How bad are the front brakes 'supposed' to be? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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How bad are the front brakes 'supposed' to be?

So, being new to this bike, and having ridden it a bit with leaking fork seals, I'm not actually sure what 'normal' brakes feel like on this bike. I could well have them right now, but I have no way of knowing except for you guys!

So here's my observations: From around 60km/h (40mph), I pull the brakes as hard as I can (nearly to the bar, not a huge fan of that either), the front dives, but no stoppie or lockup.

I know I can't compare this with any modern bike (or even decent 80's braking...), but I'm just wondering if this is normal. I really doubt it's the case, but could the rotor have oil like...soaked in? I wiped it down with acetone when I replaced the pads (EBC sintered), and scuffed it up just a wee bit with some sandpaper.
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post #2 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 03:56 PM
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OK, I've never smashed my front brake at 40mph. I would imagine one would fly over the handlebars. I'm pretty confident my front brake will lock, never tried it. I've ridden tons of bikes, so I just got a feel for it over the years. If you can do what your saying your doing, I gotta imagine your pads are worn and you probably have air in your system.
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post #3 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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In fairness, my brain simply won't let me smash the brakes at 40mph, I smoothly apply, as in a panic brake situation. I guess I stop fairly quickly, full brake is probably at more like 25mph. I'm 300lb, so that could have something to do with it.

Pads are new EBC sintered, brakes were bled, but the fluid has been sitting in my garage for a year or so. Old fluid shouldn't make that much of a difference in theory, since water absorption only means a lower boiling point, not more compressibility.

Lever going to the handle could be piston stiction on the seal (didn't rebuild the caliper) or bent lever I guess...
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post #4 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 04:47 PM
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I've never had a bike that would allow me to touch the lever to the bar that I recall. I've been able to on hydraulic clutches but not brakes. I just went into the garage and checked mine. It moves maybe an inch or mor for full lock. Leaving maybe 3-4 inches of space from the grip. Sure it could be a bent lever but surely u would notice that. I know you said u bled the brakes but that ussually is an indication of air in the system. I don't know. But again mine can't be pulled no where near the grip.
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post #5 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Back2Kawi View Post
I've never had a bike that would allow me to touch the lever to the bar that I recall. I've been able to on hydraulic clutches but not brakes. I just went into the garage and checked mine. It moves maybe an inch or mor for full lock. Leaving maybe 3-4 inches of space from the grip. Sure it could be a bent lever but surely u would notice that. I know you said u bled the brakes but that ussually is an indication of air in the system. I don't know. But again mine can't be pulled no where near the grip.
Yeah, something's up. The brakes do suck, but not that much.



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post #6 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 05:38 PM
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Actually, that sounds normal to me. Stock Gen1 brakes are brutal. The mushy line will allow you to pull it to the bar or pretty close and there is no way you can lock up the front, even on dry pavement and with knobbies.

When I bought my 2000 last spring, I had the fortune(?) of comparing the stock brakes to my improved brakes on my 2001 and I was shocked at how bad the stock brake is.....you tend to forget after awhile. Both bikes now have good brakes that are totally adequate for a modern dual sport. The formula is as follows;

- 320mm rotor (I like the EBC from Eagle Mfg & Eng)
- SV caliper adapter (also from eaglemike)
- used ebay suzuki SV caliper
- SS line (russel from.....you can probably guess!)
- dime mod to put the lever back where it should be.

The result is night and day. No this doesn't make the KLR stop as good as my ZX6R, but it is light years better.

IMO, this is the largest functional improvement you can make to a Gen1 KLR tied with suspension improvements.


2 cents,
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post #7 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Alright so, much as I wanted to avoid rebuilding the brakes on this, I was working on squeezing the lever as hard as I could, and after doing some more bleeding, heard a little squirt from inside -- sure enough, the piston was leaking a bit.

But that's not where the problem is, IMO. It took extreme pressure to make it leak, the wheel should have been locked by then.

The problem is that the energy was wasted, overcoming a nearly seized slider pin. Stuck in a swollen boot. The piston leak was probably just a grain of dirt stuck in there, probably don't even have to replace the seals, they look good, but that boot needs to be swapped; I had to beat the damn thing out by clamping the bracket in my vice and banging on the caliper with a piece of wood and a hammer.

I've heard of improper greases causing this, and I've actually just recently bought the correct grease for brake applications (word is even permatex brake grease -- the green stuff -- can cause this).

So hopefully I can get parts quick enough that my temp permit doesn't expire -- gotta get it inspected within 10 days. Really I just need that damn pin boot.
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post #8 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 06:00 PM
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Glad you got it figured but don't expect to be doing any stoppies even when fixed. If you weren't under a time crunch, I'd reiterate my suggestion to upgrade rather than mess around with the stock one. Heck, if you were close, I'd just give you one of my stock calipers and you'd be done.

Dave
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post #9 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
Glad you got it figured but don't expect to be doing any stoppies even when fixed. If you weren't under a time crunch, I'd reiterate my suggestion to upgrade rather than mess around with the stock one. Heck, if you were close, I'd just give you one of my stock calipers and you'd be done.

Dave
Heh, time and money crunch. I bought this bike for 1100, spent $100 in gas to pick it up (because $1100 is an insane deal for a KLR of any age and condition here), and am now $650 further into it, with new battery, chain, grips, brake pads, petcock rebuild, helicoils for the valve cover (because I'm a gorilla apparently, or the engine is made of play-dough). This was supposed to be my cheap who-gives-a-damn bike! I'm sure it still will be once it's back in shape.

Frustration aside, I doubt I'll be spending $500 on the brakes any time soon, much as I'd love it. I'll probably go piece-by-piece; brake lines are technically a maintenance item anyway, so that'll probably be first.
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post #10 of 35 Old 07-30-2016, 07:45 PM
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So where are you located?

Dave
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