July 25, 2022

The Yamaha Tenere 700's brakes are S**T! - Let's fix them.

The Yamaha Tenere 700's brakes are S**T! - Let's fix them.

I've owned the Yamaha Tenere 700 for almost 2 years now, and the brakes are crap.
They started off ok, but have gotten progressively worse over time, to the point where I struggle to lock up the front wheel and/or trigger ABS anymore.

So, let's work out how to fix them.

There's loads of information out there on both brakes and the Tenere 700, but some stories that are worth reading come from NZ's Brembo distributor, Rodney at Eurobike Wholesale.
He kitted out his T7 with a bunch of products they stock, including (but not mentioned in the story) new Brembo brake pads. Check out his Tenere 700 Kit-out here.

Also, if you're a reader, there's loads of fundamental brake information here, and an article about how to choose your brake pads here

I've heard it said, and it has been alluded to in the articles linked above, that dirt bikes don't want or need great braking power, simply because it's easier to break traction off-road (dirt and gravel). However, because I spend more time on the tarmac, I'm keen to improve on the factory set up anyway I can. So, let's get some new pads, and replace the brake fluid. Also, having ridden the Beta RR 430, known for having excellent front brakes (they have a lot of bite) I really want to upgrade those on the Tenere 700.

This all came to a head attempting the recent Ride Forever Go for Gold challenge, where we had to accelerate to 50kph, then slam on the brakes. The T7 was terrible. unable to stop consistently and ABS just wasn't there.

So, were going to start by replacing the front brake pads and fluid.
The Fluid is easy, the bike calls for Dot 4. this is available from any automotive outlet, such as Repco. I picked up a liter of Castrol dot4. no need to go too crazy here. But 1L is more than enough to do a full flush of the system.

As for brake pads, the calipers are made by Brembo, a well-known and reputable brand, so I see no need to stray too far from this. Were going to put in a set of Brembo Sintered pads. the trick for young players, the Tenere 700 (much like many other bikes) has 2 calipers and discs up front, and each caliper has 2 pads in it. so to do this job you need to buy 2 sets of front pads.
I'm going to do the rear pads also, but at a later date as I need to remove the rear wheel, and I'm just a lazy bugger.

The process for the front pads is pretty easy, 2 bolts, remove the caliper, remove pads, push pistons back into the caliper, insert new pads, replace the caliper, tighten and torque bolts. repeat for the other side, easy!

Now, this is important, you have just pushed the pistons as far back into the calipers as you can, you will need to pump your brake lever to bring the pads back into contact with the disc. Be sure to do this before you go for a ride because you may come up to a stop sign and sail right through...

The other job we are doing, because I have been lazy and not bothered to do it in 25,000km, is replacing all the brake fluid. Mine is dark and cloudy, having been through a number of heat cycles.

If you are giving this job a crack there are a few things to keep in mind. one is that brake fluid is bad for your plastics and paint. If you spill any, wipe it up immediately. It's a good idea to have some brake cleaner on hand also. For this, we need a length of plastic hose, and something to catch the fluid in. If you have not done this job before, then please don't attempt it without someone who knows what they're doing to assist. It's also a job that's made so much easier with 2 people.

Starting with the brake caliper that is furthest away from the lever, Put a ring spanner over the nipple on the caliper, then push your hose over the nipple. Take the cap off the brake resouvar, loosen the nipple, and gently pump your brake lever, long smooth motions are what you want. Don't let the reservoir get empty and suck in any air. put continue to pump the old fluid through the lines and out through the hose on the nipple. Keep refilling the reservoir and pumping through until the fluid coming out the hose is as clear as the new stuff you're putting in the top. Then, being sure you have no air in the lines, tighten the nipple. Now with the system closed up, you should be able to get a lot of pressure in the brake lever. if your is spongy, then there is air in the line. You will need to bleed it again.

With new pads and fluid in the  Tenere 700, my next job is to bed in the pads. there are many ways to do this, all listen on the internet, but essentially all you're trying to do is get a good mating surface between the pads and the disc, and put the pads through a couple of heat cycles. Ride around the block gently, going from around 50kph down to 20kph with gentle braking motions about 10 times. As long as your brakes feel ok, you can then move out onto some faster roads, and do a couple of cycles of 100kph down to 50. Be sure you give the pads time to cool down between sessions, and you're done.
Check for fluid leaks, and as long as you're clean, you are sorted.

Now I have replaced the pads and fluid in the Tenere 700, things feel a lot more solid, with no spongy lever. and I can get ABS to kick in much easier.
We're still not talking savage "stop on a dime" brakes, but a lot better than they were.

From here if you really wanted more bite, you could look at replacing your discs, installing some braided lines, or even new aftermarket calipers, but for my purposes, I think they're just fine.