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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just purchased a used 2009 Suzuki Gladius, and it's a great little bike except for the brakes for the most part; they are really terribly weak.

The fluid in them is the original, so it's overdue for a change, but I don't think just renewing the fluid is going to make these brakes right.

My first thought was to renew the fluid and install some braided stainless lines and more aggressive pads, but I'd hate to spend the time and money on that and find it wasn't a marked improvement over what they were to begin with.

What are your thoughts on this, and what are your recommendations?
 

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I will be doing braided lines on mine. The cash outlay is minimal and it has made a big difference on other bikes that I have owned.
 

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I was going to get some braided lines, but decided not to bother. I could grab the front brake hard enough to loop the bike if I wanted with the stock set-up. Aftermarket mods might give you more initial bite, or feel, but I'd rather it require a very hard grip to lock up since there's no ABS. I can stop pretty dang quick with 2 fingers, no problem.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm sure that my bike is not performing nearly as it should even stock because the previous owner did absolutely no maintenance on the brakes during it's 5 year life so far, so the fluid is bad and the calipers are likely not actuating as smoothly as they should be.

I've been told upgrading the master cylinder to a better quality and radial one will make a marked improvement overall when compared to the stock system in perfect working order.
 

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I'm an SV owner but don't hold that against me. It sounds like you've got this mostly figured out but I've been down this road before and thought I would share.

Your stock system is capable of flipping you over the bars if you lock it up, assuming the system is working well. If it feels weak then the system needs attention. If this was my Gladius this is what I would do:

1. Disassemble and clean the calipers and pistons.
2. Change the seals in the calipers, even if they look fine. 5 year old rubber is not the same as new rubber.
3. Reassemble the calipers with new brake fluid as a lubricant and lube the sliding assemblies with the recommended grease.
4. Disassemble and clean the master cylinder. Gunk tends to build up if the system is not flushed routinely and this can make a huge difference in how the master performs.
5. Clean the reservoir. Gunk and dirt collects on the bottom.
6. Sand the rotors and clean with brake cleaner. Also make sure the rotor rivets spin freely as they should.

Once the above is done, reinstall everything and bleed the brakes well. If you get all the air out of the system the brake lever will be solid and your brakes will lock solidly, too. To aid in this, buy a MityVac and banjo bleeder. I would also suggest Speed Bleeders to make future brake flushing a breeze. Oh, by the way, I would bet the old fluid is the main reason your brakes suck. Do yourself a favor and flush the system annually so your brakes work as they should.

One add on will make a difference - good aftermarket pads. I prefer Vesrah RJL pads. They are silky smooth, brake progressively and provide excellent feel. Other makes will work, too, but I like Vesrah the best.

Stainless lines look trick but don't really add much to braking performance. I did a back-to-back comparison between my stock SV lines and HEL stainless lines and "thought" the HEL lines might have felt a little better but it was marginal at best. If your stock lines are in good shape I suggest spending the money on new caliper seals and a banjo bleeder.

The stock master will endo you any day. The radial masters will, too. Either will stop you quickly. I have run the stock SV master, a GSXR and R6 radial master and have ridden a GSXR with an Accosato radial master and they all stop the bike. The difference is that the radials (especially that gorgeous Accosato) seem to give better feedback or feel at the lever; you can feel what the brakes are doing better than you can with the stock master. Do you really need a radial master to have decent brakes? Nope, you don't. In fact, I think the pads is a better investment.

Good luck with this. Nothing wrong with buying nice stainless lines and hooking up a radial master but if it was me I would save the money and throw it at the suspension.
 

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I'm with Mushin. Do some basic maint on the system first: Fresh fluid, clean the caliper pistons, grease the pivot and plunger on the master cylinder, etc.

Then invest in some good performance pads: EBC HH (good), Vesrah RJL (gooder), Carbon Lorraine C59 or C60 (goodest).

I have a feeling that will bring your brakes back to performing up to your expectations.
 

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To check the rubber brake lines hold them in your hands and pump the lever. If you can feel them pulsing they're shot and need replacing. Best to do this on a hot day as the rubber is softer then. If they're needing replaced they will give unpredictable feel depending on temperatures.

If they're good I'd leave em be as previously suggested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I3. Reassemble the calipers with new brake fluid as a lubricant
Thanks for all the great info and advice there, but I don't understand what you meant on this part here. This will be the first time I've ever done brakes, so although I understand the system and have read up on them a lot over the years, I have never actually done the job. I've done about every other kind of maintenance though, including adjusting the valves on a few different types of systems, so I am fairly well mechanically inclined and don't expect having any trouble doing this job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm with Mushin. Do some basic maint on the system first: Fresh fluid, clean the caliper pistons, grease the pivot and plunger on the master cylinder, etc.

Then invest in some good performance pads: EBC HH (good), Vesrah RJL (gooder), Carbon Lorraine C59 or C60 (goodest).

I have a feeling that will bring your brakes back to performing up to your expectations.
To check the rubber brake lines hold them in your hands and pump the lever. If you can feel them pulsing they're shot and need replacing. Best to do this on a hot day as the rubber is softer then. If they're needing replaced they will give unpredictable feel depending on temperatures.

