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Old June 2nd, 2014, 08:21 AM   #1
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The Andreani Install: How it went.

Well folks, on Saturday I installed the Andreani fork cartridge kit obtained from FastBike Industries. I would like to have taken video of the install and more pics, but it didn't work out that way. I'm gonna come back and add the pics I did take later. The instructions that came with the kit were not all that helpful, and the pics used on the instruction sheet didnít seem to totally match what I was working with. Some details of the process were not included in the instructions at all. Some of what David from FastBike said when I went over the process with him on the phone was helpful. Other bits of info were missing or not entirely applicable to the task at hand.

It went like this:
1. Put the bike on the center stand. Put blocks under the engine to hold front end off the ground. I texted a buddy of mine who came over to help me. Meanwhile I started taking stuff off. Front fender, brake calipers, abs sensor, etc. Loosened top caps while legs are still tightly installed in triple clamps. Makes it easier to undo them. You need a 35mm wrench. Undo the cap Ė it doesnít fly off. Barely any pressure on it from below. Pour out the fork oil. Drain it for a bit.

2. took left fork leg out first because it's the harder one to do, in order to see what needs doing to separate the black axle clamp holder from the lower leg stanchion. There's a set screw up on the inner aspect of the fork bottom against the threads where the stanchion is screwed into the fork bottom/axle clamp.

I was told "Drill it out". You don't need to. My buddy is a former machinist. He came up with the next step.


3. Find a torx screwdriver bit (whatever number fits best, I donít know off hand what number bit I used but I set it aside and can look later). I had an inexpensive screwdriver/bit set that had a whole bunch of different bits, found the torx one that fit best and hammered it in. The screw used to be a Phillips head but they peened it. The torx screw bit grabs it nicely when you hammer it in. I put a 1/4 socket and ratchet on the bit and the set screw came right out, no drilling required.

4. Then we made a tool to grab the stanchion so we could turn it, since the tool for the job costs $137. We used a block of wood (Oak, Pine was too soft), a hole saw to make a hole the size of the fork tube in it, then cut the block in half and took a slice off one side of the oak "clamp" to make sure it would be able to make the opening small enough to be snug enough. The fork tube was wrapped in a bit of grippy rubber I cut out of a rubber glove. Then holes were drilled through one side of the block for screws to be used to tighten the other side of the block to draw the oak block clamp tight. It worked.



5. I used a heat gun to heat the fork bottom, and then we used the oak clamp block and a strap wrench around it to turn the stanchion and unscrew it from the axle clamp/fork bottom. You have to heat the axle clam/fork bottom or itís not coming out. We tried it cold. It wasnít budging. Heat expands the metal and melts the loctite.


6. Once the stanchion tube is unscrewed from the axle clamp/fork bottom youíll be able to see that there are things that need to come out but wonít without a bit of work. Thereís a nut in the works at the bottom of whatís in the tube, and a nut at the top near the fork leg cap. All of those things need to come apart from one another so you can get them out. After you have fun with that for a while you are rewarded with some pretty cheap looking useless internals sitting on your workbench.

7. The instructions say to take out the washer and o-ring that are in the fork bottom/axle clamp and replace it with the threaded plug that comes on the Andreani cartridge, then put the o-ring back in. The point of the threaded plug is that thereís no hole in the axle clamp/fork bottom that you can thread a bolt through, like there is on the right fork leg. I took out the washer thatís down in there using a dental pick type tool, but it looked nothing like the one in the picture. The washer that was there was thin, probably meant to just sit between the fork bottom and the lower edge of the stanchion tube. We looked at what the instructions said (put the plug in, then thread the stanchion back in over it so that you can later screw the Andreani cartridge on it). That didnít seem right. We determined that if we were to follow the instructions, itíd be tough to make sure youíve properly threaded the cartridge onto the plug youíve left in the fork bottom. So we threaded the plug onto the bottom of the cartridge, and set out to install the cartridge and its plug into the axle clamp/fork bottom. Thatís when the next step, not included in the instructions or discussion with FB Ind, became apparent.


8. The top of the stanchion has a spring keeper in it with four slots. This was not in the instructions, at least not clearly. David at FBInd didnít recall it when I called him. So we heated it and banged on it with a dowel. Itís not pressed in. We put two screw drivers blade side up in a vice, stuck the slots over the screw driver blades, put the oak block clamp back on, and unscrewed the spring keeper from the top of the stanchion.

