Changing the Brake Fluid on a 2004 KLR-650

Warning

I am not a mechanic or a representative of Kawasaki or anything else official. This page is only my notes on doing this procedure myself. Although I believe what I have documented here is correct, I make no promises and you do this at your own risk.

Objective

Changing your brake fluid is part of the regular service schedule for your bike. In this article we will change the fluid for the front brake (the rear, used less often and less forcefully, needs the fluid replaced less often).

Tools Required

  • Rear stand (recommended)
  • Phillips screwdrivers
  • 10mm open-end wrench
  • Large clamp (spring type or c-clamp with padded faces) or a second person to hold brake lever

Supplies Required

  • New brake fluid of specified grade (my manual calls for DOT-4)

Difficulties & Warnings

Some difficulties could be:

  • Spilled brake fluid is messy and can damage paint on bodywork.
  • Insufficient bleeding can leave air in the brake line, resulting in a “mushy” feel and reduced braking effectiveness.

Procedure

Putting the bike on a rear stand makes this job much easier by levelling the bike and holding it steady. You do not need to remove the seat or any fairings.
Locate the front disk brake, on the left side of the front wheel (circled in green here).
Locate the bleeder nipple, which has a rubber cover over it, and the bleeder valve — a 10mm nut immediately under the nipple.
Pry the rubber cover off the bleeder nipple with a fingernail.
Attach a short length of clear tubing to the bleeder nipple.
Put the other end of the tubing in a small container.  In this photo it is passed between some old hex wrenches to prevent it from curling up out of the container.
Locate the brake fluid reservoir on the right handlebar.
Remove the two cover screws with a #2 Phillips screwdriver, and lift the cover off.
Rest the cover on the reservoir with a small gap to allow air in, but to help keep other debris from falling in.
Using a 10mm open-end wrench, loosen the bleeder valve (the nut behind the bleeder nipple) about 1/4 to 1/2 turn.
Old brake fluid will flow out into the tube.
Gently pump the front brake lever to encourage all the fluid in the line to drain out into the pan.
Once all the fluid has drained, close the bleeder valve by tightening the nut.
Confirm the reservoir is now empty.
Using a small bottle of new brake fluid of the appropriate grade,
refill the reservoir up to the engraved line.Be careful not to spill brake fluid while filling the reservoir — it can damage the paint on your bike.

Now you have a three-stage process to go through to finish filling the brake lines:

  1. To fully fill the brake line with new fluid, use the following steps:
    1. Open the bleeder valve slightly
    2. Pull the front brake lever all the way in and hold it pulled in with a clamp — or have a helper hold it pulled in.
    3. Close the bleeder valve while the brake lever is pulled in
    4. Quickly release the brake lever
    5. Repeat these steps several times until the act of pulling the brake lever is discharging new brake fluid into the bleeder drain hose.
  2. To remove any air bubbles from the reservoir pump:
    1. Remove the reservoir cover
    2. Slowly and gently squeeze the brake lever several times until no bubbles rise into the reservoir.
  3. To remove any air trapped in the brake line:
    1. With the bleeder valve closed, squeeze the brake lever hard and either clamp it in this position or have a helper hold it squeezed.
    2. With the brake lever squeezed, quickly open and re-close the bleeder valve.
    3. Release the brake lever.
    4. Repeat these steps several times until there is no sign of air coming out of the bleeder valve when it is opened.
You’re done, replace the reservoir cover and the rubber cover on the bleeder nipple.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the help I did My 08 with your help. Only issue was my TRQ Wrech.

  2. Outstanding !!!
    Weastern Washington

  3. thank you

    you did a very good job explaining how to change the brake fluid on my KLR650. along with photos.
    thanks again.

    wayne in Albuquerque

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