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put a couple drops of oil on the stanchion tubes of the shock forks where they seals connect with the sliders and see if that helps. It is possible that inside the fork it has dried out and the spring needs some grease where it seats inside of the fork.
Hello and thanks for the question,
Your 1982 GL1100 has air assist type of suspension. It has springs in the front as well as the air pressure. This is a heavy bike and the front forks are marginal at best. I have had great results from installing progressive suspension springs and moving up to a heavier fork oil (20wt ) to keep the bike from diving so far during braking.
You should look at having the forks rebuilt with these parts and you will find that the bike handles much better than before.
The springs that are in the bike are old now and should be updated with new style parts.
A "hardtail" is a mountain bike that has a front suspension fork (like the one on the right) and no shock absorber in the back. Good hardtails are light, fast and responsive, and because of this they are good for climbing. Even the cheapest mountain bikes these days tend to have suspension forks. That's not necessarily a good thing, since most of the forks on cheap bikes are of poor quality and will probably need replacing before too long. The cheapest forks also tend to be sold only on new bikes, and not separately. Find out the make and model of the fork, and search around on the web for it. The price will give you an indication of the fork quality. Most decent bikes are sold with Rock Shox, Manitou, or Marzocchi. Marzocchi has been making forks longer than anyone and has probably the best reputation, but they tend to be expensive so you won't find them on anything but expensive bikes. Rock Shox and Manitou make lower-end (but reasonably good) forks. Other reputable brands such as Fox and Suntour make forks that may very well provide a good service life, but are not as well known for mountain bike forks. Replacement forks can be found at very low prices during sales and clearance events, so they can be upgraded later (sometimes at a bargain price). A "full suspension" bike has the front suspension fork and a rear suspension (like the bike on the right). These are highly recommended if you ride in a lot of rocks, as the rear suspension allows you to glide over rough terrain. They're also good for big jumps. The rear shock adds some complexity to the bike, and a good bit more weight at any give price point, plus there'll be a bit more maintenance. Plus, you'll pay a few hundred dollars more than a hardtail for a bike of otherwise equal components. Depending on your terrain, it might be worth it; riding a hardtail in big rocks can be brutal.
You can use the same lubricants as long as they match the specifications for your Mountain bike fork. Each manufacture of fork will provide a list of recommended weights and types for the specific fork model.
In general the mountain bike will use a much lighter weight lubricant and the heat resisitance needs are far less. So in general the Motorbike suspension fluids will be too heavy.
The Fork that is pictured in the bike represented will not work well with Motorbike oils but if you have a different fork it might.
I hate to tell you this, but the forks on the bike you have do not have any adjustment available. Forks with Adjustments and the ability to disassemble to be able to "tune" the ride start in around $250- for the fork. As you ride, the mechanism inside your fork should break-in and give you more shock absorbtion and become easier to engage.
Other than replacement, there is no direct solution for your fork.
It sounds like your forks need servicing by a professional. Your instincts were right, they should be about equal length, so something BAD has happened to one of the forks. I would recommend going to a sport bike speed shop that specializes in suspension work to have this fixed since the guys at HD barely know how to change the spark plugs on a Buell in most cases.
A good shop can not only repair the damage, but help you to set the suspension exactly right for you (the Buell manual is just a ballpark setting) by checking the sag in the suspension, and they can even upgrrade your forks and shocks for you.
Arguably the best in the business is Max at traxxion dynamics. They have drop in cartridges that allow the showa forks to come close to the Ohlins used by the pros. Not that the showas are bad, In fact Buell always put decent factory suspension on their bikes, which is why it's repairable, instead of needing to replace it.
Put the bike on a stand and grasp the forks at the bottom and push in / out to see if there is any play also check pads in the caliper and brake hose knocking against fork leg etc. if you dont have a stand (or a milk crate) you can sometimes feel play by rocking the bike back and forwards with the front brake applied. Other things to check are that the front tyre pressure isnt too hard .. and I would suggest you bleed the air out of the forks via the top philips screw ,