Dramatically improve your brakes for less than $100! - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Dramatically improve your brakes for less than $100!

When I added my '09 Versys, November 2010, to my '08, it took very little time to notice that the '09 has better brakes! By the end of my winter break in AZ early April, I'd pretty much concluded that the difference, and the improvement, resided in the '09's front brake master cylinder, so I made plans to address that when I returned to AZ this October.

To quantify the difference: on the '08 the front brake lever comes quite close to the bars to get effective braking (although it WILL lock the front wheel...!), while the '09 has good braking in the first few degrees of lever movement with no need to get close to the bars. On the early Versys, the reservoir is basically 'boxed' shaped, while on '09 and later ones it is 'oblong' or roughly, 'egg-shaped', so I assume that Ma Kawasaki noticed the need and made the appropriate modifications, and the different shape somehow indicates the changes.

First attempt I made was to put an ad. in our "WANTED" forum, trying to see whether anyone had a 'surplus' one. Nothing much happened till Weljo2001 suggested I look at E-bay and added links to some that were on there. One happened to be for a brake-reservoir off an '09 Ninja 650, so I did a little research which led me to see that the Ninja and Versys share the same master-cylinder, but the mirror mounts differently. MORE research showed that they were the same EXCEPT for the 'half-moon' piece that attaches the reservoir to the bars, part number 43034 on this page from Bike Bandit:
http://www.bikebandit.com/houseofmot...8855#sch637936
which they list at $30.47.

I contacted the seller that Weljo had sent me the link for (THIS forum is an incredible GEM! ), and bought the '09 Ninja reservoir, complete, for $42 delivered. Then, before ordering part # 43034 on the 'net, I phoned my Kawi dealer who quoted me just below $19, so I ordered it there.

Picked it up a few days ago, then down to Harbor Freight to buy a vacuum brake bleeder Model 92474, for $24 with my 20%-off coupon , and some DOT4 brake fluid.

Today, I draped the tank to protect it from brake fluid, and got busy. Probably took me 30 minutes and the reservoir swap was done, then another 15 and it was 'bled', so I went for a 20 mile ride to check it out.

Works perfectly, WAY-Y-Y better than it had, just the same as on my '09!

So, my conclusion is - IF you have an early model Versys and want better brakes, find an '09 or later Versys or Ninja 650 reservoir (COMPLETE with the lever, as they ARE different !), and change it out.

For those with 'early' model Vs who aren't sure of the value of this mod, try to find someone with an '09 or later one (or EVEN a Ninja 650...) and do a bike-swap for a few miles, concentrating on front brake performance. For LESS than 100 bucks - you CAN'T BEAT IT!

(I would have added pics except for the picture upload problem a bunch of us have noted!)

Ed

My KLR trip to Alaska, YT, NWT and BC in summer 2009
http://www.klr650.net/forums/showthread.php?t=69383

My Versys trip to D2D 2013, and Alaska, June '13
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=33153

My Versys trip to D2D 2015, and Inuvik, June '15
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=83034

Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 12-06-2011 at 09:38 PM.
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post #2 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 10:33 PM
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Good work, Eddie!

Here's another one: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/10-EX650R-EX6...item4aad897b88

Half moon with mirror mount part# 43034-0049 ($21.71):

http://www.partshark.com/fiche_secti...010&fveh=38807
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post #3 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 10:54 PM
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Nice!!!!
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post #4 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-07-2011, 12:44 AM
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Eddie,
Do you have any hand guards on your bike?
Is the length of the lever or geometry significantly different?

I thought of going even further and using ZX-6R master cylinder, but I'm not sure how it will fit.
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post #5 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-07-2011, 01:17 AM
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Mine is a 09 model and I do notice difference on early models. I have no complain on the 09 kawa brakes so far and i with TBC system and it works wonders.

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post #6 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-07-2011, 09:28 PM
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Good fix eddie! Thats interesting!

( RIDE FREE BE SAFE )
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post #7 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-07-2011, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan V View Post
Eddie,
Do you have any hand guards on your bike?
Is the length of the lever or geometry significantly different?

