• Welcome, Guest! We hope you enjoy the excellent technical knowledge, event information and discussions that the BMW MOA forum provides. Some forum content will be hidden from you if you remain logged out. If you want to view all content, please click the 'Log in' button above and enter your BMW MOA username and password.

    If you are not an MOA member, why not take the time to join the club, so you can enjoy posting on the forum, the BMW Owners News magazine, and all of the discounts and benefits the BMW MOA offers?

Replace servo assist brakes with non servo assist brakes


New member
As a new '04 R1150RT rider, but not a new rider, I find I absolutely hate the servo assisted brakes because I can't really control the stop as well as I should be able to. Towards the end of the stop, it flat stops right now. This is a real problem for me as I slide up onto the tank and the fork compress all while I'm trying to either 1) maintain my balance at a light or 2) brake into the apex of the tight turn.:violin I understand that's the nature of the beast but...:banghead

Has anyone tried to fix or replace this system with either an older or new system that does not exhibit this issue?:lurk
I'm pretty sure that it can be done

but i think that it is a rather onerous challenge. Before i went down that road, i would try to get used to the brakes that are on that bike. I have the same bike, and there are none better when you REALLY need them!

As an aside, do you use the rear brake as well as the front brake? that will tend to keep the bike more settled on hard stops.
Chances are the problem is your rear brake, or control of the rear brake with your foot. You will find if you never touch the rear brake during the stop process, the very end of the stop is very easy to control with your hand. At that point you can place your foot on the rear brake to hold the bike in place if needed.

I also changed to organic brake pads for the rear; that helped a bit.
Practice, practice, practice.
Servo brakes and ABS are great, you just need to practice and get used to them. When I get on a non servo bike I feel like the brakes are weak or spongy, they're not, but until I get used to them again, they initially feel that way.
I didn't know the 1150 had Servo assist. I thought the R12 was the first. Are these then similar, the "whizzy brakes" that I have on my R12?
I believe servo brakes first come out in the 2002 models, and continued through the 2006 model.
I "think".....
I didn't care for the "whizzy" brakes on my 04 RT at first either, but I wouldn't change them for anything now. I finally got the hang of them and I like em a lot. I did read an article where someone made the switch, wasn't to difficult or expensive, but I can't recall where off hand. I do remember that he lost the ABS feature when the change was made. My ABS has saved my bacon twice and I don't want to lose it. I also have a 96 GS which doesn't have "whizzy" brakes. I can jump from one bike to the other with no problem, just took some getting used to.
Same story here. At first I didn't like the servo assisted brakes, now I wouldn't trade them for anything.

I say just ride it more, you'll learn to love them.
I will never buy a BMW with the wizzy brakes, to me its just technology for tech sake. Bikes did fine without them for over 75 years. And surprise, after a few years BMW took them off the bikes too!

Why? Because an effective well balanced brake system does not need power assist. A capable well trained rider who practices effective braking simply does not need power assisted brakes on a bike. And power assisted brakes will never make up for poor braking techniques.

But back to the question. I suppose if you replaced the master cylinder, ABS modulator and wiring from a servo equipped bike to one without it you could install a decent, good performing basic brake system in place of the servo brake system.
Bikes did fine without them for over 75 years.
Bikes did also fine without disc brakes, hydraulic clutches, motormanagement, fairings, heated grips etc, etc.... ;)

The system is just like what we have on cars: integral braking. Honda has a similar system (Dual Combined Braking System). It's not so much servo assisted braking, as that can operate on traditional 'one-side' braking too. This system brakes with front ?índ rear, even if one of the brakes is operated by the driver. You'll need to get used to it, but it's just that. It shouldn't be too hard.
You need to get used to ABS too, in the sense that you need to brake as hard as you can in case of emergency and trust that the ABS system prevents wheel lock (a lot of people tend to let go of the brakes before they stop).

