Front Brake


Information and questions on GL1200 Goldwings (1984-1987)
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rbwoodruff
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Motorcycle: 1984 Honda GL1200A

Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »



Greetings,

I have a 1984 Aspencade that I purchased from the original owner. Very, very, nice condition. 100k miles but very well taken care of. in 2010 his wife bought him a GL1800, and he didn't have the heart to part with his 1200, so it sat in his garage until I moved into the neighborhood and struck up a friendship with him. After literally months of negotiations and a blood-promise that he had first rights if I ever decided to sell, he let me have it for $1,650.00. I've since put a new windshield and front tire on it. I'm a big (6'3") guy and this is the most comfortable bike I've ever ridden. It has floorboards with make it even more comfortable. I like the bike, however, since day one the front brake has been terrible. Before I even bought it I helped him rebuild the caliper. It had frozen up from lack of use, but it came apart and went back together without too much trouble. Bled it, but it was squishy and left a lot to be desired. The back brake worked like a champ, and with the front/back braking and the weak front brake I felt it was passable. Well, after multiple attempts to correct the problem with bleeding the brake, I purchased a new (aftermarket) master-cylinder. It's worse! I pulled the caliper off and looked for leaks, I've used a vacuum bleeder, I've wrapped the bleed nub with Teflon tape; everything I can think of to improve this with no success. The only thing left that I can think of is replacing the brake line. Before I do this I thought I'd reach out to this forum for ideas. I've read a lot of the posts on this subject, but thought this would be a good way of jumping into the collective. I don't know how many people out there are still riding the GL1200, so I'm interested to see the response. I've always liked the appearance of the 1200 over all the other Goldwings, and think it's the best Goldwing that Honda ever made.

Thanks in advance for your assistance,

Rick



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Rednaxs60
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Re: Front Brake

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Rick - have done the brakes on my '85 LTD as well. Did not rebuild the front brake MC, but did rebuild the caliper and install new SS Teflon lines. I feel that the new lines have helped immensely. The one issue with old rubber brake lines that are 30 plus years old (the OEM lines are date stamped as well) is that the pressure exerted on them causes them to swell reducing the pressure to the brake caliper. his could be causing the "sponginess". I have also noticed that when it comes to rebuild kits, not all are created equal. I used an aftermarket kit on the clutch MC and wasn't happy with it so I changed it for an OEM kit that is much better. Also make sure the small return hole in the MC is not plugged.

These are great bikes, much more fun to ride than an 1800 (have one as well), and will last if taken care of. There are a lot of them on the road.

Good luck.
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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rbwoodruff
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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

Thanks much for the reply! Where did you purchase the brake lines?

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RoadRogue
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Re: Front Brake

Post by RoadRogue »

rbwoodruff wrote:Thanks much for the reply! Where did you purchase the brake lines?
I purchased my brake lines from user lopeha55 , his is the first pinned post in the for sale forum section here viewtopic.php?f=9&t=11422
Good quality, good price. Simply the best single uprade I ever did to both of my Wings.8-)
Ride safe, Todd
Over night campers welcome

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Rednaxs60
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Re: Front Brake

Post by Rednaxs60 »

I went to my local hydraulic shop and they made the lines to suit. Cost to me approximately $50.00 CDN per line. I believe you will need two new brake lines for the front brake. There is a steel connector piece that fits around the front forks.

I thought I'd just compensate for the length of the steel connector line and do one complete line from the caliper to the MC. Didn't work out as planned. Had to install the old steel connector and modify the new brake line to fit. Probably could have shortened the new brake line to suit, but did not.

Was also thinking further regarding the MC. Would recommend priming the MC on the bench before putting on. There is a small cover for the return hole, has to be there. Have also read where some have bled the MC at the banjo fitting then at the caliper.

I also installed speed bleeders. These make bleeding/changing fluid extremely easy by oneself. Have these installed on all calipers and the clutch slave.

Good luck.

