Painting brake calipers

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As the ZN moves closer to completion and takes shape, my focus changes a little bit. It shifts from things that are mechanical in nature to things that affect the design or how the bike will look.

Granted, the bike’s a bobber, so there’s only so much material to work with. Less is more, as they say, when it comes to bobbers.

There are many flat-black bobbed motorcycles these days. I have no comment. They aren’t my bikes. I don’t care what anyone rides. It’s not my concern. My bike, however, needs a little energy or punch. Nothing big. Nothing expensive. Just a little something to give it a little oomph. I think something simple like painting the brake calipers will do the job. The rear hub has one disc brake. The front has two disc stoppers.

Caliper-UntouchedMy list of materials includes the following:

  1. C-clamp
  2. Brake parts cleaner
  3. Wire brush
  4. Painter’s tape
  5. Duct tape
  6. Caliper paint

My process in simplified form because painting calipers is pretty easy:

  1. Remove the calipers, brake lines and pads.
  2. Press the piston(s) back into the calipers. If it’s too hard to do by hand, use a C-clamp. The bleeder screw may have to be opened to allow brake fluid out.
  3. Tape off the brake line bolt hole with duct tape.
  4. Tape off the bleeder nipple with duct tape.
  5. Clean the calipers with brake cleaner and wire brush. It’s important to get all the grease and grime off the surface to be painted.
  6. Scrub the calipers with hot water, soap and a wire brush.
  7. Dry with compressed air.
  8. Tape the piston surface on the inside of the caliper with painters tape. This will keep paint from getting on the pistons and messing up tolerances.
  9. Do one final cleaning with alcohol or acetone on a clean rag.
  10. Hang the calipers in the paint booth.
  11. Spray several coats of caliper paint on the calipers while following instructions on the can.
  12. After the calipers dry, remove the tape.
  13. Install the calipers and bleed the brake lines.

New caliper boots are on order, as usual, from Partzilla. They should be here any day. The orange calipers and freshly painted black brackets should add enough oomph to the aged ZN. It would be great if it were that easy for me.


Now, I can finish the saddle and the rear wheel—brake, license plate holder and brake light. When those things are complete, the bike’s ‘look’ will be about finished too.

Next: Building a bobber-style saddle (2 of 3)

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