Tech: How To Replace Motorcycle Brake Pads

Restore your stopping power in six easy steps.

how to replace brake pads
Once the pads are worn down to within 1mm of the backing plate (check your bike’s service manual for an exact figure), it’s time to replace them.©Motorcyclist

Brakes are easy to maintain, and keeping them in good working order is of the utmost importance. Keep your brake fluid topped up and inspect your brake pads regularly. Once they are worn down to within 1mm of the backing plate (check your bike's service manual for an exact figure), it's time to replace them. Here's how:

1 // With the caliper in place, loosen the pad retention hardware. Then unbolt the caliper and remove the old brake pads, noting their orientation and the placement of any spring plates or spacers.©Motorcyclist
motorcycle brake repair
2 // If the caliper and pistons are grimy, clean them with a soft toothbrush and soapy water. Allow the parts to air dry and then check the pistons for rust or pitting, and inspect the seals for damage.©Motorcyclist
3 // Remove the reservoir cap and carefully press the pistons back into the caliper body by hand. The reservoir will fill as you press in the pistons, so wick off excess fluid with a paper towel or draw it off with a syringe so it doesn’t overflow.©Motorcyclist
brake pad tips
4 // With the caliper still off, dress the rotor(s) with a red Scotch-Brite pad and brake cleaner followed by a clean rag. The idea here is to remove any grime and glazing so the new pads have a clean surface to bed into. Don’t skip this step!©Motorcyclist
5 // Install the new pads in the caliper then reattach the caliper and torque all fasteners according to the owner’s or service manual. Pump the brake lever and check the brake fluid level. Now would be a great time to bleed your brakes, but otherwise reinstall the reservoir cap.©Motorcyclist
Installing new brake pads
6 // Bed your new pads in with several dozen stops from successively higher speeds, and remember that it might be several hundred miles before your new pads are completely mated to the disc(s).©Motorcyclist