Weak Rear Brake - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-15-2016, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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Weak Rear Brake

After about a month, I finally got to ride my new '15 V650 Thurs. and was happy w/ just about everything except the lack of any rear brake power. After trailering it home, I adjusted the shift lever up 3/8" to be compatible w/ my boots. I couldn't see how to adjust the brake pedal & left it alone. Upon returning from my 1st ride, I knew the rear brake was weak because the pedal was too far from the sole of my boot - no leverage. I raised it initially 3/8", went for a ride & now have a very strong & progressive rear brake. All it took was a T15 Torx bit to remove the (2) cover screws, a 12mm open end wrench to loosen the linkage locking, a 10mm open end to turn the adjusting rod & a tape measure to take adjustment settings. The adjustment nut for the brake light switch requires no tools.

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Last edited by bluesman77; 04-15-2016 at 11:27 PM.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 05:08 AM
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Why are you using the rear brake?
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by waltermitty View Post
Why are you using the rear brake?
Let the fun begin.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 06:49 AM
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Next topic is oil and then chain lube.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by waltermitty View Post
Why are you using the rear brake?
I use the rear brake all the time!!!!
That is how I get my practice in for recovering from skids. In fact I dropped into first on the new bike, not realizing I was going a tad fast, same thing , woaaaaa, yup, pay attention, skid usually means===crash imminent , unless you practice using the rear brake all the time.

Okay , I did drop into first a little fast and the OEM tires don't grip like the PR3, beyond that , the only time I use the rear brake is if I need to lightly brake and am down shifting and reducing / increasing throttle to match gear / engine braking, --any serious braking is 95% front wheel and engine.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 10:44 AM
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Why are you using the rear brake?
We all know you're just stirring the pot old fella, but l was coming down a 45' gravel road only 3 days ago & to apply the front brake would've ended up with an off, whereas a light application of the rear brake still had my back wheel skidding for long periods on the loose gravel.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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I used to road race & still enjoy the twisties. When entering a corner & need to correct my entry speed, using the rear brakes doesn't upset the suspension whereas the front does. It's nice to know how the rear brake works if you need to stop in a hurry & use it in conjunction w/ the front from which where most of your stopping power comes. And as my2wheels mentioned, there are times when you don't want to use the front. Sounds like you might want to practice some panic stops & compare using just the front w/ using both.

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Why are you using the rear brake?
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Last edited by bluesman77; 04-16-2016 at 11:42 AM.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by waltermitty View Post
Why are you using the rear brake?
PROBABLY because he's smart....

Helps 'settle' the bike as you feed in the front brakes, and - EVEN if it's only some small % of your overall braking, are you SURE you want to leave THAT % "on the table" rather than being used?
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bluesman77 View Post
Upon returning from my 1st ride, I knew the rear brake was weak because the pedal was too far from the sole of my boot - no leverage. I raised it initially 3/8", went for a ride & now have a very strong & progressive rear brake.
How does it feel when you're standing on the pegs?

I've adjusted up the shift lever quite a bit because of boot thickness but haven't messed with the brake lever yet because it seems in the right spot when standing. Still it is weak even then.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
PROBABLY because he's smart....

Helps 'settle' the bike as you feed in the front brakes, and - EVEN if it's only some small % of your overall braking, are you SURE you want to leave THAT % "on the table" rather than being used?
I use more engine braking than rear brake. Having said that, many factors come into play, what is important is to look at your planned line rather than off to the side. As the title suggests, in OZ they have signs as stated, the reason being many of those areas you are doing 360 and dropping a significant amount, combined you will lose traction and crash if not prepared.
Couple things to consider, I engine brake on long drops, you are transferring energy in the form of friction, this does two things, warm the rear tire and also shift some weight to the front tire, combining engine braking / rear braking and combining front brake = a controlled stop or controlled entry to a curve or drop .
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 11:28 PM
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I was worried about wearing down the front pads because I like to slam on my brakes, so I just smash the rears as they are $25 and typically last a long time since it doesn't do much work. I'm still on my stock pads so I just slam that bad boy down and see if I can make my rear tire chirp. Sometimes the ABS comes on (gotta test it to make sure it works) but if I have room I'll usually let the engine and rear handle braking until I need to actually stop.

I can definitely feel a loss over the past month, used to be stiff and nice, now I have to smash much harder, might just be the lever needs adjusting.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-16-2016, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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When the ABS kicks in, what is like? Three of our cars have ABS (2) Hondas & a MINI, but none of them act the way my 1st vehicle w/ ABS (Chevy S-10 PU) did - which pulsed as opposed to the Hondas' growl. After things are broken-in, I need to test both front & back brakes full on, but was wondering what to expect.

The engine braking on this bike really surprised me - flywheel must really be light.

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Originally Posted by Modake View Post
I was worried about wearing down the front pads because I like to slam on my brakes, so I just smash the rears as they are $25 and typically last a long time since it doesn't do much work. I'm still on my stock pads so I just slam that bad boy down and see if I can make my rear tire chirp. Sometimes the ABS comes on (gotta test it to make sure it works) but if I have room I'll usually let the engine and rear handle braking until I need to actually stop.

I can definitely feel a loss over the past month, used to be stiff and nice, now I have to smash much harder, might just be the lever needs adjusting.

