Motorcycle Brake System Information

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    Disc Brakes

    • With disc brakes, a brake pad on either side of the disc rotor applies friction until the motorcycle stops. There may be a disc on one or both sides of the wheel. Being open to the elements, disc brakes don't trap water and they cool down more quickly.

    Drum Brakes

    • In drum brakes, two half-moon shaped shoes press against the inside surface of the drum as the brake is applied. Drum brakes may capture water and, being enclosed, do not cool down as quickly as disc brakes.

    Manual Cables

    • The front brake is usually cable or hydraulic. In the case of cable brakes, the lever is pulled in and the cable inside is pulled up. On the other end, the cable pulls the shoes of a drum brake or the pads of a brake pad together.

    Hydraulic Cables

    • In a hydraulic brake, there is a master cylinder on the handlebar and a slave cylinder on the other end. The master cylinder sends fluid down to the slave, which receives it under pressure. One or more pistons push the brake pad against the disk brake rotor.


    • Modern motorcycles may have advanced braking system (ABS) installed. BMW motorcycles as used by police forces around the country use ABS.


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