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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. I'm considering the 2020 1000SX. It's finally arrived in my area. I'll be seeing one for the first time in person.
As the owner of an '07 ZX14 since new, I have no experience with ABS systems and how to bleed them. While at a Suzuki dealer I mentioned ABS maintenance and was told that some newer ABS systems require a special dealer tool that's expensive and not cost effective to buy myself. I remember he said that if the ABS system used a "solenoid"(?), then the special tool was required. If no solenoid, then the brakes could be bled "normally". Does the 2020 SX require any special tool or can the brakes be bled the same or similar to my ZX14? Is it just a few more steps to bleed the ABS or is it more complicated?
This is a deal breaker for me. I won't own any bike that requires taking it to a dealer for brake bleeding.
I appreciate any help. Thanks for reading this.
 

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Many here have had the same question and my 2 cents on it is.
Flush yearly and then that 0.02% or what ever it is that's traped in the bypass circuit of the ABS pump till its triggered is irrelevant.
 

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IMO it more important to exercise the ABS solenoid valves and pump occasionally, just so you know it's there when you might need it. The side benefit is that triggering ABS happens to flush the fluid trapped in the bypass circuit. If you do that right after bleeding your brakes conventionally, then it is very close to bleeding the whole system.

With some mfrs and some models, there are aftermarket tools that let you open the valves to do a complete bleed. BMW has GS911. Triumph has DealerTool. Im not aware of any for Kawi.
 

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If you look in the manual, kawasaki doesnt specify any sort of different method, for bleeding, than we ever did. They say the pump and solenoid get activated during the start sequence, but I've not been able to confirm that.

I think it's best to treat the system like the radiator. Flush it before you have to and the fluid never gets bad.
 

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IMO it more important to exercise the ABS solenoid valves and pump occasionally, just so you know it's there when you might need it. The side benefit is that triggering ABS happens to flush the fluid trapped in the bypass circuit. If you do that right after bleeding your brakes conventionally, then it is very close to bleeding the whole system.

With some mfrs and some models, there are aftermarket tools that let you open the valves to do a complete bleed. BMW has GS911. Triumph has DealerTool. Im not aware of any for Kawi.
I’m guessing you have a 911. If not, I have one I need to sell.
 

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I’m guessing you have a 911. If not, I have one I need to sell.
Yes, bought one around black Friday time when they had a big discount. Otherwise I'd be interested.

I also have the DealerTool for Triumph, originally for the Trophy SE, but it should also work for the Street Triple R.

Once you get used to having tools like this, you wonder why it isn't available for all makes and models.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks very much for the replies.
So, what should work fine with this bike is to trigger the ABS now and then to keep the fluid moving and bleed the system about once a year? Sounds good to me.
When bleeding, would you just bleed as normal or would you trigger the system first? Does it matter if you trigger the system using the rear brake or front or should you use both? What's it like triggering the ABS with the front brake? Sorry if it's a stupid question. I still remember my first ABS experience 25 years ago with my Chevy Blazer and I didn't like the pedal feel at all. Pretty unnerving.

I have another question. I looked up the ABS unit and it costs around $1,400. Hard to believe. Any experience with how long these units are lasting?
 

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Kak, I found it easy to trigger the rear. The front? Not so much. You should find a nice, clean section of pavement or concrete and go for it.

I learned a lot from the time I triggered the front. My arms were sore the next day. It felt , and sounded more like a car accident. The system is amazing, and you learn how well modern tires grip, and how good our brakes are. The back was easy to play with, but the front is serious. I could hear the tire screaming. It was brand new concrete. Despite the screaming, I could see the pattern of my Michelin pr3 on the concrete. It never slid.

I've heard of a few failures on early systems. Our friend Mark lost his and pump on his 2012. Kawasaki fixed it. I have heard of a few concours 14 systems going bad as well on the very early bikes. Really, not common at all. The system is excellent., and really, if you keep the fluid clean. Bleed it yearly, I'll bet it lasts forever. Do the same with the coolant. Never let it get bad and you dont need to be concerned with a 100% flush. Most people dont even do that and it's very little problem.

You guys ever activate the front? What was your experience like?
 

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You guys ever activate the front? What was your experience like?
A few times.... with asphalt, pretty easy on brand new tires, much more difficult once they are scuffed in and warm. You really need to be on the brakes hard.

Concrete around here is slippery and fairly easy to get ABS to activate but it sure don't feel good.
 

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I agree about using the ABS a few times. I never thought about exercising the pump, more about getting use to it. My 2014 N1k was the first bike I rode with ABS. In springtime on sanded roads going in a straight line grab the brakes. It was very hard for me to force myself to do that. Amazingly, the bike stayed straight and even more amazingly was how quickly it stopped. It does feel funny, however, and I'd hate to be riding near the limits of traction and have the ABS kick in without ever having experienced it before.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the replies.
So as a routine, the following bleeding method should work well for the ABS: trigger/exercise the ABS unit using the rear brake (if I prefer), then bleed the system like a normal non-ABS system?
Do this annually and from time to time trigger the ABS to avoid any dirty fluid get trapped in the unit? Just want to be sure.
I appreciate all the help!
 

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I'm a firm believer that it is crucial for a rider to know exactly what triggered ABS feels like, so it does not startle the rider in the most inopportune moment. To me, it's like those of us who have lived up north and are familiar with cars breaking traction in snowy/icy conditions. We tend not to freak out like some Houston drivers here every time the pavement gets wet.

