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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:32 pm 
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(long read but do it anyway) :smile:
Have you thought about yours today? or last week/month/year? They are "kind of" important and mostly ignored by riders based on my experience working on motorcycles over the years.

So how do we take care of them? Regular servicing is important to maintain peak braking operation for your machine. Obviously the fluid level is important but it's condition is just as paramount to consistent braking. Flushing your brake system(s) with fresh fluid can make a huge improvement in braking action and lever feel. If your fluid is cloudy or dingy it's time to flush the system.

You don't need a fancy power bleeder to flush and bleed your brake system, use one if ya got it... but there is no need to rush out and buy one. The things you need are: Fresh DOT 4 (or whatever fluid is called for on your filler cap/service manual) brake fluid. Gentlemen (and Ladies if you are out there) this does not include that huge jumbo saver bottle of brake fluid that has been sitting on the shelf for three years that you take the cap off of and dribble a couple of ounces into your car master cylinder every now and then. Come on, you know you never peeled all of the aluminum foil seal off the top of the bottle where the cap is supposed to be sealing did you? Brake fluid loves to absorb moisture... buy only small bottles and use it up within a year... and make sure the cap can actually seal. :biggrin:

Next is a small glass container so you can see the color of the fluid as it comes out of the bleed line and to see if there is any air in the system while bleeding... which leads to the last item which is a clear plastic line that fits tightly on the bleed fitting on your caliper. You can get all of these supplies from your local auto parts store. Once you have these items and the proper tools you can begin.

First, clean your reservoir and cap... you want to clean your system not drop junk into it. :nea: Support your bike so the handlebars can be turned to the position that allows the master cylinder cap to be level. If necessary loosen the MC on the bars and swivel it to level and snug it back down. Now head to the tool box and get that box end 8mm wrench (or whatever size box end wrench fits your bleed fittings). Remove the rubber cover off the bleed fitting (if it's still there) and crack the fitting loose and snug it right back down. They can be pretty tight after years of sitting in one position. :wink: Make sure the box end wrench is positioned so that you will have the most amount of opening travel possible while still being able to shut the bleeder off without having to remove the wrench. Once you've established that position leave the wrench on the fitting and install your plastic line on the bleed fitting nipple. This is where you must make sure the hose is tight on the fitting and is not going to fall off when you open and close the fitting. Stick the end of the hose in the glass container and test that the opening and closing of the fitting is not going to have the hose falling out of the container... secure the hose as required.

Now head back to that freshly cleaned off cap. At this point you may want to cover any painted parts that you'd like paint to still stay attached to.... like your gas tank for instance. Brake fluid is a great paint remover and plastic melter. Take the appropriate measure to prevent either scenario from happening.

Remove the two screws (or unscrew the back one) and remove the cap. The rubber accordion boot may be extended. Remove the boot from the cap and take both parts to a sink with hot water and dish soap or simple green. Clean the cap and boot inside and out with hot soapy water making sure the final rinse is pretty warm. Wipe off the cap and boot with a lint free towel and allow to dry or blow them off with clean compressed air. Obviously any moisture left here would be a bad thing. Taking your really clean and dry cap install your really clean and dry boot back into the cap in the compressed position and head back to the bike.

At this point its time to open that sealed fresh container of brake fluid. It's nice to have a small table right near the right side of the bike where you can set the fluid container down and pick it back up without walking away to get it. Now open that bleed fitting as far as the wrench will allow. No need to pump/bleed/close at this point. SLOWY squeeze/push on the brake lever to it's full extent return and repeat while watching the fluid level... you want to run the fluid down as low as possible to get out all the yucky stuff without sucking any air.... don't freak if you do suck a bit of air we will be bleeding the brake system anyway. Fill the reservoir and repeat until the fluid that is coming up out of the bleed fitting is as clear as the stuff you are pouring into the reservoir.

Once you have fresh fluid in the system you will start the bleed process. Fill the reservoir again and close off the bleed fitting. You will want to at least set the cap back on the reservoir to pump up the system as fluid will return from the hose in a bit of a fountain when the system is pressurized... especially if there is any trapped air in the system. Pump up the brake a few times and hold pressure on the lever. Crack the bleed fitting loose slowly. You will feel the lever compress. Shut the bleed fitting before the lever hits it's travel limit. Do the same thing again. Now on the third shot start looking at the fluid that is coming up put of your bleed fitting hose.... it should be bubble free. Continue the bleed process until no air is seen in the line. Be sure to keep that reservoir from going dry or you will have to start all over!

Once the fluid seems to be air free coming out of the caliper you are not done bleeding. Snug down the fitting and remove the hose from the bleed fitting by pinching it right at the nipple outlet. If you pull it right off it will puke fluid all over your caliper. Drain the hose into the container.

Pull down on your brake line and turn your bars to make sure the master cylinder is the highest part of the system so that any trapped air can make it all the way back into the MC. Pump up the brakes a few strokes and hold them on nice and tight. Take a plastic handled screw driver (or something like that) and tap on the brake line starting from near the caliper and work your way up the line making sure to hold pressure on the lever the whole time. Now release the lever and tap on the line from bottom to top once again. This loosens any minute bubbles that are attached to the brake line walls and sends them up to the master cylinder.

With the cover removed and the MC still the highest part of the system very lightly squeeze the lever pulling it in only a short distance (not creating any system pressure) and look at the tiny hole in the bottom of the MC. If there is still any air trapped in the system you will see very small bubbles floating up out of the orifice. Lightly squeeze without creating system pressure (very short strokes) until you see no more air. Do the same pattern all over again... set the cap back on, pump up the system, hold pressure and tap the line, release and tap the line, short stroke no pressure bleeds. Once you see no more tiny air bubbles you are done! Top off the reservoir and cap it off!

