Motorcycles: Best Budget Brake Modifications

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We all like to talk about our motorcycle’s acceleration and handling capabilities, but when you really think about it, being able to stop efficiently is probably the most important thing your motorcycle has to do. Your brakes are critical, but unfortunately brake componentry is often where manufacturers skimp on quality to help keep a motorcycle’s MSRP down. The result can be a soft lever, poor initial bite, crummy modulation, fading under hard use or just plain lack of stopping power.

Not all issues are caused by less-than-ideal componentry, however, which is why the first suggestion for addressing underwhelming brake performance is to bleed the system.

Bleeding your brakes is actually just regular maintenance that your owner’s manual will probably suggest doing every 24 months, and if you ignore it then brake performance may suffer as a result. That’s because over time, brake fluid will absorb moisture out of the atmosphere and air can creep past the seals, making the fluid more compressible and lowering its boiling point. Both of those are bad things for your brakes and can lead to a brake lever or pedal that feels squishy or cause the brakes to fade as they get hot.

So if you’re not satisfied with your bike’s brakes, it might just be time to bleed the system. Make sure you’re using the appropriate DOT fluid — it’ll be printed on the master cylinder lid — lay down plenty of paper towels to protect your paint, and keep pumping that lever until every last bubble is pushed out and you see fresh, clean brake fluid.

If bleeding the brake doesn’t do the trick, the next step is to start replacing parts. And the easiest components to upgrade are your brake pads. Many stock pads are of the semi-metallic variety and designed for general use with a gentle bite for a friendlier feel. That’s fine if you’re primarily commuting or touring, but if you ride your bike hard on twisty roads and want more bite and power when you pull the lever, upgrading to sintered pads is going to increase the friction rating which will net a strong initial bite, more stopping power and better resistance to fading. For more in-depth info on sintered pads, check out DP Brakes’ website. It specializes in sintered pads and has a robust FAQ section online.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.