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I have an intermittent problem with the ABS on my 2009 CBR1000RA. I've owned the bike since it was new, it has 12000 miles on it. The problem started this year. Sometimes after riding 50 miles or so I get the fast flashing LED that indicates an ABS failure. After the failure, once I put the ABS in diagnostic mode, I get a diagnostic trouble code of either 5-1 or 5-3, most often 5-3. According to the shop manual this indicates a problem with the front power unit or air bleeding incompletion. As per the procedure, I did the normal front brake line bleeding. Since there was air in the system I figured that would resolve the problem. I reset the diagnostic trouble code, and once again I rode it for 50 miles or so before there was a failure. Next I tried bleeding part of the ABS system as per the instructions in the manual, I didn't do all of it yet because it requires removing the radiator, etc. This also cured the problem for a couple of days, about 100 miles or so. Before I tear it all apart, I thought I'd see if anyone on the forum has had a similar problem with their ABS and what it took to fix it. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Thanks for your help.
 

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I have an intermittent problem with the ABS on my 2009 CBR1000RA. I've owned the bike since it was new, it has 12000 miles on it. The problem started this year. Sometimes after riding 50 miles or so I get the fast flashing LED that indicates an ABS failure. After the failure, once I put the ABS in diagnostic mode, I get a diagnostic trouble code of either 5-1 or 5-3, most often 5-3. According to the shop manual this indicates a problem with the front power unit or air bleeding incompletion. As per the procedure, I did the normal front brake line bleeding. Since there was air in the system I figured that would resolve the problem. I reset the diagnostic trouble code, and once again I rode it for 50 miles or so before there was a failure. Next I tried bleeding part of the ABS system as per the instructions in the manual, I didn't do all of it yet because it requires removing the radiator, etc. This also cured the problem for a couple of days, about 100 miles or so. Before I tear it all apart, I thought I'd see if anyone on the forum has had a similar problem with their ABS and what it took to fix it. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Thanks for your help.

Problems with the ABS are not rare - I believe a member here had complete loss of brakes on his 1000RR. Have you had a dealer look at it?
 

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I am having the exact same problem with my 2009 CBR100RA that you describe in your post. One dealership wanted $2400 to replace the front ABS power unit! Another wants $450 to "properly bleed the brakes". I've already had this done once and only temporarily fixes the issue. Have you had any luck getting this issue resolved?
 

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I am having the exact same problem with my 2009 CBR100RA that you describe in your post. One dealership wanted $2400 to replace the front ABS power unit! Another wants $450 to "properly bleed the brakes". I've already had this done once and only temporarily fixes the issue. Have you had any luck getting this issue resolved?
I don't know if you're mechanically inclined or not but bleeding the brakes myself helped with the problem for a while. I just did the standard part of the bleeding and kept getting air out of the system every time I did it. Doing the whole bleeding procedure requires taking apart a lot of the bike. I wouldn't try to do it unless you have the manual. I guess that's why the dealer charged so much for it.

Thanks for letting me know that was only a temporary fix in your case too. I'm still working on the problem, I don't want to pay $760.00 for a power unit unless I'm sure that will fix it.

FYI, if you remove the fuse for the ABS, the brakes operate as standard brakes. The ABS is fail-safe. The only issue with that is the ABS light stays on all the time, but at least it's not flashing.

I checked with the dealer to see if there were any service bulletins on the ABS, and naturally he said no. My main complaint is that the ABS was a $1000 option, but any single component in the system is almost $1000. I would never have bought the CBR with the ABS if I had known that it would be so difficult to work on.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. As you can see, I haven't received much feedback on the problem.
 

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I agree, I would never have paid for this safety feature if I knew it would be such a pain!

I'm not going to take the bike apart unless it becomes apparent the front ABS unit is at fault. I will try the basic brake bleeding to see if it helps. Thanks for the tip about the fuse.

The dealership I went to called Honda about the problem and the response was that they had never heard of this issue...yeah right.

Good luck, I'll post if anything changes.
 

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I agree, I would never have paid for this safety feature if I knew it would be such a pain!

I'm not going to take the bike apart unless it becomes apparent the front ABS unit is at fault. I will try the basic brake bleeding to see if it helps. Thanks for the tip about the fuse.

The dealership I went to called Honda about the problem and the response was that they had never heard of this issue...yeah right.

Good luck, I'll post if anything changes.
One last question, do you know the fault code you are getting when the ABS fails? I'll let you know if I figure anything else out.
 

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Yes, I've wondered about that too. Sometimes just sitting overnight cures it, others it does not. I've noticed that whenever it's cold out it will sometimes last for a 75 mile ride. I think we have the exact same problem. Seems like a design problem to me.

The manual also says that the 5-3 code can be caused by a front brake caliper piston malfunction. I haven't looked at that yet either.

Thanks,
Bob
 

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Hi, I have the same problem. I got the bike with 45000 km on. The previous owner never serviced the brake fluid as he said that it was too complicated. The problem happens only after the bike gets hot and you use the brakes for a while. It never happens when the bike is cold. To me, it is a heat problem, somewhere in the valve or the power unit. Do you know if a complete brake fluid change and bleeding solves the issue, at least for some months, before heat deteriorates the fluid?
 

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Hi I have the same problem. It happens only after the bike gets hot and you use the brakes for a while. It never happens when the bike is cold. To me, it is a heat problem, somewhere in the valve or the power unit. I will do a complete brake fluid change and bleeding and will let you know if the issue persists.
 

