<SNIPPED STUFF> By going soft I mean I come into the garage after the bike has sat overnight or longer and I can sometimes pull the lever to the bars with a good squeeze. 3 or 4 pumps later and the lever stops maybe 1/2 of it's travel from the bar like it's supposed to.<SNIPPED STUFF>
Well, that's not good at all! I'd be afraid to ride the bike if I had to pump the lever several times to build up pressure in the system initially. Here are some thoughts:
If your brakes are spongy and soft or require several pulls of the lever to build pressure, here are the most common problems to look for:
• Air in the Lines
: This is the #1
most common cause for having to pump your brakes to get them to work.
• Low Brake Fluid
: If your brake fluid is low, then the system will be unable to create enough pressure for normal operation. Generally, low fluid is caused by a leak somewhere in the system.
• Failing Master Cylinder
: This is rare but it can happen. If the master cylinder has begun leaking, brake performance will degrade, creating a safety issue.
• Moisture in the Fluid
: If your brake fluid has absorbed moisture (which happens over time), brake performance will be degraded, even to the point you will need to pull on the brake lever a time or two to get adequate pressure in the lines.
• Damaged or Missing Bleeder Valve
: Each caliper has a brake fluid bleeder valve. If one is loose or damaged, fluid can be leaking out and air can be sneaking in.
Bleeding brakes is a pain. And you are right - with three years on a new bike, even though the fluid SHOULD be flushed, you shouldn't be having THESE problems.
A quick thing to try would be to get some BRAKE CLEANER (spray can) and zip tie your brake lever tight while you spray the crap out of the exposed pistons (behind the pads) on both calipers. It could be debris built up or something trapped that's affecting the normal function of the pads moving in and out freely. It might work. If nothing else, you have cleaned up your brakes and that's never bad.
If that doesn't work, then I think you need to at least "burp" each bleeder. Get brake pressure (firm'ish lever pull), open a bleeder valve enough to let some fluid (air?) out, then close it again before releasing the lever. Do the left caliper first, then the right, then the one up by the master cylinder last. WASH ANY BRAKE FLUID OFF THE BIKE AS SOON AS YOU ARE DONE!
Again, this isn't a full bleed job, BUT it might get an air bubble out that's causing your problem and you probably won't even 'lose' enough fluid to require topping off the master cylinder, so it's quick and easy to try.
If that doesn't do it, you are going to have to do a full bleed job and get out all the old fluid. It's a PIA, I know. But what else are you going to do? You can't ride the bike the way it is. Sooner or later, it's going to lead to a crash. NOT WORTH IT.
Keep us posted. Sorry you are having to deal with this.