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Old 1st February 2015, 00:58   #1
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Post Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

This happens with a lot of us, the layman I am referring to. We take our vehicles to the authorised service centre believing that the mechanics appointed there would be well trained and proficient enough to handle our priced possessions and that they would resolve the niggles we face.

Many a times, when we take our vehicles back, we feel that something just isn’t right. Mostly these issues are resolved on our subsequent visit. But sometimes the authorised personnel just tells us that everything is alright and as they parts are new, it would take a few kilometres for them to settle in and work efficiently. And we trust them, blindly!

Something similar has happened with Mr. Rajendra Singh. According to him, on complaining about the spongy brakes, after having new rear brake pads installed, he was repeatedly given false assurances by the authorised personnel.

What followed was a drastic event and definitely not something I would expect when I am shelling out sedan class money on a bike.

CITY BIZMAN DRAGS HARLEY DAVIDSON TO COURT OVER BRAKES
Pune Mirror | Jan 31, 2015, 02.30 AM IST

Quote:
The alleged failure to resolve a technical glitch in one of their usually-prized bikes has resulted in Harley Davidson (India) being dragged to court by a 39- year-old Pune businessman, whose wife suffered spinal injuries after she fell in November last year when the vehicle's brakes "failed".

The case by Rajendra Singh, chief executive officer (CEO) of the city-based Priyadarshani Group of Schools, has now been moved in the Pune District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, as well as filed before the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC).

Singh, the previously proud owner of a swanky Harley Davidson Dyna Street Bob — FXDB, has alleged that since one year before the accident took place he had been complaining to the authorised dealer, Mokshaa Motorbikes Company, about the rear brake pads.
Source: Pune Mirror (Link: http://www.punemirror.in/pune/civic/...w/46070704.cms)

Last edited by GTO : 2nd February 2015 at 12:31. Reason: Keeping the fair usage policy in mind, it's best to share an excerpt + link to full article. Thanks
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Old 2nd February 2015, 12:46   #2
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

I'm not sure about the accuracy of this businessman's statements, and think it's a simple case of spotting a speed-breaker too late.

He has been complaining about his 'rear' brakes only. Not a single problem was reported with the front brakes. As we all know, it's the front brakes that provide most of the stopping power in bikes & cars. Even if we assume his rear brakes had a problem, the fronts would've worked just fine and slowed his bike down. He claims "I applied brakes upon seeing a speed breaker, but the bike did not slow down". This statement appears totally untrue.

What also raises suspicion is his claim that the bike did stop properly 'after' the speed-breaker. Compared to cars, the front & rear brakes of motorcycles are more independent (mechanically). Therefore, I find it hard to believe that both - the front & rear brakes - stopped worked together, and then both miraculously resumed operation.

Also, if his rear brakes weren't working at all, and the fronts did bite (as they didn't have a history of problems), he would have probably gotten himself into a tricky situation.

The accident & injury are unfortunate. But I do think it's rider error. He spotted the speed-breaker too late.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 13:03   #3
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

Spongy brakes after changing pads are very common specially if bleeding of brake oil is not done properly, I have faced this issue many times due to usual negligence of showroom mechanics, it might be the case and owner must be frustrated as he has spent big amount to buy the bike and not getting proper service. He is right if HD is not able to provide him the quality of service which such a costly bike deserve's.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 13:10   #4
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
As we all know, it's the front brakes that provide most of the stopping power in bikes & cars.
On a sport bike or super bike, this would have been the case, but if you look at the bike the person has, most of the contact patch comes from rear tyre.

Also to note that, he had a pillion in this case, now most of the weight( rider + pillion + bike ) rests on the rear tyre. So if the rear brake was effective ( assuming it was not ) , most the traction would have been provided by rear tyre and it would have slowed down or stopped in time to avoid jumping over the speed breaker .

PS: There is a reason the bike ( what ever type it is ) is provided with rear brake and it has to be working at 100 % all the time and also used all the time .
The logic, saying it is not needed is incorrect .

Last edited by black12rr : 2nd February 2015 at 13:17.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 14:03   #5
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

I agree, it is a bit of strange story. Unless he was coming fast down a bend in the road before the speed breaker there is no reason his front brake should not have slowed him down, even with his wife on the pillion.
You try not to brake on a bike during cornering.

But what I find even more remarkable is that he keeps on complaining about the rear brake, but continues to ride the bike?!

Reminds me of a little mishap we had a while ago here in Delhi. My wife was out in our car with our driver. Somebody bumps into them from the rear whilst they were stopped for a red traffic light. Driver gets out and starts telling my wife it wasnt his fault because the brakes weren't working!

