Motorcycle brakes work similarly to thebrakes on a car or truck, in that they use friction to stop the wheels of thevehicle. What sets motorcycle brake systems apart from other vehicles is thatthe front and rear brakes usually operate completely independently from eachother. Front brakes are generally controlled by squeezing a hand lever, whilerear brakes are controlled using a more traditional foot pedal. In most cases,the front brakes are more powerful, but both front and rear brakes worktogether to safely stop a motorcycle. An individual’s own style of driving willhelp determine the type of rear brake pads to buy, as well as how often theyneed to be replaced. Brake pads can be replaced by most individuals in theirown driveways, and should not require any professional assistance to complete.
Reasons to Replace Brake Pads
Since a brake system works by creatingfriction, some wear and tear is definitely to be expected. The purpose of brakepads is to be a relatively cheap yet durable way to absorb the friction that iscreated, while protecting the rotors and other more expensive vehicle elements.Because of this, brake pads are disposable in nature and need to be replacedfairly regularly to keep a brake system in optimal condition.
Determine Rear Brake Pad Condition
Before replacing the rear brake pads on amotorcycle, an owner should ensure that the brake pads actually need to bereplaced. The most obvious sign of worn out brake pads is a metal on metalgrinding sound upon braking. This sound is caused when the brake pads areentirely worn out, and their metal backing scrapes against the motorcycle’srotor. Obviously, brake pads should be replaced before they get to this pointto avoid a costly rotor repair.
The best way to keep brakes in good shapeis by replacing brake pads before they start causing a serious issue. Checkingthe thickness of a brake pad is the best indicator of wear. Many brake padswill even have a built-in notch to show when the pad needs to be replaced. Whenbrake pads start looking too thin, it is best to replace them before they wearout entirely.
How to Replace Motorcycle Rear Brake Pads
Removing the old rear brake pads from amotorcycle is a quick job that anyone can do in their own driveway with alittle research. Instructions will vary slightly between different motorcycles,but the general steps are the same.
An optional step, before beginning toreplace the rear brake pads, is to put the motorcycle up on a stand. There arevarious types of stands that can support a motorcycle, including front stands,rear stands, and stands for the whole bike. Though a stand isn’t required, itmakes motorcycle maintenance much easier.
Step 1. Remove Brake Caliper
The first step is to remove the brakecaliper from the vehicle. Most motorcycles have two or more bolts that can beremoved with a socket wrench. Loosen these bolts and then slide the caliper offthe rotors.
Step 2. Release the Brake Pads
The brake pads are held into the caliper bya retaining pin that needs to be removed as well. This is usually done witheither a hex driver or Phillips screwdriver, depending on the model ofmotorcycle. Loosen the pin and pull it out, at which point the brake pads can beremoved.
Step 3. Clean the Pistons
Once the old brake pads are discarded, thebrake pistons should be cleaned using an aerosol brake cleaning spray. Thisremoves any dust and grit produced from the old brake pads. Once the pistonsare clean, push them back down into place. Be sure to push down both pistons atthe same time, using even pressure. Pushing in only one piston at a time willcause the other piston to pop out, and brake fluid will spill out.
Step 4. Insert the New Brake Pads
When the pistons are pushed back intoplace, the new brake pads can be installed. They simply need to be slid backinto the caliper. Be sure to align the brake pad mounting holes with the holesin the caliper. Re-insert the retaining pin through the caliper and tighten itto secure the brake pads in place. Then, separate the two brake pads by simplypushing them apart from each other. This creates the gap that fits over therotor.
Step 5. Re-attach the Caliper
Finally, slide the caliper back onto thebrake rotor and tighten all the bolts. Once everything is firmly tightened, therear brake pedal should be pumped several times to build up hydraulic pressure.Once this pressure is built up, the new brake pads are ready for use.
Tools and Materials for Replacing RearBrake Pads
Replacing a motorcycle’s rear brake padsrequires a minimal amount of tools and supplies that can be easily acquired byeven the most amateur riders. Chances are, many of these tools are alreadyowned by most motorcycle drivers, and if not, a quick trip to any hardwarestore should provide everything needed.