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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2019 Ninja ABS. I bought the bike new in October 2020. From the time I first got this bike home until now, it seems like every other week I'm having to bleed a little pocket of air from the front brake line. It's gotten so annoying that I always check the brake lever feel before I start the bike, and keep my 8mm box wrench handy. I have yet to find any leaks, drips, etc. I've even done a complete flush and the results are the same. The bike is under warranty, so I don't feel the need to start replacing parts out of pocket. At this point I'm inclined to take it to a dealer and say "fix it" - but if they just do the same as I did nothing will change (I'm pessimistic). Being under warranty, I want parts replaced given there are no visible or obvious signs of failure. Has anybody had any history of this issue with a brand new Ninja?
 

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2019 Ninja ABS. I bought the bike new in October 2020. From the time I first got this bike home until now, it seems like every other week I'm having to bleed a little pocket of air from the front brake line. It's gotten so annoying that I always check the brake lever feel before I start the bike, and keep my 8mm box wrench handy. I have yet to find any leaks, drips, etc. I've even done a complete flush and the results are the same. The bike is under warranty, so I don't feel the need to start replacing parts out of pocket. At this point I'm inclined to take it to a dealer and say "fix it" - but if they just do the same as I did nothing will change (I'm pessimistic). Being under warranty, I want parts replaced given there are no visible or obvious signs of failure. Has anybody had any history of this issue with a brand new Ninja?
I had this sort of issue with my 2015 shortly after I got it (as a leftover), front brake as well. I tried to bleed it a few times myself and it would feel fine for a few days, but then feel like it had air in the line again. I was worried something was wrong. I took it in, when I got it back they said all they did was bleed it (they didn't charge me for any parts) and it hasn't been an issue since. Maybe there is a better method of bleeding that they are using?
 

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In the past, I've had times where the bleed nipple was not seating correctly. But if it is a brand new bike, I do not see why that would happen.

After you bleed, ziptie the brake lever and leave it depressed overnight and see what happens the next day.
You can also slightly tap on the lines (like how a nurse flicks the IV line to get the bubbles to rise on on your IV)

If this fails, at least you can tell the dealer that you have exhausted everything you can do on your end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had this sort of issue with my 2015 shortly after I got it (as a leftover), front brake as well. I tried to bleed it a few times myself and it would feel fine for a few days, but then feel like it had air in the line again. I was worried something was wrong. I took it in, when I got it back they said all they did was bleed it (they didn't charge me for any parts) and it hasn't been an issue since. Maybe there is a better method of bleeding that they are using?
Anything is possible. I've been known to make many motorhead mistakes in my life! :LOL: But, I did follow the exact steps in the service manual (as some ABS systems can be tricky/different). It's weird. The more often I ride the bike, the less the spongy or dead lever is an issue. If the bike sits for 3 weeks, then I have to squeeze a few burps out of the top nipple.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In the past, I've had times where the bleed nipple was not seating correctly. But if it is a brand new bike, I do not see why that would happen.

After you bleed, ziptie the brake lever and leave it depressed overnight and see what happens the next day.
You can also slightly tap on the lines (like how a nurse flicks the IV line to get the bubbles to rise on on your IV)

If this fails, at least you can tell the dealer that you have exhausted everything you can do on your end.
Oh yeah, I've done that a couple of times already. I replied in another post that the more often I ride the bike, the less this happens, if at all. If the bike sits for 3 weeks, I can count on a spongy or dead lever. It's weird. I wonder if there's some evaporative thing going on living in the dry, mile-high air in Albuquerque. Then again, that doesn't explain why this never happens to my BMW. 🤷‍♂️
 

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I had the same thing happen with a Ducati. I finally had the dealer do a flush. That fixed it. I really think that the issue is that without the proper equipment and experience to flush a bike with ABS, we just can’t do an adequate job.
 

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This isnt a Ducati abs system. A kawasaki dealer wont have any special abs bleeding equipment. They may use air blenders because they are fast, but the procedure is shown in the manual. No equipment needed.