People need to take responsibillity for the own actions (or lack of)

Jeroen
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Old 2nd February 2015, 14:30   #6
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

Quote:
Originally Posted by black12rr View Post
On a sport bike or super bike, this would have been the case, but if you look at the bike the person has, most of the contact patch comes from rear tyre.

Also to note that, he had a pillion in this case, now most of the weight( rider + pillion + bike ) rests on the rear tyre. So if the rear brake was effective ( assuming it was not ) , most the traction would have been provided by rear tyre and it would have slowed down or stopped in time to avoid jumping over the speed breaker .

PS: There is a reason the bike ( what ever type it is ) is provided with rear brake and it has to be working at 100 % all the time and also used all the time .
The logic, saying it is not needed is incorrect .
The width of the rear tyre and contact patch are not valid arguments. The physics of braking a motorcycle demand that major effort (70-80%)should come from the front brakes.
This is the reason even smaller bikes (pulsar, apache etc) come with a front disc and rear drum. The disc provides superior braking.
Whether it be cruisers or sport tourers or super sports - the rear tyre is always wider. Yet all provide better/larger front brakes than the rear brakes.
Most seasoned riders use only the front brakes to slow down from speed and start using rears only after the bike has come down to a reasonably slow speed.
Some use both simultaneously but with more effort on the front brakes.
I agree with your point that the rear brake cannot be done away with.

This case looks to me to be where he may have jammed on the rear brake in a panic situation and the rear wheel would have stepped out leading to a skid.

Last edited by viper_711 : 2nd February 2015 at 14:45.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 16:04   #7
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

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Originally Posted by black12rr View Post
most of the contact patch comes from rear tyre.
That's more to do with transferring power to the road, stability etc. than it does for braking.

When you brake, there is weight transfer to the front. Simple physics.

As Viper writes above, ever wonder why if a bike or car has only one disc, it's always at the front

Quote:
The logic, saying it is not needed is incorrect .
Don't get me wrong, I didn't say the rear brake isn't needed! I just fail to understand how the front & rear brakes - both - stop working at the same time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Reminds me of a little mishap we had a while ago here in Delhi. My wife was out in our car with our driver. Somebody bumps into them from the rear whilst they were stopped for a red traffic light. Driver gets out and starts telling my wife it wasnt his fault because the brakes weren't working!

Last edited by noopster : 2nd February 2015 at 17:39. Reason: Only 2 smileys per post :))
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Old 2nd February 2015, 16:54   #8
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

While I feel sad for the lady and hope she fully recovers and gets back on the saddle soon, the rider has some answering to do.

Firstly, irrespective of what bike he is riding, the front brake is what gives the most stopping power. Yes, laws of physics- Inertia, wherein the weight of the riders and vehicle is transferred to the front when you try to stop the moving bike. Indeed, a touch on the rear brake is welcome but thats not what you depend on fully as you also risk fishtailing if the road surface is lose.

Secondly (and more importantly), when you are not sure about the proper functioning of any safety feature of your vehicle, you dont take chances unless it has broken down in the middle of your cross country trip or whatever so you can limp till the nearest stop/service center.

NOW COMING TO ASS (authorized service center I mean )- Yes, for warranty or complicated (mainly electrical/electronic component) repairs that need access to manufacturers diagnostic equipment, many a time good regular sbk mechanics can do a better job in solving such problems. So if you are not happy with the ASS, you either decide to leave the bike there to solve the problem completely. If not satisfied take the legal route. But taking the bike back not satisfied, doing a 2-up risky ride, having a mishap and then suing is neither logical nor prudent!

Just to give you another recent Harley ASS example here in Saudi. A Fatboy rider noticed that after the workshop mounted/balanced a new front tire, his bike had a front wobble. He took it back & was told that the disc and rim had some minor bend and needed replacement costing a good $$$. For a second opinion he came to a local mechanic friend of mine who didnt find anything wrong with the rim or disc. Luckily the mech had an old similar tire and when he mounted that, the wobble was gone. So the angry rider went back to Harley to replace the tire and after some reluctance/tough talking, they eventually did agree to replace it FOC and the problem is gone!
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Old 2nd February 2015, 17:10   #9
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

A good article on braking - http://www.stevemunden.com/braking.html

A few lines from it -

Why use both brakes?

Ok, so the front brake is more powerful than the rear due to laws of physics. How much more? The Motorcycle Safety Foundation's student class materials say that about 70% of a motorcycle's braking power is at the front brake. I think that's a gross underestimate. Have you ever seen a sportbike stopping so fast that the rear tire is in the air (a "stoppie")? How much of that motorcycle's braking power is in the front? Right, 100%.

Now that's not a reason to ignore the rear brake for several reasons. In the first place, only a short and light motorcycle will loft the rear tire; a cruiser, for instance, is too heavy and too long to do that. The rear tire will always be on the ground with some weight, and hence some traction, on it. Furthermore, even on a short light sportbike, it takes significant skill to do it. Contrary to what a lot of my students think, just grabbing the front brake will not cause the rear tire to rise; it'll cause the front tire to skid and dump you.

