My brakes are garbage.

 Let me start by saying I  have been riding for close to fifty years, and in all that time have never taken a bike in to have it worked on as I do ALL my own work. I am pretty good at it too, but stumped on these brakes.


 When I first got a WR back in '99 I was amazed at how good the brakes were. I put myself over the bars the first time I rode it!


 Over the years they have gotten worse and worse (on multiple bikes)  and now I am at a loss to explain why.


 I  have had all sorts of dirt, street, and dual sport bikes over the years, still have quite a few as well, and can say without a doubt the WR front brakes are the biggest pieces of crap I have ever encountered! I even think some drum brakes would  be better off over the long haul! I have never had a bikes brakes get progressively worse over the years like this. And especially not been able to bring them back.


 I still have the '99, as well as an '03, and both are about the same. They do work but man do I ever have to pull hard on the levers. NOT at all what disc brakes are supposed to be like. I also have a stock KLR and I WISH the WR's had brakes as good as the KLR's!! AND the KLR brakes are only single puck brakes!


 Last Summer I worked on the '03 for weeks and finally gave up. It stops, pretty well, but I am totally unimpressed.


 I put in caliper seals, master cylinder kit, stainless lines, new pad pins, broke the glaze on both pads and discs, bled em from the bottom, gravity bled em, bled banjo bolts, used my mighty vac, a power bleeder, you name it, and I am STILL not satisfied with them. The levers are nice and firm, no mushiness to them, I am sure they are bled good as you cannot get anywhere close to the bars with the levers on either bike, but they absolutely WILL NOT lock up the wheel, even  on dirt.


 They both have stock discs but that should be plenty good, especially on dirt.


 Today I put a master cylinder off a Honda TRX450R on it and there is STILL no noticeable improvement. It IS easier/faster to bleed it though so I guess THAT is an improvement!


 I do not really care if the wheel can be locked up but I sure do wish I did not have to clamp down with three fingers every time I use them. I actually can stop with two or even one but not if on any kind of grade. I would use four fingers at times but have shorty levers on them and cannot get my pinky on there.


 I check them each time I try something else by going up my dirt alley and clamping down as hard as I can from about 10-15 MPH using THREE fingers. It will stand it up on it's nose pretty good and stop pretty fast but with all the force I am putting into it, it should lock up and slide.


 I have searched this and other sites for ideas (THAT is where I got the one for the TRX m/cyl)  but other than people not getting their brakes bled good, I have found no clues as to why I can have such a firm lever and such poor brake results. 


 Anyone else run into this problem or am I doomed to go over to an orange colored scooter in order to get one that stops good/easily?


I rode a buddies '08 thrashed out KTM530 last weekend and with one finger on his lever you can slide the front end!


 Any ideas?

Replace the pads with a set of OEM Honda pads for an '04-'05 CRF450.


Personally, I like brakes that have control levers, not triggers.

You neglected to mention what pads your running. Your symptoms make it sound like you've installed some cheap organic compounds.

We're talking about the WR or YZ? I'm reading WR several times but this is in the YZ forum so I'm a bit confused. Either way, new pads are the easiest "fix" to rule out.

Check your wheel bearings.

Loose wheel bearings can cause excessive lever play on the first application of the brake following a period of non use, but otherwise, can't cause the problem at hand here, which is a firm lever with normal travel, and poor actual stopping performance.

 That year Honda pads  will fit in this caliper? I know they both use Nissin calipers but did not know that they had a different a pad material from Honda's to Yamaha's.


 The lever does have pretty decent feel, it is just that it takes SO much force to really slow it down. On long days in the mountains by the end of the day my right hand is getting WAY tired....kind of reminds me of when I used to use a BW350 to clear trail. They had drums brakes and and by mid afternoon my hand was toast. 


 I am using stock OEM pads. They look to be some sort of sintered material. I do like the organic pads I USED to be able to get from EBC but they changed to a different material years back and I have since run out of the supply I had stocked up on. Tried the newer EBC organics and did not like them, so am back to stock OEM pads.


 WHOOPS! I guess I DID post this under/in   the wrong model section.....thought I was in WR section. No wonder I could not find it a few hours after I posted it! Sorry about not know how to move it.


 Wheel bearings are all good, just changed out early last Summer and has not really been seeing anything but light DS use here lately since I am using the 'o3 (with a button) for real dirt use. 


 I rode a buddies '10 WR250 this morning and man......THAT is how I remember them being. Good stopping power with about half the force or less than these require.

have you tried adjusting the nut bolt combo on the lever that pushes the plunger?

That year Honda pads  will fit in this caliper?

Did you read post #2?

Yes I did adjust that when I put the new kit n the M/cyl. That adjustment is more for positioning of the lever to suit your hand than anything else though.


