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Thread: Servo-assisted brakes

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  1. #1
    mtkeehan
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    Servo-assisted brakes

    I am in the market for a new/used bike and want to know if I should consider the assisted braking system in my decision. From what I have read, people have not liked the "power brakes" because they can grab too quickly for low speed maneuvering. I gather this is why BMW dropped the feature.

    I have lost finger and as a result I can only cover the brake with one finger. That is fine in normal circumstances, but in an emergency, I have to take my have off the throttle and hook all finger around the lever for powerful braking. This takes too much time for emergencies, but I have not known what I might do about it. Enter power brakes. Have not ridden one of these machines, but do they work in such a way that I could brake more powerfully with one finger?

    If so, I will need to know which bikes and years came with servo-assisted brakes. Any help appreciated.

    Michael

  2. #2
    You stupid, fix it! r11rs94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtkeehan View Post
    I am in the market for a new/used bike and want to know if I should consider the assisted braking system in my decision. From what I have read, people have not liked the "power brakes" because they can grab too quickly for low speed maneuvering. I gather this is why BMW dropped the feature.

    I have lost finger and as a result I can only cover the brake with one finger. That is fine in normal circumstances, but in an emergency, I have to take my have off the throttle and hook all finger around the lever for powerful braking. This takes too much time for emergencies, but I have not known what I might do about it. Enter power brakes. Have not ridden one of these machines, but do they work in such a way that I could brake more powerfully with one finger?

    If so, I will need to know which bikes and years came with servo-assisted brakes. Any help appreciated.

    Michael
    Hi Michael, My 04 R1150RT has servo breaks. The hardest paart was getting use to moving the bike with the key off. Only a day or two, to get use to them. I swithced back and forth between servo and non-servo with no problem. One finger with a good grip will be plenty of pulling power to stop in my opion. I believe the 03 RT and 03 / 04 RS also have servo assisted breaks. Good luck in your search.
    The thing about traveling is, you never want it to end and you can't wait to get home.
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  3. #3
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    Michael,
    I've got an '04 1150 GS with the servo partially integrated brakes. I, now, absolutely love them and have no problem with slow maneuvers. When I first got the bike I hated them, but it was just a matter of getting used to the increased sensitivity. Now I never even think about it, and suspect I'd be a little slow on non servo brakes until I got used to squeezing a little harder.

  4. #4
    Registered User ALIENHITCHHIKER's Avatar
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    Michael, I've spent limited time on bikes equiped with servo assisted brakes but have found them to be extremely effective.

    My objection to them is due to their increased complexity and higher service costs.

    However, if I was in need of an adaptation to improve my braking due to a hand or nerve injury I would actually seek out one of these bikes. This may be just the ticket.
    Steve
    Current Hottie: '00 R1100RT
    Old Flames: FY K100RT, '80 XS850 with Vetter Quicksilver, '67 Bonnie, '66 Honda 90

  5. #5
    scqtt
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    They seem to have an initial bite that is a bit too hard. They seem to work fine, but I prefer my newer GS that still has ABS but no servos.

    My guess is if you are only riding one bike you will get use to them and they will feel very normal.

    Jumping from bike to bike is a pain as the servo bikes do have a different feel.

  6. #6
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    I love the power brakes on my 05 R12RT. If the servo fails, I might not be pleased with the cost, but I do like them. They are grabby until you get used to them. I don't use the handle bar brake (does front and rear) at low speed, I just use the rear brake and that is not grabby at all. Once you get used to them, they are fantastic. You can brake with one or two fingers and get full braking power.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '10 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

  7. #7
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    [QUOTE=ALIENHITCHHIKER;471343]
    My objection to them is due to their increased complexity and higher service costs.

    /QUOTE]

    Steve is correct. I've negated the service cost by learning how to do the brake fluid change myself. I do it every spring. It is not difficult, but will consume an afternoon if you do both the wheel circuits and control circuits. Having never paid a BMW shop for the brake bleed I'm basing my est. of $175-$350 on what's been posted on chat groups. I am aware if the ABS unit fails I'm looking at a $1,600 bill for a new unit. Luckily it appears to be a rare event.

  8. #8
    Registered User NavyDad's Avatar
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    Another happy 04 RT rider here. I like the servo brakes on my bike. Once you get used to the feel and the funny noises you should have no problem. I too do my own service and while it does take a bit of time, the job isn't really difficult. Be sure to ask when the fluid was changed last if you look at a used bike. I change mine every spring and I think that will help keep the system healthy and operating normally.

  9. #9
    182446
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    I know what you mean - the servo assisted brakes suck!

    I wish someone would state the years and the models of BMWs that came with this terrible system so I and everyone I know can avoid them. My 2004 R1150GS has them and I want to replace the bike with non-assisted bike of the same era. I love everything else about the bike but the lousy seat and these are the worst brakes I have had on any street bike in 30+ years! They have very poor modulation, they grab unexpectedly and force the use of the ABS in limited traction situations. You can't use light braking in a turn without risk - as I have on all my sport and touring bikes. The only redeeming thing is that technically I do have ABS - oh, but that dang ABS failure light keeps coming on - even after multiple expensive, professional flushes...so do I really have ABS when I need it? Ergh! Stupid system... Notice that they stopped providing the system on newer models? Case closed.

