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Old 09-16-2014, 08:46 PM   #1
Rikimoto OP
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Brakes died... Then resurrected?

Strange problem I experienced this weekend.

I was riding around in the mountains on some loose rocky trails climbing and sliding around. I had a tip over, nothing that hasn't happened a thousand times before, just dropped it at a standstill when I lost my footing.

On my descent, which was quite steep, I was locking up the rear here and there, using the back brake a lots as you do. Then, I went for the brake and felt nothing. I moved my foot but still nothing. I looked and the lever was still there, and I didn't think I smacked it, so I pulled over to check it out. No visible leaks or damage to master cylinder, brake lines, anything.

So I nursed it down the rest of the way figuring I'd nurse it home. When I was on the road I tried the rear brake again and magically, it worked! Just the way it always did...

Now needless to say this isn't confidence inspiring. Any ideas where to start? Full bleed and new fluid? Maybe an air bubble that moved around on the steep downhill?

Bike info: 2007 990 adv with ABS (rear sensor backed out with washers so ABS hasn't been used) ~25k kms and I have no idea if the brakes have been bled before as I've only owned it for half that mileage.


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Old 09-16-2014, 08:56 PM   #2
FakeName
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Probably boiled the fluid- it happens. I'd do a brake fluid change with Motul 600 and call it good.
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:12 PM   #3
MortimerSickle
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Originally Posted by FakeName View Post
Probably boiled the fluid- it happens. I'd do a brake fluid change with Motul 600 and call it good.
^^ This.

The fluid gets moisture in it. When the brakes get hot the moisture turns to steam, and causes brake fade. When the brakes cool, the steam condenses to liquid, and the brakes return.
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:24 PM   #4
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Hmm never done that before, and it wasn't actually a particularly aggressive ride. The downhill must have been steeper than I thought!

Thanks guys! I'll bleed and change fluid.

That being said, I would have expected a brake fade to be more gradual, and not be such a surprise as in was locking up, then lever felt like it was missing. But like I mentioned, never done that before so I guess I don't know what to expect :P


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Old 09-16-2014, 09:32 PM   #5
MortimerSickle
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It happened to me twice, both on long, steep, slow downhill off-road rides. Both times it went suddenly.

I started flushing the fluid more often, and it hasn't happened since.
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MortimerSickle View Post
It happened to me twice, both on long, steep, slow downhill off-road rides. Both times it went suddenly.

I started flushing the fluid more often, and it hasn't happened since.

Ah! Awesome, that's pretty definitive. Thanks for the info and advice!


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Old 09-16-2014, 09:39 PM   #7
marin ktm
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It is one of those special moments that you will never forget. When you go for the brake and it is not there, it almost feels like you accelerate!
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Old 09-16-2014, 09:46 PM   #8
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Yup! But it was a good opportunity to practice front brake finesse - and going downhill a bit faster!


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Old Yesterday, 12:23 AM   #9
gefr
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There was a recall for several year production bikes.

My master cylinder was replaced in a 2006 990 Adv as a recall was on. You could check it. The rear brake is close to the rear cylinder exhaust so gets hot from that as well.
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Old Yesterday, 04:10 AM   #10
Orangecicle
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Same thing happened to me a few years ago coming down off of Mt. Evans in Colorado headed to Idaho Springs. We were two-up coming down and got stuck behind a slow Land Rover, so I was on the rear brake constantly -- that is until the peddle just went down without any resistance. Then I had to start using the front brakes with warped rotors. The brake came back after the bike cooled.

If you have ANY moisture in the brake system from condensation, that will be the first to boil, and that steam puts air in your brake system. Brake systems are always exposed to some air and some humidity, so you will eventually get moisture in the system. It's why you're guided to periodically change the brake fluid. When you change, go to one of the high-end fluids like the expensive Motul RFB600. It's worth it.

And, when you put in new brake fluid, make sure you pull the caliper off and turn it upside down to drain it out. Water can build up in the lowest part of the caliper, so doing a good job of draining it is important. That is also a good time to put some grease on the pins on which the caliper slides. Those can rust up over time and cause problems.
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