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Discussion Starter #1
Wanted to check with the veteran 400 riders on the feel of their front brake levers before I tear into my front brakes and start replacing them.

I'm a recent new owner (2 to 3 months old) of a 2008 400 and have been troubled by the feel of the front brakes. When I squeeze the front brakes the lever sinks pretty low only leaving me with very little room between the lever and the grips. The bike stops well enough but certainly feels inadequate braking pressure when your trying to squeeze hard to bring it to a complete stop.

Not being familiar with the 400s yet I'm not sure if this is normal. The rear brake squeezes about 1/4 to halfway down and has a good feel to it but the front doesn't feel to be as grippy as the rear and there are two rotors up front.

Fluid looks full and clear on the master cylinder. The pads from what I can see look to be about 1/16 still left. Doesn't look thick at all but again not sure how thick a new set of pads would really look like so this may be normal.

There is less than 5,000 miles on this bike and from my research on the forum the front brakes should last quite a long time. I've seen claims as high as 45,000 miles so having worn front brakes at less than 5,000 seems strange to me. Then again not knowing how much the previous owners used the front brakes I can't tell if they wore it out too early. Although I would think that they would have had a death grip on the front brakes every time they applied the brakes to wear it out this fast.
 

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Replacing the old rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel brake lines took the rubbery feel out of the front brakes of my '07 Burgman 650.
Since you live in a much warmer climate, your brake lines are probably more deteriorated than mine were.
I'm sure that the polishing and lubricating of the pistons and gliders at the same time didn't make matter worse.
You could try servicing the calipers first.
 

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Our front lever pulls back almost as far as your rear brake does I.e about 1/4 but of course that depends on how hard you pull the lever.

I assume the issue you have is not down to air bubbles in the front brake system and you have bled the system to make sure ?

Our older 2000 model with single disk at the front does have a front brake lever with a greater travel and is about 1/2 way before the brakes bite. Its always been like that.

Out of interest don't you have an annual roadworthy test on motorcycles in CA once they are over say three years old? Our roadworthy test includes a roller brake test to indicate front and rear brake efficiency.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Erik. That was going to be my last improvement if the brake feel doesn't improve with a bake pad exchange and flush.

Replacing the old rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel brake lines took the rubbery feel out of the front brakes of my '07 Burgman 650.
Since you live in a much warmer climate, your brake lines are probably more deteriorated than mine were.
I'm sure that the polishing and lubricating of the pistons and gliders at the same time didn't make matter worse.
You could try servicing the calipers first.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good to know on the brake lever distance. I haven't bled the brakes yet since it didn't feel like air bubbles in the lines. I haven't felt any pulsing or sudden drop in lever pressure so didn't think that it was air in the lines. It really felt like the brake pads were so worn down that the lever sinks lower when you apply the brakes. Maybe I'll start off with a brake flush first and if that doesn't work move into the pad replacement and then the stainless steel brake lines if I'm still not happy with the feel.

I'm not looking for sport bike level of braking here. Just something more grippy so I can have enough confidence that the bike is going to stop when I want it too.

Our front lever pulls back almost as far as your rear brake does I.e about 1/4 but of course that depends on how hard you pull the lever.

I assume the issue you have is not down to air bubbles in the front brake system and you have bled the system to make sure ?

Our older 2000 model with single disk at the front does have a front brake lever with a greater travel and is about 1/2 way before the brakes bite. Its always been like that.

Out of interest don't you have an annual roadworthy test on motorcycles in CA once they are over say three years old? Our roadworthy test includes a roller brake test to indicate front and rear brake efficiency.
 

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My 2008 has 4700 miles on it and the braking of the Burg is one of the better features of it. Braking should be excellent. It takes very slight squeeze for my bike to come to a quick stop.

Yours is definately not normal.

Sounds like it could be a combination of needing pads and bleeding them out.
 

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Just something I would try first is wrap a big rubber band or bungee cord, anything that will hold the brake lever in overnight. Often that will help if a little air is in the lines. I'm not going to say this is a fix-all but it's easy and it's free so it's worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Just something I would try first is wrap a big rubber band or bungee cord, anything that will hold the brake lever in overnight. Often that will help if a little air is in the lines. I'm not going to say this is a fix-all but it's easy and it's free so it's worth a try.
Thanks for this suggestion. Did the brake lever wrap last night and the lever did raise up some and was a definite improvement than it was before. Never thought that there was air bubbles in the lines since I didn't feel the normal symptoms of air in the lines when I was riding, but I guess there was some with the way the lever raised back up. Haven't had time to ride it yet to see if it will react the same when the brakes are being used often while riding. I noticed before that the brakes would start fading as the ride progressed. Definitely is still lower than the rear brake so most likely the pads are worn down as well. Ordered some new pads and just waiting for it to arrive so I can tackle the replacement. Thanks again for the suggestion.
 

