This weekends chore was brake maintenance on the FZ6. Having only acquired the bike in the Autumn, it was unclear when the brake fluid was last changed, and being 13 years old, the original rubber brake hose, although visually OK, were likely past their best. The rubber hoses can degrade over many years exposure to the elements, which can lead to slight bulging when pumping the brake lever and thus reducing the final pressure applied to the brake pistons and pads onto the discs. Whereas braided hoses being built around a stainless steel mesh braid are more study, will not bulge or degrade in the same way and have a longer lifespan.
I picked up these Hel Performance braided hose at the recent MCN Carole Nash London motorcycle show for the very reasonable discounted price of £69. This was a ‘race’ line setup for two front calipers and the single rear caliper. The ‘race’ line arrangement is basically two independent lines direct from the front brake lever master cylinder to each caliper. As opposed to one line down to one caliper then a loop over mudguard to other caliper, or a setup with a T-junction halfway down.
Whilst at it, I gave the calipers a good clean and scrub, lubed the pistons with some red rubber grease and fitted fresh pads, EBC HH sintered pads for the front and organic pads for the rear. This pad compound choice gives more bite on the front for hard braking, whilst not being too aggressive on the rear that would only be too eager to lock up.
On the FZ6 the bleeding of brake fluid is a doddle, I’ve no ABS and no linked front-rear brakes. The ‘race’ line hose setup also helps too. I do however find the cheap one-way valve bleeding hoses rubbish, never had any success with them. So I always go old school with a simple hose with one end on caliper bleed valve, the other submerged in a jar of fluid. I then in a synchronised manner, pump lever in, open bleed value, watch air bubbles flow out, close bleed value, release brake lever. Then repeat on each caliper until no more air bubbles flow. Just keep topping up the fluid reservoir to avoid it running try and sucking air in.
Safety Tip: As with any work on the brakes, always pump them lots before hitting the road, to ensure the pads are right up against the discs ready to stop you.
On the road the brakes felt much better, stronger and tighter. Of course having changed out the old pads, manky old fluid and old rubber hose at some, it’s not easy to pinpoint what made the most difference. The only minor complaint I have with the Hel kit is that the bolts aren’t flanged, so the sprocket covers the entire bolt head and copper washer beneath. Thus when torqued up, the copper compression washer expands out jamming it in the sprocket, which can make it a pain to remove the torque wrench and sprocket. A minor niggle and once you’ve done it once you can avoid be careful placement of the sprocket.
Find out more details of Hel Performance brake hoses here.