Braking Bad – Adding Force To The Front

The OEM front brake of the Himalayan is somewhat weak. To improve it we have tried a number of things, some of which worked, but with negative repercussions, some worked flawless but are incredibly expensive and some may be worth the investment.

The obvious first choice was experimenting with different pads. We used sintered pads TRW MCB 648 SV which work better than RE OEM but not remarkably so. They also eat up the disk quite fast. So this was no solution although most of the online discussion focuses on this.

Having owned and driven the 535 continental cafe racer we knew it’s front brake to be impeccable but expensive, being original Brembo in all its components. To make it fit to the Himalayan one also has to use the front fork of the 535 as the caliper will not fit to the original OEM fork.
On the Himalayan the 535 fork is even better than the OEM but also more expensive, originally being designed for a heavier bike. We kept it on our “testbed” but at the same time it is clear that spending nearly 800 US$ on a better brake is not going to be very popular.

The OEM disk is not manufactured to the same quality standards as Brembo which can be verified easily by touching the edges of the holes in the disk. They are machined without smoothing the edges while the Brembo holes are smooth to the touch. This influences the surface of the pads’ contact with the disk which is optimal only with the Brembo.
Also fixed disks by design in certain sitations (e.g. curves) do not facilitate as good a contact as floating disks do.

So the next logical step was to check if there is an original Brembo floating disk available that fits the Himalayan wheel and works with the OEM caliper and fork.
And we found one. Tests are on-going.

OEM caliper with Brembo floating disk:

We are aiming at a simple solution that anyone with a set of spanners can implement in an hour or so. Just a disk change and new pads, at the most add a new caliper as well, that’s it.

What we are actually riding or having in the pipe for testing:

  • OEM disk and pads – weak braking and short life (if used in off-road conditions often under 1000km)
  • OEM disk with TRW MCB 648 SV – about 20% better but they eat the disk and don’t live longer than OEM
  • Brembo floating disk with OEM caliper and pads – about 30% better braking, need 12 hours brake-in before they reach that level, short life
  • Brembo floating disk with OEM caliper and Brembo pads – results pending
  • Brembo floating disk with OEM caliper and 2352XBK5 carbone lorraine pads  – results pending
  • Brembo floating disk with adapted ByBre caliper (clone of the Brembo caliper but much cheaper, used on the new 650 bikes) and RE OEM pads fore that caliper – results pending

The OEM pads are cheap, around 15 U$ on ebay, but they do not last and with the OEM disk only give mediocre brake experience to say the least.
The other pads supply better braking but are double in price and it remains to be seen how long they last, some visibly eat the disk too.
The bigger ByBre caliper from the 650 uses bigger pads that are double in price compared to OEM REH pads but if the Brembo (which is identical except in name) is any measure they last MUCH longer, and the braking is vastly superior, in dosage and umpf. Anyone who drove the 650 can vouch for that, and that bike is much heavier than the REH. To date it seems the “Koenigsweg” (kings road) will be the Brembo disk with adapted ByBre caliper from the 650 and OEM pads for those.

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