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The Honda C-ABS system is over complicated and forums across the world have been plagued with problems by SOME owners. From my knowledge, there has never been a definitive or isolated problem, rather, there has been a range of them.

A PROPER bleed with new fluid should solve it, but bleeding ABS is really a task for a very patient professional or well-equipped DIYer. The dealer charge (UK) is around £300 (don't know your location so I can't convert)
 

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The Honda C-ABS system is over complicated and forums across the world have been plagued with problems by SOME owners. From my knowledge, there has never been a definitive or isolated problem, rather, there has been a range of them.

A PROPER bleed with new fluid should solve it, but bleeding ABS is really a task for a very patient professional or well-equipped DIYer. The dealer charge (UK) is around £300 (don't know your location so I can't convert)
Dear Nigelrb, thank you for the answer!! I have got the service manual and published instructions by other members. So, I will give it a try for a complete brake fluid change and bleeding, with lots of patience (it appears to be a week of work for somebody who hasn't done it before, like me), and see if it resolves the issue.
 

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Just as an FYI, i have purchased two 2009 CBR1000RA bikes in the last 2 years and both of them had the issue with the blinking ABS light. It would only come on when the bike is hot and i hit the front brake repeatedly (especially in stop and go traffic). As others have stated, i always got a combination of the 5-1 and or 5-3 error code. Simply bleeding the normal brake lines at best helped for a day or so.

I have become pretty efficient (as efficient as possible) in bleeding the entire ABS system and do so every 12 month with the OEM Honda DOT4 brake fluid. I believe it's mostly the lines going to the front power unit, as they are nicely located between the super hot exhaust headers and the engine block. Since i have started doing this, i have not had the ABS light come back on, on either of my two bikes. Plus the brakes have a much harder feel to them as a bonus.

FYI, i remove all fairings and then simply use an 8mm socket with two extensions to bleed the front power unit, rather than removing the radiator and exhaust headers. I then put a bit of tin foil over the headers and engine block to avoid the brake fluid touching it. At the end i simply wash everything down with some brake cleaner. The hardest part is removing all the fairings, after that the full bleeding procedure is pretty "simple"

Here is a quick video showing what the bleeding of the front power unit looks like

 

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Just as an FYI, i have purchased two 2009 CBR1000RA bikes in the last 2 years . . .
Excellent first post, Mr Swiss:wink. Welcome also!

Some owners have pulled their hair out over Honda's ABS, and more particularly the later C-ABS of the 2012 - 16 bikes. Given that Honda quotes about 4 hours for a 'full ABS bleed' you have done really well not only to do it yourself, but also to hit upon a regime that returns you trouble-free riding.

You quite rightly point out that the routing of the front brake lines is a design flaw.
 

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Dear sswiss3000,
thank you so much for sharing this hopeful and detailed message!! I am in the process of servicing the forks and the steering head bearings. So, all fairings are removed anyway and it is a good chance to go through the entire bleeding procedure too. I will let you know how it will go.
A friend of mine has told me that he bled the normal brake lines 4 to 5 times with some driving and braking after each bleeding, and that this has solved the problem for him. He claims that when you bleed the standard line and then you drive and use the breaks, the whole system circulates the brake fluid inside the power and valve units. So, when you do several consecutive times the process of standard line bleeding and driving/breaking, you achieve complete replacement of the brake fluid, which solved the issue of ABS flashing for him, without the need to do bleeding of the entire system. Do you have any experience whether this shortcut works?
Thanks,
Savvas
 

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Dear sswiss3000,
thank you so much for sharing this hopeful and detailed message!! I am in the process of servicing the forks and the steering head bearings. So, all fairings are removed anyway and it is a good chance to go through the entire bleeding procedure too. I will let you know how it will go.
A friend of mine has told me that he bled the normal brake lines 4 to 5 times with some driving and braking after each bleeding, and that this has solved the problem for him. He claims that when you bleed the standard line and then you drive and use the breaks, the whole system circulates the brake fluid inside the power and valve units. So, when you do several consecutive times the process of standard line bleeding and driving/breaking, you achieve complete replacement of the brake fluid, which solved the issue of ABS flashing for him, without the need to do bleeding of the entire system. Do you have any experience whether this shortcut works?
Thanks,
Savvas
Savvas,

While it does get out a bit more than just flushing the system once, it can not get out all of the old fluid and possible air. If you watch the below video, you can see that there is some fluid in the lines between the power units (front as well as rear) and the normal lines. This is also true for the input sensor lines in the valve units.

That being said, what ever fixes the issue is fine by me :). For me, if I already have the fairings off, I may as well do the full system flush and be sure that everything is bled and the system has all new fluid in it. With the simple instructions i found online and the little trick for the front power unit, the entire process is pretty manageable to me.


FYI, here are the instructions i use. You only have to do the two procedures that state "Power Unit, Valve Unit & Normal Lines". one for the rear and one for the front

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3ytel9ml9dcp94p/C-ABS%20Bleed%20Notes%20V8.pdf?dl=0
 

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Dear sswiss3000. In the video that you posted showing the bleeding of the power unit, you bleed the "motor unit" valve several times. So, I would like to ask, based on your experience, how many times should one bleed the "motor unit" valve, or each one of the "valve unit" valves, before proceeding to the bleeding of the next valve in the bleeding procedure?
Thanks,
Savvas
 
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