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Old 21st November 2013, 22:52   #1
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Default Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Owning a Royal Enfield makes you feel a little bit special. My statement is not a comparison, but rather a feeling of association with a Legendary Motorcycle manufacturer from the World War Era.

Royal Enfield Bullet STD 350 CI was my first bike. Spent a lot of time, money & passion on that bike. it served me well without any glitches ( yeah, that's true )

Year 2012 : Royal Enfield Launched the TB500 & I was mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the bike. I booked & brought the bike home. Treated it as a child & took good care. Less than a year has passed, I rode mere 3500 Kms on my bike & suddenly one day, while riding down hill from Mussoorie to Dehradun ( a mere 60 km ride ( 30 uphill and 30 down hill )), the rear brakes on my Bull gave up. Yes, you read that correctly.

The brakes did not Jam, they failed, as if there was nothing attached to the foot pedal. The first question that comes to mind is, was there any brake fluid ? yeah, it was good. I services my TB500 just 2 days back.

So, what was wrong with my bike ? The rear disk was hot. It was so hot, that I could bake some buns over it.

I wrote an email to the RE customer service & they sent me the same automated type of reply they always do. The service engineer at the RE stable looked at my BULL & said " huh, there is nothing wrong with your bike ", it sounded as if I was lying. It was good that I had my whole group of riders with me, who backed up my story. Else, these people at RE would never have believed what I said.

So, my Bull is now parked at my place while RE service decides it's fate. I really am disappointed with the type of QC these people have. It really is non-existent & the plans that Royal Enfield has of " Targeting the Mid-segment" of the market, seems a little bit over-fetched, at least with this type of QC and CS.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 00:02   #2
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

@shan2129:

As the service engineer at RE looked your bike over and I assume he tested it, and found no problem it should be totally safe to ride.

Although they are much better than drum brakes, disk brakes will also fail if they get too hot.
Your comment about the disk being hot enough to bake on tells me that heat was the problem.

If a disk brake gets too hot from overuse or drag the heat can cause the brake fluid to boil.
Once this happens the gas, which is compressible, will prevent the system from forcing the brake pads against the disk even though your applying force to the brake lever. The lever will feel like it isn't doing anything.

Once the brake fluid cools it will condense back to a usable fluid.

A suggestion: Take your motorcycle on a short trip without using the rear brake. Use the front brake only.
After riding it a bit, stop and check the rear brake disk to see if it is hot.
It should be air temperature or at most slightly warm.

If it is hot, even though it has not been used to stop the bike it tells me that the hydraulic system is pressurized.
Although this should not be happening, I have seen one case where the factory overfilled the master cylinder for the front brake on a new RE causing that brake to drag even though it was not being applied.

If your rear brake is showing symptoms of being pressurized there is a very simple fix that you can do.

To release the excess hydraulic pressure find the small bleed valve on the rear brake caliper. It will have a small hexagon wrench drive on it and a small rubber cap on top.

Remove the rubber cap and loosen the hex fitting about one turn. Some brake fluid will escape. Re-tighten the fitting and replace the rubber cap and your problem will be repaired.
If you don't feel you can do this repair, take it to a mechanic and ask him to do it. It only takes a minute so it should be inexpensive.

Read your owners manual and verify that this is correct but I think the RE's disk brakes can use either DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid.
If this is true, in all likelihood the factory filled the brake systems with DOT3.

DOT 3 fluid will boil at a lower temperature than DOT 4 fluid does so if the system has DOT 3 in it, replacing the fluid with DOT 4 will help to prevent the brake fade/failure you experienced.
As doing this replacement correctly requires bleeding the brakes I suggest you have a trusted mechanic do it for you.

Under no circumstance should you use a silicone based brake fluid (DOT 5) in your motorcycles brake system. Stick with DOT 4 and you won't have a problem.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 05:37   #3
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

ArizonaJim with the detailed answer!!! I had something similar happen to me - not an Enfield but another retro-style bike with rear disc brakes - found rear brakes not working after riding for some time exact same sensation as you describe, as if there was nothing attached to the foot pedal. Took it to be checked and was told I was probably putting continuous slight pressure on the rear brakes with my foot unknowingly and making the pads too hot. It was around this time last year, just starting to get cold and I had switched to wearing heavier boots with thicker soles which might have caused me to be sitting more heavy on the brake lever than with my lighter, warm-weather shoes (I assume). Rode with more care about foot placement and problem did not re-occur. Hopefully yours too is a simple fix. Best of luck and please do let us know what happens next.