Cheers
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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geraldm
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Re: Front Brake

Post by geraldm »

Another important thing I found was to make sure the brake caliper bushings are clean, and lubed inside where the rubber seals are if they are draging at all you will have very poor lazy brakes. The caliper must be able to FLOAT on the caliper bolts. For anything to work proper.

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oldishwinger
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Re: Front Brake

Post by oldishwinger »

two of the most common problems with the front brake, is a blockage in the return hole, and air trapped behind the nut that hold the hose into the master cylinder. I would suggest putting a kit into the master cylinder, this will put new rubber and a new piston in it. while you have the master cylinder apart you can check to see if the return hole is clear. it is situated under small cover on the bottom of the cylinder.

I use a spray can of brake cleaner with a straw to clear the hole and cylinder. when bleeding, put a rag under the nut where the hose meets the master cylinder and bleed until the air is gone, then bleed the caliper as normal. dont get any brake fluid on paint it is not good!

Good luck

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rbwoodruff
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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

Thanks much for all the advice. My apologies on the slow reply.

I have it narrowed down to something to do with the caliper. First, I removed the front brake line and brought it to a local hydraulic shop. They didn't have the right fittings in stock, but the guy at the counter said unless I could see an obvious bulging in the hose section of the line, than it probably was good. Later, I wanted to see if the new Chinese master cylinder I had bought was creating pressure, so I bought several washers the size of the bolt that secures the banjo fitting to the master cylinder and screwed the bolt in and tightened it up without the hose. First couple of squeezes on the lever and I could only squeeze it in about a quarter of the way, instead of almost to the point of touching before. MC good. Then I secured the hose to the MC and used a clamp with rubber boots to clamp the banjo fitting on the other end. We just two or three compressions and bleedings the lever was solid at the halfway point. Again much better than when it was hooked up to the caliper. So, I took the caliper apart and the seals (which had been replaced) didn't look so good, so I'm buying a full rebuild kit. I'll also be sure to lube the bolts when I put everything back together. I'll report when I'm done.

Thanks again for all your help!

Rick

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Re: Front Brake

Post by Rusty Bike »

I believe your suppose to use high temp silicone grease on the bolts and seals when assembling. Maybe some one else can verify this.

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geraldm
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Re: Front Brake

Post by geraldm »

it's not just the bolts . I will try to make myself clear .. the caliper Bolts run through a metal sleeve , the sleeve should be able to float so that the caliper, during braking can move from side to side and grip each side of the brake rotors equally well with the pads . , to do a proper lube job the 2 sleeves need to be removed and cleaned of any corrosion and lubed then reinserted . Caution should be used when removing the sleeves that the 2 , SOFT , THIN dust boots do not get ripped if they are already ruined then you need to get new or PM. me and I will explain how to make your own . this operation is very important for the smooth and effective operation of the brakes .
Also weather you can visually see your brake hoses bulge or not when operating your brake lever , if you want good effective braking then change them to braided S-S lines as others have mentioned . Also If you have your MC line blocked off and you still have a half lever movement then you probably have issues as when dead ended the lever should be very near solid with little movement . there is a tiny hole in the bottom of the MC that is suppose to help with fluid return and is possible there is a air bubble still floating around inside the chamber and causing low pressure as that bubble would act the same as when a caliper has a tad of air in it . If you want good brakes IMO do these things it will cost little to nothing besides new SS lines and the rewards are very rewarding knowing that you DO have the ability to stop in emergency situations or at least have done everything possible . DONT just do one side of the front brakes check them both and make sure everything is free and moving proper .. Hope this helps please feel free to say if you are not understanding what I am saying , your brakes are probably the most important system on the bike . Your good health depends on them everytime you need to come to a stop .

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rbwoodruff
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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

Thanks for your advise. I put everything back together tonight and bled the brakes, and it is just as bad as it was before. Crap. As I mentioned, the MC is brand new and the return hole does not seem to be blocked. I'm thinking about buying a OEM rebuild kit for the original MC and see if that one works better. Getting the lines off for the other front and the rear is going to be quite the project. I think I'd need to replace both front disks too as they have some wear. I guess the fairing gonna have to come off too. Looks like I've got quite the winter project on my hands.

