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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everybody, i've got a '98 sportster 1200 that i'm having an issue with on the front brake handle. As the title says it has too much free play in it (about 1/2"-3/4"). Where the problem comes in at is that it's hitting the switch for the brake light so the brake light is on non stop (obviously a dangerous situation). How do i go about fixing it? One of the guys i work with who used to be a harley tech said that it probably has air in the brake lines and that's what's causing the problem? Anything else that could be causing this before i tear into it?
 

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Hit it she goes boom
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Yup, air in it. Bleed it ya should be good to go. Make sure you use the correct fluid... I can't remember if that was a Dot 4 or 5.
 

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Agree bleed the system or check fluid level in master cly. probally says in the service Manual Dot 4 or 5 . Ebay or amazon a Service manual is your Best friend

Welcome to the Forum
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Alright cool! will bleed the system then and be sure to check the what type of fluid it needs (already have a manual so i'm good there). Thanks for the help guys!
 

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rode hard/put up wet
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If you are still riding the bike anyway there is a way to tell if it needs bleeding. If it needs to be bled you can tell because when stopping if you pump the handle and the distance you have to compress the handle lessens then yes it is air. Just like pumping the brakes in a car when there is air in the system.
 

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You need DOT 5, the expensive stuff. Also, spend $30 and get a hand vacuum pump. Bleeding those brakes without the pump, hours, no joke, bleeding with the pump takes 10 minutes.
 

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You need DOT 5, the expensive stuff. Also, spend $30 and get a hand vacuum pump. Bleeding those brakes without the pump, hours, no joke, bleeding with the pump takes 10 minutes.
Agreed. I tried on my Sportster when putting on Mini Apes. I pumped the lever for 45 minutes. Finally hooked up a clear hose and sucked very hard until the hose filled with fluid. Then I pumped again.
Don't try this at home, folks.
 

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Poser Member # 99
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You can get one of the hand brake bleeder kits /vacum pump at Harbor Freight For 15.00 bucks or less if it's on sale or you have the 20 percent off coupon . they work
 

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You need DOT 5, the expensive stuff. Also, spend $30 and get a hand vacuum pump. Bleeding those brakes without the pump, hours, no joke, bleeding with the pump takes 10 minutes.
You ain't kidding... I just swapped out my brake line for a braided one and the brake feels a bit weird / different but it stops. Not sure if the more responsiveness is what's doing it to me...


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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the help guys.

Update: having some trouble with a couple of questions. after trying to bleed the breaks with the reservoir cap on, i pump the break handle until the air comes out of the bleeder and fluid following. Am i doing this right??? builds pressure and feels solid but the handle still has the same free play that is setting off and making the brake light stay on. popped the reservoir cap off and the reservoir is only about 1/2 full, how much brake fluid should there be in it? Looked all over the place and couldn't find any dot 5 at the auto stores around me so i'll be swinging by the harley dealership to pick some up tomorrow on my way to school. And i will be looking into the vacuums as well! Any more help would be appreciated! thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
UPDATE: after trying to bleed the breaks i do not think i have gotten anywhere. It would build pressure and i would release the bleeder and watch all kinds of air bubbles come out. Did it several more times until there were no longer any air bubbles coming out at ALL. Still nothing, the break felt good but still had the same amount of play or loose feeling where the handle usually sits, still enough that it would trip the "switch" for the rear brake unless i pushed against it. What are my options? haven't been able to pick up a vacuum bleeder yet so that hasn't been tried yet. Is it possible that i still have air in my system? could there be something wrong with the master cylinder? looking for help here please!!
 

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Before you go further, are the brake pads worn? Are the pad sticking on the guides? Also make sure all the linkage is tight and not sloppy. If no to the above then;
It sounds like you need to rebuild the master cylinder. Or at least disassemble it and clean and check for the piston being "stuck" slightly in the bore, so it's not retracting properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Before you go further, are the brake pads worn? Are the pad sticking on the guides? Also make sure all the linkage is tight and not sloppy. If no to the above then;
It sounds like you need to rebuild the master cylinder. Or at least disassemble it and clean and check for the piston being "stuck" slightly in the bore, so it's not retracting properly.
Brake pads were new 400 miles ago so i knew it wasn't that, but thanks for the tip, will remember this in the future. And I tried several different things short of tearing into the master cyclinder (I'm not very confident in my mechanical abilities unfortunately:( ), but I am fortunate enough to have a buddy that i work with who is harley certified tech and worked for several years in a custom shop (full motor rebuilds, so not just changing tires and oil at the dealership haha) and working on bikes out of his garage so i took it to him since there were a few other things i wanted him to look at and he said that the master cylinder DID have some dirt in it which was restricting it! So good call BobF!!!!
 
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