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Motorcycle Brake Drums

Know When to Replace Your Motorcycle Brake Drums

Brake drums are an essential motorcycle part that should stay in top condition. Without them, you risk causing or being part of a serious accident on your Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, or Harley Davidson motorcycle. Front brakes and rear brakes are equally as important and should be working together with the same performance. 

What are Brake Drums?

Motorcycle brake drums are brakes that cause friction by shoes pushing outward onto a cylinder shaped part. Drum brakes have shoes pressing on the inside of a drum, while a clasp brake is where shoes press on the outside of a drum.  

What are the Parts of Motorcycle Brake Drums?

Brake drums consist of a number of parts and are the same for the front brake and the rear. The set-up includes:

  • Backing plate: This is a base for all of the components and supports and protects the housing from debris. The backing plate needs to be strong as it absorbs pressure and torque from braking actions. The backing plate also usually includes an emergency lever and a brake lever can sometimes function as a parking brake. 
  • Brake drum: This is the circle drum that the shoes press on to. It has to come from a type of cast iron that is wear and heat resistant as the continuous friction from the rider applying the brakes regularly generates a lot of heat. 
  • Wheel cylinder: This operates the brake on the wheel while two pistons operate the two shoes which push against the drum. Hydraulic pressure from the cylinder pushes the pistons against the shoes which then retreat back when the brakes on the bike release. 
  • Brake shoes: Each brake shoe uses heat resistant steel and is effectively the key part to the brake drum system. 

How Do I Know That My Drum Brakes Are Due for Replacing?

While it may take a professional mechanic to tell you that the drum brakes on your bike need replacing, there are signs that you can look for yourself. Carefully inspect your front wheel and rear brake systems regularly.

  • Abuse not wear and tear: The main reason for drum brakes to die is from abuse rather than wear and tear. 
  • Wear out marking: If the indicator exceeds the marking on the brake panel then its time for replacement.
  • Rust: Rust doesnt do any favors to metal so replace rusty parts straight away. 
  • Ride feel: When you are out riding on your motorcycle, see if your brakes start to feel different at any stage. If they start to be less responsive than they were before it will be a good idea to get them checked out. You dont want your rear wheel to spin out while the front brake has worked.