If you've ever found yourself squeezing the brake lever like a big fat ape while still drifting through the stop sign, you're not alone. Far and away the biggest complaint heard about Moto Guzzi drum brakes is their feeling "soft and spongy" with no solid braking power - in other words, they don't work. That's largely because most drum brake assemblies have never undergone a thorough cleaning or maintenance in the last 30 years of their existence! It's no wonder! Your gorilla grip (or lack there of) isn't the problem.
Getting the most bite out of long-neglected drum brakes can be tricky, and here at Cycle Garden we look well beyond the surface of relining friction materials; in fact 9 times out of 10, when we crack a customers hubs, we find plenty of meat still left on the original shoe pads, but still no grip on the road. That illustrates to us that most issues with weak Guzzi brakes aren't found in "worn out" pads, but rather maladjusted levers and corroded brake components, like pivot pins, brake cams, cables, springs and levers.
1. Clean and Lube - Disassemble the brakes shoes from the housing plate; clean, inspect, lube and reinstall the brake cams.
2. Relining brake shoes - If necessary, we can outfit your shoes with modern asbestos-free linings or we prefer reworking your original shoe surface (Due to regulations restricting asbestos-based braking material, modern brake shoes tend not to have the bite of the good old original cancer causing asbestos laden Guzzi shoes).
3. Groove, scuff and ruff - Checking the shoes for wear (most original shoes we find are still within tolerance), we scuff the shoes to remove any glaze and increase their efficiency.
4. Inspection - we inspect the inner-hub and drum liner for deep grooves and for heavy corrosion or other damage.
5. Synch the shoes - when re-installing the brake assembly, our mechanics make sure that both shoes are hitting the drum liner at the same time, this is were most brake adjustments fail.
6. Replace Cables - Another common issue is a worn or corroded brake cable. We recommend replacing and lubing up the cable with the brake job.
7. Adjustment - setting the correct leverage point on brake cam levers will lessen the hand pressure needed to achieve the optimum brake pressure. Improving leverage will measurably increase braking power. That's why a full brake service is generally recommended as well as a skillfull brake lever adjustment.
8. Test Drive - We run the bike, testing the brakes, then if needed we pull the wheels off again (maybe several times) to sand off any high spots on the shoes. Ideally you want as large of a contact surface as possible on the shoes. Although this is labor intensive, it gives us the best braking power we can drum up for that older technology.
Disc brakes work on the simple principle of a steel disc that is gripped by two pads by a hydraulic caliper.
We also rebuild brake calipers and master cylinders for your '74 Eldo, which is the last year for the loop frame V Twins. We can give you the option of adding another disc, to make it a double disc front end. That gives you twice as much stopping power, double disc are equaled to a modern motorcycle brake.
Although most drum brakes will never be as responsive as a disc brake, we can get the early drum brakes to work very well. The four leading shoe front brake setups that are on the 73 ½ Eldorado and on the V7Sport, can be made to work as good as a double disc, yes, they are a great brake if rebuilt correctly.
All of us as Guzzi riders rely on our brakes to avoid trouble, so make sure your braking power is the best it can be and regard rebuilding your brakes as a matter of good personal safety. With the proper maintenance your Moto Guzzi will be stopping hard, fast and faithful.