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DIY Motorcycle Tech: Servicing Your Brakes

June 19, 2012 | By More

Motorcycle Brakes Maintenance

Does your front brake lever touch or come close to your grip? Are your brakes a little mushy or just not quite what they used to be? If so, you may need to have them serviced. If your brakes seem okay, but the lever comes back too far, the information below may be of particular interest to you. The article below describes how to tell when your brake calipers should be serviced and what to do if you are more of a do-it-yourselfer.


DIY Motorcycle Tech: Servicing Your Brakes

by Darnell A

After years and miles of use, your brakes could be providing you with lackluster performance and you don't even realize it. Do your brakes provide smooth progressive braking or do they work like a switch -all or none? This doesn't mean that they are bad or worn out, your calipers just need serviced. There are sealing a-rings in your calipers that just need cleaned and lubed. By doing this service, it will increase your braking performance drastically. I have found that a lot of mid to late model Harleys are in need of caliper servicing.

The way to tell if your bike is in need of this is to just squeeze the brake handle. If it touches or comes close to the throttle grip, your calipers need serviced. What you're going to need to do this job is some brake clean and some sort of lube like Tool Box Buddy or WD-40 and a pry bar.

Remove your calipers from the bike and pump the brake handle. As you can see, just two of the four pistons in the caliper are actually working okay. The other two are sticking.

Now what you need to do is clean the caliper pistons, spray some brake clean on them and blow dry with compressed air. You might need to do this a few times depending on how dirty your calipers are.

Now that your caliper pistons are clean, spray some lube on them. Then take your pry bar and insert it in between your brake pads and pry the pistons back into their bores. Now pump your brake handle and take notice of how the pistons come out of the caliper. What you are after is that all of the pistons all come out equally and at the same time. You're going to have to do this a few times to get them to come out smoothly.

This is what you're after: all pistons equally extended. This should take five to ten pumps of the brake handle. Reinstall your brake and torque the caliper bolts to spec., normally 35 ft. lbs.

Pump your brake handle till you have a nice solid feel. Notice how far away the handle is from the throttle grip. This is how your brake handle should look and feel. Now you're ready to take your bike for a test ride. Be careful and give yourself enough time to adjust to the newly serviced brakes. This tip can be applied to anything that has brake calipers, even your old shop truck.

Before we part ways, remember that even a good brake system may fail. If ever that time comes, we should be ready at all cost. Make sure to wear any protective head gear to avoid serious injuries. If your thinking you might be sacrificing style when riding a bike with a motorcycle helmet, look around, try fitting a German motorcycle helmet or any carbon fiber helmets that suite your bike's looks. Not only you are protected, you're way looking cool with it. Ride Safe and happy riding!

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As the above article suggests, please remember to always do a safety check before you head out on the road, wear the proper gear, and ride safe!


Category: Motorcycle Savvy

About the Author ()

Linda Carruth is a freelance illustrator and designer who enjoys riding her motorcycle. Her professional work can be seen at, but her motorcycle, humorous, and motivational designs are available at,, and at

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