front end wobble info, check out:

http://www.ninjette.org/wiki/Front_End_Wobbles

and

http://www.ninjette.org/forums/showthread.php?t=13288
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Old February 17th, 2010, 03:46 PM   #26
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The irony of this thread is that after going through all the work to replace the seals, my fork started leaking again a few months later. For now I'm just wiping up the residual oil, but at some point I have to get a whole new fork tube. fml.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 04:12 PM   #27
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Why would you need a new tube?
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Old February 17th, 2010, 04:16 PM   #28
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Oh, maybe it is because you used steel wool. You should use 400 -600 sand paper. Wrap your hand around the tube w/ sandpaper in between and spin tube back and forth throughout the whole tube. To get a cross-hatch pattern. This will usually get rid of those up/down scores from debris. That might be what has caused a leak so soon. Steel wool won't work good enough. And yes, you have to remove the bushings. Easy though.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 07:54 PM   #29
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I don't think it was the steel wool. When I pulled apart the leaking fork I found the smallest of scratches in the inner tube where the bushing sits. I rubbed it out and hoped that would suffice, but it seems to be enough of a defect that I'm going to need to replace the part. It started leaking about two weeks after the 1-year warranty had expired
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Old March 7th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #30
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OK, I'm guessing "Set of new oil seals and new dust seals" translates to "set of new fork seals and wiper seals," correct? I ask because CheapCycleParts has "Leak Proof Fork Seals" for $20.66 and "Leak Proof Wiper Seals" for $16.16, both supposedly for our bike. They also have "Leak Proof Pro Moly Fork Seals" for $25.16 (sold in a set with the wiper seals for $33.26). I'm guessing the "Pro Moly" ones are some kind of "deluxe" or "premium" seal compared to the $20.66 set. Moly is a kind of grease, so is one greased and one not? Hmm.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 10:59 AM   #31
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Never use Leak Proof seals. They leak.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 02:18 PM   #32
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Always use Leak For Sure seals..They don't leak.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 06:54 PM   #33
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Always use Leak For Sure seals..They don't leak.
WHO CAN I THROW MONEY AT FOR A SET OF 'EM?!
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Old May 25th, 2010, 11:55 AM   #34
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Hello I have a 2008 ninja with 1400 miles on it with this same problem, except its on the left fork. Does anyone know if Bike Bandit is a reputable OEM parts distributor for these bikes? Here is the link.
What parts are the most likely to go bad? I'm assuming I just need to order the Spacer(92026), Copper Bushing(44065A) and Seal(92049)?
Do I need to replace the inner(44065A) or outter(44065) bushing?
Thanks for any help guys.

I'm kind of disappointed in the supposedly legendary quality of these Japanese bikes. Seems really soon to have such a major defect
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Old May 25th, 2010, 12:14 PM   #35
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You only need to replace the oil seals unless you have been riding w/ bent forks.
Any OEM dealer or OEM parts supplier (R&T Suspension) will work. Just make sure these are OEM.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 09:36 PM   #36
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how do i take the fork apart (inner cylinder i think)? i tried pulling it apart but its not working. I tried it with someone pulling the bottom part and I tried pulling the other part but I cant get them to seperate with a lot of force. Also... I tried loosening the allen bolt on the bottle of the fork, I had to use A LOT of force.. So much force that I had to use pliers on the allen wrench to loosen it... After I loosened it, i cant get the bolt to come out.. It just keeps turning/loosening but its not coming out.

Please help
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Old June 14th, 2011, 07:45 AM   #37
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Quote:
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how do i take the fork apart (inner cylinder i think)? i tried pulling it apart but its not working. I tried it with someone pulling the bottom part and I tried pulling the other part but I cant get them to seperate with a lot of force. Also... I tried loosening the allen bolt on the bottle of the fork, I had to use A LOT of force.. So much force that I had to use pliers on the allen wrench to loosen it... After I loosened it, i cant get the bolt to come out.. It just keeps turning/loosening but its not coming out.

Please help
Raymond, what I did to remove that bolt was to gently slide down the longest Craftsman pry bar I had. It was just long enough that I could push against the inside of the tube to keep everything from spinning. If you've gotten the retaining clips already removed and haven't pulled the bolt out yet, this should be your last step. I'm in Union City and if you still need help, you can bring it by some evening and I can help you.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 04:08 PM   #38
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Join Date: May 2011

Motorcycle(s): Kawasaki Ninja 250R 2008 White

Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by CThunder-blue View Post
Raymond, what I did to remove that bolt was to gently slide down the longest Craftsman pry bar I had. It was just long enough that I could push against the inside of the tube to keep everything from spinning. If you've gotten the retaining clips already removed and haven't pulled the bolt out yet, this should be your last step. I'm in Union City and if you still need help, you can bring it by some evening and I can help you.
Thanks for replying and thanks for offering ur help. I just got it apart this morning. I had to put the springs and stuff back together and apply a little pressure on the forks to loosen it. I'll let you know if I need help with anything. Thanks again
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Old June 15th, 2011, 06:30 PM   #39
GeorgiaHooligan
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Name: Aaron
Location: Gone riding.
Join Date: Mar 2010

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SWEET JOB STACEY! my front forks are getting soft and Im at 20k miles on the odometer so its over due for fresh oil. This will help me save alot of cash, thanks bro.
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Old June 15th, 2011, 10:25 PM   #40
lilyanx217
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Name: Raymond
Location: San Francisco
Join Date: May 2011

Motorcycle(s): Kawasaki Ninja 250R 2008 White

Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgiaHooligan View Post
SWEET JOB STACEY! my front forks are getting soft and Im at 20k miles on the odometer so its over due for fresh oil. This will help me save alot of cash, thanks bro.
Just to let you know... If you are having trouble getting the allen screw/bolt out from the bottom of the forks even though you loosened it, you have to put the spring back in and apply pressure to it while you loosen it. Thats how I got it out. It took me about 3-5 hours just trying to figure it out but I didnt have time to finish it. Just when i was about to bring in the forks to the shop for them to disassemble it for me, the guy told me that I needed to put everything back together even with the oil to take the allen bolt off. So i tried that WITHOUT the oil and it worked.

Just wanted to let you know so you can save A LOT of time. And you need to take the allen bolt off before you try to yank apart the bottom part and the top part (black part and silver part.... i think its inner forks? i dont know whats it called)

If you don't take out the allen bolt, you can't take it out even with 2 people.... I tried...
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