This has been a long requested maintenance topic for over a year. How to replace brake pads on a Harley that has an anti-lock brake system. There are differences in the process for successfully changing the pads but nothing most people wouldn’t be able to perform on their own at home and save a load of money doing so. Lets take a look at the differences.
The biggest point to be addressed is with the Dot 4 brake fluid in the brake lines. Because of the anti-lock brake module it is critical that the system remain free of air. Any small amount of air that enters the line will cause the anti-lock brake module to become ineffective in its purpose of pulsing the brakes to bring the bike to a quick stop. As long as you keep the brake system sealed and not allow air into the line then changing the brake pads can be done at home.
When changing the pads you will need to first pump a little bit of brake fluid out of the master cylinder to make room to the brake fluid that is in the calipers. You only want to pump out just enough to bring the level down to about halfway in the master cylinder. This will keep the brake system sealed and free of air.
There is also a wheel speed sensor on the left front caliper area and also on the rear brake caliper area. Not to worry though, these are only cables that will need to be moved out of the way so you can work on the caliper. There is really nothing you can do to cause harm to these sensors unless you physically cut them which unless your purpose is to do so, isn’t going to happen.
Once you get the caliper off, depress the pistons into the cylinder bore to make room for the new pads, your at the halfway point. Depressing the caliper pistons will push brake fluid back into the master cylinder which is why you need to remove some before removing the calipers. You don’t want brake fluid over flow from the master cylinder getting all over that beautiful paint on your bike.
Install the pads as you would any on any bike whether it be ABS or non-ABS. Reinstall the caliper. Once you have done all brakes related to the same master cylinder it is time to compress those new pads to the rotor. Gently and fully compress or pull on the brake handle or peddle, release, and repeat until you have brake action. Doing this will push the fluid back down the line into the caliper from the master cylinder. It will take a few runs through the process before the pads make contact with the rotor and give you a tight brake. While doing this be aware of the fluid level in the master cylinder. If it gets too low be sure to add some brake fluid. You don’t want to take a chance on it getting low enough to allow air to enter the line. If air gets into the line you will have to take your bike into the dealership and have them bleed the line digitally using digital technician II software to purge the ABS module of any air that could have collected inside that wont come out by conventional means. Once you have good tight brake on the lever or pedal, refill the master cylinder back to the full mark and close it up.
Take it easy for about 100 miles to allow the pads to burn in before really grabbing on them hard. The process can be done both front and back in its entirety in less than an hour. This is a great money saving process, familiarizes you with your bike, and maintains the safety factor of the brakes.
I got my brake pads online at Get Lowered Cycles and had them shipped to my front door. This is a great convenience so you don’t have to spend time going to a parts house or dealership. You can have them shipped and delivered to your home so they will be ready for installation at any time.