Revamp Your Road Bike Braking: How to Change Brake Pads!

To change brake pads on a road bike, follow these steps: remove the old pads, clean and prepare the brakes, insert the new pads, and adjust them as needed. When it comes to road biking, safety is of utmost importance.

One aspect of this is having fully functioning brakes, and knowing how to change the brake pads can come in handy. While it may seem daunting at first, the process is actually quite straightforward. By following a few simple steps, you can swap out old brake pads for new ones.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of changing brake pads on a road bike in a concise and easy-to-understand manner.

Revamp Your Road Bike Braking: How to Change Brake Pads!


Understanding Road Bike Brake Pads

Road bike brake pads serve as essential components of a road bike’s braking system. A good-quality brake pad can make the difference between comfortably controlling your bike and putting your safety at risk. So, understanding the types of brake pads, how to identify when they need replacing, and how to handle them safely is crucial for any road bike owner.

Types Of Road Bike Brake Pads And Their Differences

Several types of road bike brake pads are available in the market today, but the most common types are:

  • Rim brake pads: These pads attach to the rim of the wheel and can either be made of rubber or cork. They are further categorized into:
  • Rubber brake pads: More common and known for their durability, rubber brake pads are an excellent choice for road bikes.
  • Cork brake pads: These pads offer faster stopping power and are perfect for wet conditions.
  • Disc brake pads: These pads attach to a rotor and provide more significant stopping power than rim brake pads. Disc brake pads come in different types, and the most common ones are:
  • Sintered pads: Made of metallic particles fused with a binding agent, sintered pads are known for their durability and heat resistance. They are the best choice for downhill bikers and wet riding conditions.
  • Organic pads: These are softer and quieter than sintered pads, but they offer less stopping power and wear out quickly.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Each Type Of Brake Pad

Different types of brake pads provide different levels of stopping power, durability, noise and wear. Here’s a breakdown of their pros and cons:

Rim Brake Pads

  • Rubber brake pads:
  • Advantages: Durable, excellent wet-weather performance, reduced heat buildup, and low noise.
  • Disadvantages: Less stopping power than rim brake pads, and they wear out relatively quickly.
  • Cork brake pads:
  • Advantages: Fast stopping power, particularly in wet weather.
  • Disadvantages: Not as durable as rubber brake pads.

Disc Brake Pads

  • Sintered pads:
  • Advantages: Long-lasting, offer excellent performance in wet weather, and provide the highest stopping power.
  • Disadvantages: Noisier than organic pads, more expensive, and generate more heat, which can damage rotors.
  • Organic pads:
  • Advantages: Quieter; produce less dust than sintered pads and generate relatively little heat, making them suitable for any weather.
  • Disadvantages: Wear out quickly, and generate significantly less stopping power than sintered pads.

How To Identify When Your Brake Pads Need Changing

As a rule of thumb, you should replace your brake pads once they reach their minimum thickness. Most brake pads have grooves or lines at their bottom to show minimum thickness levels. Some signs that your brake pads need replacing are:

  • Squeaking or a grinding noise when you brake
  • Less effective stopping power
  • Visible metal or uneven wear on brake pads
  • Brake pads are less than 1.5mm thick.

Safety Considerations When Handling Brake Pads

When handling any type of brake pad, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some tips to keep you safe while handling brake pads:

  • Always wear gloves while handling brake pads. The grease and dirt on your hands can contaminate the pads.
  • If you use brake cleaner, cover your eyes with a pair of glasses, and make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.
  • When installing brake pads, check that the brake caliper is working correctly.
  • Always inspect your bike’s brake system and make sure it’s working correctly before riding.

Road bike brake pads are essential components of the bike’s braking system, and maintaining them in good condition is essential for the bike’s overall safety. Knowing the types of brake pads, their differences, advantages and disadvantages, how to identify when they need changing, and safe handling best practices is crucial for every road bike owner.

Steps To Change Your Road Bike Brake Pads

Pre-Requisites For Changing Brake Pads

Before you start changing your road bike brake pads, you need to ensure certain pre-requisites to avoid any mishap. These are:

  • Clean work-space: Ensure that you have a clean, flat, and well-lit work-space. It will help you to focus and avoid any damage to your bike or yourself.
  • The right brake pads: Different road bikes use different brake pads. So be sure to buy the appropriate ones for your bike before you start the work.
  • Tighten bolts: Check whether all the bolts of your bike are tightly positioned before you begin with the work.
  • Time: Give yourself ample time to do the work as it might take a while if you are new to this.

Tools Required To Change Brake Pads

For changing the brake pads, you need some tools at hand. These tools include:

  • Allen wrench: Your road bike is held together by various allen bolts, so you’ll need a set of allen wrenches to loosen the bolts.
  • Screwdriver: A flathead screwdriver will come handy in prying the old brake pad out of the brake calliper.
  • Lubricant: You might need some lubricant to lubricate the brake assembly.
  • Rags: Keep rags or clean cloths handy to clean any dirt or dust that accumulates during the work.