Last edited by grplr02 : 22nd November 2013 at 05:39.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 09:02   #4
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

And as a rule of thumb, while coming down hill, always use engine braking.
Use your gears and slow down the bike. This reduces your usage of brakes and thus keeping its temperature at check.
My CI350 chugs alright on second gear while coming down hill.
Cheers,
Deepak
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Old 22nd November 2013, 10:02   #5
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Sad. These niggling quality issues (though this one is quite major) makes me stay away from going back to the Enfield, even though I would still like one in my garage. They have still a long way to go to give us quality bikes.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 10:29   #6
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

I would blame the supplier here. That would be ENDURANCE (ETS).

All their products I have used are crappy. Be it the brakes on my Pulsar or the Struts on my Punto. And also the rear gas filled shock absorbers of the Pulsar. i believe the RE too has ENDURANCE for the shock absorbers and the brakes.

Discarded the brakes for BYBRE ones and got Magneti Marelli Struts for the car. Now all is good.


Check if you can change the master cylinder to a better one from KBX or BYBRE. Better if you could change both the master cylinder and the Calipers, like I did.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 10:33   #7
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

I should have mentioned, if riding the motorcycle without using the rear brake is not to ones liking, if they put it on the centerstand so the rear wheel (or the front if that's where the problem seems to be) is not touching the ground they should be able to freely rotate the wheel.

Although disk brake pads are always very close to the disk, they should not drag enough to be noticed when the wheel is turned by hand.

In the case of the overfilled master cylinder I know of, when rotated by hand the wheel had a noticeable drag. After the excess fluid was released, the wheel rotated freely.

As for Royal Enfields quality I have not found fault with my 2011 G5 (fuel injected 500cc Electra).
IMO, things like an overfilled brake system can happen to any manufacturer and when a company is producing over 100,000 motorcycles a year a few are bound to escape with some small niggles.

Yes, they are annoying or bothersome to the owner but they are not the fault of a defective design.

I agree that using the engine to brake the speed of a motorcycle or car when decending a long hill is the correct way to do things.
Riding the brake is just asking for the brakes to overheat and fade, even if DOT 4 fluid is being used.

Last edited by ArizonaJim : 22nd November 2013 at 10:40.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 12:25   #8
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArizonaJim View Post
@shan2129:

As the service engineer at RE looked your bike over and I assume he tested it, and found no problem it should be totally safe to ride.

Although they are much better than drum brakes, disk brakes will also fail if they get too hot.
Your comment about the disk being hot enough to bake on tells me that heat was the problem.
Thanks for your detailed reply & the technique to get rid of the issue. I did read this reply from you in another thread & was the first thing I did when I got back home.

Though, the problem was not excess fluid. But, there is a drag in the rear wheel & the callipers are touching the disk permanently. Upon closer inspection, I found out that the whole rear wheel assembly is crooked, it is making a " ghuss-ghuss " sound when I try to rotate the wheel while the bike is parked on the centre stand.

The best part is that RE people said & I quote that
Quote:
All the TB500 & 350 have a crooked tail end. It is just the rear grooves that mount the swing arm were grooved in a crooked manner.
Now, I don't think this can be the case

Another thing about using engine braking is that, I always do use engine braking and my foot always placed on the foot peg in a tilted manner, so it is not touching the brake pedal. Even if, I was constantly pressing the brake lever without realizing it, it should not boil in just a 2 km ride time ?

The RE ASM | TSM have no clue of what should be done. My TB has been in to the RE Stable more time in the last 2 months, than in the past whole year. In fact, I did not visit the RE stable for anything except the service part. Bike has done just 3500 Kms & I consider It as a run-in ending period. So, that means, that I haven't taken my bike to a 90-100 kmph string. I haven't hard braked or done crazy things to my BULL. All I have done is, that I have taken good care of it, cleaned everything.

Last edited by GTO : 22nd November 2013 at 16:22. Reason: [b]Mod Note : Please use the EDIT or MULTI-QUOTE buttons instead of typing one post after another on the SAME THREAD![/b].To know how to multi-quote, [URL="http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/announcem
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Old 22nd November 2013, 12:31   #9
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkaile View Post
Sad. These niggling quality issues (though this one is quite major) makes me stay away from going back to the Enfield, even though I would still like one in my garage. They have still a long way to go to give us quality bikes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DRIV3R View Post
I would blame the supplier here. That would be ENDURANCE (ETS).

All their products I have used are crappy. Be it the brakes on my Pulsar or the Struts on my Punto. And also the rear gas filled shock absorbers of the Pulsar. i believe the RE too has ENDURANCE for the shock absorbers and the brakes.

Discarded the brakes for BYBRE ones and got Magneti Marelli Struts for the car. Now all is good.


