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How to Replace Bike Brake Pads

Riding a bike can be a healthy alternative to running, and doesn't require a membership to gym facilities like swimming sometimes can. It's also a reliable form of transportation and can save you money on gas, especially for trips right around the corner. However, riding a bike can be dangerous when sharing the road with cars. Making sure that your bike's brakes are fully functional can help you avoid serious injury from an accident. Knowing how to replace your brake pads can save money you'd otherwise spend at a bike shop, and ensure you'll have a safe ride.

Cartridge Pads

  1. Disconnect the brake cables from the brakes.

  2. Remove the pull pin or Allen bolt and pull the old pad out.

  3. Install the new cartridge pad and place the pin or Allen bolt back in its position. The cartridge pads are locked into their position by default so there won't be any need for fine adjustments.

Bolt In Pads

  1. Loosen or remove the bolt in the center of the pad with the adjustable wrench.

  2. Insert the new pad and align the pad with the tire rim so that it strikes the tire squarely when you apply the brake. To get this adjustment right, you may have to tinker with the washers or spacers on the bolt.

  3. Adjust the brake's toe-in. To do this, angle the pads to create about a .5 mm gap between the back of the brake pads while the front edges touch the tire. Use a small piece of cardboard to place between the back pads and the tire during alignment to ensure that the gap is set.


    Cartridge brake pads are the easiest to install, and do not require any adjustment for the toe-in as the alignment never changes.

    If your bike has a different braking mechanism than these, consider bringing the bike to an experienced mechanic as tampering with more complex braking systems could damage your bike.

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Things Needed

  • Allen wrench
  • Adjustable wrench

About the Author

Bryan Lutz began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published in his collegiate newspaper, "The Signal," as well as various literary magazines. Lutz holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative/professional writing from The College of New Jersey.

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