Step-By-Step Instructions To Change Your Brake Pads

Follow these step-by-step instructions to change your road bike brake pads:

  • Identify the brake type: Before you begin changing the brake pads, first, identify the type of brake you have on your bike. The two common types of brakes in road bikes are the caliper brakes and disc brakes.
  • Remove the wheel: Using the allen wrench, remove the wheel from the bike. Do not forget to release the brake cable or be careful not to damage it.
  • Remove the brake pad: Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the brake pad from the caliper.
  • Insert the new brake pad: Insert the new brake pad into the caliper and make sure it fits snugly.
  • Tighten the bolts: Tighten the bolts holding the brake pad in place.
  • Lubricate the brake assembly: Apply some lubricant to the brake assembly to ensure smooth operation.
  • Reattach the wheel: After the new brake pads are installed, carefully place the wheel back onto the bike and tighten the bolts.
  • Test your brakes: Before taking off for a ride, ensure that your brakes are working properly. Pull the brake lever, and if the brakes engage smoothly, you’re good to go.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Changing Brake Pads

While changing your road bike’s brake pads, keep the following common mistakes in mind to avoid them:

  • Forgetting to release the brake cable before removing the brake pad.
  • Installing the wrong brake pads designed for a different type of brake system.
  • Over-tightening the brake pads can cause louder braking and shorter pad life.
  • Forgetting to lubricate the brake assembly can cause squeaky brake operation.
  • Not tightening the wheel bolts can be dangerous and might cause severe damage.

By following the above steps to change your road bike brake pads and avoiding the common mistakes, you can save money and have a safer riding experience.

How To Maintain Your Road Bike Brake Pads

Importance Of Maintaining Brake Pads

Your road bike’s brake pads are a crucial component that keeps you safe while cycling. Keeping your brake pads in excellent condition is essential to ensure that your bike slows down or stops when you need it to. Therefore, it’s vital to maintain the quality of your brake pads.

Here are a few reasons why you should maintain your brake pads:

  • Prevents accidents: Worn-out brake pads can immediately fail, which could lead to accidents on the road.
  • Saves money: Buying new brake pads is less costly than having to repair your bike or replacing other components due to poor brake pad maintenance.
  • Improves performance: Frequent brake pad maintenance can help to increase the performance of your bike’s stopping power.

Tips For Maintaining Your Brake Pads

Maintaining your bike’s brake pads isn’t a challenging task if you follow these tips:

  • Clean your brake pads after every ride using rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth to remove any dirt, debris, or oil from the road.
  • Regularly check the pads for wear in the pad’s center and sides, replacing them when they become too thin.
  • Position the pads on your bike directly in line with the rim, ensuring that they make contact without rubbing or squeaking when applied.
  • Keep the braking surface flat and even. Any bumped marks or rough spots on the braking surface can cause the brake pads to wear down more quickly.

How Often To Check Brake Pads And When To Change Them

It’s recommended that you check your brake pads after every 100 miles of cycling. However, it’s essential to inspect them occasionally, especially if you frequently ride in a hilly or wet area. Knowing when to change your brake pads is essential, as neglecting to do so can lead to accidents.

The following signs indicate that it’s time to replace your brake pads:

  • Your bike takes more time to stop than usual
  • You hear a high-pitched squeaking sound while braking
  • Your brake pads have become too thin, with less than a 1/4 inch of rubber remaining

How To Prolong The Lifespan Of Your Brake Pads

You can extend the lifespan of your bike’s brake pads if you follow these essential tips:

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning products when cleaning your bike.
  • Don’t ride your bike in wet road conditions.
  • Use your brakes evenly to prevent overusing one side of the brake pad.
  • Try to brake gradually, using a light brake instead of squeezing the brakes hard all at once.

Maintaining your road bike’s brake pads is crucial to ensure your safety. Follow these tips to keep your brake pads in excellent condition and increase your bike’s performance. Remember to check your brake pads after every ride, avoid harsh chemicals, ride under good weather conditions, and brake gradually to avoid overuse of one side of the pad.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Change Brake Pads On A Road Bike

What Tools Do I Need To Change Brake Pads On A Road Bike?

To change the brake pads on a road bike, you will need a set of allen keys, a brake pad spreader, a pair of pliers, and a clean rag.

How Often Should I Change My Road Bike’S Brake Pads?

It is recommended to change your road bike’s brake pads every 1,000 to 3,000 miles, depending on how frequently you ride and the condition of your brake pads.

How Do I Know When It’S Time To Change My Road Bike’S Brake Pads?

You can tell it’s time to change your road bike’s brake pads if you hear a screeching noise when braking, if your brakes don’t respond as well as they used to, or if the rubber on the pads is worn down.

Can I Change My Road Bike’S Brake Pads Myself, Or Do I Need A Professional?

With the right tools and knowledge, it is possible to change your road bike’s brake pads yourself. However, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the task, it is best to seek the help of a professional bike mechanic.


The art of changing brake pads on a road bike may seem intimidating at first, but with practice and patience, it can become a routine task. The key is to take your time, have the right tools and follow each step carefully.

Always prioritize safety, as faulty braking systems can cause accidents. Knowing when to change your brake pads is essential to maintaining your bike’s performance. Regular inspections and maintenance will not only ensure your safety but also prolong the life of your bike.

With this guide’s help, you are now fully equipped to change your brake pads like a pro. Don’t forget to share this knowledge with fellow cyclists to enhance their biking experience. Happy cycling!

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