If they're good I'd leave em be as previously suggested.
Thanks! :)
 

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Thanks for all the great info and advice there, but I don't understand what you meant on this part here. This will be the first time I've ever done brakes, so although I understand the system and have read up on them a lot over the years, I have never actually done the job. I've done about every other kind of maintenance though, including adjusting the valves on a few different types of systems, so I am fairly well mechanically inclined and don't expect having any trouble doing this job.
Sorry to be vague. When you assemble the calipers you need to lube the seals and piston. Doing it dry can roll and cut a seal so use clean brake fluid and the piston will slip in easily.

Calipers and masters are simple to rebuild. You just need the caliper seals, some new brake fluid, the usual hex sockets and an inch-pound torque wrench. White lithium grease is good for the sliders.

Oh, if your pistons get stuck when disassembling you can blow them out with compressed air through the banjo bolt hole. Put a rag or thin plywood between the piston and the caliper housing first so you don't damage the piston when it comes flying out of the bore. Keep your fingers clear! Whatever you do, do not touch the piston with pliers.

Typically, the master cylinder piston seals are fine and just need to be cleaned. Be sure all orifices are clean as well. Brake cleaner works well for the hardware but wear safety glasses. For the piston assembly, use Dawn and a soft brush to clean the gunk off, then dry gently with some compressed air - go easy so you don't tear the seals. After assembly, put a small dab of grease on the end of the actuating rod and also lube the pivot at the brake lever.

You got this. The calipers and master are easy to do and the service manual will give you all the info you need. I can usually rebuild both front calipers and a master in about an hour or so but I've done many of them; it may take you a bit longer but you can do it easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sorry to be vague. When you assemble the calipers you need to lube the seals and piston. Doing it dry can roll and cut a seal so use clean brake fluid and the piston will slip in easily.

Calipers and masters are simple to rebuild. You just need the caliper seals, some new brake fluid, the usual hex sockets and an inch-pound torque wrench. White lithium grease is good for the sliders.

Oh, if your pistons get stuck when disassembling you can blow them out with compressed air through the banjo bolt hole. Put a rag or thin plywood between the piston and the caliper housing first so you don't damage the piston when it comes flying out of the bore. Keep your fingers clear! Whatever you do, do not touch the piston with pliers.

Typically, the master cylinder piston seals are fine and just need to be cleaned. Be sure all orifices are clean as well. Brake cleaner works well for the hardware but wear safety glasses. For the piston assembly, use Dawn and a soft brush to clean the gunk off, then dry gently with some compressed air - go easy so you don't tear the seals. After assembly, put a small dab of grease on the end of the actuating rod and also lube the pivot at the brake lever.

You got this. The calipers and master are easy to do and the service manual will give you all the info you need. I can usually rebuild both front calipers and a master in about an hour or so but I've done many of them; it may take you a bit longer but you can do it easily.
Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Now that I've had the bike for a while and put some miles on it I understand more precisely what it is I don't like about these brakes. They are what would be described as "wooden", they lack "feel", and have no initial bite. They are not really progressive at all, they are either off or on, with little in-between for decent modulation. Clearly what is needed is a radial master cylinder to remedy this.
 

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Radial masters provide better feel but that is typically with a good set of aftermarket pads. Having run a stock master with OEM and aftermarket pads I know that the aftermarket pads, even with a stock master, feel better and brake progressively. A radial master does provide better feedback on what the brakes are doing but it will not fix that wooden feeling, at least not in my experience. Perhaps others may have a different opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'd love to avoid the huge expense and hassle of upgrading to a radial master if I could. Either way stainless lines and new pads are a given for me on this.

Going to a radial master would also necessitate the purchase and install of a new separate fluid reservoir and a new mirror setup, and these items are an integral part of the master assembly on this bike.
 

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Change your pads first, then change your lines when your stock ones either give out or you have the funds. If the pads and lines do not give you what you think you need then maybe a radial master might be the next option. I am going to bet that just pads alone will improve things significantly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'd like to think so. Also remember the fluid here has never been changed since the original owner's purchase over 4 year ago and is a dark amber color. So maybe I should just go new fluid, stainless lines, and pads only here to start with. Because surely that will make a significant improvement, and then if I still don't feel it's enough I can always switch to a radial master afterwards. Does that sound like a good plan?
 

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I'd like to think so. Also remember the fluid here has never been changed since the original owner's purchase over 4 year ago and is a dark amber color. So maybe I should just go new fluid, stainless lines, and pads only here to start with. Because surely that will make a significant improvement, and then if I still don't feel it's enough I can always switch to a radial master afterwards. Does that sound like a good plan?
Sounds like an excellent plan. If you can afford it, please consider a MityVac, banjo bleeder to fit your stock master and Speed Bleeders to fit your front and rear calipers. All of these things will make your life much easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sounds like an excellent plan. If you can afford it, please consider a MityVac, banjo bleeder to fit your stock master and Speed Bleeders to fit your front and rear calipers. All of these things will make your life much easier.
OK, so I need to add a bleeder for the Master then, thanks.

I've been trying for about a week now, checked through the service manuals, posting around, even contacting several retailers, and still not one person has been able to confirm what the correct size Speedbleeders are for the front and rear of the Gladius. Do you know?
 

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Yup, a Banjo Bleeder should be available from SVRacing Parts. Give Blair a shout.

Sorry, I do not know what the bleeder nipple size is. You might give Speed Bleeders a call - they might know.
 
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