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4th April 2005

Tech: Front Brake 101

The second article in a series of more than one: Professor A presents a Real Classic Shed-o-Vision guide to Royal Enfield Bullet front brake servicing...

Royal Enfield Bullet Front Brake Service 101

There has been a lot of talk on the message board about the Norton Commando front brake but the poor old Indian Bullet needs just as much care and good fettle to get the most from its front stopper.

This is a write-up on servicing the Indian TLS drum brake that is fitted to recent Bullet motorcycles. Depending on your use of your motorcycle I would advise on servicing the brakes each year - on a scrambler more frequent servicing may be necessary.

If you don't know which bit this is, consult your dealer.

Safety First!

Brakes are vital. If you have any doubts in your ability to service your motorcycle then please take your machine to a qualified dealer. Brakes are a safety item and great care needs to be taken to ensure they operate properly and reliably.

A number of the materials used while servicing the brakes are hazardous to your health so correct health and safety precautions need to be taken. The original Indian brake linings contain asbestos - just like lots of old classic bikes - and brake cleaner must not come into contact with your skin. Work in a well ventilated area and wear a face mask. Safe brake linings that are asbestos free can be purchased from Hitchcocks motorcycles, they are a slightly softer compound and so bed in a bit quicker for better stopping power.

Experts recommend more than two spokes...

You may notice a slight difference between the front brake linkages on my particular Bullet scrambler and the standard Indian item. The link rod has been discarded and an M6 stainless studding rod has replaced it. This item is stronger, does not corrode like the original and also allows separate simple adjustment of each leading shoe independently of the other. This makes a useful and low cost improvement to the front brake.

You can insert your own joke about the biggest nut on the bike...

First remove the road wheel. The front brake back plate is held in place with just one central nut. Remove the central nut and pull out the brake assy.

Eeeuch. Actuall, the *outside* of my Morini looks like this at the moment...

Inside you can see the damage caused by winter riding the Bullet plus trail riding the scrambler. Even after hosing the bike down after each ride, salty water is trapped in the brake drum and causes rapid corrosion. Red rust and white alloy salt damage have rendered the brake unreliable and ineffective.

First thing to do is to wear vinyl or latex gloves and wash the brakes with brake cleaner and a wire brush to remove any glaze. Don't breathe any dust in, wet the brake with the brake cleaner to stop dust .

A pair of shoes, and a plate.

You will need to take the brake shoes off the back plate to clean it thoroughly. This is a good time to replace the shoes with asbestos free items.

Rust is bad. Banish rust.

[Above Left] The front hub needed cleaning with wire wool and brake cleaner. [Above Right] Much better now its cleaned up!

[Below Left] These are all the component parts of the front drum brake laid out and cleaned.

If you've got this many bits left over when you're finished, it might be best to postpone the test ride. Go easy with the greasy
Royal Enfield Stuff on

When you reassemble the brake use a tiny amount of copper ease or high melting point grease on the pivot points [Above Left]. Only a very small amount of grease is needed; the last thing you need is grease on the brake shoes! Not a good idea :o(

Mmmm, shiny.

Here the brake is reassembled and fitted back on the motorcycle. Loctite thread lock is useful on all the securing nuts.

The final step is adjusting the brake.

First start with the lower brake shoe and adjust that. You are after a 90 degree angle between the cable and the lower operating lever. To get this you will need to move the lower lever to different points on its locating teeth until you find a good point where when the brake is adjusted it gives that 90 degree angle. This is very important because this provides the maximum mechanical advantage for the riders hand lever.

Once happy with this you need to adjust the top brake drum lever and adjust its leading shoe. The standard hexagonal linkage between the two leading shoes makes it very difficult to adjust the brake correctly hence why I replaced it with M6 stainless studding. The standard item has a left and right thread on different ends. Due to the poor quality they tend to rust up quickly in winter.

Check your work carefully before using the motorcycle on the road :o)


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