If you have to pump the brake up, your master cylinder isnt holding. Hopefully the day you cant pump it up again wont happen while you are riding. Or, you pay attention to the warning sign and deal with it.
 
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That’s a surprise. Most vehicles with ABS require cycling the ABS to move fluid through it during a flush. Generally it’s done with a scan tool or factory diagnostic equipment. The FJR can be done by jumping a couple of terminals if you don’t have access to the equipment the dealers use.
 

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Oh yeah, I've done that a couple of times already. I replied in another post that the more often I ride the bike, the less this happens, if at all. If the bike sits for 3 weeks, I can count on a spongy or dead lever. It's weird. I wonder if there's some evaporative thing going on living in the dry, mile-high air in Albuquerque. Then again, that doesn't explain why this never happens to my BMW. 🤷‍♂️
Have you inspected the boot in the reservoir; no tears or pinholes?

And have you taken it in for the dealer to have a look yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Have you inspected the boot in the reservoir; no tears or pinholes?

And have you taken it in for the dealer to have a look yet?
Oh yeah. All of that. No issues. Mind you, I bought this bike new and it's been doing this from day one. When I took the bike in for the complimentary first dealer service, I noted the issue. All they did was burp the bubbles from the top bleeder. Then again, I didn't expect them to do a full system bleed & replace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This isnt a Ducati abs system. A kawasaki dealer wont have any special abs bleeding equipment. They may use air blenders because they are fast, but the procedure is shown in the manual. No equipment needed.

If you have to pump the brake up, your master cylinder isnt holding. Hopefully the day you cant pump it up again wont happen while you are riding. Or, you pay attention to the warning sign and deal with it.
I don't have to pump the brake up to apply the brakes. I'm just in the habit of grabbing the lever before I ride. If/when it's soft, everything is good to go after I burp the bleeder.
 

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Honest, this system is simple and easy to work with. It's crazy, but the abs pump doesnt have dead spots in it where you cant bleed. Older bmws needed the tool. Some shops still try to sell this as part of a service, but its nonsense.

You can order an abs pump, from ebay, and change it yourself..no big deal.

If it's getting soft, that's your master cylinder. My new ninja did the same thing. Try using a zip ty to hold the brake lever in the "on" position. Give it a few hours and the pressure will be gone. A good master cylinder will hold overnight, and longer. A leaking one wont hold pressure for long.

The calipers leak fluid if they were to let air in. Well, that's stupid to say. Air couldnt leak from the bottom, up, any
31965
way. You didnt mention fluid leaks. That means the problem is up high.

The front master cylinder is simple to deal with. The two tiny seals are where the problem is. These get damaged during install, or get dirty. For the rebuild, you only need a set of snap rung pliers to release this assembly.

Another good way to bleed is from the bottom, up. Maybe try that before you get a kit? Remove a caliper. Separate the pads with a piece of plastic. This pushes the pistons in, and sends fluid up..along with air. This also means you can overflow your master cylinder reservoir, so make sure the fluid level is low. I would do the left hand caliper, then the right. Now, top up the reservoir. If the problem comes back, rebuild the master cylinder.

I wish you were closer. I've been stuck at home for a few weeks. I'm so bored, I would pay you to let me rebuild it, and I would buy the kit....and fluid.

Jjs, I'll bet those bikes you mentioned have some form of linked brakes? If that were the case, you just might need some machine assistance. But, this one , you are good to go with the old fashioned way.
 

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Honest, this system is simple and easy to work with. It's crazy, but the abs pump doesnt have dead spots in it where you cant bleed. Older bmws needed the tool. Some shops still try to sell this as part of a service, but its nonsense.

You can order an abs pump, from ebay, and change it yourself..no big deal.

If it's getting soft, that's your master cylinder. My new ninja did the same thing. Try using a zip ty to hold the brake lever in the "on" position. Give it a few hours and the pressure will be gone. A good master cylinder will hold overnight, and longer. A leaking one wont hold pressure for long.

The calipers leak fluid if they were to let air in. Well, that's stupid to say. Air couldnt leak from the bottom, up, any View attachment 31965 way. You didnt mention fluid leaks. That means the problem is up high.

