Brakes are the most important part of your motorbike; it doesn't matter how fast you can go if you can't stop. Maintaining your bike's brake calipers is vital to their safety and optimal working condition, so our simple guide will show you how to look after them and how to rebuild them when the time comes.
It's important to keep your calipers clean, but you should also clean and lubricate the pistons regularly. To do this, don't push the brake pad back into the caliper - just loosen the bolt and slide it off the disc. You can then remove the brake pads and get to the pistons to clean them. Check that the brake pads are in good condition and have enough life left in them.
Using brake pad cleaner, clean all the exposed pistons down to the seals and then apply red rubber grease to the same area. Do not apply it, as you do not want it to get on the brake pads.
Make sure the brake pads are back in the same position as when they came out, otherwise they will have to be fixed to the disc again. Then pop any springs and retaining pins/clips back in (also after cleaning).
"When fitting new brake pads, you need to push the pistons back a little to make room for the thicker material," says Nick Nomikos." It's important to clean the pistons and apply some red rubber grease before pushing them back in. "The reason brake calipers on cars don't usually have these problems is that the pistons have rubber sleeves on them.
"If your bike's brakes aren't working well and the brake fluid is fresh and well lubricated, then the wrong pad material may have been fitted - if your bike is meant to have sintered pads, organic pads will pass the mid-term check, but they won't bite as hard."
If you take care of the calipers, you only need to rebuild them at the recommended service intervals - in the case of this, every two years!
When I brought the bike home it barely moved when the brakes were applied; this is obviously a serious problem, but properly maintained brakes shouldn't reach a state where you can feel a problem; that's potentially dangerous.
If you're getting a motorbike, you can check the calipers by letting the wheels off the ground and then turning them, feeling and listening for resistance. Try applying the brakes and then letting go to see if the wheels release again; if they don't come off cleanly, you may need to replace the brake calipers.