What To Do When Your Motorcycle’s Brakes Go Out

It may sound super crazy and extra scary, but the mechanical simplicity bikes enjoy over cars means that scariest of mechanical failures — No brakes! — is actually no big deal. Here’s what to do when your motorcycle’s brakes go out.

What Could Cause It

Let’s be honest, this is likely going to occur on an older bike or one on which you’ve committed a grievous maintenance mess up. Or, maybe you’re in a biker gang and a rival cut your brake lines. If it can happen to Jax Teller’s dad, it could happen to you, right?

What To Do When Your Motorcycle’s Brakes Go Out

Maybe a previously damaged lever finally gave up the ghost, maybe the dealer where you just picked up a bike to film an episode of your show forgot to tighten the caliper bolts or maybe your dry-rotted brake lines finally burst after decades of neglect. Brake failure is one of those things that shouldn’t ever occur, but still lies within the realms of physical possibility.

Which Brake Is It?

Back brake go out? No big deal, just use the front brake like normal to control your speed and find a safe place to pull over and wait for the tow truck. You could technically ride just fine without the rear brake — the front delivers the vast majority of a bike’s stopping power — but it’s a bad idea. If the failure resulted in a loose or lost part, it could be interfering with the rear wheel or suspension travel. If a line or master cylinder’s come loose or is leaking, you could have slippery hydraulic fluid sprayed all over your rear tire. Don’t just assume it’s not a big deal and keep going.

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