As nice as it would be if your bike remained in prime condition throughout its life without assistance, that is never going to be the case, and that is why, as a community, motorcyclists are competent DIYers. As any biker knows, brake lines can go bad for any number of reasons, and when it does there are many brake line kits available that will get your bike operating at peak performance in no time.
For those riders who are new to the off-road family, a motorcycle brake line replacement may seem like an intimidating process. However, before you go reaching for your wallet and paying any number of the highly qualified mechanics out there, why not try embracing the DIY attitude of your new found motorcycle community first. Brake line replacements are straightforward, and you don’t have to be a certified mechanic to get it done.
Prepare for the Installation
While you don’t have to be an experienced mechanic to replace your bikes brake lines, you should still prepare yourself for the task ahead. You can remove any motorcycle brake line covers that are in the way, and then you should spend a little bit of time mapping out the existing layout of the lines, making sure to take note of any twists or pass-throughs before the removal phase. Also, check the kit that you purchased to make sure that all the essential parts are accounted for, including all bolts and washers. Lastly, make sure that you have all the necessary tools.
Flat blade screwdriver
Flare nut wrenches
Brake bleeder or hose
Pan or pail for fluid collection
Remove Brake Fluid from the System
To ensure motorcycle safety, you will want to make sure that your bike is in a stable position, and that you have rags in case of brake fluid spillage. As Brake fluid is corrosive and can cause severe damage to your bike if not cleaned up straight away, it may be wise to cover some parts of your bike, like the fuel tank and handlebars, before moving on. Once you have taken the necessary safety and preparation steps, you can begin the process by removing the brake fluid from the system.
Adjust the master cylinder
Before removing any caps or draining anything, you should make sure that the master cylinder is level. By leveling the cylinder, you help to prevent spillage and make the bleeding process easier.
Drain the stock system
To drain the stock system, you need to remove the cap from the master cylinder. Once removed, you can move down to the caliper or bleeder port and remove all the fluid from the system using a vacuum pump or brake bleeder. However, if you do not have a bleeder, you can use a hose and a pan, and by using the lever at the master cylinder, pump the fluid out.
Remove the Old Brake Lines
While the replacement lines will improve the performance of your brakes, you need to get the old lines off first. Remember to pay attention to the layout of the lines to ensure that everything goes back the way it was. Once you are confident of the layout, you can remove the factory banjo bolt from the master cylinder. You may find it necessary to put a piece of paper towel through the eyelet as you remove the bolt to prevent any fluid from leaking out onto your bike. After removing the bolt from the master cylinder, you are going to move down to the caliper and remove the other banjo bolt. Again, a paper towel through the eyelet may be helpful. Then, with the banjo bolts removed, you can remove the factory clamps on the fork guard and lower triple. Now, your brake lines should be free to remove altogether.
Install the New Lines
Installing the new lines is just as easy as removing the old ones. You will want to double-check your kit to make sure that you have all the necessary bolts and washers. Don’t be alarmed if there are more bolts than you removed; some manufacturers include extras. However, if you are nervous, you can always consult a professional before moving forward.
The first thing you will want to do is to make sure that the fittings on the new lines are correctly aligned. If not, you should be able to rotate them into the proper position. Next, wrap the lines through the bike like the originals. Then, with one washer against the nut and one against the cylinder, you are going to thread one of the banjo bolts into the master cylinder, making sure it is a snug fit. Follow this by reinstalling the clamps, making sure that the stiffener is located at the change in diameter. Finally, attach the caliper with the other banjo bolt just like you did above.
Bleed the Brake Line
To ensure motorcycle safety and that your brakes operate correctly, you will need to bleed the new lines, making sure that there is no air in the system. You will need to put some fluid into the master cylinder, and you need to make sure that it doesn’t run dry. If it does, you’ll have to start the whole process over. Also, be careful not to get brake fluid on the pads because that means replacement.
To bleed the system, you can use a pump, but using just the hose and pumping the lever like you did when draining the system is fine. Squeeze the brake lever a couple of times. If they feel soft, then you can open the line and let some air and fluid out at the caliper. Once your brakes are strong, you can put the master cylinder cap back on and go around snugging everything up, using the torque wrench to get your bolts back to spec.
While it would be nice to buy a bike and never have to perform maintenance on it, brake line kits do help alleviate some of the stress. However, the longer you’re a member of the motorcycle community, the more comfortable and excited you get about these little projects. Don’t be intimidated by the problems, be inspired by them. Find the best motorcycle brake lines for your bike and get your hands dirty.