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Diagnosing a Spongy Brake Lever

August 9, 2023 Tips & how-to guides
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One of the most important parts of riding a motorbike is making sure that your brakes are in good working order. Spongy brakes can be a serious safety concern for any rider, so it's important to know how to identify and fix the issue before hitting the road.

Spongy brakes on your motorbike can be caused by a number of different issues, with the most common being air in the system. The first thing to check is your brake fluid level. Low or old brake fluid can be a major contributing factor to that dreaded spongy feeling in your brake lever.

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Figure 1: The first step in diagnosing a spongy brake lever is inspecting your brake fluid.

To begin, locate your bike’s brake fluid reservoir and check where the level is as well as the colour of the fluid. If it’s low but a nice, clean colour, it may have sucked in air. In that case, it’ll need a top-up and you’ll need to bleed the brakes. If the brake fluid is dark and dirty, it’s a tell-tale sign that it’s time for it to be replaced. For top-ups or flushes, be sure to use the correct type of Bendix brake fluid for your motorcycle.

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Figure 2: Be sure to use the correct type of Bendix brake fluid for your motorcycle.

Before replacing your brake fluid, you’ll need to inspect your bike’s braking system for any leaks. Take a close look at the condition of your brake lines and look for any perishing or swelling. Next, check your calipers and inspect for any fluid leakage at the fittings. Finally, check for any wear, corrosion, and signs of leakage from your brake master cylinder. If you find any issues at the stage, you’ll need to have them rectified before bleeding or replacing your brake fluid.

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Figure 3: Before replacing your brake fluid, inspect your brake lines, calipers, and master cylinder for leakage.

If a brake bleed and fresh fluid hasn’t rectified the issue, it’s time to check your pads and rotors. Worn pads can also contribute to that spongy brake feeling. To inspect the brake pads, you’ll need to loosen any pad retention hardware on the caliper and remove the brake caliper from the bike. This will allow you to inspect the condition of the caliper more closely.

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Figure 4: You'll need to remove your brake caliper to properly check your brake pads.

Once you have access, look at the surface of the pads for signs of wear, such as uneven wear or grooves. If the pads are worn down to the wear indicator or below the manufacturer's recommended thickness, they should be replaced. You’ll also what to check for any glazing on the pads, which shows as a shiny, glazed surface on the pads. This occurs when the brake pads get too hot and the material hardens, which can reduce the pads' effectiveness.

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Figure 5: Check your brake pads for excessive or uneven wear, grooves, or glazing.

When it comes time to replace your motorcycle’s brake pads, Bendix Moto has you covered. Bendix Moto offers brake pads to suit a wide range of bikes, in either the Ultimate Plus Ceramic compound for the everyday commuter or casual rider or the Street Road Track Sintered compound for riders that like to push the limit.

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Figure 6: Bendix Moto Street Road Track brake pads are a sintered compound and are built for longevity and spirited riding.

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Figure 7: Bendix Moto Ultimate+ brake pads are a ceramic compound and are for the everyday commuter or casual rider who wants ultimate confidence and control on their journey.

Worn pads can also cause your rotors to wear down and warp, so while you’re there, check the rotors for warping, cracking, or excessive wear. If the rotors are damaged, they'll need to be replaced as well.

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Figure 8: Check your rotors for warping, cracking, or excessive wear.

Spongy brakes can be a serious safety issue, so it's important to address the problem as soon as possible. Check out Bendix Moto’s range of Street Road Track and Ultimate+ brake pads on our website at the link below and ride with confidence.

For more information on Bendix Moto products, click HERE.

To find your Bendix Moto brake pads, click HERE.

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