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Changing motorcycle brake pads is one job that you can tackle yourself. You need some basic tools and some patience, but it should not take more than a few hours. The main thing to get right is the choice of brake pads.
It is important that you choose pads that will suit your calipers, your motorcycle, and your riding style. The brake pads you need for a racing bikes are not the same as for street riding. They are made of different materials and have different advantages and disadvantages. To help you make the choice of the best motorcycle brake pads for your bike, we have prepared this quick guide.
The Best Motorcycle Brake Pad
These EBC motorcycle brake pads are from a manufacturer that supplies consumers the largest range of motorcycle brake shoes. They are made using high-pressure die cast aluminum platforms. The brake linings are bonded.
Every shoe will have been both edge trimmed and radius ground. They have chamfers that are lead in and lead out at the lining ends and contain no asbestos. They are supplied with original style brake shoe springs.
Made using high pressure die cast aluminum platforms
Edge trimmed and radius ground
Original style brake shoe springs
- BrandEBC Brakes
- Weight8 ounces
Manufactured in the United States, these motorcycle brake pads are made from a matrix containing carbon and aramid fiber as well as non-ferrous metal. They must be used on steel rotors and have been softened slightly to make sure that they will last you for many miles.
These brake pads provide excellent protection for polished rotors and are quiet. They produce very little dust and are up to 30 percent cooler and half the weight of sintered pads. They have excellent stopping performance and are just right for common street use.
Manufactured in the US
Made from carbon, aramid fiber and non-ferrous metal
30 percent cooler
- BrandLyndall Racing Brakes
- Weight9.6 ounces
With this product you get a set of two high-quality brake pads, so you can replace both the front and the rear calipers.
These brake pads are made from sintered metal to give you the best performance. They will last longer than many other brake pads on the market and will be able to withstand the heat of sudden braking. They are a great choice for wet-weather riding.
Set of two high quality brake pads
Made from sintered metal
- BrandForeverun Motor
- Model1.05 pounds
This is a set of asbestos-free disc brake pads made from sintered copper alloy. They give you unrivalled stopping power and longevity.
Thanks to the unique vented design, the double segments keep the pad cooler so it is more efficient. It also prevents drag and prevents overheating and fade. They have an H friction rating when they are hot or cold.
Asbestos-free disc brake pads
Unique vented design
H friction rating
- BrandEBC Brakes
- Weight6.4 ounces
Here we have a set of three pairs of Kevlar carbon brake pads that will fit a 2008-2014 Harley-Davidson VRSCF V-Rod Muscle. You get fingertip control and predictable brake response. You can rely on the superb stopping power but won’t have to worry about noise or rotor galling. These pads will suit all riding conditions.
They are made from high-strength fibers to deliver improved thermal stability. These pads are durable and reduce abrasion.
Will fit a 2008-2014 Harley-Davidson VRSCF V-Rod Muscle
Superb stopping power
Made from high-strength fibers
- ModelKevlar Carbon Brake Pads
- Weight1.54 pounds
Manufactured in the United States, these Harley brake pads are manufactured for a Harley-Davidson FLHX Street Glide 2008-2013, an FLHX Street Glide 2014-2015, or an FLHXS Street Glide Special 2015. The kit includes two front brake pads and one rear brake pad. They are made from sintered metal and will give you a high performance.
These Harley brake pads are ultra-high friction pads that have been rated as HH. The front brake pads are extremely durable and will perform in all weather conditions.
Made from sintered metal
Ultra high friction pads
Rated as HH
- BrandEBC Brakes
- Weight2.2 pounds
These brake pads will fit a Polaris Magnum Polaris Scrambler, a Polaris Sportsman, and a Polaris Trail Boss 330. The pads are made from high-strength fibers that reinforce the friction.
With these pads you get excellent thermal stability and they are very durable. They give you improved stopping power and you can go longer between changes. They are very quiet and easy to fit using just a few simple tools.
Suitable for several Polaris models
Excellent thermal stability
Made from high-strength fibers
- Weight14.2 ounces
This is a set of front and rear motorcycle brake pads made from non-metallic organic material. They use a mixture of high-strength fibers to strengthen the pad’s friction.
These pads are strong at high temperatures and very durable. They reduce abrasion on the rotor and perform better than standard organic brake pads. They outperform the semi-metallic pads in terms of stopping ability and durability in all sorts of weather and road conditions.
Mixture of high-strength fibers
Work well at high temperatures
You’ll be able to fit these brake pads very quickly with simple hand tools. They use a clever blend of high-strength fibers to get maximum friction together with thermal stability.
They combine durability with increased stopping power yet they make very little noise.
Quick and easy to fit
- Weight1.45 pounds
With these front and rear brake pads you will get excellent stopping power but won’t have to put up with excessive noise. This is true even if you have polished rotors, which makes them ideal for the Harley-Davidson Road Kings.