The front master cylinder is simple to deal with. The two tiny seals are where the problem is. These get damaged during install, or get dirty. For the rebuild, you only need a set of snap rung pliers to release this assembly.

Another good way to bleed is from the bottom, up. Maybe try that before you get a kit? Remove a caliper. Separate the pads with a piece of plastic. This pushes the pistons in, and sends fluid up..along with air. This also means you can overflow your master cylinder reservoir, so make sure the fluid level is low. I would do the left hand caliper, then the right. Now, top up the reservoir. If the problem comes back, rebuild the master cylinder.

I wish you were closer. I've been stuck at home for a few weeks. I'm so bored, I would pay you to let me rebuild it, and I would buy the kit....and fluid.

Jjs, I'll bet those bikes you mentioned have some form of linked brakes? If that were the case, you just might need some machine assistance. But, this one , you are good to go with the old fashioned way.
yes, they are linked. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Honest, this system is simple and easy to work with. It's crazy, but the abs pump doesnt have dead spots in it where you cant bleed. Older bmws needed the tool. Some shops still try to sell this as part of a service, but its nonsense.

You can order an abs pump, from ebay, and change it yourself..no big deal.

If it's getting soft, that's your master cylinder. My new ninja did the same thing. Try using a zip ty to hold the brake lever in the "on" position. Give it a few hours and the pressure will be gone. A good master cylinder will hold overnight, and longer. A leaking one wont hold pressure for long.

The calipers leak fluid if they were to let air in. Well, that's stupid to say. Air couldnt leak from the bottom, up, any View attachment 31965 way. You didnt mention fluid leaks. That means the problem is up high.

The front master cylinder is simple to deal with. The two tiny seals are where the problem is. These get damaged during install, or get dirty. For the rebuild, you only need a set of snap rung pliers to release this assembly.

Another good way to bleed is from the bottom, up. Maybe try that before you get a kit? Remove a caliper. Separate the pads with a piece of plastic. This pushes the pistons in, and sends fluid up..along with air. This also means you can overflow your master cylinder reservoir, so make sure the fluid level is low. I would do the left hand caliper, then the right. Now, top up the reservoir. If the problem comes back, rebuild the master cylinder.

I wish you were closer. I've been stuck at home for a few weeks. I'm so bored, I would pay you to let me rebuild it, and I would buy the kit....and fluid.

Jjs, I'll bet those bikes you mentioned have some form of linked brakes? If that were the case, you just might need some machine assistance. But, this one , you are good to go with the old fashioned way.
I'm thinking the same way. The bike is under warranty. Could I take it in? Sure. Do I wait until the lever is dead? And if I did, would the shop crew automatically replace/rebuild the master cylinder or just re-bleed the system as I've been doing? I seriously doubt it. Yes, I agree, the problem is up high. No seeping or leaks anywhere with the lines or calipers. Never any kind of leak. When burped, the lever is rock solid. So for pocket change (it's 2021, come on), I figure on doing exactly what you describe above - just rebuild the assembly with new seals.
 

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Have you rebuilt one before? Kawasaki wants 53.00 for the rebuild kit. Other than that, it's probably less effort to rebuild it than it would be to drive it to the shop. The new seals are hard to slide on to the piston. Impossible, really, until you dip them in clean brake fluid.

If I go to the parts breakdown for my 2012, the master cylinder has an updated part number. Go figure. Mine was just like yours was. I never fixed mine as I ended up replacing it.
 