Still, though, the front brake has far more power than the rear, so why use the rear at all? That's pretty simple: In an emergency, are you going to be satisfied with 70%, or even 95%, of your braking power? Not a chance. If both tires are on the pavement then they both have some traction. In an emergency, use it all.

Ok, I will, in an emergency. How about that routine stop at the traffic light? I don't need 100% of my braking power there; maybe more like 5%. Do I need to use both brakes there?

Yes, you do. It's a matter of habit, of being prepared for the emergency. If you routinely use just one brake, when the BDC stops in front of you, what are you going to do? You're going to do what you always do, that's what. So I insist that my students always make flawless stops: Both brakes. Right foot stays on the brake all the way to a stop, with no paddling at the end. Be in first gear by the time you stop. Do it right every time, so you'll do it right when it counts.

Last edited by black12rr : 2nd February 2015 at 17:14.
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Old 2nd February 2015, 21:27   #10
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

Quote:
Originally Posted by black12rr View Post
On a sport bike or super bike, this would have been the case, but if you look at the bike the person has, most of the contact patch comes from rear tyre.
A Fat tyre in a motorcycle has curved lateral cross section this means that the fat rear tyre helps in cornering rather than just increasing the contact patch. Also a Fat tyre doesnot guarantee braking.

In the friction equation friction is independent of area!

Frictional force= Weight x Coefficient of Friction

Quote:
Also to note that, he had a pillion in this case, now most of the weight( rider + pillion + bike ) rests on the rear tyre. So if the rear brake was effective ( assuming it was not ) , most the traction would have been provided by rear tyre and it would have slowed down or stopped in time to avoid jumping over the speed breaker .
Wrong- Just because you have a fat tyre and a pillion seating on it will change the Front:Rear braking force ratio of 70:30 substantially.

Instead I would say a major part of the rider and the pillions weight (W) will be transferred forward onto the front tyre patch which will further increase front tyres braking force
Frictional force= Weight (W) x Coefficient of Friction

In motorbike brake design the rear brakes are purposefully kept relatively weak so that in panic situations even if a person stomps on it, it should not skid at the first instance.

In motorbike braking the skid first starts at the rear than at the front due to the low active normal weight available on the rear tyre.

Reduced weight on the rear tyre due to weight transfer is the major reason why rear wheel skid starts first if the rear brakes are made equally powerful.


Quote:
PS: There is a reason the bike ( what ever type it is ) is provided with rear brake and it has to be working at 100 % all the time and also used all the time .
The logic, saying it is not needed is incorrect .
Yes you are right about the logic that whatever last ounce of braking force one can extract has to be done and so rear brakes are also required but in the importance ratio of Front (70-80%) to Rear (20-30%)

Do you know that in motorbike riding schools where they teach riding one of the technique they teach is first to brake using only the front brakes. Because it is observed that novice people cannot modulate both brakes simultaneously and often land up loosing the rear wheel.

You are right only light bikes will pop up the rear wheel instead the front wheel will skid before that. Then why not concentrate on the front wheel which provides maximum braking and modulate it such that it doesnot skid.


1) Rear motorbikes are designed purposefully weaker to avoid rear end skids.(Drive any disc brake motorbike you will come to know about this)
2) A pillion will not increase braking force at rear wheel as much it will increase on front tyre due to weight transfer. But at the same time due to the weight of the pillion the motorbike would require more braking force (under the limit of skid) to achieve same braking distances.
3) Friction is a complex phenomenon and is not dependent on area so its not necessarily a fatter rear tyre will increase braking force.

Oh! I have not read the link which you provided and landed up explaining the same things nearly again. Sorry for that.

But I agree with GTO that if the guy is complaining about rear brakes I really doubt whether he really applied the front brakes enough. I would have complained more about the front brakes or the poor tyres if god forbid I was in the same situation. Also, did the guy release the front brake just before the speedbraker? If not surely he was doomed to fall.

One more important point. I myself graduated from a 100cc drum brake bike to a bike with disc brake. The first complaint was that the rear brakes are horribly underpowered.
For 100cc bikes which have both front-rear drum brakes the rear drum brakes are made equally or nearly powerful as front brakes to compensate for the weak front drums.

I still feel my 100 cc bike has better rear brakes than my disc brake bike. Is it due to the design or due to weight difference/power of the bike which makes me feel so... hmm

Last edited by amit_purohit20 : 2nd February 2015 at 21:54. Reason: Additional points added
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Old 2nd February 2015, 22:54   #11
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

Even I had a bad experience with my Harley with respect to brakes. I was riding back to Bangalore on Hyderabad road and when i wanted to slow seeing traffic ahead and my rear brake pedal just collapsed. However could get the bike to slow down and stop using front brakes alone safely.

