They say approximately 70 percent of a motorcycle’s stopping power comes from the front brake system. Well, maybe “they” must not have tested many early single-disc FXRs and Dynas. That, or riders like myself, who for whatever hapless reasons, came to rely solely on rear brakes (because that’s all most of my first bikes had), and the older H-D front discs seemed better suited for inclined traffic stops anyway, not hard panic braking, let alone constant use. (Even to this day, I still tend to skid-maneuver my rear wheel through the occasional tight spot, but as you’ll read, I’ve acquired a new respect for performance front brakes.)
It wasn’t until a few years back when the rear master on my Road King failed during a long ride home from Northern California. It was a Sunday, there was tons of traffic, and I just wanted to get home—so I purposely kept my right foot on the passenger peg (away from the brake pedal) and used the front brakes the rest of the way. Fortunately, Jeff Holt had just set me up with a new set of floating rotors and sintered pads, so the impromptu brake technique lesson went better than it could have. It also gave me a whole new relationship with—and subsequent reliability on—using the front brakes the majority of the time.
That all pretty much changed when my ’90 FXR entered my life not too long ago. Its front brake was nothing like the Road King’s duals. Matter of fact, whenever I could squeeze enough lever to get it to work, it locked up. My old rear braking “skills” re-emerged for a spell—until I crossed paths with Still Kicking Moto’s (a.k.a. S-K) Juan Munoz.
While many dual-disc aftermarket setups are designed for the ’99–later 39mm lowers, S-K offers a machined billet bracket for the earlier style/offset mounting, which accept the readily available two-piston Tokico calipers that came OE on a variety of Suzuki and Kawasaki 650s (plentiful and cheap on eBay). Being a “floating” caliper, they perform much more efficiently than its fixed predecessor, not to mention don’t have the same inherent squealing characteristics.
So here’s how the basic dual-disc upgrade pans out parts wise: dual-disc 39mm (or just a right side leg), adapter brackets, calipers (that use 10mm x 1.25 banjo bolts, which work with stock H-D brake lines), 11.5-inch rotors, and an 11/16 bore master cylinder. I further added to the parts pile with a pair of Galfer USA Wave floating rotors (with a matched fixed Wave rear), had an all-new brake line set built by Mesa Hose, and threw on a Biltwell bar and riser combo. You can take it even further by adding new controls (S-K offers Brembo and ASV options), but to simply bring your FXR/Dyna up to that 70-percent range as it should be, the basics are all it takes.