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I was out canyon racing today on my new '06 ZX-6R with only 1600 miles on it when I suddenly found myself without the use of my front brakes. The pinch bolts that hold the master cylinder to the handle bar had come so loose that when I pulled the lever it went all the way to the grip without compressing the piston. I was very very lucky I wasn't seriously hurt.

Sometimes I just cruise the twisties, you know going fast but pretty much holding a constant speed, and sometimes like today I was canyon 'racing'. Hard braking and down shifting into the corners and hard on the gas at the exit. Just a mile or so before this happened I was going downhill, braking hard down from 80 or so into a 180 hairpin posted at 15mph. If I had grabbed a handful of nothing on that hill I would of been in deep shit. As it was I was moving uphill coming up on the crest of a blind hill so I was not on the gas hard. Some quick down shifting and the rear brake got me to the side of the road in one piece.

The most shocking thing was the suddenness of the failure. I don't know how tight the bolts were when I left on my ride this morning but the lever wasn't moving around on the bar or anything like that. This happened some 70 miles into my ride. And as I said I was on the brakes hard only moments before. They might have been loose for a while into my ride but to go from loose to the bottom bolt totally out and the top almost totally out in such a short period really amazes me. All I can think is that blitzing around for extended periods between 10,000 and 15,000 rpms set up some kind of sympathetic vibration in the bars that caused them to very quickly unscrew once they loosened to a certain point.

Now I did loosen these pinch bolts to rotate the brake lever down to lessen the angle on my wrists. The same with the clutch. I've done this to all my bikes when I first get them. I did it to my ZX-12 when I first got it as well as my R-6, ZX-9 etc. I have never had anything like this happen. And its been two months and 1400 miles since I was messing with them.

Did I forget to torque them down? Not likely. I am one of those guys who always over tightens things, the kind of guy who gives the torque wrench another quarter turn after it snaps.

Any way I just thought I would share this with you all in case any of you have adjusted your brake lever position like I did. It may just be that I fucked up big time but on the off chance there is something about the ZX-6 that makes it more likely to do this more than others bikes you may just want to check them bolts.

I put some loctite blue on mine soon as I got home.
 

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holy crap...this is exactly what happened to me! the twisties i ride is up hill so did notice my failed front brakes until i came to a look out point to rest with the crew. i too loosened both levers to accommodate a better wrist angle. friends say that since our bikes are kept at a higher RPM, all that vibration must've really loosened the bolts. i am damn sure to double check these before i do any hard riding. glad you are okay!
 
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