TDM900 : The braking system



DisksFront brakeRear brake
• typedual-disk, floatingsingle disk, fixed
• diameter298 mm245 mm
• thickness5 mm5 mm
• min thickness4.5 mm4.5 mm
• max deflection0.1 mm0.1 mm
• typefixedfloating
• cylinders number41
• cylinders diameter30.2 mm - 27 mm41.3 mm
Brake pads
• manufacturer (original)SumitomoSumitomo
• thickness5.5 mm5.8 mm
• min thickness0.5 mm0.8 mm
• manufacturerNissinBrembo
• inside diameter14 mm (2002-3) 16 mm (2004+)14mm
• recommended fluidDOT4DOT4


Apart from the ABS (optional since 2005), the only change in the braking system took place in 2004 : the master cylinder was replaced by another one with a larger bore (16mm instead of 14mm) . This suggests that the braking is less powerful since 2004, but as the front fork is softer, you can take comfort in thinking that it is consistent ...
• Ratio 2002-2003 : 16,3428
• Ratio 2004+ : 14,3000

Break pads replacement

Which pads ?

There is a full range of replacement pads available on the market other than the OEM pads. There are obviously differences other than the pricing ; quality, longevity, feeling, abrasion, temperature resistance, etc.

Personally I feel that my life is worth more than the brake pads : I only use the original Yamaha pads (Sumitomo manufactured) because they are perfectly reliable, their performance is high and they don't eat the brake discs.


• The front pads are the same on many Yamaha machines (R1, FJR, XTZ1200, etc.).
• The rear pads are specific to the TDM900.
• There is no difference per model (ABS / non-ABS) or per year.

Note : While the rear pads of the FJRs have the same footprint, their padding is actually twice thicker : they do not fit into the calipers of the TDM900. Many manufacturers sell TDM / FJR compatible rear pads : these pads have an intermediate thickness between the FJR and TDM OEM pads. Too often they will simply not fit the TDM.

Front brake pads replacement

(image)• Remove the two mounting screws (1) and the caliper (2).
• Push back the brake pistons, using the old pads still in place.

(image)• Remove the beta clips (1), the pad pin (2) and pad spring (3).

(image)• Replace the pads (1), do not forget to replace the pad shims (2).

(image)• Replace the pad spring (1) with the arrow-mark (a) pointing forward, replace pad pin (2) and beta clips (3).

• Install the caliper on the front fork, tighten the screws to 4.0
• Proceed with the other caliper. ;
• Operate the brake lever several times to push the pads in contact with the discs.

It is possible to do the replacement without removing the calipers. It's a bit more complicated : use a beveled wedge tool to push the pistons (old pads in place) without damaging the disc.

Rear brake pads replacement

(image)• Remove the two mounting screws (2).
• Remove the caliper (1).
• Push back the piston.

(image)• Replace the pads (2). Do not forget to replace the pad shims (3).

• Install the caliper and the screws (put some lithium grease on the crews), tighten to 2.7
• Operate the brake pedal several time to push the pads in contact with the disc.

Do not forget to operate the lever/brake pedal several times to move the pads against the discs. This will save you extra mechanical and medical costs...

New pads require break-in (about 100km) otherwise there is a risk of glazing the pads.

Some people are used to break the edges of the new pads to prevent them from being noisy. I do not and I have no noise.

Brake fluid

Yamaha recommends using DOT4 brake fluid, so far put DOT4 ! Always use new and clear brake fluid from a sealed container, a brown color indicates that the brake fluid has absorbed moisture and is no longer usable (except for cleaning parts).

You can also use DOT5.1 brake fluid, but this kind of fluid is usually reserved for sports bikes on race tracks. DOT5.1 brake fluid requires frequent replacement as it absorbs moisture faster. No interest on a machine like the TDM.

Do not use DOT5 brake fluid as i is made out of silicone : it requires special seals and is incompatible with other types of brake fluids (complete internal parts change & cleaning required). It is generally used for vintage vehicles. Please note that the TDM850 not a vintage vehicle ! I mean, not yet ...

Bleeding the brake system : I replace the fluid using the bleed screws to push the fluid up inside the hoses. This significantly reduces the duration of the operation (bubbles rise with the liquid) and spares the nerves. For this operation, use a syringe of appropriate size, a small transparent hose and push the brake fluid inside the bleed nipple, that that simple. Do not forget to empty the master cylinder body beforehand.