  10. #10
    Left Coast Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by 182446 View Post
    I love everything else about the bike but the lousy seat and these are the worst brakes I have had on any street bike in 30+ years! They have very poor modulation, they grab unexpectedly and force the use of the ABS in limited traction situations. You can't use light braking in a turn without risk....
    My experience is that a properly functioning system isn't as bad as you make out. I don't love 'em but I don't hate 'em.

    Insert "My Two Cents" Icon

  11. #11
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
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    Servo lover here

    I had an 04 RT bought new and now ride an 06 RT purchased used. Both have servo assisted brakes and I wouldn't be without them on anything. My 4 wheel vehicles also have "Linked" ABS power brakes and are much appreciated.

    One thing: If you have it, USE IT! Learn how the bike reacts to a full on panic stop from fifty or sixty mph. Most people never really use the brake systems to their full advantage due to fear of hurting the system somehow. That is folly. If you don't practice panic stops how on earth will you be able to stop in a panic situation?
    Marty - in the western Oregon mountains.'06RT, (gone '04RT, '86 Venture Royal, '81 Yamaha Virago920, '82Suzuki GS1100GK, '76 Suzuki GT750, Triumph 750 Bonneville, BSA Road Rocket 650, 61" Harley knucklehead)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MPMARTY View Post
    I had an 04 RT bought new and now ride an 06 RT purchased used. Both have servo assisted brakes and I wouldn't be without them on anything. My 4 wheel vehicles also have "Linked" ABS power brakes and are much appreciated.

    One thing: If you have it, USE IT! Learn how the bike reacts to a full on panic stop from fifty or sixty mph. Most people never really use the brake systems to their full advantage due to fear of hurting the system somehow. That is folly. If you don't practice panic stops how on earth will you be able to stop in a panic situation?
    You are just the guy I need to talk with, because I am negotiating on an '03 R1150RT that has the servo-assisted linked brakes. ALL my riding experience has been with conventional brakes and non-integrated, non-assisted ABS. The idea of coming to a stop at the bottom of a dirt / gravel road, on which I would normally NOT use any front brake (light & gradual rear, only), and having the front caliper activated sounds like an opportunity for the front end to "dish out" and land me and my expensive bike bodywork on the ground.
    Likewise, I took the "Ride Like a Pro" course (ALL low speed) which involved offset cone weaves, the "iron cross" (4-consecutive U-turns) and a low-speed slolum on my Super Glide, and modulated the clutch, throttle and rear brake (no front brake), passing the course with flying colors. In the June, '01, Cycle World, Don Canet, professional test rider and veteran of thousands of U-turns for photo shoots, dumped the 1150RT in the middle of a U-turn, because he "feathered" the rear brake.
    I've got ABS on my FJR1300, but the brakes are not linked. I'm thinking of backing away from the '03, despite its pristine condition and low (29K) mileage. BTW, I do practice panic stops. It's the low speed and poor surface stuff that worries me.
    Thanks!

  13. #13
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    I've ridden my oilhead for 6 years with servo assisted brakes. I don't even think about them because they do their job without fanfare. I also have an airhead with conventional brakes and a maxi-scooter where the rear brake is on the left hand lever. I go from one to the other automatically without thinking. The oilhead brakes takes far less effort and I don't have to wonder if I am using the rear brake enough or too much on the others.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  14. #14
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcyclewriter View Post
    In the June, '01, Cycle World, Don Canet, professional test rider and veteran of thousands of U-turns for photo shoots, dumped the 1150RT in the middle of a U-turn, because he "feathered" the rear brake.
    Maybe the RT he was riding had fully linked brakes. The RT had fully linked brakes for a couple years, but I don't remember what years. Maybe someone who knows will chime in. When the brakes are fully linked, both the front and rear brakes are applied when the rear pedal is pressed. Same when using the front lever, both brakes will be applied.
    Most of the BMWs after a few years went to partially linked brakes. That's what we had on our K1200RSs and now on our K1300Ss. On the partially linked brakes if you press the rear brake pedal, only the rear brake is applied. Pressing the front lever will apply both brakes. You will also see the linked brakes referred to as Part Integral and Full Integral.
    We had servo brakes on our K1200RSs and do not have them on the K1300Ss. The servo brakes worked good and it only took a couple rides for both of us to get used to them. Given the choice I would prefer to not have servo brakes because of the extra maintenance involved.

    I did a Google search for the RT and it looks like he R1150RT had Full Integral brakes in 2002, 2003, and 2004. In 2005 the R1200RT came equipped with Part Integral brakes
    Last edited by Lee; 01-13-2013 at 06:29 PM.
    Lee 2011 K1300S
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  15. #15
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 182446 View Post
    I wish someone would state the years and the models of BMWs that came with this terrible system so I and everyone I know can avoid them.
    I think all the boxers and K bikes had servo brakes from 2002 to sometime in 2007. Maybe someone can tell you the exact dates.

    I looked at the parts fiche for a couple bikes and it shows the pressure modulator until Aug 2006.
    Last edited by Lee; 01-05-2013 at 12:48 AM.
    Lee 2011 K1300S
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

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