A Honda CBR relies almost exclusively on its front brakes when being ridden at high speeds or on the racetrack. This places an increased emphasis on brake "feel," the tactile sensations felt through the brake lever as it is being operated, allowing the rider to control the front brake all the way to the point of locking the motorcycle's front wheel. Brake feel begins to fade as the brake pads wear and the brake fluid heats to a boil, thinning the fluid. You can make some adjustments while out riding, but adjusting for a spongey brake pull requires replacement of the brake fluid.
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Things you need
- DOT 4 brake fluid
- Plastic tubing
- Catch jar
- 8-mm wrench
Pull in the front brake lever as far as possible until it cannot move further. Take note of the position of the lever relative to your hand on the handlebar. Ideally, the lever should stop 1/4 of an inch from your hand when pulled in completely. If the lever is almost able to touch your hand or the handlebar, the lever must be adjusted for a longer throw. Conversely, if the lever is too far away from the handlebar or is difficult to reach, the lever must be moved closer to the handlebar.
Push the front brake lever forward slightly to loosen adjustment knob at the lever's pivot.
Rotate the adjustment knob in either direction to increase or decrease the front brake lever's range of motion. The knob itself is imprinted with a set of numbers, increasing from 1 to 5, indicating the lever's position. Placing the adjustment knob at 1 will set the lever at its closest position to the handlebar, while 5 will move as far away from the handlebar as possible.
Pull the brake lever in and check its position again. Readjust the lever as needed until the brake lever stops at least 1/4 of an inch from your hand when pulled in completely.
Remove the front brake master cylinder's reservoir cover and pull out the reservoir's rubber diaphragm. Suck out the old brake fluid from the reservoir with a hand pump. Refill the reservoir with fresh DOT 4 brake fluid. Pump the brake lever three to four times to pull a small amount of fresh fluid into the brake circuit.
Pull the rubber cap off of the master cylinder's bleed valve and place a length of plastic tubing over the valve. Run the opposite end of the tubing into a catch jar. Loosen the bleed valve with an 8-mm wrench a 1/4 turn, then pull the brake lever in and hold it in place. A small amount of brake fluid and air bubbles will travel up the tubing. Tighten the bleed valve and slowly release the brake lever. Top off the fluid reservoir with fresh brake fluid. Repeat until the brake fluid trapped in the tubing is free of bubbles. Pull the tubing off the valve and press the rubber cap into place.
Pull the rubber cap off of the right front brake caliper's bleed valve and press the plastic tubing onto the valve. Open the caliper's bleed valve 1/4 of a turn with an 8-mm wrench and pull the brake lever in to draw brake fluid into the tubing. Close the bleed valve and slowly release the brake lever. Top off the master cylinder's fluid reservoir with fresh brake fluid and repeat until the brake fluid in the tubing is free of bubbles. Pull the tubing off the valve and press the rubber cap into place. Repeat on the remaining front brake caliper.
Tips and warnings
- Older CBR models may not have a bleed valve on their master cylinders. Wrap a shop towel around the master cylinder's brake bolt, then loosen the bolt slightly with a 14-mm wrench. Pull the brake lever to force out trapped air, then tighten the bolt before releasing the lever.
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