This really raises my concerns over quality also. My brakes failed as the safety clip that holds the connecting rod was missing. I am still in a dilemma if that snapped or if the dealership failed to put it back when changing the mid mount controls to forward floorboards. Now I make it a point to check all these before I start the ride.
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Old 3rd February 2015, 00:45   #12
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

Front brake 75% importance rear brake 25%
On turns rear takes a slightly higher importance but on straights it is the front brakes that matter the most.
One must get off the brakes before actually getting on a speed bump. If not god help the rider and the bike.
Though this was not a street 750. Feel the street 750 brakes are not sufficient for the power.
Don't see a win in this case.
If rear brakes had an issue he should have resolved them before riding or ridden extremely slowly till they got back to the service centre.
Brakes don't again start working after a wack.
Setting may indeed not have been proper but that is the first thing we check on leaving a service centre after getting brake work done.
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Old 3rd February 2015, 20:45   #13
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

I really think it's high time our government makes it compulsory to have ABS installed on all new bikes or we are going to read a lot of similar stories here. Not everyone reads team-bhp to know the dangers of riding a bike without experience.

Wrt the case here I think the owner has a point , he has been complaining and the service people were always assuring him that all is well.

So if HD did not check or work on his bike after his complaints I think they have a huge problem on their hands. We all know HD'S rear brakes are bad , maybe this serious incident will make them take notice and do something about it.

Last edited by stanjohn123 : 3rd February 2015 at 20:58.
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Old 3rd February 2015, 23:09   #14
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

Sharing my 2 cents of what I experienced for last 3+ years...

Approximately around 11000 in my ODO I experienced an accident where I rear ended a staff bus & was left with broken fairing & front cowl; the damages were about 3K to replace all the parts & the ASC was extremely cooperative to whatever I asked them to try to improve braking.

Around 33000 we switched from DOT3 (for STD CBR 250R) to DOT4 which improved the front brakes marginally

Around 49000 we switched from BYBRE M/C kit to Nissin M/C kit, but with OE BYBRE calipers which improved the front brake marginally

Around 80000, we replaced the BYBRE front caliper kit with a new one (same BYBRE) & the brakes have now improved phenomenally & even better than what used to be even before the 11000 on the ODO

So my point here is that, Brembo makes one of the world's superior brakes, but, BYBRE is determined to kill people. When I met with an accident at 11000, most people said I was riding wrong, I didn't do the braking right etc. But the point was I couldn't stop the bike as where I had expected & right from that day, I was suspecting the front brakes. It took approximately at 80000 Km to turn my assumption to fact. Its a lousy product, not the problem with ASC.

This was my case
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Old 3rd February 2015, 23:55   #15
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Default Re: Harley Davidson brake defect - Dragged to court by Pune businessman

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Sharing my 2 cents of what I experienced for last 3+ years...

Approximately around 11000 in my ODO I experienced an accident where I rear ended a staff bus & was left with broken fairing & front cowl; the damages were about 3K to replace all the parts & the ASC was extremely cooperative to whatever I asked them to try to improve braking.

Around 33000 we switched from DOT3 (for STD CBR 250R) to DOT4 which improved the front brakes marginally

Around 49000 we switched from BYBRE M/C kit to Nissin M/C kit, but with OE BYBRE calipers which improved the front brake marginally

Around 80000, we replaced the BYBRE front caliper kit with a new one (same BYBRE) & the brakes have now improved phenomenally & even better than what used to be even before the 11000 on the ODO

So my point here is that, Brembo makes one of the world's superior brakes, but, BYBRE is determined to kill people. When I met with an accident at 11000, most people said I was riding wrong, I didn't do the braking right etc. But the point was I couldn't stop the bike as where I had expected & right from that day, I was suspecting the front brakes. It took approximately at 80000 Km to turn my assumption to fact. Its a lousy product, not the problem with ASC.

This was my case
While not harley related , I myself have observed what you described , bike in question is KTM 390 with ABS and Bybre brakes . My observation is same as yours - often then bike doesn't slows down the way I expect it to . I brake with considerable margin for error so never faced any potential accident situation though almost ever single ride , I happen to ride over a speed breaker a good 10-15 kmph faster than I wanted to , these are roads that I know like the back of my hand and while I suspected my own ability at first , I have realized the braking force is uneven . SVC as expected completely dismissed any discussion on the subject . Both brakes also have developed a loud squeal that has no place on any motorcycle never mind one this costly .

You replaced the brakes the third time with Bybre as in the same stock one ? If so then why do you think the present set up is better than the original one ?

Last edited by basuroy : 3rd February 2015 at 23:58.
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