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Lowering the Leading Link Front Fender

I have never liked the looks of the moto-cross style fender on the front of the tourist. Since I had declared that my tourist was primarily a road machine and would only occasionally see off road duty I lowered the front fender. A brief study of a pre-70 BMW earls fork showed me how. The BMW leading link attached the fender at 6 points but I was only able to figure out four attachment points. This has been adequate to date (over 1 year and over 5K>Km at this writing). I thought that perhaps I was the first to have done this to a Ural but shortly after completing the project I saw some old pics from Preston and there was a bike way over in the corner with a similar mod.

(CAUTION: This process requires welding on the frame of your motorcycle. Unless this is done properly it can result in weakening the frame and potential disastrous results. It may void your warranty, cause acne or result in birth defects. While I have noted no adverse effects on me, outside observers say differently. I had a professional motorcycle frame builder weld my parts as I do NOT want Bubba, whose welds look like sea gull droppings, to weld on my motorcycle frame. (Since the original writing of this I have taken a year of welding instruction at the local tech college and would feel comfortable with the little bit of welding in this project.) I do not recommend this project and further advise you not to try it. This is provided solely to see how one mad man has proven that the enemy of “good” is “better”.)

Materials list: (onlinesteel.com sells small quantities to hobbyists but any decent fab shop should sell a few small bits)

3’ of 3/8” T-316 SS rod ($6.00)
(product code 38SSRB-T-316)

5” of ½” OD X.065 wall thickness T-316 SS tubing ($5.50)
(product code, 12.065SSRT-316, you must buy 1’ min)

2 SS Dead End Bails ($4.99 ea)
West Marine model number 331611

6” of 1” angle steel

4” of 1” flat steel

1 front fender - Deco/BC - $74.00
(Note I tried 2 different generic jap fender from the local MC salvage yard ($5.00 ea) but the mounting points in my design were close enough together that it turned out to be too flexible so I bit the bullet and bought the stouter Russian fender

To remove the fender on a leading link front end you must disassemble the headset. Service and reassemble the headset IAW the manual. (Note: BMW /2 tapered roller bearings are a much better bearing and will fit without any modifications although they are ~$70) Now wash off the grease from your hands and lets get to the fun stuff.

Part A (2 pieces) Cut two 1.5” pieces of the angle steel and round off one end. These mounting tabs will be welded near the axle. Drill a 5/16 hole in the center of the rounded end of the mounting tab.

Part B (2 pieces) Cut the flat stock into two 2” pieces. These are also welded near the axle for reinforcement. While studying the front fork pendulum (part no. 26-13) I didn't like the fact that the tubes through which the axle runs were simply butt-welded. The MC frame builder noted this too and so I had short braces welded on the tension side (underside).

Part C (2 pieces) Cut two 2.5” pieces of the tubing. The tubing has an ID of ~0.370 and we need it to be 0.375 so, with a 3/8 drill (or a lathe) ream the ID so the 3/8 rod fits into each piece. Ream only to a depth of 1”. A snug fit is best. Now with a large vise or a press, squash (aka press flat) a 1” segment at one end of both pieces. Insert a piece of the 3/8 bar into he open end before the smash so as to avoid distortion. Drill a 5/16 hole in the center of the squashed segment.

Part D (1 piece) Next we need to bend the round bar. The radius of each bend is 1.375” with a 3” straight segment between the bends. This results in a squarish horseshoe with 5.5” between the uprights (measured inside-to-inside). This is the correct dimensions for the Russian fender but may require correction for other fenders. If you have access to a heavy duty bender you are lucky. We heated our 3/8 bar and bent it over a piece of large diameter bar stock. (Scotch-brite pad in the grinder cleaned the SS nicely.)

Part E (1 piece) Next we need to fashion the mounting bracket for the rear part of the fender. A 1” piece of angle stock, ~3.5” long has a 1.5” segment cut out of the center of one wall leaving two 1” tabs. Bend or grind the uncut the uncut side to conform to the radius of the fork yoke. Drill a 5/16 hole in each tab. (In my application with the Russian fender I was able to use the existing holes in the fender and so used the fender as a template for the holes in the bracket.)

Now that all the parts are fab'd we proceed. With all 13 of your hands (and a couple of C-clamps) position everything and mark exact locations. Now repeat that step to ensure you have it right.

Weld the tabs (part A) on top of the front fork pendulum just behind the axle. Weld the reinforcement pieces (part B) on the bottom so that it bridges the welded butt joint. This is visible as a thickened area in the photo)

Weld the rear bracket (part E) to the underside of the front fork pendulum so that the tabs are forward.



Next determine the height you want your fender to stand off the tire. I selected one inch and stuck a roll or electrical tape between the tire and the fender. Cut the legs of your horseshoe bracket (part D) to the proper length. I did this is several small steps so as to avoid the, “I cut it three times and it’s still too short!” syndrome.

Slide the dead end bails onto the rod (part D) and the tube pieces onto each end. With string, duct tape or a patient assistant position the front fender where you want it. Pivot the horseshoe bracket (part D) fore and aft until you find the position you want. (My position seemed to give the sturdiest triangulation) Now slide the dead end bails on the bar until they are where you want them (I recommend as wide as possible) on the fender and drill the fender. Bolt everything lightly together and friction will hold things where they should be. Spot-weld the dead end bails to the bar and spot-weld the bar to the end tubes. Disassemble the horseshoe bracket and complete the welding. I ground and polished the welds for aesthetics. I reassembled and spot-welded the nuts to the inside of the fender for ease of future disassembly.


I recommend you fab the parts and clamp them into place. Take bike on trailer to welder and have parts tack welded in place. Then remove the front fork pendulum and the horseshoe bracket and have the welding finished. I disassembled it on the trailer in the parking lot of the facility. Not making them stand on their head to do the welding will reduce shop time and thusly save a few $$.

I used 10mm ss hardware except under the fender I used 10mm mild steel nuts that were ultimately welded to the fender.

The fender now rotates with the front fork pendulum and so appears as a pecking bird when going over bumps.


Steve Jackson

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