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I just bought a 2013 V Strom 650 ABS. The front brake lever goes most of the way to the hand grip before the brakes grab. If I release the lever and pull it again, the brake is applied much farther out from the handlebar. The brakes do not feel spongy indicating air in the lines.

Since this is a new purchase, I'm going to go over the bike completely, bleed and flush the brakes, coolant, etc. including an oil change, lubing the chain and more.

Is the brake feel normal (as someone told me) or does this sound like something a complete flush will remedy. All brakes on bikes before this one have been consistently firm with an engagement point that did not change from the first to multiple pulls.
 

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I can think of three possible explanations:
1) line needs to be bled
2) small leak in the system or
3) a warped rotor pushes your brake piston back enough that you need to pump it back
You would feel oscillations with 3) while breaking. More likely one of the first two. 1) could come from old brake fluid having attracted water. Heat from braking creates water vapor, so this will reoccur even after bleeding until the contaminated fluid has need replaced. If there is really no trace of sponginess at all then you might have a leak but this would show eventually by reduced fluid in the reservoir.
 

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Ratchet, try THIS:
Take a pair of Vise-Grips, wrap eac jaw with several turns of electricians tape. Carefully pinch off the brake hose 4" out from the master cylinder. There are hose pinch-off pliers specially made for this purpose, but the Vise-Grips will work. DONT pinch them off hard enough to damage the hose. Note: This is not recommended for stainless-steel brake hoses.
Check your lever--if it now feels firm, then the problem is farther down the line including the ABS hydraulic unit. If it still feels soft, your problem is in the master cylinder. It could be air or a leaking internal seal. We are trying to narrow the problem area and avoid an unnecessary part replacement or procedure.
Take off the pinch off pliers and apply it to one of the front brake hoses to the one side caliper--note the change in feel. Then take off the pliers and do the same to the other side. Again, note the change in lever feel. I usually use 3 pinch off pliers--one on the master cylinder hose, and one on each front caliper hose. The one that has the greatest effect on lever travel is your problem area. And yes, you can have more than one issue happening at the same time.

Try this before you go further.
 

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Here are some links to videos on front brake maintenance.

Here is another about bleeding them the old way

And one about pressure bleeding.

Note that the ABS system may be causing the long lever. There is a thread here somewhere (maybe a V1000 thread) describing the need to deliberately activate the front ABS system to clear an airlock/blockage in the ABS. This can only be done on the road and needs some care i.e. a quiet place at lower speeds.

Do check, as Hogges suggests, that you do not have a warped rotor, and see if you can isolate the problem area using MAZ4ME's method.
 

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If there is no spongy feeling, then it's not air. It's likely one or more caliper pistons are sticking and need to be cleaned and lubed.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

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I can think of three possible explanations:
1) line needs to be bled
2) small leak in the system or
3) a warped rotor pushes your brake piston back enough that you need to pump it back
You would feel oscillations with 3) while breaking. More likely one of the first two. 1) could come from old brake fluid having attracted water. Heat from braking creates water vapor, so this will reoccur even after bleeding until the contaminated fluid has need replaced. If there is really no trace of sponginess at all then you might have a leak but this would show eventually by reduced fluid in the reservoir.
This happened to me, but it was a loose axle nut allowing the entire wheel assembly to move back and forth enough to push the brake pistons back. Something to check: Axle nut and pinch bolts, bearings and spacers.
 

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Cleaning the caliper and pistons is worth doing, for some reason the 650 pistons are crap magnets, particularly for small pieces of tar coated gravel from new seal.

eBay rotors are relatively inexpensive if it's a warped rotor.

Wheel bearings are also a possibility.

Another possibility - aka the nightmare scenario. Crap in the ABS valve. Symptoms there are if you get the brakes firm and hold them the lever slowly heads for the bars. That's sometimes fixable.
 