9. At this point we were able to put the Andreani cartridge with bottom plug on it into the stanchion from the bottom, and make certain that the Andreani plugís o-ring sealed against the inner aspect of the stanchion tube, then we cleaned the threads with little wire brush on a dremel, because if not weíd have shards of metal in the threads to make a mess of things. put a bit of blue loctite on the threads and screwed the stanchion back in to the axle clamp/fork bottom. Man Iím tired of typing that.

10. After we were sure all was assembled at the AC/FB my buddy had to go do something else and I set out to finish the left leg. The instructions didnít say what the air chamber should be, but there was a sticker in the packaging that said it needed to be 115mm, or 4.52 inches. So I made myself a gauge.

11. The instructions and also some web forum postings about this job say that you need to keep the springs out when doing this step, so I did. Iím not sure if the spacers were supposed to be in there, but they were. My thought was if the spacers are still in there but arenít supposed to be when youíre filling it, you wind up with less fluid... not so terrible. But if the spacers were supposed to be in there and you create the 115mm air chamber without them in there, when you do put them in then you have too much fluid, not so good. I filled it with Ohlins fork oil with the spacers in, springs out, and leg compressed (upper fork leg all the way down on the stanchion). I measured the 115mm from the top of the lower stanchion, and filled the lower stanchion a little at a time. Between pours Iíd pump the center rod up and down slowly until I could hear no more gurgling or air in the hydraulics and the fluid would come out of the top of the rod in a steady stream. Go slow... or youíll have fluid flying everywhere. Once I was satisfied that the level was good, I set out to close up the left fork leg.

12. Put the spring over the rod, the disc, the spacers and jam nut and then I was ready to put the top cap on. According to the instructions, you have to back the hydraulic (Rebound for left leg, Compression for right) adjustment screw all the way out and then four turns in/clockwise. So I did that, and then slid the damping needle down the center of the rod and screwed the top cap onto the rod until it bottomed. Tightened the jam nut up against the bottom of the top cap, and then slid the upper fork leg up over the works to meet the top cap, which then screws in rather easily.

13. Ate lunch. Took a few minutes to look over the stupid instructions for the right leg, which is supposed to be the ďeasierĒ one.

14. By this time my buddy came back. With the right legís top cap off, and leg removed from triple tree, drained the leg. The right leg has a fork cartridge in it, with 8mm allen head bolt holding it in. Using a ratchet and 8mm hex key bit doesnít work. The works just spin and spin and thereís nothing to grab to hold the innards still. Again, the instructions prove inadequate. A quick shot with the impact gun while holding the nut at the top of the damping rod took the allen bolt out with no problem.

15. Once the innards were out, it was time to replace the factory cartridge with the Andreani cartridge. Gee... why wonít the factory allen bolt screw in. Hmm. Letís see. Perhaps itís because the Andreani cartridge is tapped with a different M10 thread pitch than the stock bolt. The stock bolt is fine pitch, and the Andreani takes a coarse pitch. Great. Off to ACE hardware to get the right bolt, which thankfully they had in their selection of metric socket head bolts. Iíve seen a mention of this on other forums where people have tackled this upgrade project only to find thereís no supplied bolt, and theyíve contacted a rep in Italy who would mail them the right bolt, and apologize for someone using the wrong tap in the manufacturing process. Some said run the right pitch tap through the threads of the cartridge. I say ďnay nayĒ. A trip to ACE for a $1.10 bolt was what it took.

16. Repeated the procedure for filling with fork oil, turning the damping needle rod all the way out, then in four turns, then installing the top cap on, put the leg back on the bike, reassembled it all, double checked it was all snug, and took the bike off the center stand.

17. STIFF. Not me, the bike. Took it for a ride around the block. Way too much of everything. Barely compressible, and rebound took forever. Nice to be rid of brake dive though. Backed off preload, backed off rebound and compression by one turn. Took 300 mile ride. Formulated riding impression.