You’ll get no rotor galling with these rear brake pads, but you can be sure of fingertip control and a strong brake response that is safe and predictable when you apply the brakes. They are a semi-metallic brake pad made from non-sintered metal.
No excessive noise
Pads for Harley Road King
Non-sintered and semi-metallic
- BrandVolar Motorsport, Inc
- Weight1.65 pounds
Motorcycle Brake Pad Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Consider When Buying Motorcycle Brake Pads
When you need to buy some motorcycle brake pads, you have the choice of buying pads that are provided by the motorcycle manufacturer. These are sometimes referred to as OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts. You can be sure that the pads will fit and will not cause any damage to your rotors. However, they may not be the cheapest or most convenient option for you.
If you choose to select another type of replacement brake pad, there are a few things that you should consider. Here are the main ones.
- Brand. Look for a brand that is highly respected in the sector. They have a good reputation because they are good at what they do and their product will be impressive!
- Suitability. Not all types of brake pads are suitable for every type of motorcycle. Perhaps the brand you want does not even make brake pads for your motorcycle. A good place to start is the manual for your bike. It should list compatible brake pads. When you are ordering, make sure that you specify the right ones.
- Type of rotor. Some brake pads are not compatible with all rotors. Be clear about the type of rotor that you have on your motorcycle. For example, sintered brake pads can cause excess wear on some types of rotors. Organic brake pads are best for cast iron, steel or stainless steel rotors. Whereas, ceramic brake pads will be gentle enough for chrome-plated or polished aluminum alloy rotors which would be destroyed by harder pads.
- Type of motorcycle. Racing bikes are ridden in a very different way to road bikes. They need a hardwearing set of brake pads so sintered pads would be best. Racing brake pads are different to other pads.
- Driving conditions. Brake pads have been designed to perform at their best in different situations. If you are using your motorcycle for normal, street driving, your best option may be the organic brake pads. However, if you are using your bike for racing, you will be very heavy on your brakes and will need sintered brake pads which can stand up to the punishment. Ceramic brake pads are a good all-rounder that will work well in a variety of situations. They are, however, not the cheapest option!
Different Types of Motorcycle Brake Pads
You can buy brake pads that are made from several different materials. The most common are listed here.
- These brake pads are made metallic particles that have been fused together using heat and pressure. They have a long life and work well when hot so you don’t get ‘brake fade’. These pads are suitable for wet and dry conditions and don’t produce a lot of dust. They will bring your bike to a halt quietly and smoothly. Sintered pads can be manufactured through pressure sintering in a vacuum furnace or in a belt furnace.
- Brake pads made from a mixture of metals, nonmetallic particles and organic materials. They are fixed together with a high-strength polymer resin. These are not as hard as sintered pads, they create more dust and don’t last as long. You will get smooth braking and they are easy on your rotors. There are several different types including Kevlar organic, carbon organic and semi-metallic. The Kevlar pads are made with a mixture of glass and rubber. They are very durable and give you better braking power. The carbon organic pads are made from carbon mixed with other organic elements and generate little heat. They do not last as long. Semi-metallic organic pads have a small quantity of metal in them and give excellent braking and heat transfer. However, they do produce more dust and make more noise.
- The friction surface on these brake pads is made from high-strength ceramic fibers but some non-ferrous metal filaments are also added and they are bonded together at high temperatures. These are very lightweight and versatile brake pads that suit lots of driving conditions. They dissipate heat very well and don’t create much dust. You will find that your rotor lasts longer when you have this type of pad. If you prefer to have no squealing when you are braking, they will suit you because they produce hardly any noise.
How to Replace Brake Pads on a Motorcycle
Changing motorcycle brake pads is a jog that you can realistically tackle yourself. Here’s how you go about it.
Equipment That You Will Need
You will need the following equipment:
- A set of good spanners
- A set of sockets
- A torque wrench
- Allen keys that fit your caliper retaining bolts
- A pair of pliers
- Brake cleaner spray
- An old cloth or brush for cleaning
- Large flat-headed screwdriver
- Copper grease
- Two bungee cords
- Brake fluid – check which grade you need
Things You Need to Bear in Mind
Even though changing brake pads is a relatively simple job, there are things that can go wrong and difficulties that you may face.
Firstly, if you have left it too late to change the brake pads, they may have already worn away so much that the metal pad backing has scraped against the disc. This will have caused scoring on the brake discs and they will also need to be replaced. This may not be a job that you want to tackle yourself.
Also, brake pads that have been poorly maintained will often be corroded and the retaining bolts of the caliper could be seized. You may also find that the caliper pistons are seized. If you try to force these apart using the wrong tools you can seriously damage them so avoid doing this.
The will normally take around three hours but it can be longer if you run into complications.
