​How Do I Replace Bike Brake Pads

How Do I Replace Bike Brake Pads

You’re out on your weekly weekend ride to see how many more speed records you can break (at least in your own mind) while flying down the largest hill you can find.

You love this hill because of the feeling of speed you get as you rocket downwards never thinking about the unheard of possibility of not being able to stop at the bottom. Your brakes have always worked so why shouldn’t they now?

Luckily, your brakes do work the majority of the time but a simple cycle maintenance program will help ensure that they always do. Let’s discuss bicycle brakes and specifically the answer to how do I replace bike brake pads.

Discover why bike repair and maintenance is now one of my passions by reading my story on the Where It All Began page.

Types of Brakes

There are basically 2 classes of brakes found on most bikes (see pictures below). You have your Hub brakes (e.g. disc brakes) and you have your Rim brakes. Let’s discuss the more popular of the 2; Rim brakes. If you are interested in bike disc brakes, see this neat tip on how to fix them here.

Rim brakes are so named because all of the braking action occurs as a result of the rubber brake pads gripping onto the rim of your wheel. As the pads grip, they start to slow you down. There are typically 2 types of rim brakes found on most bicycles which are pictured below; Side pulls and Cantilever.

The main difference between the two is where the brake cable pulls from, which in turn affects the braking action (side pull brakes obviously have the cable pulled from the side whereas cantilever brakes are pulled from the middle). The one thing that both of these types of brakes have in common though is their rubber brake pads. When you pull on your brake lever, the lever which is attached to a cable then actuates your rubber brake pads against your metal rim. Each time you do this though, a minor amount of rubber is lost.

Over time, you will eventually get to the point where there is no longer enough rubber on your pad to safely stop both you and your bike. Your cycle maintenance program will help you notice this before your brakes become too warn. It is much better to replace them early than to be too late.

Signs That Your Pads Need Replacement

There are a few different ways to determine whether your bike needs new brake pads or not. If you are hearing what sounds like metal on metal when you brake, then there is a pretty good chance that your pads have been worn down completely (take a look). Another thing to look for when you are examining your bicycle’s brake pads is that you should see grooves (usually running up and down) along the pad’s length.

These grooves are there to help your pads dissipate some of the heat that they generate during the braking action (it can get really hot down there if you are constantly using your brakes). If you can no longer see the grooves then your pads are ready to be changed out.

Let’s assume that upon further inspection, you can see that your pads are almost worn down to the metal. It’s time to change them out.

How Do I Replace Bike Brake Pads – This is How!

Changing your own brake pads is a relatively simple task to do.  All you need to do is to loosen the set screw (see picture below) on each pad (some pads have hex bolts instead though but removal is similar to the screw type). With the screws loose, the pad should just slide right out. Once it has been removed, you can replace the worn one with a brand new one that you purchased from your local bike shop. With the pad in place you can re-tighten the set screw and you are back in action.

​It’s as Easy as That!

​Congratulations, you’ve now answered the common question of how do I replace bike brake pads and have effectively implemented one area of a cycle maintenance program. To make your brakes last even longer, try to keep them free of mud, dirt and debris whenever possible. A simple wipe down after your ride will go a long way to keeping them in excellent working order.

It’s as Easy as That!
Robert Flaherty

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