How to replace your own motorcycle brake pads

It’s just common sense that badly worn out brakes can put your own and other people’s lives in great danger. And let’s face it: like all other motorcycle parts, brake pads can’t last forever and worn out brake pads will damage the discs – which can cause much more expensive repairs than replacing brake pads. Fortunately, it only takes a few seconds to check the condition of your brake pads and replacing them yourself is fairly simple and definitely cheaper than using a mechanic.

How to know if your brake pads need to be replaced

The majority of brake pads come with a wear indicator groove. This is either cut or moulded into the surface, so you don’t really need any mechanical skills to check. If the pad is so worn that you no longer can see the groove, or the pad thickness is down to 2mm or less, it should be replaced.

Tools you will need

You need decent sockets, spanners or Allen keys of the right size to use on the caliper retaining bolts. A large flat-headed screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a torque wrench, a few bungee cords, a rag, some brake cleaner, copper grease, and of course brake fluid.

The new brake pads

The majority of modern-day motorcycles come with two front disk brakes. Purchase new pads for both calipers from a reliable motorcycle parts shop. Sintered brake pads (which have metal embedded into them) normally provide superior braking. Brake pads that have a ceramic backing are specially made to prevent heat from entering the brake fluid.

Replacing the old pads

Loosen any screws and/or pins which hold the pads into the caliper before removing the caliper itself from the bike. Do not completely remove the pins yet.

Loosen the caliper retaining bolts and then remove them, but don’t let allow the caliper to hang on its brake hose, rather use a bungee cord to tie it up. Do not disconnect the brake hose unless you crave to bleed the system.

Next use pliers to remove any clips or pins with which the old brake pads might be fixed to the inside of the caliper. Now pull out the old pads and make sure you bought the right pads before proceeding! Store every part you remove because you will need them when fitting the new pads.

Now use the front brake lever to slightly move the pistons from their bores, but don’t pump the lever – that will force out the pistons too far. Next clean the caliper, the cap and the rubber diaphragm. Now firmly push the pistons back into the caliper and make sure the fluid reservoir doesn’t overflow.

To help prevent brake squeal rub copper grease on the back of the pads. Clean the pines and put the pads in place before replacing pins/clips. Make sure the friction side faces the disc and then replace all the bits you removed earlier and ensure they are in the exact same position you removed them from.

Next the caliper should go over the brake disc and you have to fasten the caliper bolts to the correct torque.

To adjust the pistons to the new pads pump the brake lever a few times until it pulls back the correct amount. Finally top up the brake fluid and replace the cap and rubber diaphragm.

Finally, try to go easy on your new brake pads for the first hour or two to enable them to bed in.