Friday, March 17, 2017

Winter Projects

The '16-'17 winter was very good to the Vstrom DL 650. We tackled a number of projects (my son Caleb helped me out on each of them). Kind of short on photos, just because it was a "doers, doing" kind of series of sessions...

Gaffler Stainless Brake Lines

I added some Rox 2" bar risers late last fall, which were stretching my factory brake lines too much for my comfort. So over the winter break, my son came down and we installed shiny new Gaffler stainless steel brake lines. I've never bled brakes before, but hey... I can't be that difficult right? Spoiler: it wasn't.

The process began by draining the brake fluid. If you've read my other posts, you know the store of this bike. It's an '08 DL650, bought in Oct 2015 with 1600 miles on it <fist pump>. I did the second oil change on it, and I've done all the factory maintenance since. Every hose, every seal I've inspected, and every fluid has come out looking brand new, and the front brake fluid was no exception. But they say to change brake fluid about every season, so it'd either been 8 seasons or 3 seasons, depending on how you measure a season.

Draining the fluid isn't difficult. Pull off the master cylinder cover and open the bleed valves on each caliper. I then pulled off the lines themselves and chucked them (and in hindsight realized I might have been able to help a buddy out and offered them up on the Stromtrooper forum--sorry, pal).

I'd ordered 2" extended brake lines from Gaffler, which arrive timely and in good shape. The install was a snap, other than a mistake in routing them (I ran them too low, which interfered with a later project of installing lever guards).

Bleeding brakes is pretty intuitive, once you get the hang of it. There are several good youtube videos to get you started, I particularly liked this one; Lemmy at Revzilla does a great job: 

My son did mess up once, and allowed the reservoir to drain too far, so we had to start all over again, but no big deal. It still took well less than a single bottle of NAPA DOT3 fluid.

Sorry, only got one shot. Gaffler offers several colors, in factory lengths but with the option to go longer, for situations like mine (bar risers) or situations where you're adding clip-ons. It's a good idea to have just about the exact length needed, rather than having a lot of slack. The kits come complete with clips to hold the lines, banjo bolts, and crush washers. You do need to check your service manual to determine the appropriate torque for the banjo bolts (top and bottom).

One note for Strom owners: the factory brake lines have a single line to a T right above the fender but the Gaffler kit is two separate lines, one for each side (and very clearly labeled).

The rest of the time that evening was spent checking the air filter (no small feat on a VStrom), re-routing some wires, etc.

If you're wondering about whether you can tackle this job, just go for it. I can't imagine how someone could get this wrong if they watch a few videos and then pay attention.

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