How many folks clean the brake pistons and keep them clean ?

~TABASCO~

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Hello Everyone !

I personally don't do this all too often, but with the Tenere and all the road grime, mud, dirt, I probably should do it more often. I recently threw on a new set of pads, and in the process of doing so I cleaned all the pistons. I did not pull them out of the bore, but cycled them in and out to clean all the piston surfaces. I proceeded to clean all nine of them with soap and water.

The reason I ask this is because after I did this service the pistons move in and out WAY smoother and don't feel stuck or sticky any longer. Probably more than half of mine were stiff or "stuck", after cleaning they are all butter smooth in and out. The feel of the brakes now feel a lot better as well. It's probably a general maintenance situation but I thought it provided a better brake feel and performance and wanted to pass along the info for others to keep in mind.

Even if you don't need new pads, you can always pull the brake off and clean the pistons. If you choose to do this, you might want to look up a You-Tube video on a "how to" cycle those pistons back and forth, so you can clean all the garbage off off them. Its probably going to be added to my once a year maintenance that I like to do on my 'major service'...

I used a tooth brush, dish soap, and hot water. It's cleans them up excellent. I then had a hand pump sprayer filled with hot water to rinse the junk & soap off..... Kind of dried everything off with a shop towel or paper towel.

Really easy job to do, and I feel makes a difference, thought I would share !
 
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fac191

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I push them out. Clean with Brake Cleaner and turn them with piston pliers to clean all round.
 

~TABASCO~

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Are you just brushing or are you using brake fluid to help?

I used a tooth brush, dish soap, and hot water. It's cleans them up excellent. I then had a pump sprayer filled with hot water to rinse the junk & soap off..... Kind of dried everything off with a shop towel or paper towel.
 

~TABASCO~

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I push them out. Clean with Brake Cleaner and turn them with piston pliers to clean all round.

Be very careful grabbing the out side surface of the piston with anything. So you dont scratch the piston. If they get scratched, they can leak.... (more for other folks to read)
 

~TABASCO~

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They go inside the Piston. Thanks for advise though always welcome.
I only said that if people reading this don't know what piston pliers are and thought they just read "pliers"... In my life Ive seen folks grab pistons and twist them around and damage the hell of that out side surface.... "roll eyes"
 

cyclemike4

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Yes I do clean mine and I also use a tooth brush and soapy water. Years ago the grit on the roads here destroyed everything and I had to clean my brakes and every sealing area often. Luckily they don't put down the burnt barrel cinders any longer on the roads in winter. I don't have nearly the trouble I used to have. I have often wondered why they don't put boots on the pistons. I have owned trucks with boots on the pistons and some older bikes that had boots and I never had caliper issues at all. Guess the two dollars they save per caliper on the boots have made some one a millionaire. Ha ha.
 

Boris

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Yep, part of my regular maintenance schedule, usually done each winter. Although I use brake cleaner, toothbrush, rag and a few cotton buds. Also clean the centre pin and holding plate. The centre pin I rub down with some fine sand paper, as there is usually a build up of road crud on them. Just done them in the last couple of weeks.
 

fac191

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I only said that if people reading this don't know what piston pliers are and thought they just read "pliers"... In my life Ive seen folks grab pistons and twist them around and damage the hell of that out side surface.... "roll eyes"
Are we talking about Captain Nemo again ?
 

Dons 1911

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So @~TABASCO~ I'm intrigued!
You say add to annual maintenance...I live in north Idaho and ride farther into winter and earlier in spring than I probably should. I also ride in deserts of Arizona and Utah a lot. So, would you put a mileage interval on this maintenance or just stick with annual? Thanks!
 

Boris

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So @~TABASCO~ I'm intrigued!
You say add to annual maintenance...I live in north Idaho and ride farther into winter and earlier in spring than I probably should. I also ride in deserts of Arizona and Utah a lot. So, would you put a mileage interval on this maintenance or just stick with annual? Thanks!
FWIW I do mine about every 8-10k miles and they’re never that bad, however I only ride tarmac and never, once the road salt is down. IMO, every 15k would suffice.
 