If it's very hard to get used to by yourself, mabye it's an idea to ask your driving instructor if he can setup a 'braking practice' lesson. It sounds a bit silly, but that way he can teach you the right way to brake with the system.
Hi BJ_CT, I suspect the cost of converting your brakes to non assisted would quite high and then you'd have a bike that might be difficult to sell later.
If you find you truly can't get along with the R1150RT's brakes, you might be further ahead to look for a 2001 and earlier R1100RT or jump forward to a 2007 RT.
I know a lot of people are happy with their 1150 series oilheads but I'm with Andy on this one. El techno no necesito
I firmly believe in ABS brakes (look up some of my other posts on ABS brakes, or high effort braking), and I regularly practice my high effort braking skills to know when the ABS will engage, and also to know what an ABS stop feels like. Believe me, knowing how well my brakes work, and knowing my own braking skills is essential. As a 19 year MSF instructor its also a goal I set for myself to prove I can do what I teach.

The Honda system is similar to the BMW system in that it is integrated braking. But the Honda system is not power assisted like the BMW system. BMW is the only brand to have produced a production power assisted braking system. For a large, heavy bike like the K1200LT, which is popular with riders who never really test and practice their braking skills, it makes sense. In my years as a MSF ERC instructor I have seen many many riders with marginal braking skills at best. On the K12LT I can see it as a benefit to have integrated braking because the bike is more capable with it. However, as an example I once did an ERC with a combo of Harley riders and two riders on K12LTs. Which proper coaching and technique, I had the riders on the Harleys, with that big ol car like brake pedal and NO ABS, power assist, or integrated braking, stopping as well and as short as the K12LT riders (who consistently engaged the rear wheel ABS during their stops).

But for the bikes like an RT or ST, I simply maintain that a well set up basic braking system is totally capable without the added complications of power assist. If it was such a fantastic system, and knowing how the Germans are steadfast in their belief of what is a good system, then why has BMW dropped the POWER assisted brakes from all the other models except the K12LT?
If it was such a fantastic system, and knowing how the Germans are steadfast in their belief of what is a good system, then why has BMW dropped the POWER assisted brakes from all the other models except the K12LT?
In itself that doesn't mean anything. If people can't get used to it, then that may be a reason. But that doesn't automatically mean it's a bad system. Sometimes people are used to something and don't want to change, and don't want to adopt a new system or learn new ways. I'm not saying that's the case here, but it's just another view on things.

On the Dutch RT forum there are some people who asked about it because it seems (mine doesn't have this system) that you can't do a short turn using the rear brake to control your speed because it invokes your front brake as well. So you have to learn a different technique. As far as I can tell, that was the only gripe that some people had: not being able to do short turns the way they learned it. All other aspects of the system were fine and I heard no other complaints.
I saw the other day someone posted that with the servo brakes as long as you don't stand on the rear brake pedal, the servo unit isn't used.
I tried stopping the other day with just the rear and I didn't hear the familiar whirring of the servo, but as soon as I touched the front lever, you could hear the whirring. The bike stopped, not like using the front, but it stopped.
Whether that means the front is linked to the rear if you use only the rear, I don't know. When I do a slow speed parking lot turn, I'm very careful and aware of the power of BMW's brakes. I don't want to practice picking a bike up in a parking lot....
Two bikes one with servo assist and the other non servo

My wife's bike is a 2000 R1100RT without servo brakes. My bike is a 2004 R1150RT
with servo assisted brakes. I ride my bike 99% of the time and have deleloped the bad habit of only using the hand brake to stop. Technology the ABS servo system takes care of the rest. The few times when I ride the R1100RT at the bottom of our hill, I am sure glad to feel the rear brake take hold. By the way, the R1100RT 5 speed transmision makes for a perfect highly responsive touring bike. The 6 speed R1150rt works great for the highway slabs but who cares.
OMG, the anti-servo rant is back, again; some things will never change:laugh

Didn't know this was gonna be like an oil thread, just thought maybe folks had figured out a good way to tone the stop-o-matic down a bit by drilling a strategically placed 3/64th hole or something. So, since nobody has, this thread can stop. I'm satisfied that this quest is finished. I appreciate all of the knowledgable responses.:usa