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I was reading the Harley forum and I saw that someone replaced his break pads at 10k miles.

I have over 15k miles on my 02 V-Rod and the breaks feel good. I have kept up regular maintence at the dealership and they have never suggested new pads.

I was wondering: How an average joe can tell when he needs to replace the break pads? How long has other V-Rodders gone with the original breaks?

Also as an average joe (not a mechanic) I aspire to become more knowledgeable about my own vehicle. Would it be wise for someone without training to change the break pads by himself? I have the service manual, and the bike inside the house for the winter. But break pads are the things that stop my bike. Is there a chance I could screw it up and they wouldn't work properly?
 

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Brakes are one of those items that can get worn out pretty quickly, or seem to last forever, depending a lot on how the bike is ridden.

A bike with a heavy rider, ridden aggressively, in hilly terrain, or in heavy traffic will obviously wear out its brakes a lot faster than a light, gentle rider, tooling along on flat freeways. So - its pretty hard to predict exactly WHEN brakes will wear out. I've seen sportbike guys wear through a set of pads in a couple of weekends of track days. I've also managed to get 30K miles out of a set on my old Honda Nighthawk - but then I rarely pushed that bike very hard.

The brakes are pretty easy to inspect - the pads need to be replaced when there is 1.6 mm or less material above the backing plate on the front; and 1.02 mm or less on the rear. Since each caliper has two pads, if either pad is close to this limit you should probably replace them.

Since it is pretty hard to tell what 1.02 mm etc. looks like, I've made little wooden shims that are the spec. thicknesses. (I cut some thin hardwood strips, and then held it against a belt sander till I achieved the desired thickness. I used a micrometer to get the exact thickness I desired. I wrote "front" and "rear" on each shim in Magic Marker, and cut them to an easy length so I can wiggle them down into the caliper. It now takes less than a minute per wheel to check pad thickness.

Replacing pads is not generally that difficult (Disclaimer - I haven't done it on my V-Rod, but the procedure looks pretty similar to my previous bikes). The best advice I can give you is to read the instructions several times before you get started. Be especially careful when removing the master cylinder cover - you don't want to splatter brake fluid all over your bike. Also - be super cautious you don't "accidentally" touch the brake handle/pedal while the pads are out. If you do, you pop the piston out, and it'll take you all afternoon to reassemble the darn thing. I've seen some guys tape a block of wood between the lever and the grip to prevent this - but maybe that is just overkill....

You might want to think about flushing the brake fluid when you do the pads - especially once the bike is more than a year or two old. Fluid tends to absorb moisture and get gunky. When flushing the old fluid out, it is always amazing how marked the color difference between the old and new fluid is. Most auto parts stores (and your helpful Harley dealer) will sell a little vacuum pump gizmo that makes "solo" brake bleeding possible, if not actually fun. If you don't buy this, then you'll need a buddy to squeeze the brake lever/pedal while you open and close the bleeder valve at each caliper.

Different people will give you various stories about how often the rotors need replacement. IMHO, you could probably get by with at least one pad change before the rotors need changing. Hold a metal straightedge against the rotor at various angles around its diameter to check for warping (warping will show up as a "gap" under the straightedge). This is NOT the factory recommended way of checking (usually they require a dial-indicator etc.); but unless you happen to have machine shop in your garage, you probably don't have one of those handy. Use a micrometer to check rotor thickness. From what I recall, the rotor is pretty close the minimum thickness - so I don't think it can be machined.

As you pointed out - brakes are a pretty important safety component. However, installing new pads and replacing the fluid is a fairly stragihtforward process that doesn't require a lot of highly specialized tools. So I think that a reasonably handy owner can do the job in an afternoon. Obviously, if something doesn't look right, or work right - you've got to either fix it yourself or have the bike towed to a shop. Always make sure you thoroughly test any brake work in a "safe" environment before heading out on the road. First test that the brakes stop a spinning wheel when the bike is on a jack. Then try sitting on a the bike and see if it will stop a bike that is slowly rolling down a slight incline. If it passes these tests you can probably start the bike - but again, make your first couple of stops someplace where you've got plenty of "runway" to bring you to a stop if something doesn't work right.
 

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I always replace my pads one set at a time. That way as I'm breaking in my new rear pads, I know I at least have the front for stopping, and vice versa. But yes, always carefully test and break-in your new pads. It takes quite a few good hard stops.

I've never replaced a rotor, and I've gone through multiple sets of pads on two harleys with 40Kmi on them.
You mean we're supposed to change the rotors as well?
 

