How To Change Bike Brake Pads In 5 Steps


A consumable part of your bike, brake pads will wear out with time. For you to be safe on your favorite biking trails, you have to ensure that the brake pads are in good condition – this is the only way you can eliminate longer response times and improve your bike control. 

While replacing bike brake pads might seem daunting, with the right instructions, it is cheap, simple, and quick to do at home. In this guide, we will show you how to change brake pads bike. 

A 5-Step Guide on How to Change Brake Pads Bike

This guide will take you through the process of replacing bike brake pads for both rim and disc brakes. For this reason, the majority of the steps will be divided into two – for disc brakes and rim brakes: 

1. Gather the Necessary Tools 

To change your MTB brake pads, you will need several tools. These will include: 

  • Hex wrench (usually 3 mm)
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers 
  • Flashlight
  • Piston press
  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • Clean rag
  • Clean gloves 
  • Fine-grip sandpaper

2. Remove the Wheel

For Disc Brakes 

Open and unthread the bike’s thru-axle and then slide it out of its hub. Next, lower the MTB wheel out of the mountain bike dropouts. 

For Rim Brakes 

For rear wheels, shift the bike gears to the smallest cog – this will make it much easier for the road bike wheel to slip past the rear derailleur cage when removing and re-installing it. Next, open the quick-release skewer. Jiggle the wheel a bit to remove it. For the front wheel, unthread the skewer nut located opposite the lever just enough to get the bike wheel out of the dropouts. 

3. Remove the Used Pads 

For Disc Brakes 

Using your pliers, carefully remove the circlip or pin on your disc brakes. Next, slide the bolt or unthread the screw and remove it.

After removing the screw or pin, carefully grab the small tabs available on the back of the pads using the pliers. Spring the pads out of the caliper and then set them aside. 

For Rim Brakes 

On the side of the brake shoe, look for a small set screw. Unthread it, but do not remove it entirely. Instead, back it out enough so that you can wiggle the pad in the brake shoe. 

If you are working on a bike featuring an older system, it may have a pin that you need to pull out. If you can’t find a screw or a pin, the pad will just slide out. 

Once your bike’s set screw is backed out enough to allow the brake pad to move, push the brake pad out of the shoe gently. The brake pads always remove towards the back of the bike. 

4. Inspect and Clean Your Brakes 

For Disc Brakes 

Before replacing bike brake pads, you should inspect your brakes. If they are dirty, you will need to clean them. 

Using your flashlight, inspect the inside of your brake caliper. You should see 2 – and in some cases 4 – flattish cylinders inside. These are the brake pistons, which move your brake pads back and forth. 

Disc brakes self-adjust to take care of the pad wear, so you may need to re-seat the pistons. With your piston press, carefully press each piston back into the brake caliper body. If the pistons are extremely dirty or they are sticky and they are failing to re-seat properly, you may need to bleed the brake system and clean the pistons. 

Using rubbing alcohol and a clean rag, wipe down both brake tracks on your disc rotor. Avoid touching the brake track on your rotor with bare hands since the skin oils can contaminate the brake system. This is also an ideal time to check your center attachment ring or rotor bolts to ensure tightness – if they are loose, be sure to tighten the brake components.

For Rim Brakes 

Inspect the brake track on your wheel rim. Grooves and gouges are indicators of foreign materials in the pad. Replacing bike brake pads should solve this, but you can also use the rubbing alcohol and clean rag to wipe down the rim. 

If your road bike or commuter bike has carbon fiber wheels, be sure to pay close attention to damage like deep gouges, split carbon fibers, or other signs that indicate possible structural damage to the carbon. Take your wheel to a repair shop for further inspection if you are concerned. 

On metal rims, use fine-grip sandpaper to sand out the deposits from your rim, then use rubbing alcohol and a clean rag to wipe it clean. This should improve braking power. 

5. Replace the Pads 

For Disc Brakes 

This is the most important step on how to change brake pads bike. Wear your gloves to keep the skin oils from contaminating the brake pads. Unpack your new brake pads and if applicable, their spring. 

Slide your brake pads into the brake caliper. You should feel them seat in place. Replace the retention bolt or screw and if applicable, the fixing pin. 

Once the pads are in place, re-install the wheel. Next, test your new brake pads by squeezing the brake lever on your road bike handlebar while spinning the wheel.

If the pads are too close, you will hear them brushing the rotor and you won’t have much lever through before your brake engages. If this happens, the next step on how to change brake pads bike is to remove the wheel and then insert the flat-blade screwdriver in the brake caliper between the pads. Carefully press each brake pad back into the caliper body to reseat its pistons. Then, re-install the wheel. 

For Rim Brakes 

Locate the brake direction indicators on the top of your brake pads – you should see the rights and lefts. Slide your brake pad gently into the brake shoe. As it gets deeper in the shoe, extra force may be needed to sit it fully. Thread the set screw back in to anchor your brake pad in place.

Once the pads are in place, re-install the wheel and close the quick-release on the brake caliper to bring the brake pads closer to the rim. Check to make sure that the brake shoe is properly positioned. If the lever feels too loose or too tight, adjust the brake cable tension at the cable fixing bolt available on the brake caliper. 



Q: How Do I Know If My Bike Brakes Need Replacing?


For disc brakes, check brake pads by removing the wheel and looking into space where your rotor spins - If the pads are less than 3 mm thick including their metal holder, you need to replace them. You will need to replace the rim brake pads as soon as the tread pattern on them disappears.

Q: How Often Should You Change Your Bike Brake Pads?


It is recommended that you check your brake pads every 500 miles or once per month – whichever comes fast. If the rim brake pads don’t have their treads or the disc brake pads are worn down to below 3mm including their metal holder, you need to change them.

Q: Are Bike Brake Pads Universal?


On the whole, bike brake pads are universal. However, their main difference is the compound the brake pads are made of. Some will feature hard metallic compounds while others are made of soft non-metallic compounds. There also some small variations in the diameter and size of the pads – however, these don’t make a significant difference in most cases.

Globo Surf Overview 

If your bike is taking too long to stop once you pull the brake levers, chances are, your brake pads are worn out. Replacing bike brake pads can improve the braking power, giving you improved control over your bike. This article shows you how to change brake pads bike. With the steps above, you should be able to change the pads at home.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!