Can you service your brakes? Of course you can. Dollar for dollar, performing your own brake service is one biggest money savers for the DIY mechanic. Your brakes aren’t really that complicated and brake parts aren’t terribly expensive. Its the labor at the mechanic’s shop that gets you.
Transitioning from a fast straight to a bus stop right hand turn is not the time to be thinking about upgrading your brakes. Unlike engine modifications that can easily go awry, upgrading your brakes requires a little patience, time and a few tools to make you stop more precisely in no time at all. Stock motorcycle brakes employ rubber brakes lines, which are cheaper then steel braided lines but rubber lines will expand when placed under extreme use. This expansion translates into a mushy feel at the brake lever and to less confidence on the street. You can pick up a set of steel braided front brakes lines for less then $100 and a rear brake line for $50 from name brands like Goodridge, EBC or Galfer. Kits will include lines and disposable crush washers but you will still need tools and fresh brake fluid ($10).
Remember: hydraulic brake fluid is corrosive to paint so make sure to put a rag over your gas tank, front fender and triple tree prior to doing any wrenching. Start by putting a 8mm box wrench over the bleeder nipple and attaching a tube from the nipple to a catch can. Open the bleeder valve and evict all of the old fluid. Close the bleeder valve, remove the tube and box wrench and begin removing the bolts that attach the brake lines from the master cylinder to the brake caliper(s). If your motorcycle has two front brake calipers, your new steel braided brake lines will often run separate lines off the master cylinder to each caliper as opposed to the stock set up which uses a single line that splits off to connect each caliper.
Once the old lines have been removed, route your new brakes lines along the same path as the old lines to ensure you have the proper kit. If everything matches up, grease the new fittings with some fresh hydraulic fluid and remember to use new copper crush washers in front of and behind every new fitting to ensure the integrity of the hydraulic system. Torque the master cylinder and calipers bolts to your motorcycle handbook’s specifications. Install hydraulic fluid and bleed the system per your motorcycle handbook’s instructions. Installation of the rear brake line is the same as the front. Once you are done take the bike for a test ride to ensure everything is operating well and stop thinking about your brakes and start thinking about going faster through the turns.