Check if you can change the master cylinder to a better one from KBX or BYBRE. Better if you could change both the master cylinder and the Calipers, like I did.
I have done the same thing on my Punto & I think I will have to do the same on my TB as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArizonaJim View Post
I should have mentioned, if riding the motorcycle without using the rear brake is not to ones liking, if they put it on the centerstand so the rear wheel (or the front if that's where the problem seems to be) is not touching the ground they should be able to freely rotate the wheel.

Although disk brake pads are always very close to the disk, they should not drag enough to be noticed when the wheel is turned by hand.

In the case of the overfilled master cylinder I know of, when rotated by hand the wheel had a noticeable drag. After the excess fluid was released, the wheel rotated freely.

As for Royal Enfields quality I have not found fault with my 2011 G5 (fuel injected 500cc Electra).
IMO, things like an overfilled brake system can happen to any manufacturer and when a company is producing over 100,000 motorcycles a year a few are bound to escape with some small niggles.

Yes, they are annoying or bothersome to the owner but they are not the fault of a defective design.

I agree that using the engine to brake the speed of a motorcycle or car when decending a long hill is the correct way to do things.
Riding the brake is just asking for the brakes to overheat and fade, even if DOT 4 fluid is being used.
You are using an export model of the bike I presume ? if that's the case, we cannot compare the QC. :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by starter View Post
And as a rule of thumb, while coming down hill, always use engine braking.
Use your gears and slow down the bike. This reduces your usage of brakes and thus keeping its temperature at check.
My CI350 chugs alright on second gear while coming down hill.
Cheers,
Deepak
I have used a CI & it never failed me, even when I did 100 on a straight stretch. I use engine braking, it's just that you have to apply rear brakes when needed.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 12:45   #10
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

When riding downhill how do you control your speed and most importantly which gear do you use?
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Old 22nd November 2013, 13:18   #11
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
When riding downhill how do you control your speed and most importantly which gear do you use?
Hi Imran,
This approach ain't fun, first of all. I have all the fun while riding up (whatever is possible in a CI Bullet, that is ).
Here is what i have been doing till now:
If they are heavily winding downhill roads, i just try out with second. Upshift/Downshift depending upon the speed the bike is gathering.
I would also like to hear what you/others have to say about this.
Cheers,
Deepak
PS: Heating or not, the brakes on my CI are nothing to write here about. But that's a topic for another thread, i guess.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 13:25   #12
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Quote:
Originally Posted by starter View Post
Here is what i have been doing till now:
If they are heavily winding downhill roads, i just try out with second. Upshift/Downshift depending upon the speed the bike is gathering.
So do you move to a higher gear if the bike is picking up speed?

So if you started with second gear and the bike is doing say 30 kmph. If the bike gets to 40-50 do you move to third and keeping moving up progressively.

Do you use your brakes for slowing down?
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Old 22nd November 2013, 13:40   #13
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Quote:
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So do you move to a higher gear if the bike is picking up speed?

So if you started with second gear and the bike is doing say 30 kmph. If the bike gets to 40-50 do you move to third and keeping moving up progressively.
I go to a lower gear to further reduce the speed.
Quote:
Do you use your brakes for slowing down?
I will still need to use the brakes, say at corners or to bring down the speed due to a speed breaker or something, but this is only an occasional dab on the brakes.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 14:57   #14
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Quote:
Originally Posted by starter View Post
I go to a lower gear to further reduce the speed.

I will still need to use the brakes, say at corners or to bring down the speed due to a speed breaker or something, but this is only an occasional dab on the brakes.
If your brakes are not continuously pressed in by you it should not heat up.

Can you raise the bike on its stand and check if the wheel spins freely?

Sit on the bike so suspension is pressed down and try pushing it forward using your own force. Is it rolling forward without difficulty?

Another thing is why were you unable to stop using the front brake. Did it also fade.
I very rarely use the rear brake. Infact i would not even recommend using the rear brake.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 15:19   #15
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 : Brakes Failed : No Quality Control

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
When riding downhill how do you control your speed and most importantly which gear do you use?
while riding downhill, I usually am on the third gear( lite traffic ), I use rear brakes with the front ones & switch to a higher gear, to & if I reduce speed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
If your brakes are not continuously pressed in by you it should not heat up.

Can you raise the bike on its stand and check if the wheel spins freely?

Sit on the bike so suspension is pressed down and try pushing it forward using your own force. Is it rolling forward without difficulty?

Another thing is why were you unable to stop using the front brake. Did it also fade.
I very rarely use the rear brake. Infact i would not even recommend using the rear brake.
In my case, the front brakes also faded, faded in terms of intermittent braking. though my front wheel spins freely, the rear one does not.
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