It's late; I'll hit it again tomorrow. Thanks again for your help.

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Re: Front Brake

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Getting at the brake lines is a challenge, but you do not have to remove the front fairing. The front and rear linked breaks are joined just forward of the air filter. The front brake (right side) line from the caliper up and in behind the front fairing joins a steel connector piece that is also attached to the brake line from the MC. It is a tight fit if you are a person with large hands but can be done.

Good luck. Cheers
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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rbwoodruff
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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

I got the front line out with the fairing on, but was unable to reattach it to the bolt point under the front of the fairing. I got the bolt back in that secures that "plate" there, but couldn't get the brake line thingy to line up, so I just tie-wrapped it.

I have a local resource for brake lines, but I don't know if they do SS lines. Where about did you purchase yours?

I've decided to redo everything front and back on the brakes. My front disks were pretty worn and had a noticeable lip around the edge, so I just bought a set of disks off ebay that look in really good condition.

Currently, the bike has the foot brake controlling the front right and rear brake. What's your thought on having the front MC control both the front brakes and the foot only the rear?

Thanks again for your help.

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geraldm
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Re: Front Brake

Post by geraldm »

These big heavy bikes need all the help they can get to stop. The front brake gives a large percentage of braking power. And also has an anti dive devise built in to the front Forks that is activated when brakes are applied and helps stop the big boy from bagging out when stopping. Don't do any changes to the system. Some very good engineers designed this system to help keep it under control under emergency situations. Take some time and go over the entire braking system in your manual to understand how things work. If you don't have a manual get one and study it. Some of the guys here can steer you in the right direction on which to buy some are better than others.

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Re: Front Brake

Post by Rednaxs60 »

The bike is designed to have the front right and rear brakes connected and the front left on its own. The pistons in the front calipers are different sizes because of this. The front left caliper pistons are larger than the front right caliper. The front left caliper pistons and the rear caliper pistons are the same size.

I find having the linked bakes is good especially for stopping, and slowing down. I use both front and rear brakes for stopping, but when coming to a complete stop - more rear brake than front brake, bike handles so much better.

I would not modify the brake system from its original design. Really no value and as I mention, the calipers are different size. Lots of other mods that can be done and keep you busy

Just my thoughts.

Cheers
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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rbwoodruff
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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

I'm good with that advice. I'll keep it the way it is.

So, having the Holiday off, I decided to to one last test.
1. After multiple bleedings at the caliper, I can still almost squeeze the brake handle to the grip.

2. I disconnected the brake line from the caliper, and clamped the banjo fitting end with the hand vice with rubber feet. With my sons help, I even bled the line like I would a normal brake. Slight improvement, but I can still squeeze the handle to almost 3/4" from the grip.

3. With the end of the brake line clamped, I then bleed the line at the banjo fitting at the MC. No improvement over step two.

I went to the links for SS brake lines and the one that was advertised here in the forum was a "dead" link. I've got a shop nearby that can build standard brake hoses, and unless I can find an online sourse for SS lines, I'll going to buy there.

I'm really hoping to get this thing fixed by the 3rd as we have a "Toys for Tots" run in nearby Olympia that I've been going to for years.

Again, thank you very much for your advice and feedback.

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Re: Front Brake

Post by geraldm »

IMO and I'm sure your tired of hearing this but my money is still on a air bubble. They can be tricky. Before you give up. Try lots of fast pumps like maybe 50 with out using much lever pressure. Without squinting yourself in the eye look into the MC with top off to see if there is almost microscopic bubbles if so there is air. Also if you see lots of fluid returning to MC that is a sign that the fluid is compressing air somewhere in the system and then returning it back to reservoir when releasing lever. Your lines should be replaced because of age but I doubt that is your cause. Last summer I had my handle bars off of mounts just kinda hanging there, somehow they tipped upside down and got air in them. Even knowing what the problem was it still took hundreds of pumps to get the air worked out. It's a very common problem. JMO have a good one. Sometimes they bleed in just a few pumps, sometimes it can be a hair pulling experience.

