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The rear brake on the VL800 suzuki and related models are often overlooked - because that is the way brakes are – until you need them or they don’t work as expected.

Under normal riding conditions, the rear brake on these bikes is an “adjust it and forget it” type of brake. The normal wear on these brakes is so minute and slow as to not require much attention. HOWEVER!

The rear brake is a MECHANICALLY activated brake on these bikes and there are several considerations that must be taken when riding the bike and/or modifying the rear suspension.

Because of the mechanical linkage, the distance between the mid pivot of the linkage and the rear lever at the drum is critical. The design of the swing arm geometry causes this distance to change slightly as the wheel center moves in the designed arc when the suspension is compressed and released.

This change in distance forces the brake linkage and rear lever to move in the direction that applies the brake when the bike body moves downward toward the wheel under load and release again when the bike body moves up and away from the wheel.

Lowering the bike seat height by any means will tend to cause the brake to apply.

Brake adjustment on a bare bike must allow for this application AND for suspension travel that occurs when riding down the road.

Circumstances that result in this action are increased loads from 2 up riding, packed luggage, hitting bumps or dips in the road that cause momentary suspension travel and lowering the rear of the bike when “lowering links” are installed.

The resistance setting of the shock absorber will also affect the suspension travel under all these conditions.

Past experience of riders under the above circumstances have resulted in momentary application of the rear brake under certain circumstances or at worst, the constant rubbing of the brake shoe against the drum and overheating it, even to the point of causing a color change in the paint.

The upshot of all these words is that the rider needs to recheck the brake adjustment when ever any of the above riding circumstances change.

At the pedal end of the brake linkage, consideration of pedal height and pedal travel for rider comfort and convenience must be taken.

Pedal travel is a function of your brake adjustment done at the rear brake lever, however, if you raise or lower pedal height, you must recheck pedal travel and adjust at the rear brake lever if necessary.

Both of these adjustments are available as well and once made for you as the rider are not usually necessary again – just make sure there is no drag/engagement when you are navigating road conditions on your bike.

Brake adjustment procedures for the VL800 and related bikes are available here

One other detail about the rear brake:

There is a torque-reaction rod between the brake, just below and in front of the application lever, and the frame. This rod prevents the rotation of the brake during application. It is often necessary to disconnect this rod when removing the rear wheel.

If the rod becomes disconnected during bike operation, damage to the brake linkage and loss of controlled rear braking will occur. The bolts at each end have been known to loosen and should be checked periodically for correct tightness. The factory nuts are self locking BUT after several removal procedures, they may lose their effectiveness. Low strength Loctite is a possible substitution.

4,466 Posts
Well said.

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52,611 Posts
This safety minded notification deserved a sticky!
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