Friday, February 19, 2016


I noticed that my dragons are starting to come off. The only place to buy replacements is at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort in Robbinsville, NC ... home of the Tail of the Dragon. Well, I won't be heading up there until mid-May or else I'd probably be riding in snow...

...but you can bet it'll be my first stop when I can finally abandon Florida for the great riding areas around the country.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rear Brake Maintenance (Part 2)

Rear Brake Maintenance (Part 1)

A couple weeks ago, I performed a thorough rear brake maintenance as reflected in the link just above to the post Rear Brake Maintenance (Part 1). During that maintenance, I performed the following procedures in response to what seemed to be a weak rear brake.

  • Checked for unusual ABS activity.
  • Checked for leaks and kinks in lines.
  • Checked for brake drag (spin wheel on center stand).
  • Tested disc run out (warped disc test).
  • Inspected wheel bearings for play.
  • Checked for proper pedal adjustment.
  • Retorqued rear wheel.
  • Inspected brake pads and wear.
  • Checked master cylinder piston movement.
  • Flushed and replaced DOT 4 brake fluid.
  • Bled the hydraulic system.

My final conclusion in Part 1 was that the brake operation was better, but after a couple weeks now I just felt that it actually wasn't. It's just not the same as it was. I've got a good hard pedal, but less braking power.

While during my first maintenance I found that the brake pads were well inside of the service limit in terms of thickness, I thought perhaps the pads may have gone a little bad. In the first week of January, I had the BigV down in the soupy Everglades and had to navigate a lot of flooded areas, in some instances several miles. Honestly, brake pads aren't supposed to go bad due to water, but it was the only thing I could think of. So I set out to change them.

In reviewing the periodic maintenance schedule, I also note that the rubber seals in the caliper and a few other rubber parts would need replacement at 30,000. The caliper seals were fairly inexpensive parts, so I ordered the seals along with a set of AfterMarket brake pads from BikeBandit. Here's a look at the schematic. I skipped the pivot bolt dust cover since I could visually see that it was in fine condition.

Unfortunately, the first problem that I ran into is, where Bike Bandit sold me a set of BikeMaster brake pads, BikeMaster doesn't actually make a replacement brake pad for the V1000; nor do any other aftermarket suppliers...EBC, Galfer, Renthal, Vortex, J&P, Ferodo. Are they kidding? The Versys 1000 is Motorcycle of the Year in three popular publications and no one makes aftermarket pads?

Dang, they don't look anything like the stock. They were about $25 and the factory pads are over $60, which I ended up having Bike Bandit send me. Funny thing was, while Bike Bandit quickly credited me for the mistake, they told me to just keep them as it wouldn't be worth the cost of shipping them back. I was able to get a list of what bikes they fit and have them listed on CL.


Accessing the caliper was outlined in Part 1 of my rear brake maintenance, linked at the top ^, so I'll skip that here.

Once the caliper was exposed, I needed to remove the Banjo Bolt and hydraulic line from the caliper...

...then, I disconnected the hydraulic lines from the swing arm...

...and finally, hung the line out of the way with a zip tie. I hung it high enough so fluid wouldn't leak out of the banjo connector, although some did. Next time I'll have a little pail available for that little mess.

Removal of the brake caliper required removal of the Pivot Bold and Rear Caliper Bolt. I immediately found that removal of the rear caliper bolt is totally blocked by the ABS Sensor line clamp on the L-Bracket. The bracket is bolted on by one bolt, but I could not get to it anyway I tried; removal of the rear wheel is the only way to get to it.

Rather than that though, I took a punch and my ball peen hammer and whacked the L-Bracket backwards. I didn't bend it; just spun it slightly on the single bracket bolt and it just barely then allowed for removal of the Rear Caliper Bolt. Pheeew! The last thing I wanted to have to do was remove the whole rear wheel.

From there the caliper slipped upward and off. See Part 1 for my pad removal process. This is the caliper, the two caliper bolts and the banjo bolt.

Once I had the caliper removed, I could remove the piston by forcing it out with a high pressure hose. I padded it well and then injected the air into the hole of the banjo bolt. It didn't require much pressure at all and the piston slid right out of there.

With the piston removed, I could then pick the fluid seal and the dust seal out of the caliper cylinder...

...and replace them with the new seals. Each was in a groove, easy to install, plus the Service Manual indicated application of silicone grease to the new seals, which I did.

Obviously, I couldn't tell in advance if the seals were going to be bad. However, upon inspection both seals appeared to be in excellent condition and probably did not need replacement at this time.

Once I had the caliper reassembled, I installed the new factory brake pads. I'd covered my brake pad re-installation process in Part 1, also.

Here's where I ran into a near disaster, which was entirely due to my own carelessness. When re-installing the caliper into its saddle, the rear caliper bolt hung up/seized on me as I was working it in the hole around that damn ABS Sensor Bracket! Yup, that means I stripped it. That also means backing it out is going to cause more damage.

If there's one place to use extreme care when wrenching, it's installing hard steel bolts into soft metals, like the cast aluminum of the caliper. At that point there was a good probability that the caliper would have to be replaced.

However, I pulled out my tap and die set to see if I could re-tap it, only to find out that I didn't have either tap or die in that size (M-12/1.25 pitch). Fortunately, a quick run up to ACE Hardware and I found what I needed in the tool section.

Well, the good news is that I was able to re-tap the caliper and get it installed. Crisis averted; however, I'm still kicking myself in the ass for doing that!


So, did all this work help the brake? Well, a little. With all the work I've now done on this brake I'm starting to wonder if this issue is all in my head. The bike is ridable and the brakes are not dangerous. They're just a little off what I'm used to. So the best outcome from all this is that, having done the procedures, I don't need to wonder if new pads or seals would help.