STOP STRONGER

Re­place your brake pads

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage -

1 Don’t use the force

With the caliper on the bike, undo brake pad re­tain­ing pins and fas­ten­ers hold­ing anti-rat­tle plates (where ap­pli­ca­ble). These of­ten seize thanks to heat, dirt and mois­ture, so de­cent tools and a care­ful ap­proach are es­sen­tial. An im­pact driver may be re­quired for stub­born bolts. Don’t force any­thing – get it wrong and the caliper is scrap. With ev­ery­thing loose, you can then re­move the caliper.

2 Now it’s time to come clean

Now re­move the brake pad re­tain­ing pins, clips and anti-rat­tle/ squeal plates – thin sliv­ers of metal or wire fit­ted to the pad back­ing, bolted to the caliper or wedged in un­der the pad. Clean them up with brake cleaner and a light abra­sive on heavy de­posits and cor­ro­sion. Re­place any miss­ing or dam­aged fit­tings, es­pe­cially any with chewed heads, which may not come out at all next time you try to re­move them.

3 What are the pads try­ing to tell you?

In­spect the old pads. They should wear more or less evenly – slightly thin­ner at the rear edge is nor­mal, but a large dif­fer­ence be­tween pads or lead­ing/trail­ing edges sig­ni­fies a prob­lem with the caliper or discs. Clean the caliper and pis­tons up – your nor­mal bike wash or soapy water and a tooth­brush should be fine for reg­u­lar dirt. Thick dirt or cor­ro­sion war­rants a full caliper strip.

4 Prep your pis­tons

On twin-disc front ends, loosely re­fit the old pads to one caliper and wedge some­thing solid be­tween them. Gen­tly pump the lever to push pis­tons out on the other caliper un­til 10-15mm is pro­trud­ing. Clean the pis­ton that’s show­ing, ap­ply a thin smear of red rub­ber grease or sil­i­cone lu­bri­cant to the pis­tons, and push them home. Re­peat the process on the other caliper.

5 Avoid disc dam­age

If you are chang­ing brand or type of brake pads, you must clean the disc of ‘trans­fer film’. Brake pads func­tion in part by de­posit­ing a film or ma­te­rial on the disc sur­face, so old ma­te­rial must be re­moved be­fore us­ing a new pad. Use a Scotchbrite pad and brake cleaner to clean the swept area. Wipe the disc with a clean cloth to re­move residue and de­bris.

6 Fit pads and plates

If you have anti-squeal plates fit­ted to the pads, en­sure they are clean. Some like putting cop­per grease on the back of brake pads to re­duce squeal, but a cor­rectly-as­sem­bled and cared-for brake should not re­quire this and it can at­tract dirt. Re­fit pad-re­tain­ing pins – if they screw in to the caliper, use cop­per grease spar­ingly on the thread, re­mov­ing ex­cess. Fit any se­cu­rity pins.

7 Re­fit caliper

Clean the caliper bolts and threads. Re­fit the caliper. En­sure one pad fits ei­ther side of the disc, and thread the re­tain­ing bolts in with your fin­gers. Don’t use grease or thread­locks – they af­fect torque wrench set­tings. Use a torque wrench to tighten fully. If you have re­moved any hose re­tain­ers or clips, re­fit them and en­sure hoses are cor­rectly routed with no twists or kinks.

8 Get pumped up

Re­peat­edly squeeze the lever un­til you have firm pres­sure. If you can raise the wheel off the floor, spin it and feel/lis­ten for brake drag­ging. New pads of­ten drag a lit­tle more, but it should spin at least half a turn with a firm hand if all is well. Op­pos­ing pads should have sim­i­lar clear­ance from the disc. Ex­cess or un­even pad con­tact war­rants fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

9 Scrub­bing in

A lit­tle pa­tience will en­sure longer, stronger and more con­sis­tent per­for­mance. Go for a ride, al­low­ing ex­tra space to traf­fic. Mod­er­ate – not light or heavy – brake use, with rea­son­able reg­u­lar­ity is a good way to trans­fer ma­te­rial. If you have to brake heav­ily, move away shortly after­wards to al­low the brakes to cool. The brakes will come up to full strength in 50-100 miles.

Take a sys­tem­atic ap­proach and you’ll be able to change pads at home

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