I thought of going even further and using ZX-6R master cylinder, but I'm not sure how it will fit.
Yup - Zetas. Nothing is significantly different, JUST the braking improvement!

No idea about the ZX cylinder, but I LOVE the updated one!!!

Ed

My KLR trip to Alaska, YT, NWT and BC in summer 2009
http://www.klr650.net/forums/showthread.php?t=69383

My Versys trip to D2D 2013, and Alaska, June '13
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=33153

My Versys trip to D2D 2015, and Inuvik, June '15
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=83034
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post #8 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-07-2011, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Now for the OBVIOUS:

ANYONE out there want to buy a front master-cylinder from an '08 Versys, c/w socket screws for the cap?

(In PRISTINE condition, of course!)

Ed

My KLR trip to Alaska, YT, NWT and BC in summer 2009
http://www.klr650.net/forums/showthread.php?t=69383

My Versys trip to D2D 2013, and Alaska, June '13
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=33153

My Versys trip to D2D 2015, and Inuvik, June '15
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=83034
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post #9 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 07:57 AM
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Hi Fasteddie,

I am not disagreeing with your post. It is very possible that the bowl shape makes a difference. (you've demonstrated changing the bowl does).

I would just offer that after having worked in a bike shop and bled many brake systems that the cause of the long throw of the lever is often air in the system. When you did the bleed with the vacuum tool after changing the bowl you obviously removed enough air to provide a solid feel to the brakes. I don't know if you ever used the tool on the old MC and even if you did it might have taken several attempts to get the air out of those split lines.

Again I'm not criticizing your solution. I just wonder how much affect the bowl shape can have on the piston throw.

I changed my MC out for the larger piston Nissin Daytona radial master cylinder last year. My thought was that a more powerful MC would mash the air even better Actually I still had trouble getting all the air out of the stock line. I eventually used a clamp to simultaneously compress the L&R calipers to "back bleed" air out through the bleed valve in the new MC. Now the lever play is minimal, the engagement is solid, the brake pads still don't bite super hard, but it is way way better than stock.

Anyway I'm glad they are working for you. I think they are actually pretty dangerous when you receive delivery of the bike. I know the bike is not expensive but Kawasaki should have put a little more effort into the front brakes.
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post #10 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 08:04 AM
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Isn't the master cylinder's piston also larger and more powerful, beside having a larger bowl?

Last edited by invader; 12-08-2011 at 08:09 AM.
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post #11 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 08:41 AM
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FWIW, if the master cylinder piston is larger (in diameter) it would increase the lever throw/pad movement ratio (less lever = more pad) — but it would reduce the force applied to the pads for an equivalent lever force (unless they also changed the lever’s fulcrum point).

I’m not suggesting that that would be a bad thing, in fact I’m quite happy with the front brake (stopping power and feel) on my 2010.

I can’t imagine how the reservoir bowl size or shape would change anything in the felt braking (other than maybe fluid cooling issues which would be essentially theoretical, at least for street riding).
.

Last edited by Hardware; 12-08-2011 at 08:43 AM.
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post #12 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 08:52 AM
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I suspected that... So, what change in the master cylinder could make it more powerful? Is any difference visible at all between the two, beside the bowl?

Last edited by invader; 12-08-2011 at 08:55 AM.
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post #13 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
in fact I’m quite happy with the front brake (stopping power and feel) on my 2010.
Can't say I agree with that one. I too have a '10 and putting on SS lines is on my short list. I've had a few BMW's and of course, their brakes are phenomenal, so I've been spoiled. I flushed my lines at 1 yr/3K miles and that helped. But I'm still looking for a better setup since all my riding is aggressive backroad riding.
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post #14 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 04:50 PM
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Really you guys? Really? retrofitting the OE brake and SS brake lines? REALLY?

You guys must be "A" level riders pushing your bikes to the razor edge of performance. I am unworthy.