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geraldm
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Re: Front Brake

Post by geraldm »

another thing that is possible that the new master has a smaller piston than the old one or a different stroke but mostly piston size , might want to measure that with a set of calipers

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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

Hi geraldm,

Thanks for taking the time to post. I appreciate any and all input!

If it wasn't for the fact that I've tried so many times to bleed the brakes with vacuum I'd say I'd agree with you. However, I never pumped it as many times as you mention. I've done the traditional "Squeeze lever, loosen bleed nipple, tighten bleed tipple, release lever" more than once. Are you saying I should do this 50+ times, or just keep squeezing and releasing the lever until it tightens up?

I'm not familiar how the whole PM thing works, but I'd be willing to send you (and anyone else who's willing to help) my cell number to discuss this. I know I do much better talking something through than writing it.

Again, thanks much.

Rick

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geraldm
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Re: Front Brake

Post by geraldm »

Ok we will try again and if this dont help PM me and I will send you my number .. to begin with air and brake fluid just don't get along very well . sometimes if there is a air bubble it will not break up small enough to come up through the hole in the MC.. what I am suggesting and have good results myself is , instead of just pumping 1 or 2 times and holding the lever then opening the bleed , closing the bleed and releasing the lever .. Pump the lever many times , like 40 or 50 times as fast as you can , the number of times is not important just do it lots and not necessarily hard pumps just use one finger on the lever ., (( sometimes when the bubble wont cooperate and break down the rapid pumping will turn the bubbles almost to foam making them small enough to come up through the hole in the MC. )) if and when you start to have success you will notice that the fluid is almost foamy or creamy looking coming up out of the MC. and it might be just the smallest minut bit at first . if you run your MC. out of fluid or even to low while bleeding then its start over time so make sure you have the MC. at least half full . if the brake fluid is clean don't waste the fluid just reuse it. some guys have had success by using a small syringe and putting the needle down through the MC. hole and try to suck the air out that way .
It is also possible that the brake caliper has air in one or both pistons and wont come out the bleed hole but it seems to me you stated earlier that you had the line dead ended and still no action . possibly what you could try is to remove the brake caliper with brake line still attached place something in between the brake pad about the same size as the brake rotor so the pistons cant be pushed out of their bore , turn the caliper upside down and try the bleed process that way or not even upside down just a different angle that it is when on the bike . Also you could after removing the brake caliper is to push the pistons all the way back into its bore , put something that just barely fits between the brake pads , doing this should push any air inside the brake caliper out of the bore and up the line . be careful when doing this that you don't over flow the MC. reservoir . I guess one question is have you done everything properly when working with the MC. ( all parts in and in the proper place and if you are sure then how sure are you )
This is a very simple system for the front brakes no valving or anything also as I mentioned earlier if your using a new MC. make sure the piston is the same diameter as the old one (( don't just look , measure it using something accurate , the stroke and the diameter should be measured .. it is possible if this is not OEM that they have sent you something wrong . the lever also might have a different stroke limiting your success .. I just cant think of anything else . If anyone else has something to add please do ..

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Re: Front Brake

Post by Maz »

rbwoodruff wrote:Hi geraldm,

Thanks for taking the time to post. I appreciate any and all input!

If it wasn't for the fact that I've tried so many times to bleed the brakes with vacuum I'd say I'd agree with you. However, I never pumped it as many times as you mention. I've done the traditional "Squeeze lever, loosen bleed nipple, tighten bleed tipple, release lever" more than once. Are you saying I should do this 50+ times, or just keep squeezing and releasing the lever until it tightens up?

I'm not familiar how the whole PM thing works, but I'd be willing to send you (and anyone else who's willing to help) my cell number to discuss this. I know I do much better talking something through than writing it.

Again, thanks much.