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That’s a surprise. Most vehicles with ABS require cycling the ABS to move fluid through it during a flush. Generally it’s done with a scan tool or factory diagnostic equipment. The FJR can be done by jumping a couple of terminals if you don’t have access to the equipment the dealers use.
I had the same thing happen with a Ducati. I finally had the dealer do a flush. That fixed it. I really think that the issue is that without the proper equipment and experience to flush a bike with ABS, we just can’t do an adequate job.
There is a small volume of brake fluid trapped behind the ABS valve in the ABS pump that isn't flushed out with standard bleeding procedure. The dealer service tools that has an ABS-bleed function just opens the valve to allow this small volume to be bled out. I've done this with both BMW's GS911 and Triumph's DealerTool software. Is it a good idea to have the means to do this? Most certainly, yes. Is it absolutely necessary to bleed an ABS-equipped brake system completely this way? Well, not really. That small volume of brake fluid trapped inside the ABS pump is so small, there isn't a whole lot of contaminants that get left behind. By being trapped in the inner circuits, that fluid isn't exposed to the atmosphere like the fluid in the reservoir cup, so it tends not to draw contaminants anyway. The poorman's way of "bleeding" this small volume is simply to activate the ABS system after you have flushed the rest of the brake system with clean new fluid (assuming you have the skills and nerve to do it). That will open/cycle the ABS valve and allow the fresh fluid to interchange with the trapped fluid and refresh the fluid in the recirculating pump circuit.

Or you could just... not worry about it. ;)
 

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This isnt a bmw, Ducati, Aprilia or triumph . What else is left , from Italy? Or England? Should I mention them, too? Wait.....someone will quote Binelli if i dont mention them. That's awesome that you can do that with those bikes, but it doesnt apply here. Harley. I believe Harley has special procedures, too. That means Buell might as well.

Kawasaki has a service manual that shows the correct procedures for maintenance. They will show you how to bleed brakes or change an abs pump. The procedure they show is the normal way we bleed brakes. They dont quote BMW, Triumph, Ducati or any euro bike. Why? Because it's not relevant.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The poorman's way of "bleeding" this small volume is simply to activate the ABS system after you have flushed the rest of the brake system with clean new fluid (assuming you have the skills and nerve to do it). That will open/cycle the ABS valve and allow the fresh fluid to interchange with the trapped fluid and refresh the fluid in the recirculating pump circuit.

Or you could just... not worry about it. ;)
It's interesting that you bring this up because practice this on almost every ride for practice. Yes, honestly, I practice emergency braking frequently for both of my bikes. When I ride on the weekends, it's almost always for 100+ miles. So when I'm out on the open road (very easy to do in New Mexico), I'll run up to a good speed and then practice a panic stop, and more often than not the ABS kicks in since that's the idea. So maybe out of habit, it's one of the reasons I always check my brake lever feel before I leave the house. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This isnt a bmw, Ducati, Aprilia or triumph . What else is left , from Italy? Or England? Should I mention them, too? Wait.....someone will quote Binelli if i dont mention them. That's awesome that you can do that with those bikes, but it doesnt apply here. Harley. I believe Harley has special procedures, too. That means Buell might as well.

Kawasaki has a service manual that shows the correct procedures for maintenance. They will show you how to bleed brakes or change an abs pump. The procedure they show is the normal way we bleed brakes. They dont quote BMW, Triumph, Ducati or any euro bike. Why? Because it's not relevant.
I appreciate your passion. It's all good. Sometimes in forums, people think about their personal experience and the thread gets off-topic. FWIW, I'm a motorhead and started tearing lawnmower engines apart and rebuilding them when I was about eight years old. I'm not a mechanic by trade, but I've replaced transmissions, modded cars & bikes, done more brake jobs than I can count, and generally do my own remove & replace vehicle maintenance unless I need a lift. So this talk about "how to" bleed an ABS brake system is fine, but, I know how to do it, and I'm pretty sure I did it correctly. So the end result is I'm leaning towards the seals on the pump mechanism because it's an easy and inexpensive step. But seriously, I appreciate the passion. :D
 

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I dont like bad information. That's what I always liked about mechanical things. Mechanical things like facts and truth. Rarely does opinion factor in.

Did you see if it holds, overnight? Tape the compressed brake lever to the grip, and leave it. By morning , it should still have pressure. My stock bike wouldnt hold. That was true when it was a week old. The only time I was fooled doing this is when I had a bad crush washer. Otherwise, it's a great diagnostic tool.

I replaced my master cylinder. At one time, you could buy a slightly used master, complete with lever, for less than a rebuild kit cost.
 
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