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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shaving My Legs - Part 1

I've been running my Sportster without a front fender for a while and decided to completely remove the option by finally shaving my front fork legs.

To all of you who have done this task rather easily with a lathe... you suck and I'm really jealous.  On Monday, I embarked on this daunting (and exhausting) task with a cutoff wheel, drill, and a hand file.

For those who have never heard the term "shaving your legs", these are the fender mounts on the front forks I'm talking about.  They will be "shaved" off the fork legs.

I put the Sporty on the jack to elevate the front tire and removed it.  I loosened all the bolts before raising it into the air.

Here's a clean shot of the fender mounts - four big hunks of aluminum.

On the left fork, you can see some nasty discoloration on the back side of it.  It won't come off (I've tried) so this process will eventually take care of that.  You can also see the two brake caliper mounts below.  I won't be touching those.

The patient is prepped and the cutting wheel is ready.

First rough cut.  One good thing about cutting aluminum is that it doesn't throw sparks.

Two tabs gone.

Four tabs gone.  The fork legs will turn 360 degrees making this task much easier.

I swapped the cutting wheel for a grinding wheel and this was the first pass.

After a little more grinding and a lot of hand filing, you can still see a slight bulge.  It reminds me of a kneecap.

A lot more filing and a sanding pad later, and the right fork was done.  Silky smooth!  I was pleasantly surprised how straight you can get it with a hand file.  It just takes forever and is exhausting.  When you think you're almost done, you're not.  Keep filing, sanding, and repeat.

I got through the grinding on the left fork but ran out of time before I could finish so it will have to wait. This is not a job you want to rush as it has a lot of potential to look like crap if you don't do it right.

I will use the sanding pad to remove the clear coat from both forks and I am currently debating whether to polish them to a chrome-like finish or (more likely) paint them gloss black.  Hopefully I can finish this job next weekend.

[UPDATE: Click here for Part 2]

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