Gaiters or not?

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Apr 2, 2008
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I'm getting ready to rebuild my forks. I see that a lot of people go to gaiters and that apparently gaiters were stock on European bikes. I have always preferred the non-gaiter look but if it is overwhelmingly beneficial to use them, I would change that preference. What do you guys think on this?
I'm European and I don't like them ! They do protect the stanchions from stone chips but they also hide a multitude of sins.

There is a small breather hole normally at the rear (if there wasn't then the bellows would inflate !)

My experience is that fine grit and salty moisture are inevitably sucked in through the hole and of course once there, can't dry out and the resultant corrosion is not seen until it's too late.

I suspect that they came into fashion as a lightweight alternative to the tin shrouds at a time when stanchions were generally unchromed.

They can be handy for disguising an epoxy repair to pitted stanchions but that's about it in my opinion.

Wouldn't it be nice though if Commandos had proper rubber dust caps instead of those hard plastic things ?
I have them on mine and like them, both in form (looks) and function.

I have them on an airhead BMW too, and FWIW, it's the received wisdom among airheads that if you DON'T have them, you'll have to replace fork seals every couple/few years.
I have Commandos with full gaiters and the "wipers". The original wipers are difficult to put on, but soaking them in hot water makes them flexible enough to work with, or judicious use of a heat gun helps remove them. The full gaiters are easier to remove and replace.

I don't see any real advantage to one over the other, just aesthetics. As 79X100 points out they can hide worn or pitted tubes, but if you don't get proper sealing, it will soon leak out of these gaiters also, so it is only partially successful in this function.

The EMGO version of the short "wipers" are now made in rubber, but they seem to flex too much and don't stay put. The cheap Taiwan version of the bellows type tear easily and seem to rot rapidly when exposed to UV (sunshine).
We have bikes here in Michigan that have gone 15 years on one set of "Leak Proof"seals and full size Gators. They are still going no leaks, try that with your bug gut scrapers. Bug guts cut seals so if you have them on your head light you have them in your seals. So it depends on where you live a lot of lakes means a lot of bugs.
If you want to try a pretty good alternative to the standard wiper boot over the fork seal, the original Honda CB750 one fits straight on the Norton leg and firm on the stanchion. Its a good product, visually similar to the more elongated OEM which is more rubbery and prone to disconnecting off the leg. (glued that sucker back on)

Gaiters and leak proof seals. Couple of air holes cut in the gaiters so they don't blow up. Undamaged forks and no pitting. 50,000 plus since 1981. Same gaiters , same seals.
Mounted the gaiters with the seals when I bought the third pair of legs and got sick of paying for them.

"Don't leave home without em"
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