Bmwdumptruck

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Every service, brake cleaner, plastic brushs and brake pliers as per Fac191 mentions, but then I coat them in red rubber grease to protect them. Copper slip on the metal to metal contact points and locking pin. Keeps them working fine till next service.
I’ve never found a single dealer that didn’t just clean, free off and leave everything bone dry, and then moan that it took ages next service to clean and free off again:rolleyes:. I ride most of the year and in most weathers, so they need protecting.
 

eemsreno

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I had to remove the pistons out of my calipers and do a thorough cleaning by removing the seals and scraping the gunk out in the seal grooves. This is not an easy job, it is very hard to put the seals back into the grooves on the front calipers and be sure to pack the grooves and seals with syn grease. I actually ended up removing them star plugs to get the seals back in.
 

scott123007

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Before everyone gets all excited because they hear the word pistons, and pictures in their mind what ICE pistons do, remember, the life of these pistons is to move outward a maximum of .020" when the brakes are applied and then by the tension of the piston seal, retract back however much they moved out, when the brakes are released. They NEVER go back into the caliper to the point where they are "dirty", until the pads are ready to be replaced and they need to be retracted to install the new pads. THAT's when they need to be cleaned! If, when a wheel is removed and they need {not necessarily} to be separated to re-install the wheel, you can clean them then. It is never a bad idea to do maintenance to your MC, but don't think for one minute that cleaning your pistons on a regular basis will have any effect on your braking performance.
 

Cycledude

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i clean using spray brake cleaner and toothbrush before pushing the pistons in to install new brake pads. Neither one of my Tenere’s have ever needed new front brakes so the front pistons have never been cleaned.
If you ride in winter on treated roads it’s a good idea to clean those brake pistons a little more often because the crap they use for winter road treatments can cause a lot of extra damage, my Tenere doesn’t get ridden during winter but my Goldwing does.
 
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~TABASCO~

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I had to remove the pistons out of my calipers and do a thorough cleaning by removing the seals and scraping the gunk out in the seal grooves. This is not an easy job, it is very hard to put the seals back into the grooves on the front calipers and be sure to pack the grooves and seals with syn grease. I actually ended up removing them star plugs to get the seals back in.

Hello Steve,
When I picked up my bike in late 2011 I noticed the front pads dragging the disc excessively. The brake factory accidentally had several of those seals "rolled" in the bore. The bike was brand new. They warranted all the seals and those are a bugger to install. BTW, let's catch up and go ride next year !
 

~TABASCO~

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So @~TABASCO~ I'm intrigued!
You say add to annual maintenance...I live in north Idaho and ride farther into winter and earlier in spring than I probably should. I also ride in deserts of Arizona and Utah a lot. So, would you put a mileage interval on this maintenance or just stick with annual? Thanks!


Im not the best person to ask this question really.... Because Im a maintenance nerd. Im not normal when it comes to this type stuff. LOL I like the machine to be "race" prepped before any large trip and I do keep an eye on everything throughout the normal year. I totally over do it, but im OK with that and I have fun knowing the machine is in tip-top-order. I dont get to ride as much as I would like so I personally do a once a year big tear down and even that is really kind of over kill. Ive been around cars and motorcycle service for for 40+ years and have seen many dumb things from the lack of maintenance. Ive also traveled with many motorcycle friends over the years that some small bolt / part / or lack of simple maintenance has ended the trip or has taken a day or two to fix because of something really DUMB..... So, I really hate that and I never want my bike to be the cause of any of that. I do take care of things like a Swiss watch.
I tell people that I learned that from my grandfather. Ha-Ha He grew up in the great depression along with his 10 brothers and sisters. (He lost four brothers at Pearl Harbor that morning) That effected him so much that as an adult, anything he had he took care of it like he would never have another again (although he could have). He took care of everything he own absolutely perfectly.
Here is a quick example of the this, it was one of the first examples of this I could ever remember. He and my grandmother lived on about 1/3 of an acre. He pushed mowed the lawn when I was a small kid. Each week he would take this gas power push mower and mow the lawn. After he was done he would wash and clean the mower cleaner than when the thing left the factory. You could eat off any part of that mower. (Being in two branches of the military also has something to do with this) He then pushed it into his little shed and put the cover over it until next week...... Thats to the extreme FOR SURE..... Im not that bad, LOL, but I like to take care of my machine.
 
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