2005 Suzuki GSXR 1000 Brake fade problem.

First a little background. I have worked for a track day promoter for the last 5 years and have had the opportunity to do about 20,000 miles on various tracks.

My previous bike was a 2001 Aprilia Mille R which has Ohlins suspension components and OEM Brembo 4 piston/4 pad brakes. Those brakes were awsome! Until I bought the Aprilia, I didn’t know how good I could be on the brakes.

August 2006 I decided that the Aprilia was getting a little long in the tooth and the new GSRX 1000 reviews indicated that this bike was particularly well suited to a person of short stature. So 30 more horsepower than the Aprilia, 50 pounds lighter and I can reach the ground easily… sign me up.

Of course there are some fundamental things I do to any new motorcycle that I own. I dial the suspension in and I only use the stickiest DOT approved rubber. The Gixxer is notorious for not having much rebound damping control on the forks so I took them to Phil Douglas at Aftershocks and had him do the revalve. The other thing I did was buy a Penske shock for the rear and that decision has saved me a lot of money in tires because I don’t tear up rears the way many Gixxer owners do.

Now on to the brake problem. This problem does not manifest itself on the street, it happens after a few hard laps on the track. The brake lever starts to get closer and closer to the handle bar eventually trapping my fingers since I generally only use two fingers to brake. (That’s all the Aprilia required)

Here are the things I tried in an effort to solve the problem.

  • Braided steel brake lines.
  • Brembo radial pump master cylinder (19×18).
  • Brembo radial pump master cylinder from a friend (19×20)
  • EBC HH brake pads.
  • Another set of stock brake rotors.
  • Motul RBF 600 brake fluid. (High boiling point)
  • Vesrah SRJL brake pads.
    • Worked good but didn’t solve the problem and didn’t last very long.
  • Super Blue brake fluid.
  • EBC Pro lite rotors and a fresh set of HH pads.
  • Borrowed stock master cylinder for another ’05 Gixxer 1000.

As you can see I changed everything but the calipers. I tried three brake fluids, the stock stuff, Motul and Super Blue. I tried three types of brake pads, stock, EBC and Vesrah. With the Vesrahs I was able to brake a little later but they wore out too fast and are too expensive for my taste.

I even bought a brake rotor hone from K&L Supply and took the glaze off my stock rotors to no avail.

When I put the EBC Pro Lite rotors on there was an improvement that I believe is due to the fact that they float better than the stock rotors thereby causing less drag and generating less heat. In my opinion these rotors are a good value.

I have a power brake bleeder but I also tried the type that has a one way valve that lets fluid out but prevents air for coming in. I tried bleeding from the top down, from the bottom up, left to right and right to left. After all this I still have lever fade.

Keep in mind that the brakes work fine, it is just that after 4 laps the lever is at the handle bar then I chicken out. Also, I never had this issue with the Brembos on the Aprilia.

My latest attempt at fixing this problem involves another set of calipers. I just can’t justify three grand for Brembos so I started looking around on Ebay and I ended up getting a set of monoblocks with a brembo radial pump master cylinder for $67 + $20 shipping. They are stock 2006 Yamaha R6 brakes and they bolted right up to my Gixxer. I used my aftermarket Brembo master cylinder because I didn’t get a brake lever for the Yamaha one in time. Also, I went back to Motul RBF 600 brake fluid because I had so many open containers that needed to be used soon.

So far the brakes feel great on the street and I’ll be trying them out at the track this weekend.


14 comments so far

  1. sasan on

    Whasts up mike ! Cool site! I hope your brakes are kickin a–ssss now, but keep me posted…talk to you soon…S.

  2. ciaran on

    Hey there,
    Im racing a Superstock GSXR1000 K5 and also suffer from brake fade. Did the Yamaha Calipers do the trick for you, please let me know it be very helpfull. cheers

  3. chad on

    Wonderin about that brake mod myself?