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Check that the calipers are able to float. I once had a caliper stuck/fused due to rust which caused the symptoms that you are describing. This was on a VT1100C not a Burgman.
Cheers,
 

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You can feel pad wear in the brake handle, if the caliper is sliding as it's supposed to.
No you should not. If the caliper is free and so are the pistons, the assembly should be self adjusting for pad wear with the pistons retracting only a small amount when the brake lever is released. When you pull the lever again the pistons only move a small amount as there is no return spring or mechanism. Net result you cannot tell if pad is new or almost worn to indicators.............. Unless your callipers are different to mine ?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Re-posting this problem with my front brakes again. I've done all the suggestions on the previous post above and unfortunately have found no change to the feel of the front brakes and how the height of the brake lever fluctuates between high and low. Checked the pads and there is still a lot of pad left and are way above the wear marks. I've bled the brakes twice and no change. I finally took it to my mechanic who pretty much did the same thing which was tell me that I've got a lot of pad left and that they bled the brakes once again.
The bike stops, no question about that. I've tried a few panic stops in a parking lot and could even get the brakes to lock. It's just the brake levers tend to sink really low when you grab a hand full of brakes and it almost touches the throttle as if you were going to run out of lever space before the bike stops completely, whereas the rear brake squeezes about 1/4 down and binds immediately.

The mechanic who worked on my bike told me that the way the brakes felt were normal because Suzuki installed such small calipers that it does not have the strength of a larger caliper. Personally I think his story was bull and don't believe that Suzuki would install such small calipers that it would be inadequate for it's needs. Besides there are two of them so even if they were small the amount of braking force should be stronger than the rear. Also the brake lever does rise up on occasion and so the level fluctuates leading me to believe that this is not normal for this type of bike.
Any other suggestions from our more knowledgeable members? Is this how your front brake lever feels? Maybe I'm just expecting too much from this little 400.
 

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If you've replaced the brake lines, which are due if the bike is a 2008, then you may need to replace the caliper seals and master cylinder seals. All easy jobs and I bet that will do it. There is nothing else that can cause it at this point if the disc rotors are floating ok. Seals can need replacing even if they don't weep, but weeping always tends to follow soon after if nothing is done.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
If you've replaced the brake lines, which are due if the bike is a 2008, then you may need to replace the caliper seals and master cylinder seals. All easy jobs and I bet that will do it. There is nothing else that can cause it at this point if the disc rotors are floating ok. Seals can need replacing even if they don't weep, but weeping always tends to follow soon after if nothing is done.
Thanks QM. My mechanic actually said that he thought it might be the master cylinder and that it may need to be rebuilt, but he assigned my bike to one of his shop mechanics and the guy decided to just bleed the brakes after he diagnosed it cause he felt it did not need a master cylinder rebuild. This is after I had already told the shop that I've bled the brakes twice with no change to the feel.

Thanks for the suggestion. Guess I'm going to just have to do it myself. If you want things done right, do it yourself I guess. I'm going to check the shop manual and check you tube for videos on how to replace the seals. Thanks again for your help. I'll post back when I've had the chance to do this and report the results. Might as well chance the lines as well too while I'm at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just wanted to post an update to this brake issue I was having. My mechanic (actual owner of the shop) came by my place when I called him to let him know that I was still unhappy with the feel of the brake lever. He spent over an hour trying to figure out what the problem was at my place, but could not detect an issue with the brakes. He swears up and down it's not the seals because it doesn't display the same symptoms of a possible leaking seal. Test drove it up and down my street and even got the brakes to lock up and screech (I heard it all the way up the street). He then took it home with him that evening so he could test it out more in the morning and see if he can notice any changes in the lever height or feel. He found nothing wrong with the brakes the next day, and assured me that the brakes were operating normally and that it was safe to ride.

I guess the problem may have also been me and partially the air in the brake lines. In 14 years of riding bikes and scooters, the brakes on the 400 threw me off since it doesn't bite until you've gone almost halfway through the lever's range. As I previously posted the brakes held every time on all the panic stops I did, but it was the level of the brake lever that had me concerned as it would sink almost all the way to the throttle. I guess it was just not being used to a brake lever that operated normally in that fashion. All my other rides would often have the brakes bite 1/4 of the way in with the lever.

I can't say enough good things about my mechanic (Daniel at DNA Motorlab in Hayward). It's not often that you'll find a mechanic or shop that will take the time to do a personal home visit, pick up your ride and deliver it back after they finished with it all at no charge just to make sure that their customer was satisfied and happy with their work.
 

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From day 1 I have felt that the Burgman brakes are a bit on the spongy side. In my case, the rear brake is typically half depressed during normal operation and the front brake lever is about a third. In both cases there is a fair amount of lever movement while modulating the brakes, which is what I consider 'spongy'. It has always been this way and it seems to be independent of wear.
 

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The brake pads have wear indicator grooves in them, when the grooves are not visible it's time to replace them:



If there is literally just 1/16" of pad left they are shot...
 

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Also you don't want to mess around with the possibility of brake failure while riding. Catastrphic results....
 

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From day 1 I have felt that the Burgman brakes are a bit on the spongy side. In my case, the rear brake is typically half depressed during normal operation and the front brake lever is about a third. In both cases there is a fair amount of lever movement while modulating the brakes, which is what I consider 'spongy'. It has always been this way and it seems to be independent of wear.
I have never felt the brakes (front or rear) on my '03 400 to be lacking in any way--it would be nice to have the dual discs of the newer models but far from essential.

OP and others, make sure they are bled properly--and that does not include any pressure or vacuum bleeding tools.

Do it the old way with a tube connected to the bleeder screw, immersed in a container of clean fluid, and an assistant if needed to "pump" the lever while you open and close the bleed valve--until no air bubbles come out.

Keep the reservoir topped off while doing so and all will be fine...
 

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I didn't mean to imply they are lacking. Just a softer feel than I expected but I've never felt they were inadequate. For me, it was just a matter of resetting expectations.
 
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