How to Replace Bicycle Disc Brake Pads

Written by jennifer rotblatt
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How to Replace Bicycle Disc Brake Pads
Bicycle brake pads are important safety components. (vtt image by razorconcept from

A worn bicycle brake pad can cause the brakes to fail, so it is important to inspect your brake pads and replace them, as needed. There are two kinds of disc brakes, mechanical and hydraulic. The disc brake is most commonly found on mountain bicycles. Mechanical disc brakes use a cable that pulls tight to slow a bicycle while hydraulic disc brakes use oil or braking fluid to activate pistons. Replacing a disc brake pad is generally the same for mechanical and hydraulic brakes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Replacement disc brake pads

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  1. 1

    Turn the bicycle upside down so that it rests on its handlebars. Flip down quick-release lever and unscrew as needed to remove the wheel that is having the brake replaced.

  2. 2

    Find the tab on the right pad and pull it toward the centre of the brake using needle-nose pliers. Remove the pad.

  3. 3

    Repeat step 2 to remove the left pad.

  4. 4

    Inspect the pad for damage, such as wear and tear, scoring or glazing.

  5. 5

    Replace pads by sliding them into their original positions in the brake, holding the tab with your fingers. Give it a gentle tug to ensure it is in firmly and will not pop out.

  6. 6

    Place the wheel in its position and attach it to bicycle by screwing in and tightening down the quick-release lever. Turn over the bicycle to its original position with the tires on the ground.

Tips and warnings

  • Some hydraulic disc brakes have a cottar pin that must be removed, either by unscrewing or prying loose, before the pads can be pulled out.
  • Be sure that you have the right replacement pad for the disc brake type and brand or they won't fit correctly.
  • When working with hydraulic disc brakes, be careful and do not engage the brake while the wheel is removed as the pads will become stuck fully extended and will need to be gently pried apart with a wide, flathead screwdriver.

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