Sure, SS brake lines make 'some' difference in the feel & feedback, but for a little commuter bike it's overkill. Yeah - looks cool. Yeah - It makes you think you can ride (brake) better. In the end it's the person in the seat that makes the bike go fast (or stop). Not fancy brakes.

No, I'm no "A" rider. Never raced (officially). Just 40 years experience and have "been there / done that". See it all the time.

For those of you new to the sport, save your money and spend it on TRAINING and QUALITY safety gear. Learn how to ride well and you'll be just as fast as those guys with all the farkles and 1/2 the skills.
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post #15 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 05:12 PM
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I never knew all my updates were to be an "A" level rider, you can wear your gear, as I do, but when the car pulls out from a side street or the deer leaps on to the road, I will stop gracefully while you test your gear impacting.

K1


Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocibiker View Post
Really you guys? Really? retrofitting the OE brake and SS brake lines? REALLY?

You guys must be "A" level riders pushing your bikes to the razor edge of performance. I am unworthy.

Sure, SS brake lines make 'some' difference in the feel & feedback, but for a little commuter bike it's overkill. Yeah - looks cool. Yeah - It makes you think you can ride (brake) better. In the end it's the person in the seat that makes the bike go fast (or stop). Not fancy brakes.

No, I'm no "A" rider. Never raced (officially). Just 40 years experience and have "been there / done that". See it all the time.

For those of you new to the sport, save your money and spend it on TRAINING and QUALITY safety gear. Learn how to ride well and you'll be just as fast as those guys with all the farkles and 1/2 the skills.
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post #16 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoneman064 View Post
Hi Fasteddie,

I am not disagreeing with your post. It is very possible that the bowl shape makes a difference. (you've demonstrated changing the bowl does).

I would just offer that after having worked in a bike shop and bled many brake systems that the cause of the long throw of the lever is often air in the system. When you did the bleed with the vacuum tool after changing the bowl you obviously removed enough air to provide a solid feel to the brakes. I don't know if you ever used the tool on the old MC and even if you did it might have taken several attempts to get the air out of those split lines.

Again I'm not criticizing your solution. I just wonder how much affect the bowl shape can have on the piston throw.

I changed my MC out for the larger piston Nissin Daytona radial master cylinder last year. My thought was that a more powerful MC would mash the air even better Actually I still had trouble getting all the air out of the stock line. I eventually used a clamp to simultaneously compress the L&R calipers to "back bleed" air out through the bleed valve in the new MC. Now the lever play is minimal, the engagement is solid, the brake pads still don't bite super hard, but it is way way better than stock.

Anyway I'm glad they are working for you. I think they are actually pretty dangerous when you receive delivery of the bike. I know the bike is not expensive but Kawasaki should have put a little more effort into the front brakes.
Every pre-2009 I've ridden had the same front brakes as mine (which were like that from NEW), and the OBVIOUS question is:
WHY did Kawasaki change it for '09?

Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
Isn't the master cylinder's piston also larger and more powerful, beside having a larger bowl?
I suspect that that is where the difference is: DEFINITELY, when you compare the two side-by-side, there's quite a difference in the area where the inside end of the lever pushes on the piston. WHENEVER the photo-upload issue I brought up gets fixed, I'll add pictures of both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
I suspected that... So, what change in the master cylinder could make it more powerful? Is any difference visible at all between the two, beside the bowl?
See above. Invader, really appreciated your comment at the start of this thread.

Ed

My KLR trip to Alaska, YT, NWT and BC in summer 2009
http://www.klr650.net/forums/showthread.php?t=69383

My Versys trip to D2D 2013, and Alaska, June '13
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=33153

My Versys trip to D2D 2015, and Inuvik, June '15
http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ad.php?t=83034
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post #17 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-08-2011, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Velocibiker View Post
Really you guys? Really? retrofitting the OE brake and SS brake lines? REALLY?

You guys must be "A" level riders pushing your bikes to the razor edge of performance. I am unworthy.

