From time to time your Harley-Davidson Softail, like all motor vehicles, is going to require maintenance. One common task is the need to replace the brake lines. While this job is within the skill set of most do-it-yourself mechanics, if you don’t do it properly, not only will your brakes fail to function correctly, but the lines themselves could impede the steering of your Softail. Fortunately for the do-it-yourself mechanic, this task isn’t that difficult.
1. Locate the bleeder valve on the side of the brake caliper. Put a length of clear plastic tubing over it. Aquarium tubing is ideal for this purpose. Put the other end of the tube into a clean bucket or large bottle.
2. Open the bleeder valve a half turn using a wrench or ratchet.
3. Detach the screw securing the master cylinder cover, using a Phillips screwdriver, then remove the cover.
4. Press down on the brake lever until the brake fluid begins to flow down the tube into the bucket. Allow it to drain completely. Replace the master cylinder cover and remove the tubing. Leave the bleeder valve open.
5. Unscrew the brake line mounting clamps using an Allen wrench.
6. Take the brake line off the master cylinder and the caliper, using a ratchet.
7. Take out the gaskets on both ends of the brake line. Replace with new gaskets.
8. Put the new brake line into place on both the master cylinder and caliper, using a ratchet. Make sure that you run it through the mounting clamp and tighten the clamp.
9. Take your master cylinder cover back off, then reattach the tubing to the bleeder valve.
10. Pour new brake fluid into your Softail’s master cylinder until you see new, clean fluid flow down the tube. At that point, remove the tubing and tighten the bleeder valve.
11. Press down on your brake lever a few times, then top off the brake fluid.
12. Open the bleeder valve to let out any air that may be in the lines, then add more brake fluid. Repeat Steps 11 and 12 until all the air is out of the lines and your master cylinder is full.
13. Replace the master cylinder cover.