Cure for Sticky Calipers

Or An Ode to the Lowly Grease Gun

My latest project involves an Italian motorcycle from the Seventies (yes, apparently I do have too much time on my hands). It’s a 1978 Moto Guzzi V50 that I bought in relatively good condition with 14k miles. It’s very complete and pretty much unmolested– meaning the fenders haven’t been buzzed off or removed. Of course, it’s still over 40 years old so… well, there are issues.

Moto Guzzi V50

The first issue I dealt with was stopping. Moto Guzzi’s unique “integrated braking system” is a linked arrangement where the foot pedal operates the rear and front brakes. The hydraulic plumbing to achieve this involves a pair of hoses on the rear brake cylinder- one attached to the rear caliper and one attached a single front caliper. The front master cylinder is then connected to the other front caliper.

I’ve ridden Guzzis with linked brakes before and the arrangement has always left me less than impressed. Mostly because I’m not used to it, partly because it’s so “non standard.” Grab a handful of front brake and… you slow down. Slowly. I’ve owned BMWs with partially linked systems, but the front brake lever is linked on those bikes. Almost every other motorcycle in the world stops via the lever on the handlebar, not the pedal— but that’s an argument for another day.

This poor little Guzzi didn’t just have a wimpy front brake, it was basically worthless. The foot brake seemed to work fine and hauled the bike down from speed quite admirably. But the front brake (remember – we’re only operating one front caliper) seemed to hardly have any effect. Can it really be that bad?

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Virtual. Culture.

A friend recently lamented, “I haven’t been inside a museum in months.”

It’s only one more collateral effect of this global mire we’re all living through. Museums have been shuttered, and exhibitions have been cancelled. Since March most of the world’s art and culture has been on hold. Or on Zoom.

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