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  #1  
Old 12th September 2018
BluesandBike BluesandBike is offline
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Default Brake fails - what then

I am a new rider, and I ride a nightster 1200

On the way to work, about 5 miles into a 20 mile trip, I discovered that my back brake had failed. I managed to stop safely behind a car at a stoplight, but then I was at a bit of a loss what to do.

I thought about immediately just stopping and getting off. But not wanting to get stranded somewhere I really wanted to get to work and get to a place where the bike would be covered and I could park it until I could figure out how to get it to the shop.

So instead of pulling off I turn on my flashers and continued, never going over 45 miles an hour, figuring I could downshift and front brake enough to limp to work. I did not have any close call for the rest of the trip to work, so on the whole I thought what I did was OK.

As an experienced rider, do you think I did OK or do you think I just got lucky?

The mechanic says the master brake cylinder for the rear break has to be rebuilt. I am pretty sure the back brake was working when I got on, and failed while I was riding, but I admit I’m not positive. I am concerned I should’ve caught that it wasn’t working before I got on.

Do you think it failed while I was on the bike, or did it probably fail and I didn’t pick that up before I started out?

The bike is getting repaired and I’m fine, but these questions keep coming back. Tell me what you think.
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  #2  
Old 12th September 2018
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I think I would have just used the front brake and not worried about the back one, for the rest of the journey, then got it to the shop as soon as possible.

After all, the front brake is the main one. You can get by without a back brake much better than you could without the front.
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  #3  
Old 12th September 2018
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I would say, and I mean this in the nicest way, that you over-reacted.

Yes it would have been smart to keep a greater stopping distance because the back brake on a Harley DOES contribute. But it sounds like you need to practice emergency braking and more threshold braking on the front because that's what does most of the work anyway.


No way to know for sure, but generally speaking if the master cylinder didn't spring a giant leak the brake wouldn't typically just fail all at once.


Edit-Wedge explained to me why it can fail at once and how the second piston cup can't pressurize the system if the first one fails.

Though I still think a failing pain would likely show some reduced braking force had been slowly going away over time and finally there was nothing left.

But it IS possible.
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  #4  
Old 12th September 2018
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As was said, the front brake is really what stops you the most. There's times it's all I use. When my rear pads were wore down, I didnt use it at all not wanting to damage the rotor. Not quite sure why you freaked.
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  #5  
Old 12th September 2018
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At the risk of flogging a dead horse your front brake should be your primary one and I suggest you learn to use it well.
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  #6  
Old 12th September 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesandBike View Post
I am a new rider, and I ride a nightster 1200

On the way to work, about 5 miles into a 20 mile trip, I discovered that my back brake had failed. I managed to stop safely behind a car at a stoplight, but then I was at a bit of a loss what to do.

I thought about immediately just stopping and getting off. But not wanting to get stranded somewhere I really wanted to get to work and get to a place where the bike would be covered and I could park it until I could figure out how to get it to the shop.

So instead of pulling off I turn on my flashers and continued, never going over 45 miles an hour, figuring I could downshift and front brake enough to limp to work. I did not have any close call for the rest of the trip to work, so on the whole I thought what I did was OK.

As an experienced rider, do you think I did OK or do you think I just got lucky?

The mechanic says the master brake cylinder for the rear break has to be rebuilt. I am pretty sure the back brake was working when I got on, and failed while I was riding, but I admit I’m not positive. I am concerned I should’ve caught that it wasn’t working before I got on.

Do you think it failed while I was on the bike, or did it probably fail and I didn’t pick that up before I started out?

The bike is getting repaired and I’m fine, but these questions keep coming back. Tell me what you think.

I think that as a new rider you did what you thought was reasonable and took corrective action.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone View Post
I would say, and I mean this in the nicest way, that you over-reacted.

Yes it would have been smart to keep a greater stopping distance because the back brake on a Harley DOES contribute. But it sounds like you need to practice emergency braking and more threshold braking on the front because that's what does most of the work anyway.


No way to know for sure, but generally speaking if the master cylinder didn't spring a giant leak the brake wouldn't typically just fail all at once. I mean it can happen, the piston cups both tear apart upon application and bamn no more pressure. But still that's two cups, more likely braking force had been slowly going away over time and finally there was nothing left.



as a new rider, he may not have felt the going away portion of it. i don't think that he over reacted, especially as a new rider.. now an experienced rider maybe..
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  #7  
Old 12th September 2018
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At present my back brake isn't active. Pin fell out of the Clovis on the way home from NC. Pretty sure that you over reacted. More practice as was suggested is needed. Braking is about 70-30% front to back.

As an aside I read an interview with Kevin Schwantz once. Claimed he had only used the rear brake 3 times in his career. Crashed every time.
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  #8  
Old 12th September 2018
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There are also times when you need to use the front brake sparingly. Such as coming to a stop with the front wheel slightly turned.

That can pitch you over if done to aggressively. Not as much on a Sporty but on a big touring bike it can get you.
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  #9  
Old 12th September 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChinCactus View Post
There are also times when you need to use the front brake sparingly. Such as …
Or in a corner.

Obviously you try to avoid braking, or more than minimal braking, in such situations.
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  #10  
Old 12th September 2018
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Well, obviously to experienced riders. I had to learn them early on. Mostly the "hard" way.
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