I know it sounds like a lot of work but you'd be amazed what an improvement a system totally devoid of air can feel like.

No, you are not done! The other parts to a brake system that is working to it's highest capacity (beside still having some material left on your brake pads) is a properly serviced caliper and a sparkling clean, grit and oil free disc.

Most systems (like the DR650's) use floating calipers. The caliper is actually floating on pins centering itself on the disc. If the caliper can't center itself brake performance, lever feel and pad wear will all go down the tube.

The pins tend to get dirty and sticky over time. Remove the caliper(s) assembly and pads. Now might be a good time to replace the pads anyway..... Remove the caliper from the carrier bracket being careful of the rubber boots for the pins when you disengage their sealing lips. If the boots look worn, cracked or starting to get hard replace them! Clean the pin(s). Remove all old grease and/or junk. Clean the holes in the caliper for the pins. Grease the pins lightly with either a high temp grease or anti-seize compound. Reassemble the caliper and boots on the bracket pins.

Now move to cleaning that disc. Brake dust, road grime, tar and oils infect a brake disc more than you know. All those holes and slots in the disc can harbor brake grime and oils that sit waiting to leach out onto your disc surface and pads under hard braking that generates higher heat. Use some brake cleaner and a scouring pad like Scotch brite to scrub clean the brake disc surface. Use a bottle brush or whatever works, to get into the holes and slots. Don't be bashful with the cleaner. You want your disc to be white glove clean.

Now put that baby back together and test out those brakes... my bet is over half of the people reading this will notice a huge improvement in their brakes!

Caution! Always remember to pump up your brakes after servicing or wheel changes... that cold feeling when your brakes "go to the stop" offering zero braking force while speeding down the road is best avoided. :hang:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 8:13 pm 
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Fantastic "How Too" Rob! :clapping: :notworthy:

I had never bled the fluid on a bike until this year. You are so right. It makes an amazing difference!
I found these to be very useful and simplify some of the bleeding process. Speed bleeders.
I have had no problems with them. Be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully if you should use them. If they are not used correctly then they are just more trouble.
http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid ... Categories

New pads also make a great difference. The pads are extremely easy to change, if you aren't doing a full caliper clean up. Which as Rob points out, you should.
The inexpensive Kevlar pads are decent replacements for the stock ones. If you need more stopping power than stock, then you might want a different pad material.
2 sets for around $25 bucks on ebay.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/SUZUKI-F ... ccessories

And a tip from the master of stripped hex heads (me) :blush: . Be sure to have your hex (allen) wrench very well seated in the pin that holds the pads. They strip quite easily!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:24 am 
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Rob, you read my mind. I was going to give it a couple of days after my "bearing" thread to start one about "any tips or tricks to brakes" as my rear needs it big time. I have a real good friend who is a bike master coming over in a couple of days and we are going to strip the DR down, check all bearings, brakes, ect, ect, so that I can make one order of parts - cuts down on shipping.

I want to be good to go in case we have another easy winter and I can get the ride plated in Feb again :dirol:

Thanks for taking the time to write up your tips Rob. It is greatly appreciated by up and coming DR gear heads like me :good:

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:03 am 
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Excellent write-up.

One suggestion though. Rather than pushing all the nasty, old, brake fluid through the master cylinder, brake line and caliper, I try to remove as much as I can and start with fresh fluid in the master cylinder. I have a designated turkey baster in my tool collection for this. One of those things that saves a little time and can eliminate pushing any sediment from the bottom of the master through the system.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:12 am 
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Good idea... but your not supposed to let your brake fluid get to the point of looking like drained diesel engine oil right? :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:40 am 
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+1. I use large animal syringes and a bit of clear tubing instead of the needle. Very useful around the shop. You can get them at most agricultural/feed stores. Great when you have to accurately measure out amounts of liquids too. They're cheap enough to have one for each task.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 1:31 pm 
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mxrob wrote:
Good idea... but your not supposed to let your brake fluid get to the point of looking like drained diesel engine oil right? :lol:


Never met a sludge I didn't like. :wacko:

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:08 pm 
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Tiger100 wrote:
+1. I use large animal syringes and a bit of clear tubing instead of the needle. Very useful around the shop. You can get them at most agricultural/feed stores. Great when you have to accurately measure out amounts of liquids too. They're cheap enough to have one for each task.


Good idea on this or the baster! I used a q-tip to pull out any dirt from the master cylinder prior to pumping the fluid through. I will try the syringe next time.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:47 pm 
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I did a flush and bleed on both ends 6-8 months ago for the first time since owning the bike. I used the "reverse fill" method of pumping in the new fluid using a syringe attached to the bleed nipple via clear tubing. The whole process made a significant difference in the front, but the rear brake still leaves a lot to be desired. I've never been impressed with my DR's rear brake. I understand that most of the bike's weight distribution and breaking power occurs up front, but geez, my rear brake just seems weak. It will lock up the rear wheel, but the lever has always felt a bit mushy and not really progressive. Also, it seems that the lever goes through a lot of wasted travel before it actually engages any braking action. I rode a friend's RM-Z250 last weekend and his rear brake was awesome - worlds beyond my own and just how I remember the way a rear brake should be. I think the little loop in the DR's rear brake line, at the front of the swing arm, is a key trap for air bubbles. I may attempt one more bleeding to try and squeeze out a little better performance, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anybody else's rear brake lacking, or mine the only one?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:47 pm 
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Rear brake is very lacking. Same here goes through a lot of travel, even with fresh pads and fluid. It goes from doing not much to locking up.
It reminds me of pulling the handbrake on a car. It doesn't do much to slow you down, but if you pull hard enough you can lock em up. :?

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