Keep it regular

Every time I have the front wheel off I give the brakes a clean...It is a time consuming, mucky, fiddly old job but will keeps your brakes performing and save you the agro of having to strip the calipers down to replace stuck pistons and leaking seals..

I've just upgraded the calipers on the Trumpet so have included a few picks from the change over as a guide to basic fact I've had the old 4 pots off put new Tokico 6 pots on and then changed them for some Alcon 6 pots all with out the thing turning a wheel !!!

You will need:

A small nylon brush, an old tooth brush will do nicely,
Some rags/paper towel,
Copper grease
Maybe some Red Renolit rubber grease
Zip ties
Bungies or rope
Brake/carb cleaner

Working on one caliper at a time, loosen the pad pins, then unbolt the caliper from the fork leg (assuming it's the front brakes your working on of course !) fully remove the pad pin and the pads and attach a support rope or some such to the caliper, this is to stop over stressing the brake line. You can at this stage give the caliper a general clean up, a bucket of soapy water and a brush will do...depends how bad they are ?

Once the caliper is dried off the aim is to be able to pump out one piston at a time in order to clean it before pressing it back home and moving onto the next. Use plastic or wood to press the pistons back into the caliper in order not to damage them, when the pistons you are not working on are pressed home zip tie them in place so that when you use the brake lever to pump out the piston to be cleaned the can't move too far, I sometimes zip tie a brake pad in or just the piston or even hold some back with a block of wood or something...anything to keep all but the piston you want to work on coming out..

You get the picture...

Don't pump the piston out too far, it needs to be out far enough so that all the dirt is accessible but not so far that you may be in danger of pumping the piston out altogether !!!

Take the Brake cleaner spray the dirty piston and scrub it with your small brush all round it, you may want to spray some cleaner onto a rag and rub at stubborn deposits too. Sometimes it can be difficult to get at the top of a piston because there is ver little room between it and the end of the caliper, I have found spraying some cleaner onto a cloth feeding the cloth through the caliper and then running the cloth over the piston and pulling to and fro in a sort of flossing action works quite well...still fiddely though...

When you have cleaned the piston you are working on press it back into the caliper body zip tie it in and move onto the next,occasionally I will lube the piston with a little Renolit Red rubber grease push the piston home and wipe off any excess..

Carry on until you have done them all, then clean the backs of the pads apply a smear of copper slip grease to them and pop them in, clean and grease the pad pins in the same manner and refit, put the caliper back onto the bike and do the other side.

Couple of words of caution..Brake dust is unhealthy stuff so by using the brake cleaner it suppresses it, and also watch out with the brake cleaner it is a strong solvent and I had it stain the front fender extender before.

Seized pistons may require a little more effort the rear caliper is the worst culprit as it's under slung and catches all the road crap...the Sprint I recently got was a prime example of this, it had worn the pads clean away back to metal....

The caliper itself was none to pretty either..the rivets that had held the pad material had fallen out into the pistons !!

After a good clean up I pumped the pistons out, the caliper was still connected to the bike so by pumping the brake lever the pistons began to move, I had to hold one back to let the other catch up as it were so that they were both as far out as I could get them before one of them would start to leak brake fluid at which point i would no longer be able to pump the other piston completely out. I was lucky this time as by using some cloth and a pair of pliers I was able to pull the remaining piston clear, the time I did the rear caliper on the Speed triple I had to destroy the piston to get it out !!

A useful tool at this stage is a tooth pick, a proper metal one, you can use it to lift out the rubber seals and to scrape any corrosion out of the seal grooves, a quick tip is to pop the caliper in a low oven for a while when you then start to scrape the corrosion out it powder away quite nicely.

The piston will need at least a clean up and if there is any stubborn marks or minor damage you can use some 1500 grade wet and dry sand paper to sort them out

A quick rub over will normally do, any pitting that remains after this may mean new pistons have a good look and see if they are smooth and able to create the seal necessary to make the brakes work without leaking. Lube the new seals with brake fluid or rubber grease and press home the pistons.

Points that need attention and cleaning on the rear caliper are the mounting bracket caliper slide pins and pad pins, the caliper slide pins will need cleaning and lubing with rubber grease and the pad pins will need cleaning and lubing with copper grease, if the socket head on the pad pins is damaged or rounded out at all, change for new now to save you from having to drill them out next time.

This is the rear caliper from the Speed Triple apart for routine maintenance.

I like to bleed the brakes about every 3 months, I find sooner or later the travel on the front lever can get a bit too much, this seems to happen on both the Sprint & the Speed Triple, a temp quick fix is to zip tie the lever back over night allowing any trapped air in the system to rise into the master cylinder in fact I do this on the 6 pot Tokicos as a matter of course these days with good results.

I use a Mitivac to bleed the brakes, this is a vacuum pump that sucks the fluid through as opposed to the manual method of cracking the bleed nipple and pumping the lever etc, I find it gets me good results even if the system is dry from replacing calipers or hoses.

Recently I have fitted stainless caliper slider pins to the rear brakes on both bikes maybe a bit of over kill but anything that may improve performance and keep the service intervals a little longer etc works for me...this was really a project more for the Sprint as it gets ridden through the winter and given a bit of a hard time !!

After popping the rear caliper free of the back wheel and torque arm just ease the carrier plate out of the caliper..

get it into a vice and with an allen key (socket head) wind the brake pad rest off

This will come aprt in two bits. Use a spanner or long socket to remove the other pin

Simply wind in the new stainless pins...the one that attaches with the brake pad rest has a flat side to it which stops it rotating as you tighten it...

A stainless pad locating stub on the Speed Triple...why ?...well just because ;-)

Lube with Red Rubber grease and the jobs a good'n.

The Tokico 6 pots fitted to the Sprint get a hard time from me over the winter months..constantly wet and lashed with road salt I've now realized that they will probably need a total rebuild at the start of every season...

Draining as much fluid out as I can in situe and loosening the caliper body bolts a tad whilst still on the bike makes things a whole lot easier...once off I can split the calipers and remove all the pistons..
I've also just got the tools to pop those pistons out without the compressed air/mauling with pliers etc that used to happen previously, most of the time I can insert the expanding collett and twist them out

If they really get tough I can attach a slide hammer to the assembly..then they really stand no chance ;-)

Using the metal tooth pick I pulled out all the dust seals and piston seals ready for a clean up

To be continued...