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Discussion Starter #1
I've noticed on my '13 XC that the front brake will "pump up". The lever isn't soft and the brakes function fine but as I put miles on the bike and get more and more in tune with it (800 miles so far) it's become apparent that the front brake probably needs to be bled. But since I have zero experience with ABS I need to know if this is an ABS thing or do they really need to be bled. If it's a foible of ABS then I can live with it, if not then I'll bleed the brakes but before I do is there anything that can bite me by bleeding ABS brakes, i.e. can I screw this up or is it just a brake bleed?

I'd ask the dealership but they're worthless and can barely spell bike let alone Victory.
 

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Here is something you can try that may work to eliminate the pumping of the front brake. I discovered this when I changed my front brake pads.

Pull your pads and push the pistons back into the caliber. After you do that pump the handle to reseat the pads. After I pushed in the pistons my hand brake has been nice and firm with no need to pump it.

I think there is a spot in the lines that gets an air bubble that just does not clear with bleeding the brakes but when you push in the pistons it forces that air bubble up into the master cylinder eliminating the air in the line.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The theory sounds plausible but it would be easier to bleed the brakes than to remove the calipers, remove the pads and then depress the pistons all the way up into the calipers.

I'm just trying to determine if the tendency to pump up is a normal thing on the ABS brakes or if it's a symptom of air in the lines. I'm inclined to think it's the latter rather than the former but I don't want to screw something up out of ignorance.
 

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Your break lever should have travel in it. I don't understand why you think you need to bleed your breaks. Pull your cap off the master cylinder and see how full it is.
If your just worried how far the lever travels adjust it to what you like. Read owners book on how to adjust it. What does your break pads look like. If you have done any changes with the break lines I doughty you have air in the lines.

If you think you have air in the line turn your bars to left. Cover the tank now pull the cap and Very very slowly pull the lever. Only pull the lever a 1/8" no more. Do this a couple times. Reason only a 1/8" is so you don't push the air back down the line.
If you see air bubbles come up then you have air in line. No bubbles no air and its good,
 

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You can easily compress the piston by hand without removing anything. Also, do not press the brake lever without the pads installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here's the issue: Pull up to a stop sign using the front brake. Once stopped pump the lever twice and there is a noticeable decrease in travel. Release the brake and count to five then pull the lever once and note the travel. Pump twice again and the travel is decreased again.

This is why I'm suspecting air in the system. I do agree that I should probably pull the master cylinder cap and look inside. It's not like the shop did any pre delivery inspection on this or anything.
 

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Here's the issue: Pull up to a stop sign using the front brake. Once stopped pump the lever twice and there is a noticeable decrease in travel. Release the brake and count to five then pull the lever once and note the travel. Pump twice again and the travel is decreased again.

This is why I'm suspecting air in the system. I do agree that I should probably pull the master cylinder cap and look inside. It's not like the shop did any pre delivery inspection on this or anything.
I was only telling you what worked for me. I used my brake bleeding machine to bleed the brakes and never could get rid of having to pump the handle for a firm brake feel. I also gravity bleed the brakes with the same lack of results. Only pushing in the pistons did the brake become firm and no longer requires pumping the handle which tells me somewhere in the line was a air bubble that bleeding could not get out but by pushing the pistons into the calipers seemed to have pushed the air bubble out and up into the master cylinder.

The pads come out of the top of the calipers without having to remove the calipers. Also it is only two bolts that hold the calipers on so it is a not a hard job to remove the pads or the calipers. The Victory service manual says you may have to crack a line to bleed air that gets trapped at the fitting as well. If it was me I would try pushing the pistons back in and see if that corrects your issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Got it. All it takes is a little bubble to get hung up somewhere really doesn't it. I'll play around with it and see what happens. I was mainly inquiring simply because I didn't know if there were any special considerations that applied to ABS brakes and bleeding.
 

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Got it. All it takes is a little bubble to get hung up somewhere really doesn't it. I'll play around with it and see what happens. I was mainly inquiring simply because I didn't know if there were any special considerations that applied to ABS brakes and bleeding.
Just a note from the Victory service manual, they say to bleed the left front caliper first then bleed the right front caliper.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I suppose the reasoning is that it's the farthest from the master cylinder.

I was out running around town with the wife yesterday and I can say that now that I've noticed the "pumping" issue with the front brake it really is annoying. It doesn't bleed down like a brake that has a bad master cylinder or caliper but it only takes one little pump to really feel the difference. I caught myself double tapping the front brake every time I reached for it and that's not a good habit. It kind of reminds me of my old '62 Volkswagen kit car, every time I stepped on the brake on that old beater it was pump twice then step on the brake. The only difference being that on that one if I held the pedal it would eventually wind up on the floor.
 

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I've had the same symptom on my DR650 and my Vic. I use a Vacula pneumatic brake bleeder and it works great, but all it takes is an air bubble to get lodged in a fitting, manifold or some other location to cause a mushy lever with excessive travel that pumps up reducing the travel. Someone recommended I try this and it worked for me on both bikes. Pull the brake lever to the bar and secure it with a cable tie. Once the brake lever is secured jiggle the front brake flex hoses to dislodge any trapped/stuck air bubbles. Let it sit with the lever tied back overnight, any air then has the chance to rise to the top of the reservoir past the open port in the master cylinder.

Tech23
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ya know, I kinda like that idea. It's simple and there isn't any thing to lose trying it. The wife and I are supposed to take a putt up to Oatman AZ tomorrow or Sunday so I'll give it a shot tonite when I get home from work. Worst case scenario I'll have her help me bleed the brakes in the morning. After 18 years on an Electra-Glide she's pretty good at bleeding brakes.
 

