Improving the brakes


Has anybody messed about with different master cylinders to maybe get a bit more power to the OE front calipers?

Not talking about going radial necessarily, but is there one that gives you a better hydraulic ratio?

I know such things are usually at the expense of feel, but on the big old battle cruiser, that may not be a bad thing.



I haven’t found the need to replace the master cylinder to get a real improvement in braking.
Braided hoses go without saying,rebuilt calipers using genuine Honda boots and seals(works out as cheap as an aftermarket kit)new slide pin and pistons in stainless(£27 per caliper) built with proper red rubber grease.
EBC HH pads on modern discs(I’ve used EBC and Braking discs) topped of with Dot 5.1 fluid.
The results are quite impressive and haul the VFs up very quickly tho they don’t have the feel of a more modern brake.
Regards Bif


Thanks Bif,
alas, I have all of that.

Braided hoses, Brembo discs, Brembo HH pads and calipers refurbished in the recent past.

I just think they could be sharper. I would gladly sacrifice some feel for a bit sharper action.

I may do some experimentation myself :slight_smile:


the rear is the one that needs upgrading


Honda CBR 1100 XX master cylinder is a good way to improve breaking. Jean-Marc, my french friend who races a VF1000R (remember him, Marmite?) uses one on his racing machine…


@VF1000.24: Right, interesting.

Will have a look out for one of them.

To be honest, the over all power is fine, it’s just the level of input and the duration to get it to full braking force that is a concern.

Right, off to that eBay! :slight_smile:

@windysolar1: Despite the obvious benefits of them on such a bike, I still don’t use the rear a lot.


After sorting out a few other issues, I have got a few kms done with the Blackbird front master cylinder.

Fitting was easy and gave me an opportunity to put some new fluid in too. It bled up nicely and after an overnight sit gave its finished feel.

There is now more lever travel and a less firm feel at the lever, but the effort required at the lever is now significantly reduced for the same braking force as previous.

As regards braking action, you can be a bit more aggressive at the lever and despite the less firm feel, power is good and it easily builds to sufficient power before it ever runs out of travel.

Sensitivity is still good and overall, I like the feel of it.

If you like a slightly sharper feel to your brakes, this is a cheap and easy mod.


I’ve gone back to the original master cylinder as I simply could not get on with the lever feel the Blackbird MC gave me. It was a little too vague, despite the power being OK.

However, I still wasn’t happy with the initial bite and lever effort for braking effect of the original.

Yesterday, I decided to take my own advice and give the pistons a good clean and grease with red rubber grease.

It already has Brembo HH pads on Brembo discs so no issues there.

The pistons didn’t look bad, but there was some crud there to be gotten rid of.

I liberally applied Castrol Red Rubber grease and worked the pistons in and out a few times to ensure all is well distributed.

This morning’s commute gave me a good chance to test the brakes under varied conditions and the difference is significant. That initial bite is vastly improved, and the braking effect for lever effort seems to be improved too. While the pistons didn’t seem seized by any means, the clean and grease has definitely been effective.

Along with chain cleaning and lubing, this will now be a regular maintenance task.


Every time a wheel comes OFF, I swap the brakes pads around, left to right.
They are Symmetrical and helps stop Grooves from wearing in.

Also clean and lube your Caliper Glide pins and lube with the right stuff (not ordinary grease) or it’ll seize and you’ll wear more on one side, reduced braking.
My Compound/Lube of the decade is Molybdenum-Disulphide, AntiSeize/Assembly paste.
I’m replacing grease with IT, just about everywhere.:motorcycle:


I did the slide pins with good copper grease. Though I do have some good moly grease there too, is that more betterer?


Yes, the Copper version of Anti-Seize is probably the best overall (only one that can be safely used on Oxygen Sensors).
Also available in Aluminum (cheaper, lower temp), Nickel (High Temp), Moly (high pressure, high sticky),…
I wipe all axle parts down with antisieze and nothing there ever rusts.
Even my Steering Stem Bearings, lasts forever and doesn’t weep oil everywhere.
Moly is a tough metal and Sulpher is the slut of the Periodic Table, will bond with anything.


I allways use copper slip and still have the can i purchased years ago
wonderfull stuff never corodes or rusts

mot tomorrow morning it never fails