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morey000 said:
I've never replaced a rotor, and I've gone through multiple sets of pads on two harleys with 40Kmi on them.
I've never replaced a rotor either - but they do warp, get damaged and wear out. And if you are going to check and replace your brake pads, its not a bad idea to check that the rotor is still good. Putting new brake pads on a system with a warped or badly scored rotor is (IMHO) pretty much of a waste of money.
 

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I was probably the one you saw replacing the rear pads at 10K miles. My fronts are hardly worn. I am sure this is due to riding style. I also wore out the rear tire in 7500 miles. I'm sure there is a correlation. I use the rear most of the time, fronts only when I really need them. Probably a bad habit. Also probably due to riding a BSA for 35 years, and never had to change the front brakes there either. But the fronts weren't real effective on the older single leading shoe brake. I'm trying to retrain myself to use the front more, but old dog, new tricks.
 

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Color me Gone
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Daniii I had to replace my rears at 6k. They took all of five minutes to replace. Very simple job to install just pads, make sure to never let them get metal to metal.

Max
 

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I keep a close eye on mine and made it to 10,000. Changed tires, brakes and did 10,000 mile service at same time saved a few bucks.

:biker:
 

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Max said:
Daniii I had to replace my rears at 6k. They took all of five minutes to replace. Very simple job to install just pads, make sure to never let them get metal to metal.

Max
Max or anybody else who has replaced the rear break pads. What is involved. I am going to be replacing both front and rear pads and any tips would be great.
 

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VrodTodd said:
Max or anybody else who has replaced the rear break pads. What is involved. I am going to be replacing both front and rear pads and any tips would be great.
You need to remove the wheel to get it out. Or at least get the axle out far enought to get the brake off. I assume you got the pads and the bulb today.
 

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For those replacing brakes I have Lyndall Racing pads for $38.50 and a front set of used EBC HH for $20 and on complete new set in the box for $20
 

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VROOOOOMMM!!!
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I don't know how thick 1.02mm is by looking either, but the way I have judged car pads for the last 20 years is:

when the pad is the same or thinner thickness as the backing plate it is glued/riveted to, it's time to schedule replacement--doesn't have to be "today", but within the next month or 2 or 3.....

I don't replace/resurface rotors unless they pulsate the handle/pedal when applying the brakes. or if they are below minimum thickness...

just my 2 cents
 

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vroom said:
I don't know how thick 1.02mm is by looking either, but the way I have judged car pads for the last 20 years is:

when the pad is the same or thinner thickness as the backing plate it is glued/riveted to, it's time to schedule replacement--doesn't have to be "today", but within the next month or 2 or 3.....

I don't replace/resurface rotors unless they pulsate the handle/pedal when applying the brakes. or if they are below minimum thickness...

just my 2 cents
I was told you are not supposed to remachine motorcycle rotors, just buy new ones.
 

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VrodRick74 said:
You need to remove the wheel to get it out. Or at least get the axle out far enought to get the brake off. I assume you got the pads and the bulb today.
Rick, Pads and bulb should be hear today(friday). Guess you know what i will be doing tonight. I searched the forum for brake pad replacement and did not come up with much. I don't think it should be to bad. I will get the camera out and see if a can put together a How To thread for those that want to do the pad replacement in the future.
 

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I didn't back to this thread but no need to remove anything when doing the rear brakes. Simply pull the two 12 point 1/4 pins and slide the pins out, I then used a plastic wedge to force the pistons back using the old pads and then slid the new pads in. Total time less then two minutes for rear pads.

Do not machine motorcycle rotors, if they get scored replace them.
 

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Right Timing For Me!

I'm in the processing of replacing the pads myself. Never done it. But I figure its not rocket science. This forum helps me and I know that If I get in trouble I can dial in for the best advice. I would not be doing it if I did not have access to this forum.
 

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VROD AL said:
I'm in the processing of replacing the pads myself. Never done it. But I figure its not rocket science. This forum helps me and I know that If I get in trouble I can dial in for the best advice. I would not be doing it if I did not have access to this forum.
I'll being replacing mine tonight, let me know of any tips you might suggest after you get done doing yours. Thanks
 

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VrodRick74 said:
I was told you are not supposed to remachine motorcycle rotors, just buy new ones.
I was including cars too, hence the "/" mark-- (replace-handle), (resurface-pedal).

sorry, didn't mean to be confusing-- yes, I only replace on a bike-- they're kinda' already thin enough, and I would feel safer with new ones....

Vroom said:
I don't replace/resurface rotors unless they pulsate the handle/pedal when applying the brakes. or if they are below minimum thickness...
 

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O4 Harley Owners manual

In my 04 V-rod Manual on page 95 Harley recommends that the brake pads be replaced when pad thickness is at .04in(1.02mm) or less. It is really easy to check with a little metal machinist rule.
 
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