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Any update on this thread? I have a 14 XC and I'm dealing with same issue. First pull is very soft. Rapid pulls pumps it up quickly...then right back to soft. Dealer bled the brakes with no improvement....they suggest it might be a slow leak....I don't think so.

I like the suggestion of pushing in the pads to dislodge a bubble. I'll also try the over night compression idea, both seem very valid. I was wondering if anyone dealing with this had any luck fixing it...
 

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Any update on this thread? I have a 14 XC and I'm dealing with same issue. First pull is very soft. Rapid pulls pumps it up quickly...then right back to soft. Dealer bled the brakes with no improvement....they suggest it might be a slow leak....I don't think so.

I like the suggestion of pushing in the pads to dislodge a bubble. I'll also try the over night compression idea, both seem very valid. I was wondering if anyone dealing with this had any luck fixing it...
I used to use a 60ml syringe on my Goldwing to bleed the bubbles. Draw out the brake fluid through a small clear tube from the bleeder valve (make sure you have plenty of clean fluid in the reservoir). Push the fluid back through (gently, don't want it to gush out of the reservoir). Repeat until you have all the air out and tighten the bleeder. Be sure you don't loosen the bleeder too much or air may get in via the threads...
 

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Sounds simple enough. I'm not the super tech guy so I try to keep things very basic. I paid the dealer mucho American dollars to bleed the brakes...I can only assume they tried all that. I would hope they could do a better job than I could, seeing as how they have legitimate tools and such. I was hoping for some feed back on the procedures previous posters mentioned. Compressing the lever and compressing the pads.....kind of hard for even me to screw that up. I'll try both over the weekend and reply back with a thumbs up or down.
 

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Cliff notes: Brake fluid has to travel a LONG way from the master cylinder to the calipers, it's entirely possible that a bubble exists in the line somewhere in the bike that can only be removed by moving lots of fluid very quickly.
I would assume that the dealer who bled your brakes probably just pulled fluid out until it stopped bubbling. Depending on how fast they pulled the fluid though, a bubble could still be trapped in a high point somewhere in the line.

I've had the same issue since day 1 with my xr and it had less than 2k on it when I bought it. My guess is that since the brake fluid has to travel from the master cylinder on the bar, all the way to the back of the bike to the abs box, then all the way back to the front where the calipers are, that there is a small bubble that gets trapped in there. My basis for this is my old honda magna. It had a hydraulic clutch but the line to the slave cylinder had a distinct hump in it underneath the tank. I could bleed the line all damn day long and still have no clutch because that hump would collect air but still allow fluid to pass through. So I would end up drawing fluid out from the slave with no bubbles in it and thinking all was well until I pulled the lever. The solution (at the time) was a vacuum bleeder. I put a TON of vacuum on the bleeder valve and kept pumping away for a good couple minutes (had a friend up top to keep the reservoir filled). After a whole bunch of bubble free fluid came out, suddenly a GIANT air bubble did as well. After that the clutch worked great.

I just recently bought a power bleeder (pressurizes the reservoir instead of sucking from the bleeder) so I can do the brakes on one of my cars so I'm probably going to fab an adapter cap to fit the victory and bleed the brakes with that to see if it gets rid of what I'm assuming is a similar (albeit smaller) bubble. Probably won't get to it for a while but I will report back once I do it.
 

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Here is something you can try that may work to eliminate the pumping of the front brake. I discovered this when I changed my front brake pads.

Pull your pads and push the pistons back into the caliber. After you do that pump the handle to reseat the pads. After I pushed in the pistons my hand brake has been nice and firm with no need to pump it.

I think there is a spot in the lines that gets an air bubble that just does not clear with bleeding the brakes but when you push in the pistons it forces that air bubble up into the master cylinder eliminating the air in the line.
I recently bought a 12 XC and didn't like the feel of the front brakes from day one. I didn't read anything on here until now but here's what I did.

1 - I assumed the factory pads were part of the problem, so I bought new ones.
2 - WD has a video that shows you how to very easily change the pads. It involves pushing the caliper pistons in to make room for the new pads. (As described above)
3 - Upon completion and getting the lever pumped backed up I went for a test ride.
4 - Holy Cow, I about went over the handle bars on the first grab.
5 - I've had a firm brake handle ever since.

Just my $0.02
 

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Keep in mind bars have to be turned to the left to get the master cylinder at its highest point.

My thinking is first squeeze of lever you're only pushing a little bit of fluid down the line. That's normal because you're only getting a short amount of fluid. Now with the second squeeze your getting a full blast of fluid because the piston in the master cylinder is doing a full travel.

If you think you have air turn bars to far left. Now with lever set to #1 tie lever off to bar. Any air in system will travel up the line and leak out.
Air always goes to the highest point. So every time you pump the lever you're pushing the air back down the line.

Take a ride to dealer and check breaks out on one of his bikes
 

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As usual.....I'm getting tons of excellent advice. I learn so much on these motorcycle forums......soon I'll be a break expert....or is that brake? whatever. I just tied my brake lever off to my grip. I'm going to let it sit and see what happens. Can't hurt, right?

I told the dealer the brake flush they performed didn't work....they didn't seem too concerned, but I'm sure they will look at it again for a fee. I should be getting a call about the saddle bag latch recall soon....I'll have them look at it then if I don't fix it myself prior to my appointment. While I was there last, I tried every front brake on the showroom. Very inconsistent results, but the one XCT they had on the floor had the same sloppy brakes. First pull almost to the grip, then rapid pulls pumped up to what a bike with good brakes should feel like. I went back into the shop area to point that out to them but they must have been on brake.......or is that break? whatever.
 

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I'm thinking it's the 8 pistons in both calipers going far enough back thats causing the first squeeze of the lever to go a little farther than normal.
 
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