How To Change Motorcycle Brake Pads In 10 Minutes Or Less [+ Video]

David Welch
Written by
Last update:

What Tools You Need

You will need the following tools:

How To Change Motorcycle Brake Pads

You car needs a set of brake pads to slow down, and so should your motorcycle. When your brake pads run low on friction material, your motorcycle will brake more and more poorly, making it unsafe to ride.

Some of the most important things to remember about motorcycle brake pads are:

They need to be replaced annually about the same time as your motorcycle’s other annual maintenance.

Brake pads wear out fast when you brake in a hard and fast way. Brake gently and brake slowly when you can.

Always buy motorcycle brake pads from a reputable brand name seller, like sellers on eBay. When you do, you’ll be sure to get brake pads that fit and work right.

Now that you know how to replace motorcycle brake pads, let’s get to it. The following instructions are primarily for high performance sport bikes. Other bikes may have different procedures.

Before You Begin

Getting your motorcycle up on its center stand and putting down the kickstand are two ways to get it on a level surface to work on it. Remove your rear wheel, brake caliper and bracket. The brake caliper is the metal bracket that the brake pads are attached to.

Loosen The Wheel Studs And Remove Them

Problems You Might Come Across When Fitting New Brake Pads

Brake shoes: Both types of brake systems we spoke about earlier are operated by a device called a “brake shoe”. This is a cast iron or aluminium shoe which is attached to a brake shoe carrier. The principle of operation is based on a return spring and when an actuating arm pushes the shoes against the drum or disc this results in friction and then the slowing of the vehicle.

As time passes the linings wear down and need to be replaced.

The problem with metal shoes is that they can rust and so therefore if you have some surface rust present then it may be necessary to sand them back in order to remove the rust.

If the shoes are made from a material such as plastic or natural rubber, then the problem of rust will not be such an issue.

Wheel alignment: If you need to fit new brake shoes, the car is going to need to be brought back into square. This is because the wear on the pads tends to pull the wheels out of alignment and so it is always best to base your new shoes on an accurate and square wheel.

Wheel balance: If your wheels are unbalanced then these will dramatically affect the performance of the brake shoes. It will produce a similar effect to jamming them and so you can bet that this is not going to produce much force to slow the wheel down.

My Brake Pads Won’t Slot Over The Disc

Sometimes the brake pads won’t slot in evenly over the discs and it’s a real struggle to slot them on. I’ve managed to do it before, but it always takes me a while and a lot of swearing at the bike!

Remember that brake pads wear over time and because of that they are not always even. Make sure that you have some paper handy and compare the two pads. Sometimes I’ve got one that needs to be a couple of millimeters higher than its mate.

You can sort this out yourself a few ways:

Lift the bike a few inches (or use an old tyre lever to wedge under a pedal) and place a block of wood between the pads and wheel.

The Piston Won’t Go Back Into The Caliper

If the piston of the brake doesn’t slide back into the caliper smoothly, there are a few things you could try to make it return.

The first thing to check is the parking brake. If it’s set, the piston will be held in place until you release it.

With the handlebar turned, you should be able to turn the caliper so the parking brake is off. If it’s still stuck, try applying some penetrating oil. You can also use a lubricant like fork oil between the pad and the piston.

If that doesn’t work, you can try to get ahold of a shop technician so they can get the piston moving.


Before we start, let’s go over a few safety tips:

Work in a well-ventilated area. Warm brake fluid is acidic and can irritate your skin.

If you have not changed your own brake pads before, absorb as much of this tutorial as you can to familiarize yourself with the process. If there is a chance you will be working on a vehicle without brakes, have a professional do the job for you.

Remember: always wear safety glasses when working around vehicles, and be careful not to over-tighten the brake pad hold down bolt. It’s T-25 Torx head, not Phillips.

What’s Next?

Now that you know what the easiest way to change motorcycle brake pads is, how about we take a look at some of the others?

Well, most people use an impact wrench and a torque wrench. Use an appropriate socket to remove the bolts, and then place the special tool on the rotor.

Now that the cylinders are released from the caliper, all you have to do is the slide off the pads. You can use compressed air to do this.

Now you can install the new pads. Make sure that they’re not touching anything, or else they might be damaged during the ride.

Now you have to replace the cylinders. You can use a little grease to ease the process, but be careful not to apply too much.

When the pads have been replaced, you can do a little safety check. Take a look at the rotors to see if you’ve lost any bolts.

Then you can reinstall the caliper and push it onto the rotor until the caliper lines up with the mounting bolt holes of the bike.

Now that the calipers are on, you can install the retaining bolts. Don’t tighten them all the way up just yet. Most manufacturers say that you have to tighten the bolts evenly across the caliper. That will ensure that your brakes are working effectively.