Get Those Brakes Dialed!

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important would you say your brakes are? If you answered with anything less than “10, we highly recommend you listen up! Brakes are, without a doubt, among the most important components on your motorcycle, and having a finely tuned set of binders can mean the difference between winning, losing, and ending up on your head. Safety aside, your bike’s ability to brake is just as important as it being fast, or even handling like a dream. With strong, properly functioning brakes, you’ll be able to ride your bike harder and deeper into corners before having to apply them, and the result will no doubt be faster lap times.

Keeping your bike’s brake systems properly cleaned, lubricated, and operating with fresh fluid is a cheap, easy way to ensure maximum stopping power without having to dig deep into your pocket for trick aftermarket braking components (although those can have their benefits, as well). To help us out, we asked Jake Weimer’s factory Honda wrench, Mike Tomlin, to roll by the TWMX Race Shop to show you how to achieve maximum braking potential in just six easy-to-follow steps…

RECOMMENDED TOOLS: 8mm T-handle wrench, contact/brake cleaner, grease, new brake pads, a water bottle, carburetor vent hose, zip ties, 7mm wrench, 8mm wrench, brake fluid (Dot 3 is usually recommended).

STEP 1: As always, begin with a clean bike, especially around all of the braking components. To gain better access to the brake caliper, start by removing your rear axle (32mm on a Honda) and your rear wheel. Now, with an 8mm T-handle, remove the plastic caliper guard, and with the same wrench, remove the rear brake pad pin. With the pad pin out, the brake pads will slide straight back and out of the caliper.

STEP 2: The caliper is held in place by the brake hanger, which simply slides into the track that’s grooved on the swingarm. Slide the brake hanger and caliper off of the swingarm, and then slide the caliper off of the hanger by simply separating it from the hanger pin. Remove both pad retainer clips (one from the caliper and one from the hanger) if they’ve not already fallen off. Using contact/brake cleaner, thoroughly clean the clips, the hanger, and both brake pins to prepare them for reassembly.

STEP 3: Take a minute to inspect all of the components to ensure that there’s nothing bent, damaged, rusted, etc… Next, apply a layer of fresh grease on each of the pins for smooth action, and put both retainers back into place (one on hanger, one on caliper). Attach the caliper back onto the hanger, and slide the hanger/caliper assembly back onto the swingarm. Depending on how hard you are on your brakes, you will likely want to replace your brake pads at this point. Slide your new pads into place in the retainers within the caliper, and reinstall the pad pin with your 8mm T-handle.

STEP 4: With your brake components now cleaned, inspected, and freshly greased, it’s time to bleed the brake line of old, burnt brake fluid, and cycle in some fresh. If you don’t already have a brake-bleeding bottle assembled, follow this step. I recommend using a clear water bottle and some carburetor vent hose, because it fits the nipple on the brake caliper the best. Make a loop out of your vent hose, which is required to prevent air from getting into the system while draining the old fluid. Drill or cut a hole into the cap on your water bottle, and feed the tube in. It’s that easy.

STEP 5: To get started with the bleeding, remove the reservoir cap and the plunger within the reservoir, and pour a little bit of fresh brake fluid in to top it off. Pay special attention to the fluid level in the reservoir during the bleeding process. Each time that you pump fluid through, you’ll need to fill the reservoir. If you pump the reservoir dry, you’ll allow air to get into the system, which can prevent your brakes from functioning properly.

STEP 6: Put an 8mm wrench onto the nipplle/nozzle nut and then slide your vent hose over the nipple. Now, push the rear brake pedal down (or pull in the lever if you’re working on the front system), and then open the nipple nut with the 8mm wrench that’s already in place. Allow some fluid to run through, and then close the nipple nut. Most brakes require opening and closing the nipple while applying the brake pedal or lever about three times to get the new fluid all the way through the system. Once you get enough fluid running through the system, you’ll be able to leave your 8mm nut open while you continue to pump fluid with the pedal. Once all of the excess dirty fluid runs into your bottle and you see the fresh, clean fluid run in, you’re good to go. Tighten the 8mm nut, make sure the reservoir is full, and reinstall the plunger and cap.