11mm End Wrench, 1/4" Clear Tubing, Container, Brake
Fluid, WET Rags at the Ready, Phillips Screwdriver
Disclaimer- As with any mechanical adjustment, if done improperly this procedure could
be harmful to your bike and could cause severe injury in the event of a crash.  If you are
at all unsure of your ability to perform this procedure correctly, PLEASE do not attempt to
do so.
What does it mean to "bleed" the brakes?
Bleeding the brakes involves draining the air bubbles out of the reservoir, lines and
calipers so that only fluid remains.  This is done through a nipple in each of the calipers,
and the fluid is expelled out but prevented from going back in, hence the term "bleeding".
Air shouldn't be in the system, and makes its way in through leaks in the line, or if the
level is low and the bike leans way over, it sucks air.
Why bleed the brakes?
It's necessary to bleed the brakes because air in the system decreases
braking power or diminishes it completely.  Air compresses more than brake
fluid.  When you pull the handle, it compresses the air in the system before
it pushes the fluid into the calipers to clamp the rotor, so most if not all of
the brake lever travel is wasted and not converted to braking force.  The
same goes with the clutch- see my
clutch page for info on bleeding your slave
To start bleeding your brakes, you'll need to slip the tubing over the bleeder
nipple on the caliper, and feed it into an empty container.   
It's a bit tricky to maneuver into, but you'll need to have one hand on
the brake lever, and one hand on the wrench on the bleeder nipple.
Pump once,
three times,
then HOLD
With the brake handle held firmly
closed, loosen the bleeder screw.  The
pressure at the handle will drop, and
fluid will flow into the tube, along with
air bubbles no doubt.  Don't be
alarmed- just keep the pressure on the
handle and continue to force fluid into
the tube.  Stop the handle before it
reaches the handlebar by closing the
bleeder.  The best way to do it is to hold
firm pressure on the handle, but only
loosen the bleeder a bit, so you have
more control over it.
Pump up the handle as shown above between each bleeding.  Also, keep a close
eye on the fluid level- it depletes QUICKLY, and if you run out of fluid in the
reservoir it will suck air and you'll have to start over.  I'd check after every
three bleedings.  As soon as no more bubbles, not not even one, comes out with
the fluid, you're done.  Just kink the hose and let the fluid flow to the
container, and pop it off.
Then you can top off the fluid and
cover it back up.  Be sure to use only
DOT 4 or 5.1 fluid.  DOT 3 isn't heavy
duty enough, and DOT 5 is a different
formula that eats the seals in the
master cylinder.  I use 4 because I
can't find 5.1 at the local store.  5.1 is
better, but 4 works fine for me.
Since I like to fill the fluid to the top to minimize the air in the reservoir, it
always flows out when I tighten the lid down.  That's why you need the wet
rags handy- brake fluid is terribly corrosive and will damage paint in a matter
of minutes.
The rear is a bit trickier because the nipple is on the bottom and it's harder to access.  You could leave the caliper on the
bottom and bleed it there.  I have done that and never had a problem.  However, if you consistently have a mushy feel
there is probably an air pocket caught in there- to fix this, the manual suggests moving the caliper to the top side of the
rotor for a proper bleed, so I have revised my page.
Unbolt the caliper from the mounting bracket.
Once off, you'll need to twist it around so that the
line is not kinked, then mount it on top of the rotor.
This is the setup: the caliper on top with a
tube leading into a container.  Then you'll
mount your 11mm wrench on the nipple, grab
the lever, and go to work.
Pump once,
three times,
then HOLD
The same thing as with the front
brake- pump it up, hold pressure on
the lever, and at the same time
realease the bleeder nipple.  Fluid and
air will  come out.
Keep pressure on the lever the whole
way and when it is about to run out of
travel, close the bleeder screw and
release the lever.  Then start over
with the pumping sequence.  Perform
until no more air comes out of the
tube with the fluid.
One trick that helps with control is to release the nipple only a slight amount while holding pressure on the lever.  You
won't run out of lever travel quickly, and you can make sure you don't run out of fluid in one stroke.  You'll need to
press the lever harder, but overall it is a much more controlled action.
You'll have to be even more careful while bleeding the back because the fluid
reservoir is smaller and will empty sooner.  Keep a close watch.  When
finished, top it off, then wipe off all the surrounding areas with brake fluid on
them and close the lid.
Now take the caliper off the top,
twist the line back into position, and
pry the pads apart with a screwdriver
in a gentle motion.  Then mount it
back to the bracket to the specified
torque (about 25 ft-lbs).
And, you're done.  If you just make sure that you don't let air back into the system, you'll do fine.  When tightening
the bleeder screws, DON'T wrench them down, just snug them up tight.  They are easy to strip.  And one more thing-
watch where the fluid gets- if at all possible, leave the lids on the reservoirs while bleeding to prevent a jet of fluid
from shooting into the air.  Good luck!
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all other content on this website is copyright 2006, Monster Man Productions.  If you would like to link to my page, feel free to do so.  

The steps for bleeding are as follows:  you want to pump up the system,
release the bleeder screw while holding pressure on the handle, let some
fluid drain, close the bleeder screw, and release the handle.  You DON'T
want to release the handle at all while the bleeder is open, or air will enter
back into the line and you'll be that much further behind.
Get into position, then perform this sequence:
BEFORE letting go of the lever, close
the bleeder completely.  I can't stress
enough how important it is to never
release the handle even the slightest
amount while the bleeder screw is
loose, because air will get in.  So,
while holding the lever, tighten the
bleeder screw as shown.  Then, you
can repeat this process several times.
Then perform this sequence:
The procedure on a bike with dual discs is the same, except do the one
closest to the master cylinder first, then the opposite one.