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The Kawasaki Vulcan's braking system is divided into two separate systems for front and rear brakes. The front brakes are a disc braking system which relies on hydraulic pressure. The brake fluid in this line is under significant pressure and over time and deteriorate and take on water, air may enter the system, or the fluid may cause the brakes to feel "spongy" and respond less accurately than when the fluid was fresh. Accordingly, changing the brake fluid is an essential part of periodic maintenance. The fluid should be changed at least every two years or anytime the rider notices a loss in brake responsiveness.

Brake fluid is cheap, so there's no excuse for not performing this on a regular basis.

To begin, you will need:



1. Fresh brake fluid (DOT 3 or 4, more on this later).
2. Socket and wrench set (specifically Metric 10mm socket, 8mm and 10mm wrench)
3. Phillips head screwdriver.
4. Manual for further information.
5. Not pictured, a "one man brake bleeder" which makes bleeding the brakes significantly easier if bleeding is necessary.

Step 1 - Turn your attention to the brake fluid reservoir on the top right handlebar.



Step 2 - Open the top of the reservoir with the phillips head screwdriver.





Step 3 - Turn your attention to the bleed valve on the right front disc brake mechanism.



Step 4 - Pop off the small rubber covering and attach a length of tubing, or preferably, a "one man brake bleeder" kit to the valve.






The "one man brake bleeder" operates as a secondary valve which allows fluid to leave the brake mechanism, but doesn't allow air to re-enter. By keeping the upper reservoir full with fresh fluid as the old fluid is drained, this ensures no air enters the system and makes traditional bleeding unecessary. These kits are available at Auto-Zone or NAPA for about $7, and are well worth it.

Step 5 - With the bleeder attached, make a 1/4 turn counterclockwise to loosen the bleeder valve. This will open the valve and allow the old fluid to drain.



Step 6 - Slowly pump the brake handle, this will expel the old fluid out the valve. Ensure that fresh fluid constantly keeps the upper reservoir full of fluid to prevent air from entering the system.



 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)




Step 7 - Repeat for the left side brake valve.

OPTIONAL - Step 8 - IF air should enter the system at the upper reservoir, you will also have to bleed the upper reservoir at the connection with the brake line. To do this, pull back the rubber boot, loosen the connecting bolt and pump the brake to expel air and fluid. Continue to ensure fresh fluid is in the reservoir to prevent the re-entry of air. After the upper reservoir has been bled, proceed to re-bleed the lower valves as outlined above.









Step 9 - Close the reservoir (be sure not to overfill) and test the brakes to ensure the system works properly.

As far as the selection of brake fluid type - The reservoir on my bike (a 2005) recommends DOT 4. The Clymer manual recommends DOT 3. The service manual recommends DOT 4. I split the difference and went with a combination DOT 3 & 4. It's my understanding that virtually all 2006 and newer US automobiles are now using DOT 3 so it may be more difficult to find DOT 4 at general stores like Wal-Mart. Fortunately NAPA and Auto-Zone have an excellent selection of both.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Also note that brake fluid does terrible things to paint and chrome on your tires. If you should spill any be sure to clean up quickly.
 

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Nice job on the write up and photos. To make your job even easier get a set of SpeedBleeders. It makes the job sooooo much easier, even a caveman could do it (sorry Geico).
 

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Just want to say thank you for this post. Took me 15 minutes to get her done and the lever is stiffer than ever.

Also used the zip-tie overnight trick and the brake is more responsive than it's been before.

Any chance stuff like this can be thrown into the Verses?
 

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Just want to say thank you for this post. Took me 15 minutes to get her done and the lever is stiffer than ever.

Also used the zip-tie overnight trick and the brake is more responsive than it's been before.

Any chance stuff like this can be thrown into the Verses?
I sent a PM to the admin to ask that this post be made 'sticky'.
 
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