Lockheed brakes

May 27, 2005
Hi all. I find myself right in the middle of that conundrum we all face at some time. Original versus improvement.
My MkII 850 is absolutely original and I love that about it. I don't ride it millions of km (I have a Honda CB1300 for that), so the bike represents a fun Sunday blat bike. But... And it's a big but...
That bloody Lockheeed front brake. It is useless and I can't help worrying that it will kill me one day.
I could go for a FireBlade set-up that a mate of mine has on his but I really don't want to molest the originality factor.
Is there a fix for the standard arrangement that might get me say, a 30 per cent improvement? I could live with it then I reckon. Is there a master cylinder ratio change that may improve the standard set-up? I've messed with pads, but what pads do people recommend?
I really would like to leave the bike original, but I have a life to lead!
There is a master cylinder kit available from several different suppliers. The kit is basically a sleeve that is fitted into the master cylinder which increases the pressure to the brake caliper. Most people will also remove the rubber brake line and replace it with a braided stainless line

This will certainly increase your braking ability.

If you check with RGM you can find the kit listed
A UK mailorder Norton parts supplier, check out their website on www.rgmmotors.co.uk
Sleeve kit is the second page of the "brake system components" list.
British Spares in NZ may also carry them??

I'm glad this thread was introduced and I caught it.

I've had a master cylinder upgrade to my 74 Norton's all stock Lockheed. Works much better, but I've overheated it to the point once that the brake expanded and locked the front wheel up. Now, there was a situation here that kept the brake from cooling... bumper to bumper stop and go traffic after a hard application of front brake after coming over a rise to see that traffic had stopped.

I've come to accept that I'm riding vintage in a modern world of traffic. Any tips on improving cooling performance or should I just go ahead and invest in a Brembo.

Unlike the original poster of this thread, my 74 Norton is my only bike and I'm in a pretty hilly and traffic congested area.

I rode my bike for twenty five years with the original...no front brake, setup. My right hand would have been able to be used as a nut cracker. Someone convinced me to replace the brake hose with the stainless steel braided line that "RGM" and others sell and make to length. I ordered extra short from RGM because I run clipons and the simple replacement of the brake hose gave me a real shock. I had wondered what all the talk was, about bad Norton brakes. I didn't know there was something wrong with mine. My bike actually will slow down for a corner, now. No more just pulling on the lever just to let the person in back know you are still alive.

Replace the line and then see if it works to your satisfaction. If originality is really important, there must also be some make of SS hose that has a black outer covering too....maybe....
I bought my Commando about 12 months ago and having sorted the initial problems, cracked oil tank, Mikuni with completely the wrong jets and dodgy wiring, I turned my attention to the front brakes. Having talked to Norvil and checked out this and other web sites it would seem that the way to go if you want to keep the thing looking standard is to sleeve the master cylinder and use a braided hose. My plans are to replace the switchgear and master cylinder with components from the land of the rising sun and for that reason I was reluctant to take this option and so I decided to modify the disc/caliper end. I already had a Grimeca caliper (must finish off the T160 sometime!) and found a RGM 12” disc on eBay, the adaptor plate and other parts came from RGM. Having used this setup for a couple of months now the braking has definitely improved but still does not inspire confidence to avoid the ‘sorry I didn’t see you mate’ road users. Latest change is to try some EBC HH sticky pads but its not stopped raining since I fitted them almost a week ago so I’ve not had chance to try them yet – well it is summer!!.
Hope I haven’t offended the purists but originality is not an issue for me, and it takes a back seat to decent brakes, reliable modern electrics and logically laid out switchgear.
Blazing Saddle

You might want to consider drilling your front disc. It will help with the heating issue and increase your brake performance at the same time
drilling original Norton brake discs

This is an excerpt from Vintage Brake's website. Note it's not recommended to drill original discs. They will crack.

Disc lightening--drilling vs. thinning: both will reduce mass and therefore heat sink capability. Some pluses for drilling.: If the holes drilled are smaller in diameter than the thickness of the disc, surface area is increased. With the right pattern, potential for warpage is decreased. Holes or slots with give the gas bubble created someplace to dissipate. Finally, the thicker disc allows the pads to sit deeper in the caliper, minimizing cocking and enhancing retraction. The down side is that it is very difficult and usually impossible to drill a pattern that will sweep the entire face of the pad, creating uneven pad and disc wear. Thinned discs need to be slotted. Grey iron rotors (vintage Norton and Triumph) should not be modified.
Will the drilled rotor really crack though? A lot of people, including me, are running drilled rotors on the street. That vintagebrake guy seems to work mostly with racers. Maybe under race use they're more prone to cracking? I guess I'll find out eventually. No problems (so far) here...

Drilled versus non-drilled disc brake rotors is a subject that has always been fuzzy to me. My Chevy weighs 3,100 pounds, has 345 hp and four-wheel disc brakes. It stops better than 98% of the cars on the road; however, its disc brake rotors are NOT drilled. My Norton also has solid brake discs, but their performance is nowhere near that of the brakes on my Chevy. And I suspect that drilling my Norton rotors will produce little improvement, if any, in braking performance.

So, brake rotors with or without holes remains an elusive matter. I would very much appreciate it if someone could provide a “Kevin Cameron” explanation on the advantages and disadvantages of drilled brake rotors.

Thank you,

Don't know if there's any performance improvement. Sure looks cool though! 8) :lol:

Hey folks,

For me the Norton front brake is the most significant safety issue on the bike, the moment you're faced with an emergency there's no room for error, it has to work to modern standards. Cars are driving so much faster these days, they're more powerful and there's more of them on the road. The Norton front brake imho is simply not up to it.

I'm looking to upgrade to something fairly simple, a CBX750 or XT600 front set up which will be more than adequate come the moment of need.

Btw remember the efficiency of your suspension set up also affects your braking performance.
I have found a good use for the Norton Caliper:

Lockheed brakes
:lol: It makes a pretty nice looking pencil cup doesn't it?! :lol:

Works pretty good at stopping the bike too, with a different master cylinder. That's how I'm using mine at the moment. Works a heck of a lot better than that TLS ever did :roll:

I spoke with someone at Baxter Cycle about the Majura master cyclinder, he said they could bore out the old master cyclinder and it would work just as good as the Majura. At this point I am following the old adage about not following to close.
debby said:
with a different master cylinder.


So what master cylinder are you using?

Finally got to try out the new EBC HH pads yesterday on a 100+ mile ride. They are awesome, braking has improved to such an extent that it's now possible to lock the front wheel. The disc wear will probably increase but seems like a fair trade for some decent stoppers.

It's a Nissin master cylinder from a H*nda CBR600F2. But pretty much any later master cylinder with a 13mm cylinder should work fine. Or you could get the stock one resleeved.


I am planning on replacing the master cylinder, I found one off a Bandit at an autojumble but it's 5/8" dia the same as the stock master cylinder. What are you using for the right hand switchgear now? Any chance of posting a picture of your bike with the CBR master cylinder and Old Britts oil pressure gauge?

Yeah, most dual disk mc's are 5/8, the early CBRs being an exception. A Brembo from a single-disk Ducati (Monster Dark) would work but might be hard to find.

I bought a right-side switch cluster from a Kaw ZX-something. $5 off ebay and it provides a kill switch and wiring for the brake light switch. I like having a switch rather than a button. RonL likes Ducati switchgear but people want too much money these days.

I'll try to post a pic later...