Sure, SS brake lines make 'some' difference in the feel & feedback, but for a little commuter bike it's overkill. Yeah - looks cool. Yeah - It makes you think you can ride (brake) better. In the end it's the person in the seat that makes the bike go fast (or stop). Not fancy brakes.

No, I'm no "A" rider. Never raced (officially). Just 40 years experience and have "been there / done that". See it all the time.

For those of you new to the sport, save your money and spend it on TRAINING and QUALITY safety gear. Learn how to ride well and you'll be just as fast as those guys with all the farkles and 1/2 the skills.
Good God man you need to get over yourself.

I don't believe the OP said a damn thing about doing anything to his braking system in an effort to look 'cool'. Most likely isn't 'new' to the sport, either.

Based on your logic the quality of a bike's braking system has nothing to do with how well the bike stops, or whether the brakes feel like a pile of mush?

Hell he just as well take the brakes OFF the bike entirely and stick his foot out to stop. After all, it's the person in the seat that stops the bike.

40 years of experience and still haven't made it to A, huh?
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post #18 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-09-2011, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by NDTransplant View Post
Based on your logic the quality of a bike's braking system has nothing to do with how well the bike stops, or whether the brakes feel like a pile of mush?
No, that's just your interpretation of my statement. And that's ok 'cause the written word can be often mis-interpreted.

Fact is - skill, experience & practice are more important than a new master cylinder or else we would all be "testing our gear".

I'll agree that superior brakes will stop the same bike with the same rider more effectively, but in this situation, just changing the master cylinder isn't going to make enough difference. Add upgraded discs, pads, and lines and then things 'might' start to make a significant difference.

This kind of 'upgrade' reminds me of when I had my DR650 and it was common knowledge that grinding the header, pulling the snorkel and drilling the slide made the bike faster and gave more power. That of course was proved false with dyno runs. Without hard data to back up 'seat of the pants' improvements, it's all just internet lore and wishful thinking.

Quote:
40 years of experience and still haven't made it to A, huh?
I don't have to prove my ability to ride to anyone. I ride simply because I enjoy it.

In the end, do whatever floats your boat. I'm just voicing my thoughts & opinions. Isn't that what a forum is all about?
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post #19 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-09-2011, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocibiker View Post
This kind of 'upgrade' reminds me of when I had my DR650 and it was common knowledge that grinding the header, pulling the snorkel and drilling the slide made the bike faster and gave more power. That of course was proved false with dyno runs. Without hard data to back up 'seat of the pants' improvements, it's all just internet lore and wishful thinking.
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Originally Posted by Velocibiker View Post
I'm just voicing my thoughts & opinions. Isn't that what a forum is all about?
Velo, I think you miss the point of having a "Technical" discussion forum VS a "General" discussion forum. I sort of think your flip comments are a bit out of place. If you have empirical data that shows the modifications reported on don't work, then it would be nice if you shared such.

I think the majority of forum members appreciate the work that others do in their experiments. Some mods are better documented than others. In the case of this MC mod, I am still confused as to how much of the MC was changed out and if there is a physical difference between the 09 and 08 MCs.

The '08 Versys does not have excellent brakes. I haven't met a rider yet who wouldn't want excellent brakes. Well, except for you.
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post #20 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-10-2011, 09:38 AM
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Can't say I agree with that one. I too have a '10 and putting on SS lines is on my short list. I've had a few BMW's and of course, their brakes are phenomenal, so I've been spoiled. I flushed my lines at 1 yr/3K miles and that helped. But I'm still looking for a better setup since all my riding is aggressive backroad riding.
I too do all my riding on back roads & fairly aggressively (cornering) and while I donít routinely do really hard (track like) braking there have been many of those `oh S#^t , look at the herd of deer on the roadí moments where Iíve had to stop it NOW from the 60-70 MPH range... and itís done so admirably, in fact with 2 fingers it will completely unload the rear wheel (or lock the front on a less than perfect road surface).

What is it specifically about yours that you find lacking, e.g., actual stopping ability, heat fade or feel, etc.?

.
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