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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a '96 today. Not in great shape, not terrible. Did a lot of lurking here prior to buying and looking at reviews, specs, etc. My other bike is an '05 Goldwing, and I haven't ridden a bike like this in something like 20 years, so I'm looking forward to gobs of fun with it.



So, as the title suggests, I've got a couple of questions, and things to have confirmed, or disputed.



I've seen elsewhere on this forum that the stock sprockets are 14/50. Is this the case? This bike has 44 teeth on the rear, and I don't yet know what's on the front. Since I have a Goldwing for highway riding, this will mostly be off road. Is 14/50 the best for light to moderate off-roading? (Since I haven't ridden any dirt bikes in a long time, I'm sticking with "light to moderate" for now.)



Since some dirt biking years ago, I had a long gap of no motorcycles until about 6 years ago. Since then, I have only owned shaft-driven bikes, so I'm pretty ignorant of chain technology. I've seen a lot on this forum about O-Ring chains. Can anyone tell me what is the advantage of O-Ring chains? Do O-Ring chains require special sprockets, or are normal sprockets okay?



Now the really strange question. Can someone tell me how the front brake lever is supposed to "feel"? The brake is well within the wear limits, but the lever doesn't feel right to me. I have to pull the lever nearly to the grip before I get good braking. It almost seems like I don't have much in the way of gradual braking. It's either no brake, or full brake. Is this normal, or is it just that I'm so used to hydraulic brakes that this seems strange to me?
 

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The stock gearing is great for most everything trail related. Keep the chain well lubed & adjusted. When you change your chain & sprockets, you will know if you want to change your gear ratio or not, but do go with the o-ring chain, they are far better.



Your front brake on the other hand, now that’s not right. Is it a drum brake? Better have a good look at that.



Welcome to the TW club!
m.
 

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Welcome!



You're right, stock sprockets on domestic TW's are 14/50. With a 44 sprocket on the rear, this bike was set up for street riding and will be geared too high for serious off-roading. A 50 rear sprocket would be much better suited to your planned light to moderate off-roading.



The O-rings serve to keep the chain lubricant where it belongs and to keep water and dirt out. O-ring chains offer less wear, reduced maintenance and longer life. O-ring chains use the same sprockets as non-o-ring chains.



It sounds like your front brake cable has stretched and needs adjustment to take out some of the slack. There are adjustments for this both at the handlebar and at the brake hub. Turn the adjusters out a few turns and see if that takes some of the free play out of the brake lever.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Welcome!



You're right, stock sprockets on domestic TW's are 14/50. With a 44 sprocket on the rear, this bike was set up for street riding and will be geared too high for serious off-roading. A 50 rear sprocket would be much better suited to your planned light to moderate off-roading.



The O-rings serve to keep the chain lubricant where it belongs and to keep water and dirt out. O-ring chains offer less wear, reduced maintenance and longer life. O-ring chains use the same sprockets as non-o-ring chains.



It sounds like your front brake cable has stretched and needs adjustment to take out some of the slack. There are adjustments for this both at the handlebar and at the brake hub. Turn the adjusters out a few turns and see if that takes some of the free play out of the brake lever.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies.



I've already adjusted the cable to the extent that I feel comfortable with. If I go any farther I'm afraid I'm going to have dragging brakes. My next step is to take the brakes apart and see what's going on. At this moment, I don't have a service manual, and I'm a bit leery of tearing into these without having some sort of guide.

The other part I failed to mention about the brakes is that the lever does not return all the way when it's released. It seems to me like the shoes aren't moving quite like they're supposed to. My guess is that the brakes have never been apart and 16 years worth of neglect has them somewhat stiff.
 

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Here's a link to the manual:



http://www.mediafire.com/?34muedntyxz



It also sounds like your brake cable could use some cleaning/lubrication. That should help the spring return the lever when the brake is released.



Tighten your cable to the point of your brake pads dragging and then back just enough to stop the dragging. Drum brakes are marginal at best and are never going to be as good as more modern hydraulic brakes.
 

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Thanks for the replies.



I've already adjusted the cable to the extent that I feel comfortable with. If I go any farther I'm afraid I'm going to have dragging brakes. My next step is to take the brakes apart and see what's going on. At this moment, I don't have a service manual, and I'm a bit leery of tearing into these without having some sort of guide.

The other part I failed to mention about the brakes is that the lever does not return all the way when it's released. It seems to me like the shoes aren't moving quite like they're supposed to. My guess is that the brakes have never been apart and 16 years worth of neglect has them somewhat stiff.




