For motorcycle owners there is nothing quite like riding along with the wind in their hair. However, owning a bike is not all about fun; it often requires a good knowledge of mechanics and how to repair the vehicle. There are typically not as many motorcycle repair garages as there are car garages, so it is often up to the motorcycle owner to make more common repairs. One of the irritating issues that occur with any high-speed vehicle is a squeaking sound when applying the brakes.
Most of the time this sound means that the brakes have built up a surface layer of debris, but it can also mean that the brakes need to be replaced. Before going on the next ride with squeaky brakes, fix the problem before it gets worse. Brakes are easy parts either to repair or replace. Motorcycle owners can find parts and the tools to do this job in car parts shops, via the bike's manufacturer, and online at eBay.
Worn Brake Pads
Brake pads are designed to make a noise as they get low and need replacing. They wear down over time from the extreme friction when applied to the wheel rotor. When brake pads get too low, they can no longer apply enough pressure to brake safely.
Replacing Worn Brake Pads
Examine the brake pads to determine their thickness. When the pads get to 3.1 millimetres thick or less, they need to be replaced. Remove the callipers from the motorcycle, then pull out the old brake pads and replace them with the new ones. The piston that pushes the brake pads onto the rotor may need to be pushed back into the callipers so that the old brake pad can be removed. Once the brake pad has been replaced, reinstall the callipers.
Glazed Brake Pads
Glazing is the most common cause of squeaky motorcycle brakes. It results from long-term use and slow stops.
Fixing Glazed Brake Pads
It is easy to fix this problem by sanding the glazed part of the brake pads with 1000 grit fine sandpaper. To do this, motorcycle owners need to remove the brake pads from the wheel. Sand only the insides of the pads where they face each other until the entire glaze is removed. The glaze is not difficult to remove, so sand gently.
After sanding the glaze off the brake pads, the squeaking can be reduced further by greasing the pads. To do this, owners need to remove the callipers from the brake pads. Apply brake grease to the back of the pads where they connect to the callipers. Do not apply the grease to the front of the brake pads where they meet because this can interfere with the motorcycle's braking ability. Finally, reinstall the brake pads.
Leaky Brake Line
Problems with a brake line can cause squeaking. This can occur when hydraulic fluid leaks out of the brake line or when water and air get into the brake line, thereby reducing the motorcycle's braking power.
Fixing a Leaky Brake Line
Motorcycle owners need to check the line where it connects to the callipers on the brakes. If the callipers have a build-up of debris, dried hydraulic fluid, or even fresh hydraulic fluid, then there is a leak. The easiest way to fix this is to replace the brake line.
If there is no leak, but the motorcycle is experiencing trouble when stopping, or the brakes feel slightly soft when pressed, then there may be water or air in the brake line. Bleeding the brake line and replacing the hydraulic fluid can take care of these two problems in one treatment. Be careful when working around hydraulic fluid as it can disintegrate metal, irritate the eyes and skin, and cause nerve damage if the fumes are inhaled accidentally. Hydraulic fluid is also under pressure in some systems, so care should be taken to avoid a hydraulic injection injury when checking the brakes. Always wipe up excess fluid with a rag and dispose of unwanted hydraulic fluid according to safety regulations.
Problems with the Callipers
The callipers can cause brake trouble when they are not lubricated properly or if they are applying too much pressure on the brake pads. If the rotor feels hot to the touch after taking a short ride on the motorcycle and using the brake repeatedly, then this can be an indication that there is too much pressure on the brake pads from the callipers. This is only true if the brake pads do not need to be replaced. Callipers can also wear out and not apply enough pressure to the brakes.
Fixing the Callipers
Motorcycle owners have a number of options for fixing the callipers. They can try to adjust them so that they do not apply as much pressure during braking. They can also remove the callipers and refurbish them. There are garages that strip old callipers, clean them, check them for damage, replace old seals, and reapply lubricant. Alternatively, motorcycle owners can simply buy a new set of callipers.
Motorcycle owners sometimes encounter a problem known as warped rotors, which can lead to a squeaking sound as the brakes are applied. Despite the name, the rotors are not really warped. Instead, the intense heat causes particles to wear off from the brake pads onto the rotor surface. If these particles build-up and harden over time, they can create an uneven rotor surface that leads to vibration and noise when the brakes are applied.
Resurfacing Warped Rotors
Having the rotors ground down and resurfaced eliminates the vibration and sound. Consider using a professional mechanic to resurface the rotors. These professionals have the proper tools and equipment to get a smooth, even surface. However, the problem can return if the brake pads are prone to losing material, or if the rider tends to perform hard braking stops. Motorcycle rotors that are heavily embedded with material from the brake pads may not be restorable. In this case, it is better to purchase new rotors to eliminate the problem and improve braking.
Materials for Brake Pads
Brake pads are made from two types of materials: ceramic or a non-asbestos organic material. Ceramic brakes are composed of ceramic fibres, filler material, some copper fibres, and a binding agent. These are much more expensive than organic pads, but they are much lighter and last longer. Non-asbestos organic brake pads are made from a mixture of materials, including glass, rubber, and Kevlar. The non-asbestos organic material is softer than ceramic, but it is less expensive. This material is better used on smaller motorcycles.
Buying Parts to Fix Squeaky Motorcycle Brakes on eBay
You can find plenty of motorcycle parts on eBay. The website is a great place to visit when looking for good prices on parts, including calliper pins and tool kits for working on motorcycles. The quickest way to find a part is to use the eBay search tool. This is available on every page of the site. Just fill in the search terms, such as "ceramic brake pads", and eBay goes through all of its listings that are tagged with those words. It returns matching descriptions in a search results page. To refine the search, add more descriptive terms or use the category features.
Buying online also means paying postage and packaging for your items. You may be able to save some money on the cost of delivery by looking for local sellers. This is done through a number of ways, for example, using your postcode on the advanced search page to find products and vehicles from sellers that are closest to you. Some search results pages also allow you to narrow down listings by those from sellers within a selected radius of your postcode. This is also helpful for finding sellers that might allow local collection.
Most motorcycle owners have to do some mechanical work on their bikes. This is necessary to keep the vehicle maintained by troubleshooting problems as they arise. Fully functional brakes are a requirement for good safety, so it is especially important to know what can lead to braking problems, such as squeaking. There are a number of potential causes. Luckily, most of them can be fixed with the right parts and some basic understanding of motorcycle mechanics.
Replacing the brake pads is an option if they squeak from being worn down too much. Typically, brakes develop a glazing that leads to squeaking when they are used. This is an easy problem to fix by sanding the glaze and lubricating the callipers. Sometimes, the callipers and brakes become dirty as a result of a leakage in the brake line. This is a potentially serious problem that can be fixed by replacing the brake line and bleeding the hydraulic fluid to get rid of air and water. The rotors and callipers wear out with time and may need professional attention to get them back into working order. Alternatively, they can be replaced with brand new parts. All of the parts required to fix squeaky motorcycle brakes are available through sellers on eBay.