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Understanding motorcycle brake vibration

April 1, 2022
Bendix Moto Inspection 2

Unlike four wheels, riding a motorcycle is an interactive experience, so when it comes to your brakes, if something isn't as it should be, you can often feel it through the seat, footrests, or handlebars.

This sensation can send you into panic mode if you're new to biking. Pack a few miles under your two wheels, though and you will develop a feel for what, why and where the issue may be. Better yet, you will be able to prevent the problem from raising its ugly head again!

The problem we’re taking a look at here is the vibration felt through the handlebars under heavy braking. This issue can either build slowly or occur out of the blue.

These are the topics we'll be covering:

  • How is Vibration under Heavy Braking Caused?

  • How do I prevent my Brake Disc from Vibrating?

  • What can I do to prevent the Vibration from Happening Again?

Bendix Moto Inspection 6

How is Vibration under Heavy Braking Caused?

A few things can cause this issue, such as worn steering head bearings, wheel bearing or even a problem with the caliper. However, once you've checked all three and found them in good shape, the front disc rotor is the last stop on the inspection list.

In most cases, vibration under heavy braking is down to a worn or distorted disc. Repeatedly braking hard enough for long enough, and over time, the disc will get hot enough to contort the metal. When this warping happens, the disc has a wavy texture instead of having a flat surface for the brake pads to grip.

A second reason for the disc to become uneven may be the brake pads. Under sustained heavy braking, poor-quality brake pads may also overheat. This action can transfer pad material to the disc, making the surface uneven.

Whatever the reason, vibration comes from the brake pads opening and closing minutely, very quickly as they pass over the disc's surface.

This issue can either be obvious when looking at the disc or almost invisible. On a high spec brake system, a disc needs only be 30 microns out of true for this vibration to occur. If you're wondering what 30 microns look like, human hair has a thickness of around 60 microns. So as mentioned before, it may not be obvious.

Bendix Moto Inspection 50

How do I prevent my Brake Disc from Vibrating?

For a skilled mechanic, preventing the brake disc from vibrating is a straightforward fix. However, it's not something you can do at home. In which case, a visit to your local motorcycle mechanic is on the cards.

The skilled mechanic will first remove the wheel. Next, they will use a dial indicator measuring device, which runs across the disc's surface. This instrument will confirm whether the disc surface is uneven and, if it is, by how much. More often than not the disc will need to be replaced with a new one as motorcycle discs are to thin for successful machining.

What Can I Do to Prevent the Vibration from Happening Again?

The simple answer is to ensure any replacement to the braking system is high quality.

Even some original equipment manufacturer (OEM) discs may warp. Cheap replacement discs, though, are often an inferior metal and prone to distortion.

Also, add poor-quality replacement brake pads into the mix, and you may well have a Groundhog Day situation regarding the disc warping. Brake pads that are not up to the task compromise brake performance. What’s more, they exacerbate the problem by overheating and losing pad material.

Not being able to stop your motorcycle quickly and safely makes you a danger to yourself and other road users. So, on the subject of motorcycle brake problems, don't take any chances. Hand the problem over to a professional motorcycle mechanic. Then insist on the best; Bendix Moto brake pads, fluid, and accessories.

Bendix Moto brake pads, brake fluid, and brake accessories are high-quality replacements that exceed OEM standards.

The ceramic Ultimate+ range of brake pads is suitable for commuter bikes, scooters, and lower capacity, lightweight motorcycles.

Meanwhile, Bendix Street Road Track sintered motorcycle brake pads are ideal for spirited riding, mid, and large-capacity motorcycles, and heavier machines.

Both brake pad varieties can withstand demanding workloads. In addition, they provide consistent, high-efficiency braking performance. Bendix also manufactures high-performance motorcycle brake fluid. Bendix DOT 3 and DOT 4 brake fluid meet and exceed the highest US and Australian safety specifications.