The front brake is a pretty simple design. If your lever isn't returning it could be a couple things. Your pivot bolt that holds the lever on needs some lube, your brake cable is stretched and needs to be replaced, or the two little springs that hold the shoes on are rusted.



I'd lube the pivot bolt and cable first. If that doesn't help, take off the front wheel and check it out.



I went out and took some pictures for you with a spare brake assembly.





Here is what the brake would look like with no brake applied. Note: there are some parts missing from my spare. There is a set of gears in there that spin the speedometer cable, but they are held on by a snap ring and won't fall out.





And here is what it would look like if the brakes were applied. Notice the bottom rectangular thing moves and separates the shoes.





Another angle





Go ahead, take it apart. Nothing is going to fall out. Download the manual first though...it does help.
 

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I was a non-believer as far as o-rings chains go. I'll admit it, I thought they were just some expensive chain that wasn't needed. Are they far superior? Eh, maybe a little bit. I clean my chain when its dirty so having a sealed chain was just a bonus, but what I noticed was the stretch. My open chain would need adjusting every 100-150 miles (about every other off-road ride). I got tired of pulling the rear cotter pin, undoing the axle and adjusting the chain. I got a new set of sprockets and an o-ring chain and what a surprise. It needed an adjustment after my first ride and hasn't needed anything other than cleaning since. I've put on about 300 hard off-road and some street miles on it and it hasn't stretched at all.



If you are going to get new sprockets, buy the o-ring chain, you'll be happy you did.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Rainman, thanks for the pictures. I've downloaded the manual and the pictures in it leave a lot to be desired.

I'm no stranger to drum brakes, as I only got my first disk braked vehicle about 8 years ago and I do all of my own mechanic work. However, I've never had them apart on a motorcycle before. These are really simple, from the pictures you've got posted. I had assumed it was probably a return spring, either weak or with too much crud built up for it to work properly. (Probably build up, since I've never had to replace a return spring on a car.)

I've already applied a bit of deductive reasoning and lubed the lever and pivot, and the cable. (Again, not a complete stranger to cable operated brakes. i.e. parking brakes on cars) Also, I've adjusted the cable and it doesn't seem to be stretched excessively, as I still have adjustment left.

I'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings and maybe I'll have time to tear into it then.

Again, thanks for the pictures.
 

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Rainman, thanks for the pictures. I've downloaded the manual and the pictures in it leave a lot to be desired.

I'm no stranger to drum brakes, as I only got my first disk braked vehicle about 8 years ago and I do all of my own mechanic work. However, I've never had them apart on a motorcycle before. These are really simple, from the pictures you've got posted. I had assumed it was probably a return spring, either weak or with too much crud built up for it to work properly. (Probably build up, since I've never had to replace a return spring on a car.)

I've already applied a bit of deductive reasoning and lubed the lever and pivot, and the cable. (Again, not a complete stranger to cable operated brakes. i.e. parking brakes on cars) Also, I've adjusted the cable and it doesn't seem to be stretched excessively, as I still have adjustment left.

I'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings and maybe I'll have time to tear into it then.

Again, thanks for the pictures.




Very cool. Sounds like you are on the right track! Let us know what you find.
 

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Drum brakes have "feel", discs do not. There is no difference in actual performance between the two on a TW, except maybe after a water crossing, where the disc definitely gets the nod.



Take it apart as Rainman has suggested. If the bike sat for a long period there could be rust in the drum. If there is, get all the loose stuff outta there, then remove the rest with small square of 100 grit. Push the actuator pin out of the backing plate and clean the shaft and the bore, then re-install it with a light coat of waterproof grease (You'll see a groove in the shaft designed to hold the grease. Apply only enough to fill the groove) Get the rust dust off the shoes, lightly scuff any glazing from the shoes and put everything back together. I like to put a light film of waterproof gease on the pivot points.



There's a wear indicator arrow attached to the brake arm pivot and the wear indicator gauge is cast into the backing plate. If after cleaning and adjusting the brakes the wear indicator arrow is near the low end of the scale on the backing plate some new shoes are in order.



Cable slack can be taken up at the brake perch slack adjuster and at the backing plate. If once adjusted you find that you get more slack after a ride your cable is stretching. They'll stretch a bit at first when new, run for years with very little adjustment, then start stretching again once they're going south.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the replies.

All better now.

Cleaned up, adjusted, and all is well. I'm still almost out of cable adjustment, so I'll be needing one of those eventually. For now, though, it's all good.

More questions to come, but I'll post them in Tech, where they belong.
 
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