  4. John on

    Hi, I’ve been having the same problem with my 04 GSXR 600. I tried different brake fluids and pads as well to no avail. I was buying another set of stock calipers off of ebay when I read this. Waiting to learn how the new rotors and calipers worked for you on the track.

  5. Jason on

    The problem you are having is pad fade. You are using a pad that was developed primarily for the street/light track day applications. From the information you are providing, you seem to be riding at a higher level. You need what is a true race pad. I know you said the Vesrah pads wore out too fast and were too expensive, but did they do the job? If so, then the pad was the culprit. In AMA Superstock they are required to use factory rotors and pads and these guys are going fast. What do they do? They use a great brake pad, a true race pad. Want to know a big secret? Alot of teams use Performance Friction. Both of Jamie Hacking’s titles in 2006 was won on Performance Friction. It may say Ferodo on the bike, but that is because they pay 50K to get that. I work for Performance Friction. If you look at Muzzy’s and Graves’s websites, what is the one and only pad they sell? Jordan Suzuki, Kawasaki, KWS, Safety First, Corona Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, etc. use Performance Friction. I work for Performance Friction and work directly with these teams.. So, you can spend money on caliper, m/c, and so forth which help, but true race pads may be your solution. Choose any manufacturer you want, but please use a race pad. I am the Powersports Director for PFC and if I can be of any assistance to anyone, please feel free to call me at my desk. -Jason Novy


    P.S. Castrol SRF may help as well. The boling points are similar to the Motul, but the compressibility of the Castrol is lower and it is also Ester based, absorbing half of the moisture of the Motul which is Glycol based. The Castrol also has a 150 degree higher recovery rate than other brake fluid manufacturers.

  6. Jason on

    correction….meant to say Superstock is using factory rotors and calipers, not factory pads.

  7. Jeff on

    No Jason it is not “pad fade” What happens on gsxr 1000 is that the stock caliper seals pull the pistons back into the caliper when the lever is relesed. One short term cure for the is to zip lie the lever “on” overnite, forcing the seals to take a set. All you need to do is look at some used gsxr caliper seals to see just how deformed they become. I have tried all the top fluids, pads, lines, etc. It is a caliper piston/seal/bore problem. Jeff – #217 WERA West

  8. yamaha service manual on

    Interesting article, i have bookmarked your site for future referrence 🙂

  9. Barry on

    I own a 2006 GSXR 1000 with the front brake fade problem.It has been back to the local Suzuki shop 4 times for this and the last vist included rebuilding( the previous visit’s) master brake cylinder w/piston cup set,washer,new plunger,hose. This attempt also failed. The entire front brake system is now being shipped back to the factory and is being replaced. From what I was told a “factory tech”(Derek) was at the dealership and and engineered the master cylinder rebuild attempt.Fortunatley I bought the extended warranty when I bought the bike. Whew!

  10. Douglas CCS #51 on

    Thank you Jeff. It’s amazing how much misinformation there is everywhere. Everyone think’s they’re right. It’s like being at the track isn’t it? This is a well known problem with the GSXR mc esp k5-k6. I’m not even going to rebuild this crap. I’m just gonna get an R6 or R1 or Honda mc and be done w it.

  11. Sean on

    I got a ’05 with the same problem. I’m hoping for a recall!!

  12. fernando on

    I have the same problem, after a few miles, the lever starts to go up to the handlebars, to solve the problem, I bleed the system on the master cylinder, and repair air coming out soon, bleeding once more, is very good again for about 300 miles, I think the problem must be somewhere master cylinder seal, in a few days I will get a repair kit in the master cylinder and see if it solves the problem of time.

  13. Johnny on

    Same problems for my 05 gsxr1000. I believe that some of the main problems is at the master cyclinder. Ever since I started doing track days at Jennings GP I have had to bleed the brakes. They come back but after a while the lever gets closer and closer to the grip and then no pressure. Ya and back to bleeding the master cylinder. I dont know what to do.

    • fastdad on

      Read my entire blog entry and do what I did, it will take care of your problem.

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