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How to change your motorbike’s front brake pads

About the author

Rob Keenan is the interim digital editor of Haynes.com
He runs a Mk2 Ford Focus ST and an ageing Mercedes SLK55
Find him on Twitter @zorba_t_greek

motorbike front brake pads

Wondering how to change your motorbike's brake pads? It doesn't matter if your bike uses sintered, semi-sintered, organic or ceramic composite pads, your Haynes or Clymer Manual will guide you through the renewal process.

Motorcycle brake pads operate in the same way as a car's pads: when the rider pulls on the brake lever the pads are pressed against the brake discs by the action of hydraulic fluid which forces the pistons in the brake caliper outwards.

When to replace motorbike brake pads?

Brake pads should be inspected at regular intervals. Most pads have a wear indicator that'll show when it's time to change them, but if not we recommend changing them when the friction material is down to 2mm.

You should never skimp on a bike's brake pads when renewing them. Buy the best you can afford for maximum braking efficiency and peace of mind. 

The actual replacement procedure is more straightforward than that on a car because you won't need to remove the front wheel – you simply take off the caliper and work on that. The video below will guide you through the process on a typical bike.

For full step-by-step information for your motorcycle, find your manual here.

How much do motorcycle brake pads cost?

Typically, non-sintered pads cost £20-35 per pair, sintered are £30-70. High-performance pads for racing can cost hundreds.

Replace your bike’s front brake pads with this video

Renewing your motorcycle’s brake pads

Here's a summary of the job:

  1. Loosen but don't remove the pad-retaining pins.
  2. Undo the bolts retaining the caliper and support the caliper with a bungee cord to avoid straining the brake hose.
  3. Remove the pad-retaining pins loosened earlier and any clips holding the pads in place. Don't discard them.
  4. Remove the pads and discard after checking they match the new pads.
  5. Clean the calipers using brake cleaner with a small brush. Clean and remove the brake fluid reservoir lid.
  6. Press the pistons back into the caliper, checking the brake fluid in the reservoir doesn't overflow.
  7. Apply copper grease to the back of the new pads and pins, and fit the new pads into the caliper, refitting any clips/shims.
  8. Refit the caliper, applying copper grease to the non-thread parts of the bolts. Tighten the bolts with a torque wrench.
  9. Repeat for the other brake disc, if applicable.
  10. Squeeze the brake lever until normal brake pressure is restored. Top up the brake fluid with the same-spec fluid. Replace the lid.