Average riders put more thought into louder pipes than the maintenance of their motorcycle braking system.
Loud pipes save lives. We published a post about this controversy not too long ago. True or not, one thing about loud pipes is certain – the Feds aren’t interested in pipes that aren’t loud enough.
The Harley Brake Investigation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received 43 complaints about faulty brakes on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. At the time this is written, the NHTSA is labeling this a “preliminary evaluation.” Regardless of what you call it, the news is not good for Harley.
Fortunately, no fatalities resulted from the three known accidents linked to the brake problem. But with 430,000 motorcycles possibly affected, the risk is there.
Harley-Davidson isn’t denying the problem, but nor are they accepting sole responsibility. Harley claims the problem stems from bad brake fluid. Fluid that should be changed every two years.
The Two-Year Rule?
Harley placed some blame on owners who fail to change brake fluid. According to the company, this maintenance is “required.” Unfortunately, many owners claim this “requirement” isn’t so clear in the owners’ manual.
It’s also not clear if this requirement is valid. Opinions seem to be as varied as the loud pipes controversy.
It might not be a requirement, but it can’t hurt. As one blog post puts it
“If your bike won’t go, well, it might put a damper on your day; but if your bike won’t stop, you have much bigger problems ahead of you.”
Three Things You Should Consider
Before we continue our discussion about brake fluid, a word about brake pads. Check your pads every time you replace your tire. You won’t necessarily need to replace them that often. Inspecting them that often, though, is a good habit to develop.
Another good habit to develop is to bleed your brakes. The process isn’t as hard as it sounds – check out this how-to video.
We also have a few products to make the job easier.
Finally, a bottle of brake fluid typically costs less than $20. Replacing your brake fluid is simply extending the process of bleeding your brakes. For peace of mind, why not do it every 2-3 times you bleed the brakes?
Making a Safe Choice
Will you be safer using louder pipes? Maybe. Will you be safer maintaining your braking system? Of course you will.
Harley-Davidson isn’t off the hook. Brake fluid shouldn’t damage such a critical component so easily. However, we aren’t off the hook either.
Please – give as much thought to your brakes as you do your pipes.