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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

New guy here, I recently purchased an 02 VRSCA last week, first V-Rod, third Harley. After riding it home and around town I have gotten used to how it rides, but I did notice a few things that I would like to change about the brakes.

I read in multiple posts about the amount of brake lever travel in the front, this one in particular brakes hard, but my lever is almost against the throttle tube when I'm coming to a stop. Would a front brake bleed get the pressure back and cut down on the amount of lever travel? I'm thinking this fluid could also be very old and have water in the lines as well. I'm used to my sporty and Road King where I can stop with the slightest pressure.

The rear brake is less than ideal right now, I can feel it vibrate the rear and it is making a humming noise when I apply more than light pressure. I'm used to the whooshing sound that most of these make, but a hum and vibration don't seem right. Really hoping it isn't a bent rotor because all of the pads have plenty of meat on them.

Any advice would be great, I do have the big service manual so I'm planning to use the walkthroughs in there for any service needed.

Thanks.
 

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Try bleeding the brakes first. The lever pressure should be pretty hard with limited travel. I may be slightly OCD I change my fluid every year. You could raise the bike and rotate the rear tire by hand and watch how the rotor passes through the rear caliper. If it is bent or warped you will be able to see and hear it. Ensure you buy the correct DOT brake fluid. My 03 uses DOT 5. -Kevin
 

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For the front brakes , remove one pad , shim all but one piston , by pulling brake lever , extend that piston and clean thoroughly with brake cleaner . Return piston to seated into caliper . Repeat this for all pistons . When all are done , bleed the brakes . You'll be amazed at how much better the brakes will work now .
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So I bled the front brakes last night, was pretty surprised when the fluid was bleeding that it was this cloudy brownish/yellow color. Also surprised me that DOT5 is purple, which at first I thought couldn't be right (I've only ever used DOT4 on my other Harley's), but is.

I am thinking that the fluid in the system has been in there forever (multiple years). The brakes feel a lot better now, way more pressure, the only thing is that the lever still has quite a bit of travel. I am thinking the caliper piston may be the next move.
 

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Thank you for the follow up, just picked up an 03 with 14k miles & I have the same issue.

My inner two pads are almost to the backing plate, and I'm sure the fluid is old.
I was hoping new pads / fluid would fix the issue, after reading your experience I should just plan on cleaning the pistons since I'm taking the pads out anyway.

Now I just need to decide on organic, semi-sintered, or sintered pads.... I do not plan on touching the rears yet, one thing at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hacker, I would pull the calipers off, clean the pistons out, change the pads then bleed the fluid out.

I did that with my sporty and it wasn't a bad job at all. Those calipers get so damn dirty/dusty it's unreal.

But I'm not sure the VROD brakes will ever be as touchy as my RK or Sporty.
 

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Sounds like a plan, I've had to do the same on cars which sat a bit too long and everything is gummed up. Much easier on a bike, I don't even have to remove a wheel!!!

What kind of a seal is behind the brake line on the caliper? I'm used to cars having a copper crush washer or something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Not sure, the calipers each have a brake bleeder valve, my '02 is a 3/8th fitting, just loosen it when you're doing the bleed and it will release the brake fluid.
 

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I was referring to the brake line attachment, second look it is just a regular banjo bolt with copper or aluminum washers on both ends.

Not sure I actually have to remove them, just planning ahead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
For the caliper work, I would leave the lines all attached and have a bungie to hold caliper up when you aren't holding it to clean, or set it on a stand.

Once you pull the pads out, you should be able to see the pistons. You can push them back and forth and clean them then. Then go nuts with the brake cleaner
 

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Job done - two of them on each side were really stuck, took a lot of back & forth to free them up.

I accidentally popped two of them out (one on each side). I fully understand why this is not ideal, but I cleaned out that seal & popped them back in....no sign of leaks, fingers crossed.

New pads, new Harley fluid, brakes feel 100% better (in the garage). Will test ride tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the follow-up, glad to hear it.

Just make sure you pump the hell out of the lever before you set off, I worked on my Sporty's pistons like that and almost sent myself through the garage door. Gotta make sure those pistons reset against the pads.
 
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