...I am a Cafe Racer myself, on some days...and nights for that matter...and it is one of my finest addictions...
--- Hunter S. Thompson 1995 ---


2017 Triumph Street Scrambler, 2012 Triumph Thruxton, 2003 Ducati M800Sie, 2001 BMW R1100R-L, 1999 Kawasaki KLR650, 1996 Harley XLH Sportster S, 1972 Yamaha XS-2
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-17-2016, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bluesman77 View Post
When the ABS kicks in, what is like? Three of our cars have ABS (2) Hondas & a MINI, but none of them act the way my 1st vehicle w/ ABS (Chevy S-10 PU) did - which pulsed as opposed to the Hondas' growl. After things are broken-in, I need to test both front & back brakes full on, but was wondering what to expect.

The engine braking on this bike really surprised me - flywheel must really be light.
I feel a little click and then a release, similar to using a torque wrench. Just slam on the rear brake going downhill - no surprises here. It's a good idea to know what it feels like, so that when you have a real emergency braking situation, you know what to expect.
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-17-2016, 08:44 PM
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Next topic is oil and then chain lube.
Can WD-40 be far behind??

Forty years away from 2 wheel fun. Sure is great to be back smelling the roses!!!
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-17-2016, 09:38 PM
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I used to road race & still enjoy the twisties. When entering a corner & need to correct my entry speed, using the rear brakes doesn't upset the suspension whereas the front does.
Bingo.

It's funny you say you used to road race though. To me, the toughest thing about riding fast on a track was being able to brake hard and still make the turns smoothly. I never did it enough to become the least bit proficient, but I would have figured guys like you would be right at home front braking into corners in the canyons. Until this Versys (1k) I've always had bikes with decent engine braking and never even generally bothered using brakes, but this one don't slow much off the throttle.
Another use of the rear is just to make smooth low speed turns; especially given the lurchy throttle responses of many modern, fuel injected bikes.
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post #16 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-17-2016, 10:40 PM
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ABS has a sharp rattle just like in a car, only it's providing feedback directly to the brake lever you are smashing down. It doesn't always go off in the front and can't remember when it did. Sometimes it will when I'm not braking hard at all, bad road I guess.
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post #17 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-17-2016, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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When I first started racing in the early 70's, the rear brake was rarely used since, as you and most others know, on pavement, the majority of your braking power is on the front due to weight transfer. I learned early on, like my very first race which was a 24 hour at Nelson Ledges, OH, late braking worked great for passing. It was later, probably in the 80's that I learned the benefits of the rear brake for keeping the chassis level. I especially like the technique in the street under more calm conditions where you aren't blasting from corner to corner & trying to maintain a given pace. Though I have to say animals, ditches, trees, guardrails, cars, debris and staying on my side of the road can give your deodorant a workout at times.

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Bingo.

It's funny you say you used to road race though. To me, the toughest thing about riding fast on a track was being able to brake hard and still make the turns smoothly. I never did it enough to become the least bit proficient, but I would have figured guys like you would be right at home front braking into corners in the canyons. Until this Versys (1k) I've always had bikes with decent engine braking and never even generally bothered using brakes, but this one don't slow much off the throttle.
Another use of the rear is just to make smooth low speed turns; especially given the lurchy throttle responses of many modern, fuel injected bikes.

...I am a Cafe Racer myself, on some days...and nights for that matter...and it is one of my finest addictions...
--- Hunter S. Thompson 1995 ---


2017 Triumph Street Scrambler, 2012 Triumph Thruxton, 2003 Ducati M800Sie, 2001 BMW R1100R-L, 1999 Kawasaki KLR650, 1996 Harley XLH Sportster S, 1972 Yamaha XS-2
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post #18 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-18-2016, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
PROBABLY because he's smart....

Helps 'settle' the bike as you feed in the front brakes, and - EVEN if it's only some small % of your overall braking, are you SURE you want to leave THAT % "on the table" rather than being used?
Sits the rear suspension down, transfer weight to the front wheel, and then you can wack that front brake without fearing slippage from that front wheel

This being said, the rear brake on 1st gen is known to be, lets say, an on/off switch, no progression at all
But it's very easy to lock the rear wheel, which would confirm that enough strength is available for the rear brake

LOP
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post #19 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-18-2016, 03:58 PM
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...This being said, the rear brake on 1st gen is known to be, lets say, an on/off switch, no progression at all
...
When I added Galfer SS brake lines to my '08 (which ALREADY had the front master-cylinder from an '09 Ninja 650 - SAME as on the '09 Vs), I also put a Galfer SS brake line on the rear. NOW the rear brakes are WAY-Y-Y better, matching the improvements on the front.

-
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post #20 of 33 (permalink) Old 04-18-2016, 11:09 PM
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Rear Brake ABS

Well I did some more gravel today, this time my choice not the GPS, i tried locking up the rear brake, used some engine braking and purposely jamming the rear brake, I know I need to adjust the suspension as it is a little stiff, a little blip of the ABS, worked flawlessly, first the only time I would be concerned about the ABS is if I was desending on a mountain trail with shear cliff drop offs, again the rear brake is a last ditch effort as all the weight is on the front suspension. For now I ain't touching the ABS.
If you are descending that steep a incline and going that fast the combined engine braking and rear braking/ light front braking isn't sufficient to slow you down and you are blaming the ABS for your problems, from what I have experienced so far, I would say you are riding the wrong bike.

Last edited by onewizard; 04-18-2016 at 11:12 PM.
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