This month I am focusing on inspecting and replacing the brake pads fitted to the front and rear of your machine.
Almost all modern day bikes are fitted with brake discs and pads. Only really old machines have rear drum braking systems. Drum brakes were phased out in the eighties due to their low stopping performance.
Some riders get really stressed about touching brakes on their bikes and often feel that inspecting/replacing the pads is a complicated task that requires a vast amount of specialist tools.
Well it isn’t and it doesn’t. All you need to do is follow these simple steps and once completed, you will be able to stop on a sixpence.
On an average sized machine that does standard road riding, brake pads should last on average 10000 miles. There are literally dozens of brake pad manufactures out there each offering fantastic stopping ability, durability and/or low price. Take it from me like most serviceable parts on cars and bikes; you cannot beat dealer parts for value, quality and peace of mind. If you ride a Honda then use Honda parts, if you ride a Suzuki then by a Honda (only joking Del!).
Brake Pad Inspection
Using a torch, look between the brake disc and the brake calliper. You will then see the metal backing of the brake pads, if the friction material attached to the metal backing appears to be 5mm or less then the pads need replacing.
The front pads can be checked by looking from the ground upwards and the rear pads can be inspected by looking into the calliper from the back of your bike. Whilst inspecting the brake pads, have a look at the brake discs. Run your thumb and forefinger in a pinching grip across both surfaces of the discs. If you feel any ridges on the twin surfaces then the discs need replacing. If this is the case, you possibly need to visit your dealer because both the front and rear wheels need to be removed.
Brake Pad Replacement
Firstly wear gloves and a face mask because brake dust is poisonous and possibly contains asbestos.
To allow for the increased friction material on the new pads, push the calliper against the disc so that the pistons are retracted into the calliper. Note, make sure excess brake fluid does not seep out of the fluid reservoir over the paintwork of your bike. If it does, rinse with clean water straight away to neutralise the fluid.
Unscrew any pad retaining pin plugs that maybe present and withdraw the retaining pins that secure the pads to the calliper. The brake pads should be loose enough to pull out with just your fingers. Once removed you can now double check on the condition of the friction material. If it appears less than 5mm then new pads must be fitted.
Whilst the pads are out it is worth cleaning the brake calliper with a quality brake cleaner. The cleaner evaporates quickly so there is no need to dry the calliper.
Get a piece of Emery cloth or a wire brush and then deglaze the surfaces of the brake discs. Through wear and heat the surfaces of the discs become shiny and braking efficiency is lost.
Focusing on the new brake pads, apply Copper Slip/ease on the rear metal backing plates and metal edges of the pads whilst ensuring the friction material is not touched. The Copper Slip stops that irritating squeal that you often hear on cars and bikes when the brakes are applied and makes replacing the pads in the future, easier.
Smear Copper Slip on the surfaces of the retaining pins to eliminate brake seizure.
Fit the new pads into the callipers followed by the greased pins, obviously ensuring the friction material side of the pads face the disc.
Refit the retaining pin plugs if there are any and then operate the brake lever/pedal to take up the gap and stop when pressure is felt in the braking system.
Replacing all six pads on your machine should take no longer than 30 minutes. Just remember that the brakes will feel spongy for the first 20 or so miles until the new friction material beds into the brake discs.