ABS bleeding : Same as bleeding a standard circuit. You may check the Workshop Manual for more details.


Yamaha recommends the replacement of all internal parts and brake fluid every two years, brake hoses every four years ...

This is purely theoretical, more or less for legal issue. I do not know anyone who replaces calipers seals and master cylinder internal parts every two years, or even replace them altogether. Actually only the brake fluid bleeding is completed when replacing the brake pads, along with replacing the original brake hoses for some braided lines.

The curse of the piston binding

Mr. Yamaha forgot to tell that the famous blue spot calipers require a specific maintenance : cleaning the pistons. The problem is that the pistons fit in their bores with very limited looseness. Then dust settle around the pistons and soon forms a hard deposit which seize the piston. As a Result, it is not uncommon to have only one piston to remain operational inside each caliper. This lowers the braking efficiency and generates an asymmetric pads wear - maybe other strange figures - and finally makes the brake lever less firm . This is difficult to realize because the phenomenon is very progressive.

The solution : remove the calipers, clean the pistons one at a time while pushing them partially out. Rub the piston with a soft rag, using some brake fluid if the dust layer is hard. There also exists so-called "special calipers cleaning" fluids, but since there does not exist standard for these cleaning fluids, so there's something for brake fluids (including compatibility with seals), I prefer to use only genuine brake fluid on any brake part.

(image)• Remove the two mounting screws (1) and the caliper (2).
• Push back the pistons with the old pads still in place.

(image)• Remove the beta clips(1), the pad pin (2) and the pad spring (3).
• Remove the pads & take note of their locating (internal / external).

(image)• Place a wedge (1) to block a pair of piston.
• Operate the brake lever to push one of the remaining two pistons out (2), block the other with the hand (3).
• Do not exceed the limit specified (4) otherwise the piston may come fully out !
• Clean the piston using a small rag around, add some brake fluid if the dust layer is hard. Do not use abrasive material.
• Push the piston back and proceed with the others pistons.

(image)• Replace the pads, swap them if the wear is different between both.

(image)• Replace the pad spring (1) with the arrow-mark (a) pointing forward, replace pad pin (2) and beta clips (3).

• Install the caliper on the front fork, tighten the screws to 4.0
• Proceed with the other caliper.
• Operate the brake lever several time to push the pads in contact with the discs.

The result is really worth it : stiffer break lever, increased braking power, time to change the front fork oil !
Changing the old brake lines for new braided line can wait some more time...

Rear brake

In addition to the usual maintenance operations, don't forget to lubricate the break pedal axle (this is described only on the latest official documentation) : some imprecision when braking may otherwise occurs, along with pads maintaining close contact with the disk, leading to a premature wear of both pads & disk.

(image)• Remove the blocking screw (1), remove the pedal (2).
• Lubricate the axle with lithium grease.
• Replace the pedal and the screw.

Braided lines

One thing to know is that the OEM break lines are braided lines as this is required by the DOT standard. You can't see it because of the rubber coating. OEM lines are also more efficient and durable than many adaptable braided lines.

Fitting adaptable braided lines is quite common on a bike, not only for their clean appearance, their supposed higher efficiency, but also because they are often less expensive than the original brake lines when replacement becomes necessary.

Please note : the "direct lines" installation method where the two brake lines are connected to the master cylinder down to the calipers is the easiest to implement, but it is not the most effective : fluids are incompressible but the brake lines have a non null elasticity. In other words, the longer the brake lines, the more it loses effectiveness, no matter the way they are fitted. Therefore the original assembly method is the more efficient, with a direct line to one caliper and another caliper to caliper line, This reduces the total length of the lines and therefore the pressure loss.

ABS brake lines: some manufacturers now have complete break lines for the ABS system. See remarks below.

TDM850 blue spots mod

The blue spots calipers swap is a frequent mod for the TDM850 : they fit without any adjustment on the TDM850. When buying a pair of calipers, always make sure they come with their original mounting screws as there is sometime some matching problems with the thread, It is also better to replace the master cylinder for an original R1 style for optimum efficiency (the original TDM850 master cylinder is a bit feeble). Stiffening the front forks should also be done...

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