Step By Step Guide
- Purchase appropriate brake pads for your motorcycle. Normally you will need pads for both of the front disc brakes and you need pads for each caliper. You may need to move saddlebags so that you can gain clear access to the calipers. Refer to the manual for your motorcycle if you are not sure of the location of the different parts. It’s a good idea to take photographs before you start taking things apart and as you progress – this will help when it comes to putting it back together.
- If the brake calipers have an open top, you will be able to take the pads off without first taking the caliper off the fork. All you have to do is remove the retaining pins and any other hardware and retracted the pistons. However, most calipers need to be removed from the fork tube. To do this, you’ll need to retract the pistons with a large screwdriver.
- Loosen the caliper retaining bolts. Don’t let the caliper dangle – tie it up securely using the bungee cord. Do not disconnect the hose.
- Use the pliers to remove the pins and clips and then pull out the pads. Put all the parts in a safe place so you can put them back in.
- Operate the front brake lever gently to move the pistons out of their bores slightly. Clean the caliper with spray cleaner and a cloth. Clean the cap and rubber diaphragm of the fluid reservoir.
- Push the pistons into the caliper. Grease the back of the pads and the pins. Put them in with the friction material facing the disc and replace the clips and pins.
- Slide the caliper back whilst making sure that one pad is on each side of the disc. Replace the caliper bolts and tighten to the correct torque.
- Pump the brake lever so that the pistons readjust their position. Top up the brake fluid and replace the rubber diaphragm and cap.
Motorcycle Brake Pads Brands
As with most products, there are a few well-known and respected brands that dominate the market in motorcycle brake pads. Here are some of them.
- EBC are the world leader in this sector. They provide the market with an unrivalled selection of motorcycle brake pads and other braking components. They are the go-to brand for many riders when it comes to brake pads and shoes. This company both designs and manufactures all of their brake pads at sites in the US and in the UK. EBC are a long-established brand and have been in the business for over 35 years. EBC motorcycle brake pads are always a good choice.
- Galfer are a Spanish brand that was established in 1946. Even though they spent many years supplying just the European motorcycle market, they began selling in the US for US bikes in the 1990s. Their US headquarters is in Santa Barbara and they have built up a reputation for supplying excellent pads and rotors for performance bikes and racing bikes.
- BikeMaster are a huge supplier of motorcycle parts and components. For many riders, they are the first port of call for anything to do with repairing and maintaining bikes. They supply a superb range of brake pads at competitive prices.
- Lyndall Brakes are a US company that is family owned. They have a reputation for supplying premium motorcycle brake pads for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They can be used on street bikes and racing bikes. Their pads receive consistently good reviews from satisfied customers.
Motorcycle Brake Pad FAQ:
Q: How can I check if my motorcycle brake pads are worn?
A: It is very important that you know how to detect when your brake pads are worn and need to be changed. Worn pads are dangerous yet pad wear is inevitable so it is a case of knowing when to intervene. If you don’t act quick enough, you will be in danger and you will cause a lot of damage to your discs which is very expensive to repair.
Checking brake pads for wear is very easy. You will need a flashlight to take a good look at them. If the lining has worn down to less than an eighth of an inch, they need to be replaced. To help you with this, most brands of brake pads will have a ‘wear indicator’. This is simply a groove that has been cut or molded into the surface of the pads. If the pads have worn down so much that the groove is no longer there, it means that it is time to replace them.
Q: How often should I check my motorcycle brake pads?
A: You should get into the habit of checking your brake pads no matter how infrequently you ride your bike. It is a good idea to visually inspect them before every ride. Also, check them when you are carrying out routine maintenance such as changing the oil or changing or changing the tires.
You will need a flashlight so that you can see clearly into the calipers and look at both the inner and outer pads. Also, be alert for signs that brake pads need to be inspected. If your bike starts to make a noise when you brake, it could indicate a problem. It could be nothing, a high-pitched vibration is common when the pads clamp onto the rotors.
However, any sort of scraping or grinding noise is more indicative of a problem with the pads. This is often caused by the metal part of the brake pad rubbing on the surface of the rotor. If you continue to ride when your motorcycle is like this, the metal-to-metal friction will cause serious damage to the rotors. Eventually, your brakes will not work and you could suffer a serious accident. In general, a high pitched squeal that goes away when you brake even harder is not a problem but a grinding noise that is getting worse is always cause for concern.
Q: Do I have to lubricate brake pads on a motorcycle?
A: When you are fitting new brake pads, it is important that you put some copper grease onto the rear surface of each pad. This will stop the brakes from squealing. The pins also need to have copper grease applied to them.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick of the best motorcycle brake pads are provided by EBC, a company renowned for excellence in motorcycle components. They are made using high pressure die cast aluminum platforms. The brake linings are bonded.
Every shoe will have been both edge trimmed and radius ground. They have chamfers which are lead in and lead out at the lining ends and contain no asbestos. They are supplied with original style brake shoe springs.
- How to replace your brake pads – Motorcycle news