Unstandable that some folks may be apprehensive about pulling hard on the front brake. I still come across riders that would rather use the rear brake even for regular riding.

Activating front ABS is quite safe, provided you observe a few precautions:

1. Do it in the straight line with the bike perfectly vertical. Yes, '17+ N1k has 6-axis IMU that does cornering ABS, but I would rather not test that if I don't have to.

2. Do it on smooth concrete surface preferably. Tarmac can be s bit rough on the tire. Some folks thinks it's easier to trigger ABS on dirt/gravel or other loose surfaces. Yes, but it is also easier to get in trouble over them. I'd rather stay on hard smooth surface where tire actions are predictable.

3. Get the bike up to a good speed. Not neck breaking or license risking speed, but enough rotational inertia in the wheels to give the bike good stability, before you introduce a sudden and rather violent manoeuvre.

4. Make sure the bike is good shape and the suspension is set up correct. Bottoming out the forks on under inflated tires is asking for trouble.
 

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Thanks for the replies.
So as a routine, the following bleeding method should work well for the ABS: trigger/exercise the ABS unit using the rear brake (if I prefer), then bleed the system like a normal non-ABS system?
Do this annually and from time to time trigger the ABS to avoid any dirty fluid get trapped in the unit? Just want to be sure.
I appreciate all the help!
I really only do it purposely right after flushing the rest of the brake lines with fresh brake fluid. Over time, that brake fluid will degrade and i really dont want to displace the trapped fluid with contaminated fluid that might be in worse condition. Obviously if you need ABS to save your behind, by all means use it.
 

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I'm not sure activating the ABS to "flush trapped fluid" is really necessary (still need to change the fluid regularly). Without truly understanding the internal circuits of the ABS unit, there may not even be "trapped" fluid any where. I would think (hope ?) the designers took this into account when designing the unit. I think the primary purpose of being able to cycle the ABS unit in the shop is to bleed the unit of air as that is more of a design liability issue than old fluid.
 

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Chrispy, you are correct. The manual shows us how to bleed the brakes, and it doesnt mention needing special tools, or any need to activate the system to keep the fluid "fresh". That would be sketchy as hell if it had a trapped compartment of fluid that just sat there and was never circulated until an abs event happened.

BMW, Harley, and some others do (did?) this differently, and that's probably why they have so many expensive issues. What we have is very much like a master cylinder that's controlled by the abs section in the ecu. Fluid flows through it during a brake bleed. If you are riding along and lock the front wheel, this electronic "master cylinder" takes over for your hand.

I completely support testing it. The rear is a non issue. Easy to lock because our stock rear brake sucks.

Trusting the front system is important. These bikes will handle way more braking force than you can imagine. Especially when we add these crazy assed, high end tires. The times I've applied mine made my arms sore. The noise you hear, the feel of the brake lever, and the screaming of your tires makes your brain say, "let go", and that's not what you need to do.
 

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The trapped brake fluid is between the outlet solenoid valves 7 & 9 and the ABS pump 4. As the diagram denotes, those are normally closed 2way valves. The volumes are small but they are there. Bleeding that trapped fluid is not absolutely necessary. However, if you don't ever trigger the ABS, that trapped fluid will always stay there. The bad thing about that is those solenoid valve passages are rather small and If soaked in old brake fluid saturated with moisture, corrosion will eventually become a problem.
 

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When you buy a new abs pump, its shipped dry. They dont have hidden areas, primed with fluid, that are air free. You bolt the pump in, hook it up, and bleed your brakes like you do on a non abs bike. Some of the bmw systems might, but these pumps are not.

Brake fluid doesnt flow through the system. The only reason the master cylinder level drops is to compensate for pad wear. When the pads wear, the caliper pistons get pushed out more, and they need more fluid volume behind them to take up that new space. You guys know it works on the idea that you cant compress a fluid. That's not 100% true, but for the pressures here, it is. The only time brake fluid would flow is when you bleed it. Cycling the pump doesnt cause flow, it activates that abs pump, which is already fluid filled. That had to happen when you filled and bled the system.
 

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Volfy, I wanted my post to come across as a long question as much as stating a fact.

If those passages are closed, like you said they were, they probably are.

With that in mind, how the hell do they ever get filled? Let's say we buy that new pump and do the install. Pump is now fully attached and we bleed the front and rear brake. No problem, so far, but it would be if we were not able to get fluid into the closed sections. The second we activated abs, the valve opens and those two sections would be filled with air. They had to design a way to not let that happen?
 

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RC, that volume of trapped fluid isn't completed shut off. If you look at the flow diagram above, 1 side of it is the NC solenoid valve, the other side is actually open to the reservoir. I've never had to replace an ABS unit, so I haven't looked up the procedure for that. I do know that the reservoir is always at the highest point of the system, for obvious reasons, so filling it would naturally drain fluid downward. Any air trapped in the system, including in the "dead end" behind the solenoid valve, will tend to bubble up to the highest point, the reservoir.

It is somewhat similar to tying the brake lever to the handlebar to let air in the line that causes a spongy brake float up to the reservoir.

Anyhow, once the system is filled and bled, that dead end fluid has no motive force to move, unlike air having buoyancy, so it tends to stay in the dead end.
 
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