 I put ANOTHER set of caliper seals in it yesterday cause several years back it got even harder than it normally was to stop it. Back then I found one of the rubber seals  had sort of rolled or sheared a real tiny sliver of the rubber between the puck and the caliper bore. That helped a bunch back then and I do think it might have heped just a little yesterday as now when I clamp down on it real hard it will slightly skid the front wheel as it turns. Not a full lock up but a little better. This might also be due to that much bigger quad master cylinder. STill does take a bunch of pull to do that. 

Yes I did and am going to see if my loco Honda shop has them in stock or else get em from Rocky Mountain. I would like to compare them visually first if possible to make certain they are the same shape and style.

 You say you have used them and they fit right in this caliper, correct?

I have not, but if you search "honda brake pads" in this forum, or in the Yamaha two-stroke forum, you'll find that a number of people have.

Well the Honda shop here did not have them in stock so will need to  order a set from Rocky Mountain as they are about 15 bucks cheaper and can get them here faster than the Honda guys.


 I was looking on their web  site and noticed that they show different brake pads for the  and '99 400 and '03 450. I am not sure what the difference is in them but it HAS to be pad material as I have compared them before and they look identical and are interchangeable. Both come in Yamaha packaging but say Nissin on them so am real curious about these Honda ones now too.

Well I got the Honda pads in but have not yet installed them...I am waiting on a new disc as I am going to replace it too because it is under the service limit.

THAT is the ONLY thing I have not replaced on this 400's front brake system.

I did replace the disc on the '03 450 and it made no difference. I personally do not think a rotor being a little under sized in thickness will have much bearing on the stopping power just due to the mechanics of how they work.

Will update once I do it.

Usually, the spec for minimum thickness reflects a concern for the ability of the rotor to remain flat when heated severely in service.  It should still function as a brake reasonably well in spite of being "too thin", up to the point where it begins to distort.  I doubt it would have been a problem that affected performance, but it does need to be addressed.

That is pretty much what I figured but since there is NOTHING left that I have not worked on or replaced on EITHER bike now I figured I would give that a shot...I am after all grabbing at starws at this point!


 Next I guess I will just have to start carrying an anchor, cause dragging your feet to stop sucks!!

I installed the new disc and Honda Brake pads today. I KNEW it was going to be much better as soon as I unbolted the old disc. It sproinged into a salad bowl shape as soon as the next to last bolt was removed. If you try to push it flat by hand it sproings over the opposite direction about the same amount too! If laid on a flat surface it is about one quarter inch out of flat! If re-tightened on hub it will pull itself back nice and flat but who knows what happens when brakes are applied and especially as it builds up some heat. Never seen one do this before. Oh lucky me!


 The new disc and pads are a huge improvement. I rode it around for about a half hour and they will skid the front tire. Still have to pull pretty hard on the lever but they will do it! I imagine it will get a little better too as they bed in a little more.I sure am glad this worked as now EVERYTHING to do with front brakes has been replaced. Wish I would have started here inthe first place though!


 I will try stock Yamaha pads next time I change them out as I have a set in stock already and am curious as to the difference from red to blue but am pretty happy right now!


 NOW I want to take the disc off the '03 to see if it has similar problems.

I too have this problem with my front brakes feel real spongy. I toped off the brake fluid. I have bleed them twice. Put new pads on. Im wondering if i should rebuild the master cylinder or i have heard of people using a honda MC..its a 2010 yz450f.

Edited by Chansharp



 I did the Honda TRX master cylinder a couple weeks ago and did not notice that much of a difference, It DID make it a LOT easier to bleed them though as those quad masters push a LOT more fluid  than the stock WR/YZ ones.


 If it is spongy you STILL have air in there somewhere. Since it is a 2010 and has the new style cable routing it should not be that hard to re-bleed it. Bleeding from the bottom and pushing fluid UP using a big syringe really works wonders and seems to be the best way I have found. You have to be real careful to NOT get more air into the caliper when connecting up the line from the syringe to the bleed bolt. I  start pushing some brake fluid into the bleed screw before I get it completely on watching to make sure there are no bubbles that get pushed in. Almost easier to just drain the caliper and line so you know all the air and bubbles will be above the fluid level as you start the bleeding process.   


Since you have already done it you might try taking the master cylinder loose from the bar and hanging it in a way that the line has some angle to it all the way up to the master cylinder. Leave the cap/cover on.Then take a small screw driver or combination wrench and starting at the caliper tap the caliper and all the way up the line to try and knock any bubbles loose that might be stick in it. This helps get them to flow back up the line. Leave the Master tied up high like that for an hour or so then re-bolt it to the handlebar.


 Also sometimes just tieing the clutch lever in, or velcro it in against the bar overnight and it will aid in getting the air out of the line if it is located up close to the master cylinder.

JGR needs to sell thier front brake package to the public. Peick standingthe bike up a few weeks back was pretty sweet.

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