Impression 1: Boy is that rear shock crappy. Cranked the preload up on it to try to get it more in line with the front. I have yet to do sag/sack, etc. But will. For now I eyeballed and used the seat of my pants. During the ride I noticed the front end was not as compliant over the crappy roadways as Iíd hoped it would be, however turning was much improved. The tendency for bumps to cause the bike to deviate from the desired line through a curve was all but gone. Only really big bumps disrupted the line. That was a welcome improvement. Handling was much better as a result. Smooth roads were smoother. Rough roads were a little less rough, but toward the end of the ride it started to feel pretty harsh when hitting a series of bumps in a row that were typical of what I find as I head away from upstate NY and down to NY Metro areas. I knew more tweaking needed to be done.

Impression 2: Still didnít really set sack, sag, etc. but backed off the rebound and compression by another half a turn. Backed the rear shock off rebound too. Probably gonna put that back. But whoa! What a difference half a turn made. I was spoiled by the WP suspension on my KTM Duke since it was so calm and composed over crappy road conditions. Nothing unsettled that bike. The half turns I backed off the hydraulic damping settings this morning brought the bike really close in compliance to what the Duke would do. It soaked up stuff that used to have me pretty upset on this same commute. So I am pleased so far. It wasnít a cheap upgrade, though cheaper than some other options I was looking at. I was concerned that I wouldnít get what I wanted from it but now I think with some more setup time into it, itíll be great.


Last edited by NurseDaddy; June 2nd, 2014 at 03:37 PM.
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Old June 2nd, 2014, 08:48 AM   #2
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That was comprehensive......and informative. Thanks!
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Old June 2nd, 2014, 05:02 PM   #3
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That was comprehensive......and informative. Thanks!

Well, I'm hoping this effort will inspire others to try this upgrade. I wanted to show that with a little time, patience, and ingenuity it's possible to do this job at home.

I really need to figure out how to best set it up. I wrote to David at FastBike to see if I did the fork fluid measurement correctly - with the lower spacers on the damping rod. So I asked if they should have been off. If they should have been off I'll need to open the forks up and adjust the levels.

I feels good now, but I want to make sure it's right.
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 04:27 AM   #4
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One question: approximately how many beers was this job worth? :-)

Good writeup, can't wait to see pics!
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 05:11 AM   #5
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One question: approximately how many beers was this job worth? :-)

Good writeup, can't wait to see pics!

I would say this job would be the equivalent of a six pack of fine brew if enjoyed at a relaxed pace - so long as there is no intent to test ride afterwards.

That being said, I will likely be treating my buddy to some chicken wings and beer at Hooters this coming Saturday.

I added some pics of certain parts to look out for, did they not show up in the posting?
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 05:43 AM   #6
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I'd need a lot more pictures to attempt on my own. Good on you for not drilling out the peened screw. Two other fork upgrade threads I read, they just drilled it out.
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 05:52 AM   #7
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I'd need a lot more pictures to attempt on my own. Good on you for not drilling out the peened screw. Two other fork upgrade threads I read, they just drilled it out.
I really had intended to take more pics, video even. Somehow it didn't work out that way. I did manage to snap the pics of those things that were important to the process because they presented hurdles that the instruction sheet didn't address. I think between what I've wrote, my pics, and the instruction sheet, the process would become clear as the work unfolds. If I can avoid drilling or grinding on anything that'll keep me from reversing the upgrade, I will. "There's no going back now" was never said during this procedure.

If anyone else wants to do this upgrade by taking a ride to Long Island, I'll be happy to assist in the work that would surely go much faster than it did as my buddy and I worked through it. Then we can take step by step pics.

Wanna ride up from Florida?
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 05:56 AM   #8
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Ha! With these gas prices...

The machinist buddy was pretty clutch. The wood chock method was very ingenuitive. And didn't scratch the oleo's, either.
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 06:42 AM   #9
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Ha! With these gas prices...

The machinist buddy was pretty clutch. The wood chock method was very ingenuitive. And didn't scratch the oleo's, either.
Yeah, he's got really good technical skills. Grasps how stuff works very easily and can store it away for future use and recall whenever he needs it. I can generally fix anything using intuition, but when I'm stumped I call him. My nickname is MacGyver, but sometimes Rube Goldberg is more like it. No way I was spending $137 on a tool I would need once. So I went with the block of Oak and other stuff I had on hand.
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 11:48 AM   #10
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Curious- did you price labor to have them installed by a shop?
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