Rick
Not sure if this has been suggested already (if it has, just ignore me) but one thing that has always worked for me, is to pump the lever a few times, then tie it back tight against the bar grip, with a cable tie or strap, then leave it overnight. Release the tie next day and see how the brake feels. Don't shoot me if it doesn't work though!
Maz
Ironically, Common Sense is the LEAST common of all senses!

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Re: Front Brake

Post by WingAdmin »

Maz wrote:
rbwoodruff wrote:Hi geraldm,

Thanks for taking the time to post. I appreciate any and all input!

If it wasn't for the fact that I've tried so many times to bleed the brakes with vacuum I'd say I'd agree with you. However, I never pumped it as many times as you mention. I've done the traditional "Squeeze lever, loosen bleed nipple, tighten bleed tipple, release lever" more than once. Are you saying I should do this 50+ times, or just keep squeezing and releasing the lever until it tightens up?

I'm not familiar how the whole PM thing works, but I'd be willing to send you (and anyone else who's willing to help) my cell number to discuss this. I know I do much better talking something through than writing it.

Again, thanks much.

Rick
Not sure if this has been suggested already (if it has, just ignore me) but one thing that has always worked for me, is to pump the lever a few times, then tie it back tight against the bar grip, with a cable tie or strap, then leave it overnight. Release the tie next day and see how the brake feels. Don't shoot me if it doesn't work though!
Maz
That procedure has worked for me many times. The theory is that the air bubbles are trapped and are too large to migrate up to the master cylinder. By strapping the lever down, the pressure is increased, the bubble compresses to a much smaller size, and can then migrate up to the master cylinder. I don't know if that is the actual reason it works, but it does work, a lot of the time.

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rbwoodruff
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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

I'm open to all suggestions! I've actually have done this twice with no success. Please keep the suggestions coming!

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rbwoodruff
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Re: Front Brake

Post by rbwoodruff »

Re: Front Brake
Postby geraldm » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:29 am

Ok we will try again and if this dont help PM me and I will send you my number .. to begin with air and brake fluid just don't get along very well . sometimes if there is a air bubble it will not break up small enough to come up through the hole in the MC.. what I am suggesting and have good results myself is , instead of just pumping 1 or 2 times and holding the lever then opening the bleed , closing the bleed and releasing the lever .. Pump the lever many times , like 40 or 50 times as fast as you can , the number of times is not important just do it lots and not necessarily hard pumps just use one finger on the lever ., (( sometimes when the bubble wont cooperate and break down the rapid pumping will turn the bubbles almost to foam making them small enough to come up through the hole in the MC. )) if and when you start to have success you will notice that the fluid is almost foamy or creamy looking coming up out of the MC. and it might be just the smallest minut bit at first . if you run your MC. out of fluid or even to low while bleeding then its start over time so make sure you have the MC. at least half full . if the brake fluid is clean don't waste the fluid just reuse it. some guys have had success by using a small syringe and putting the needle down through the MC. hole and try to suck the air out that way .
It is also possible that the brake caliper has air in one or both pistons and wont come out the bleed hole but it seems to me you stated earlier that you had the line dead ended and still no action . possibly what you could try is to remove the brake caliper with brake line still attached place something in between the brake pad about the same size as the brake rotor so the pistons cant be pushed out of their bore , turn the caliper upside down and try the bleed process that way or not even upside down just a different angle that it is when on the bike . Also you could after removing the brake caliper is to push the pistons all the way back into its bore , put something that just barely fits between the brake pads , doing this should push any air inside the brake caliper out of the bore and up the line . be careful when doing this that you don't over flow the MC. reservoir . I guess one question is have you done everything properly when working with the MC. ( all parts in and in the proper place and if you are sure then how sure are you )
This is a very simple system for the front brakes no valving or anything also as I mentioned earlier if your using a new MC. make sure the piston is the same diameter as the old one (( don't just look , measure it using something accurate , the stroke and the diameter should be measured .. it is possible if this is not OEM that they have sent you something wrong . the lever also might have a different stroke limiting your success .. I just cant think of anything else . If anyone else has something to add please do ..


Great ideas! I'll try 'em all!



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