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If there is no spongy feeling, then it's not air. It's likely one or more caliper pistons are sticking and need to be cleaned and lubed.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
Not necessarily.
I had a Harley V-rod come to me with such a soft spongy lever it was dangerous to ride. The issue was.. caliper piston seals sticking to the pistons and retracting them into the caliper bores when the lever was released. Found by being able to insert a .025" feeler gauge between the brake pads and the rotor 5 seconds after brake application sitting in my garage. The pistons themselves were free, but the seals kept pulling them back into the bore. Talking with the local H-D dealer's parts guy, he told me this was a very common situation, caused by brake dust on the outer seals.
The repair was to replace the the piston seals. I have had pistons stuck in the caliper bores from old fluid and rust, but the symptom was dragging brakes pads and overheated rotors not a spongy lever. This H-D used silicone fluid(H-D recommended), and the spongy lever wasnt from boiling fluid from overworked brakes when hot.
 

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When you change the fluid I have gone to either Super DOT 4, or DOT 5.1. Both have a higher boiling point that DOT 3, so better performance when really hot or overheated.

Chart:
https://www.lelandwest.com/brake-fluid-comparison-chart.cfm

I recently had a spongy front also, replaced all fluid with Super DOT 4 and changed the HH pads out to Ferodo:

https://www.motosport.com/ferodo-sintered-st-brake-pads

I reverse bleed the system and make sure you get all the DOT 3 fluid out since combining/mixing DOT 3, 4 or 5.1 can possibly cause master or caliper failure. The front brake lever is now firm like it is supposed to be and I like the Ferodo's over the EBC HH's.
 

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I just bought a 2013 V Strom 650 ABS. The front brake lever goes most of the way to the hand grip before the brakes grab. If I release the lever and pull it again, the brake is applied much farther out from the handlebar. The brakes do not feel spongy indicating air in the lines.

Since this is a new purchase, I'm going to go over the bike completely, bleed and flush the brakes, coolant, etc. including an oil change, lubing the chain and more.

Is the brake feel normal (as someone told me) or does this sound like something a complete flush will remedy. All brakes on bikes before this one have been consistently firm with an engagement point that did not change from the first to multiple pulls.

Yea bleed the brakes and check the pistons and stuff like everybody is saying.

Thing is though the 650 brakes aren't firm compared to a bike with really good brakes. I spent a few years on the 650 before going to a Gen 2 1000. Front brakes are night and day in regards to power and feel at the lever.

Some change out the 650's 2 pot calipers for 4 pots and switch out the master cylinder That would probably be the solution to get better brakes on the 650. Type of fluid, pads, lines, etc. aren't going to make much of an improvement, IMO.
 

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In case it helps, I documented my experience with this problem:

https://www.stromtrooper.com/maintenance-tech-products/128273-excessive-front-brake-lever-travel-one-solution.html

TL;DR: this bike (which I'm still riding after 11 years and 60k miles) is wonderful, but its brakes are just crappy. I tried everything imaginable to fix the inconsistent lever travel, including a complete rebuild of everything except the caliper bodies. In the end, replacing the entire brake calipers was the only real fix. I have no freaking idea why.

I no longer waste my time refurbishing them; I flush them annually, and completely replace them every 4-5 years. This bike has been so reliable that it really isn't very expensive to do this when amortized over its life, especially if you're doing the work yourself. (Then again, understand that my last bike was a BMW K75 which I calculated cost me roughly $1 per mile to ride, so my frame of reference may be a little crooked ...)

YMMV. Good luck!
 

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In lieu of speed bleeders, I have found that removing the bleeders (I use the rubber bleeder cap to plug the threaded hole temporarily) and wrapping the threads with Teflon tape and re-inserting makes the job much easier. Then use either a Miti-Vac or an assistant to make the job easier.
 

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My bike has ABS. I should have noted in my previous post that if you have ABS, you should find a safe place ( I use a nearby gravel parking lot) to CAREFULLY activate both your front and rear ABS a few times prior to bleeding. After bleeding it once, I again activate the ABS and bleed again. This is to ascertain that I have replaced as much of the brake fluid as I can. This method has worked very well for me and does not require a lot of time.
 
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