2004 Harley-Davidson V-Rod VRSCB - Stopping Ability

The 2004 Harley Gets a New Brembo Braking System.

1. The motorcycle we are using for this install is a 2004 Harley V-Rod VRSCB with stock braking system and a set of Performance Machine rotors.

2. The components to be installed: QTM supplied the chrome Brembo 4-piston, 4-pad calipers (plus bike-specific brackets) and chrome Brembo full-floating rotors. V-Shop provided the black-pearl steel-braided brake and clutch lines and related hardware specific for this application.

3. Heritage Harley-Davidson service tech Mike got started by draining the fluid from the brakes, then removing the front calipers from the forks.

5. The front wheel was removed, and the old PM polished rotors were replaced with the chrome, full-floating Brembo rotors, and torqued to Brembo specs, then the wheel was installed back onto the bike. The new semi-five spoke pattern on the rotors was a great match to the PM wheels.

6. Next, the front calipers were installed, and then shimmed to ensure each rotor was centered perfectly within the caliper.

7. The new steel braided lines were installed, along with all the related hardware. All lines from the master cylinder, through the triple trees, down to the caliper, were checked to guarantee full range of handlebar motion. Once the lines were installed, the system was bled of all air bubbles.

8. On to the rear brakes, for this application, part of the exhaust system and lower shock bolt needed to be removed to provide easy access to all the rear brake components, like the rear caliper and brake light switch.

9. The stock rear caliper was removed and replaced with the new Brembo setup, which includes the caliper and a bike-specific bracket. The rear wheel was then removed and the new full-floating rotor was installed.

10. The rear wheel was re-installed, and then the new caliper was shimmed for centering for the rotor. Then the new rear brake line was connected to the caliper with all new fittings.

11. With the front and rear wheels, calipers, and lines fully installed, the system was carefully bled using a vacuum bleeder. Then the exhaust system and rear shock were reinstalled.

12 & 13. The first few miles are crucial for what Brembo calls a proper "bedding procedure." This is as follows: Apply slight pressure to the brakes for 1-2 miles at low speed to get rotors and pads up to operating temperature, then perform 10 aggressive stops from 60 mph to 40 mph, then 10 aggressive stops from 40 mph to 10 mph. Safely and slowly bring the bike to a stop and allow time for cooling completely. Go get a soda or something like that. Once the brakes have had time to cool, the bike is ready to ride.

14. The upgrade was complete. Walking up to the bike our eyes were immediately drawn to the brakes and rotors. Riding the bike, the brakes were instantly noticeable for their stopping power. A moderate two-finger pull provides all the braking a rider would ever need, along with improved looks, performance, and increased safety.

We all love to modify, improve, and customize our beloved two-wheelers. Most of what we do is for show and go, but how about for woah! (stopping)? We may throw a bunch of parts, time, and labor (not to mention cash) into making our bikes look better and go faster, but what about the braking system? What if we could not only add some trick-looking brake parts, but also at the same time add some potentially life-saving stopping ability?

When a car or motorcycle enthusiast thinks about top-of-the-line braking systems, the name Brembo will likely pop into his brain, and for good reason. Even H-D announced not too long ago that Brembo brake systems will be offered for certain new models (standard on all V-Rods in 2006). But maybe you own a bike that didn't come with a high-end braking system, what can you do? Well now, obtaining super bike-level braking is as simple as making a phone call to QTM, the U.S. importer for Brembo.

For this article, we selected a bike that certainly has the go: an '04 Harley V-Rod VRSCB. We were looking to get a huge improvement in braking performance with a new, complete Brembo brake system, but our goal also included greatly improving the look of the bike's existing brake setup. Heritage Harley-Davidson in Lisle, Illinois, took on our project with tech Mike Giblin doing the installation. Also a call to V-Shop in Auburn, Maine, got us a full set of black-pearl steel- braided lines complete with chrome banjos for the calipers at one end, and black banjos at the other end.