How to Check Café Racer Brakes - MotoMatter
How To Check Café Racer Brakes

How to Check Café Racer Brakes

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How to Check Café Racer Brakes

We’ve already given you a simple, but effective, Pickel way to refresh you brake fluid, but like to complete the story with some other items to check/maintain.

So today, How to Check Café Racer Brakes.

The Brake Checklist
The checklist, actually the entire post, can be used for other bikes (perhaps also cars) as well. So learn and enjoy!

The Brake fluid
Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time and becomes less effective. Replace brake fluid every one to two years and your brakes will preform the best they can.refill-fluid

Motorcycles could have up to two brake fluid reservoirs, one for the front, usually found on the handlebars and one for the back. Both should be checked regularly. Topping up should only be done from a new, sealed bottle as brake fluid tends to absorb moisture over time. If your brake pads are thin and due for replacement. Beware – brake fluid, if spilt on paintwork eats right through to the bare metal.

Brake Lines
Fitting braided steel brake lines will increase the performance of your brakes by roughly 50%.

Most people do not realize that the typical useful life of a rubber brake hose assembly is only about six years. There are many causes of brake hose deterioration, such as contaminants in brake fluid.

old-brake-linesBrake lines deteriorate from the outside as well as the inside. While the signs of deterioration, such as cracked, hardened or weak hoses can often be diagnosed from the outside, the damage to brake hoses on the inside an go undetected until it is too late.”Brake hose should not be hard and brittle or soft and spongy.

Brake hose should feel firm but flexible. Also check for visual aspects like: Cracks in the outer skin of the brake hose – you may need to bend the hose in order to see this. Blisters or bubbles in the brake hose Chafe marks – from brake hose rubbing against some other component. Wet stains where brake hose is starting to leak. Obvious bulging or expansion of the hose. Loose brake hose mounts. Twist in the brake lines.
The Brake disc(s)
Sight and feel are just as important in deciding whether a disc is buggered.If you can feel a pulsing sensation through the front brake lever (or rear) under gentle braking, or the front end violently judders at high speed with the first of the lever then it’s a sign the
discs are warped.


But get the steering head bearings checked, too. A good look at the discs will also show up problems. Check for cracks, severe pitting and uneven wear on the disc’s face (rotor). If the discs are of the semi-floating or full floating type also pay attention to the condition of the rotor buttons that connect the disc rotor to the inner rotor (the bit that actually bolts to the wheel). If the rotors have thin ridges or dips running around their circumference rub a finger across the radius of the rotor.

If the ridges feel deep or abnormally high, then the discs need to be measured properly for run-out and wear. If there’s an obvious difference in thickness between the rotor’s outer lip and the face, check for wear. A dial gauge mounted solidly on the fork leg or stand and placed against the rotor’s face at two different points (one-third and two-thirds distance across the radius) will highlight the rotor’s run-out – the amount a disc is warped. Vernier calipers measure how thick the discs are. The minimum permissible disc thickness (see manual) should be measured on the deepest ridge. Make sure the rotor’s outer lip is not included in this measurement as it isn’t touched by the brake pad.

The Brake Pads/Drums
Check the thickness of the brake pads. If you allow them to go right down to the metal your brake disc will be damaged resulting in an unnecessary and expensive replacement.


For a long time motorcycles were stopped by drum brakes which work by pushing shoes up against the inside of a drum and cause friction slowing the motorcycle down. Drum brakes are easy to recognize with the ‘drum’ mounted on the wheel. Drum brakes worked well and are still being used for smaller bikes however drums are prone to overheating and wear-outs. Even the high performance ones, these motorcycle brakes need regular adjustment for optimal use.

Brake pads, which come with brake discs, have their visual indicators to check (the lines in the pads). When they are gone, you need new ones!

The Brake lights

Yup, don’t forget about these! Go stand in the dark and brake, you’lee of they work within a sec. If not, check the lights or check the cables, the might get a bit dirty.

The manual
Always use your manual and common sense. If you don’t feel like you are up to it, ask a professional. There is NO shame in that, because braking is more important that acceleration 😉

Building a Cafe Racer Yourself?

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