How to Replace Your Motorcycle's Rear Brake Pads

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How to Replace Your Motorcycle

Replacing rear brake pads requires looking for them first, and when doing so, in addition to going through regular brick-and-mortar shops that deal in motorcycle parts, buyers also have the option to turn online to websites, such as eBay. When it comes to buying brake pads, you should ideally start by identifying the various alternatives on offer, and then establish which one works best for you. Only then should you think about actually replacing them.

Different Types of Rear Brake Pads for Motorcycles

Different motorcycles are known to use different kinds of brake pads, and different kinds of brake pads can be used with just about any given motorcycle. The main alternatives when it comes to buying rear brake pads for motorcycles include ceramic brake pads, sintered metallic brake pads, carbon-kevlar brake pads, and semi-metallic brake pads.

Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic brake pads are made using ceramic fibres along with traces of metals like copper, nonferrous materials, and bonding agents. Ceramic brake pads tend to offer moderate braking power, are cleaner running in comparison to sintered metallic pads, have noticeably longer lives, and are also typically more expensive. Ceramic brake pads can be sintered too, which minimises the chances of rotors wearing down prematurely. Advanced ceramic compounds are able to work better with high temperatures in comparison to semi-metallic variants, and they offer superior modulation and feel. While they can handle just about any riding style, they are suited for off-road, sport street, and slightly aggressive styles of riding.

Sintered Metallic Brake Pads

Sintered metallic brake pads for motorcycles come with high metallic content, and given that they are made using an inexpensive manufacturing process, they are the cheapest kind of brake pads that you can expect to find. Sintered metallic brake pads are known to come with typically shorter lives in comparison to other variants, are prone to corrosion, and are also noisier. These brake pads offer moderate mechanical strength and braking prowess, and their hardness can have an abrasive effect on the rotor's surface. These brake pads are not suited for all brake discs and calipers, and brake fluid requires that it be checked more often when using sintered pads.

On the other hand, sintered brake pads heat up quicker than other alternatives, and are capable of running at higher temperatures. Their high friction levels are maintained even when they are used in wet riding conditions. They come with defined bite points, and they offer shorter "bed-in" periods.

Since different sintered metallic brake pads are made available, buyers should pay attention to how they are made as well as the desired application for which they are to be used. Simply physically feeling sintered pads should give you some indication of how well they are made. Smooth and rough surfaces are distinct factors to look for.

Carbon-Kevlar Brake Pads

Carbon-kevlar brake pads, also commonly called organic brake pads,, are made by using a mix of non-asbestos fibres like carbon, kevlar, rubber, glass, high-temperature resins, as well as filler materials, and are typically softer than other alternatives. These pads can also come with a small percentage of nonferrous metals or iron that helps make them sintered. They are known to offer good braking power, and are known to run quietly as well as cleanly. These brake pads make up the largest market share, which could well be because of factors like non-abrasiveness, longer lives, lower wear of brake discs, softer bite points, and fairly good resistance to heat.

The downside when using organic pads is that they are prone to wearing out sooner while also creating more brake dust, they require longer bed-in periods, and they can be prone to glazing upon reaching the limit of standard thermal performance. Also, while carbon-kevlar brake pads are known to work well under most riding conditions, they may not perform equally well when subjected to extreme riding conditions.

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

Good semi-metallic brake pads are made using an amalgamation of 30 to 65 percent metal that is normally comprised of steel wool, copper, iron powder, and various inorganic fillers. These brake pads are typically long-lasting and high-quality. Semi-metallic brake pads result in minimal rotor wear while also being good alternatives to be used in dry and wet riding conditions alike. The versatile compounds used in making these pads make them suitable for just about every need, and their efficient transferring of heat certainly helps. Designed to be performance-oriented, these pads work very well when warm, but the same cannot be said when they are cold.

How to Choose the Right Kind of Brake Pads

The kind of brake pads you should opt for depends on their intended use. For example, racing, it is seen, generates high temperatures in the braking system on a continual basis, which is where the use of race pads made using carbon compounds makes sense, given that these pads can work with high temperatures for a long time without losing out on braking power, as can be the case with organic pads. Race brake pads,, however, are not really meant for everyday road use, given that when they are not subjected to high temperatures, they can result in more than usual wear and tear of the pads as well as the brake discs. Sintered metallic pads, organic pads, as well as ceramic pads, it is seen, do not require consistent high temperatures to perform at optimum levels, giving them reasonably good braking power even at low temperatures.

As a result, when looking for replacement rear brake pads, buyers should look for pads that offer controlled and continued friction from cold to hot, while also working with dry and wet conditions. Some kind of a thermal barrier between the hydraulics and the pad like a ceramic layer is preferred; good bonding between the backing plate and the friction compound as well as stability under different pressure conditions should be sought.

Replacing Your Motorcycle's Rear Brake Pads

Replacing your motorcycle's rear brake pads is something that you can accomplish on your own with access to some basic tools and a pair of new brake pads. The first step involves locating the caliper and removing it from its place; although, before this is done, you should ideally loosen the retaining pin that holds the pads in place slightly. The bolts that hold the caliper in place need to be undone, and then you need to slide it out of the rotor.

Once the caliper is out, you can move to removing the pin that holds the pads in place completely, and in case this pin is locked in place using smaller pins, they need to be removed first. With the pin out of the way, you may find a retainer spring plate that lies on top of the brake pads, which comes right out quite easily. Some motorcycle braking systems also some with spacers or insulators behind brake pads, and you may want to check if these need replacing as well.

The new brake pads can now be put in place, and the assembly should follow the exact same procedure in reverse. For example, if you ended up removing small pins to undo the larger pin that holds the brake pads in place, these need to be put back into place. The caliper needs to be fitted as before, and attached to the rotor. If this is a problem, there is a possibility that the pistons have not been pushed back far enough. If this is the case, the pistons need to be pushed back before the new pads are fitted, and then the caliper can be put back into place quite easily. The next step is to torque the bolts as required, although they should not be overtightened. Pumping the brake lever a few times should then help in restoring pressure, and then you should think about bleeding the lines.


Motorcycle brake pads both front and rear, need to be replaced from time to time, which is something that you simply have to deal with because there is no other option, other than riding a motorcycle without effective brakes. Riders can often tell when their motorcycle brake pads need to be replaced, signs of which can include ineffective braking as well as screeching sounds of metal rubbing against metal when the brakes are used.

When it comes to choosing the right type of brakes pads, compatibility is a factor that should be duly addressed, given that not all brake pads fit all braking systems. Riding conditions should also be taken into account. For example, while organic pads serve their purpose when it comes to everyday city use, when it comes to racing or aggressive riding, semi-metallic pads or those made using carbon compounds are better alternatives.

When it comes to replacing a motorcycle's rear brake pads, know that the process does not end with the new brake pads being put in place, and in addition to their being fitted properly, you should also pay attention to the "bed-in" period that the brake manufacturer recommends. With the new brake pads in place, it is also important that the first few kilometres be ridden with extra care.

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