Sunday, March 18, 2012

Brake pads

Early this year in January I had the sprag clutch replaced in my Tiger, unfortunately an oil weep had developed and was slowly coating my brake pedal, footpeg, centerstand and right boot in an ever so fine mist of synthetic motor oil. There are two bolts fastened vertically from the bottom of the crankcase that the Thunderbike crash bars mount and the mechanic didn't get them adequately sealed, but no harm no foul. Saturday, Trobairitz and I took advantage of the break in the clouds and short periods of sunshine to go for a ride to Eugene as I was finally able to get down to the shop for the repair. They made good on their word, got me right in and took care of it while Trobairitz and I went for lunch. I tried talking her into riding the Bonneville demo bike so we had two bikes but she muttered something about not licking the cookie and insisted on riding pillion on Max instead.

That little Gladius is a great bike, it's so light and nimble I could hardly tell she was back there. Suzuki only brought the Gladius into the US for one year, making them somewhat rare and hard to find so it would be hard to let it go for a Bonneville only to regret it later. This is why we need a bigger garage, more bikes. His, hers and ours.

We went to our favorite cafe for lunch as they offered a St. Paddy's day special of a Ruben sandwich we wanted to try. While we were waiting for our sandwiches I received a call from the mechanic confirming the oil was weeping from the bolts so they used a brass washer and silicone to seal the leak but also mentioned my rear brake pads were worn.

What? Didn't I just replace those?

Back at the shop I was talking to Rod and discussing the difference in brake pads and why my rear pads wear faster than the front. I mentioned to him the conversation I had with another motorcycle parts supply shop where I usually buy my brake pads and how they recommend using sintered metallic or Double-H pads on the front for more stopping power and softer organic pads on the rear to avoid rear wheel lock up. This of course explains why I'm replacing my rear pads much more often and I should have recognized the difference of good intentions from good advice. I understand the logic behind this reasoning and would tend to agree with it for new riders who may have a tendency to stomp on the rear brake or for off road use where it is much easier to lock up the rear wheel. But being a seasoned rider where the majority of my riding is on the street I especially appreciated Rod's response...

"You do have control over that."

Yes, yes I do. Smooth progressive pressure on the front brake and light pressure on the rear.

Smart man.



  1. Oil on the brake pads doesn't sound like a good situation! Glad you got that remedied. I remember hearing that most new riders favor the rear brake. For some reason, I hardly used it at first. Not really sure why, but it felt awkward to me. Somewhere along the line I got it worked out.

    I didn't realize they no longer sell the Gladius. It was a new model when I was shopping (and no close out pricing to be found that year). Why is it so hard to keep nice, smaller bikes coming to the US?

  2. I think it has to do with the US and the huge flat expanses of road. There are places where a smaller bike is great (I love them for anything urban, or with a turn) but when you've got to go cross country there is nothing like 700+ pounds of wind deflection and motor.

    Honestly, I don't know much about brake pads - much more about the brakes themselves. Going between a '78 Honda that uses a hydraulically driven log to the '09 Connie that has proper brakes is amazing. Having three machines is strange for the rear brake in particular, you're never quite sure what the hell is going to happen with that first tap (or stomp, depending on which bike you rode last.)

    Behind Bars

  3. Troubadour:

    they still sell the 2012 Gladius up here

    It is a great bike. They were on display at our recent M/C show in January. Too bad about the brake expense, but softer compounds wear out faster, but stop mo' better.

    The engine in the Gladius is the same used in the new V-strom DL650

    Riding the Wet Coast

  4. That's a pretty good comment about "not licking the cookie". I hadn't heard that one before and even though you post was about brake pads and such, what stuck out the most was the "St. Paddy's day special of a Ruben sandwich we wanted to try". Aren't they made of corned beef?

    The other benefit of the softer pad material is that it wears out the pad instead of the disc. I don't know about prices on new bikes but for me, pads are a whole lot cheaper than discs. But then again, I don't put on anywhere near as many miles as you.

  5. That last comment rings very very true. I actually know a cruiser rider who ONLY uses his rear brake! Tries explaining to him the correct braking technique but to no avail.

  6. Tread lightly....I put hh pads on my tiger and she will lock up in a moments notice if I panic stop... front slows nicely and then the rear wants to step out on you

    ..both hands squeeze... both feet press....


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