Dirt bikes often use two different types of brake systems. Rear brakes are often actuated by a mechanical lever, while front brakes are actuated by hydraulic fluid. This helps to save weight, but also allows motorcycle manufacturers to provide the strongest braking force to where it is needed the most -- on the front wheel. Rear brakes on dirt bikes are seldom used in race situations, but are useful during off-road riding to help control the dirt bike more easily.
Adjust the rear brake first. If you press down on the rear brake pedal with your right foot and the bike does not stop or slow, tighten up the adjustment screw slightly. On most dirt bikes, this is located near the rear brake at the end of a long metal rod. The metal rod is connected to the brake pedal. Adjust the brake in 1/2-turn increments until the brakes engage the way you want them to.
Check the front brakes to determine that they do not need new hydraulic fluid. The hydraulic fluid reservoir is located on top of the motorcycle's handlebars, just above your right hand. On it, there is a small round window with the hydraulic fluid visible inside. If the fluid is dark brown, it needs to be changed. If the fluid is amber, then the fluid is ok and the brakes simply need to be adjusted, or the brake pads may be worn.
Check the front brake pads to determine whether they need to be replaced. This can be done by inspecting the brake caliper. The brake pads are visible beside the rotor, and you will also be able to see the metal warning tab that lets you know that the brakes need replacing. If this tab is gone, it may have broken off. Less than 1/8-inch of brake pad depth means that the brake pads need to be replaced.
Adjust the brakes to a slightly heavier setting from the dial on the dirt bike's handlebars. This dial is located just at the juncture of the brake lever and the hand grip on the right hand side of the handlebars. From the factory, it should be set to between the number one and three. To tighten up the brakes, turn this dial so that the notch lines up to the next number higher than it was previously located. Try the brakes and adjust to a higher setting if necessary.
Tips & Warnings
- Do not over-tighten the brakes on your dirt bike. Wheels that bind up too tightly will cause the motorcycle to skid, especially on loose dirt terrain.
- "Four-Stroke Motocross and Off-Road Performance Handbook"; Eric Gorr; 2011
- "Race Tech's Motorcycle Suspension Bible"; Paul Thede; 2010
- "Motocross and Off-Road Motorcycle Setup Guide"; Mark Thompson; 2010
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