The Complete Motorcycle Brake Maintenance Guide

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The Complete Motorcycle Brake Maintenance Guide

Motorcycles are favoured by some people over cars, for many reasons. To start with, they are lighter, and therefore require less maintenance and fuel. In traffic, motorcycles tend to go forward more quickly because they do not get stuck in traffic jams the way cars do. Motorcycles can glide through traffic effortlessly. For many people, motorcycles are also a lifestyle choice, as they make a bold statement and inspire thoughts of freedom.

However, riding a motorcycle can also be dangerous, because the rider is quite unprotected and exposed to dangers. Wearing a helmet is one way to improve the safety level, but some other precautions should also be taken. Keeping the motorcycle running smoothly, with all its parts in working order, is essential. Broken parts should be replaced, and replacement parts can be acquired from special motorcycle parts shops or from online retailers, such as eBay. It is also possible to postpone or prevent the breaking down of parts by providing proper maintenance. Brakes are among the parts that should be serviced routinely, so that they can provide the ability to stop or slow down in case of need. By knowing how the brakes work and maintaining them as needed, one can ensure that they serve the motorcycle for a long time.

Motorcycle Brakes Working Principles

In order to properly maintain motorcycle brakes, it is essential to know how the brakes work. By and large, motorcycle brakes are divided into disc and drum brakes. They differ from each other in terms of the way they are built and in terms of the number of parts involved.

Disc Brakes on Motorcycles

The main parts of disk brakes are brake pads, caliper (including piston), and rotor. When the brake is applied, the brake pads squeeze the rotor and, through a cable, the pressure is hydraulically transmitted to the wheel. Friction occurs between the disc and the pads, and this causes the motorcycle to come to a halt. Applying the brakes produces heat, so some brakes are equipped with a set of vanes to provide cooling and ventilation. These brakes are self-adjusting, meaning that the caliper slides from side to side and moves into the centre when the brakes are applied. The pads are always in slight contact with the rotor, as they are not pulled away by springs.

Drum Brakes on Motorcycles

When the brakes are applied on a motorcycle with drum brakes, the drum surface presses against the spinning wheel in order to make it stop. Compared to disc brakes, drum brakes have more parts and are therefore harder to service and maintain. These parts include two brake shoes, a piston, springs, an emergency brake mechanism, and an adjuster brake mechanism.

When the driver applies the brakes, the brake shoes are pushed against the drum by the piston. The shoes are pressed against the drum with a fairly strong force, because of wedging, and the shoes need to be pulled away from the drum once the brake is released. The springs in drum brakes are responsible for making this happen, as well as for holding the brake shoes in place and returning the adjuster arm to its initial position. The emergency brake is applied via a special cable that is attached to it. The manufacturing price of drum brakes is lower than that of disc brakes, and thus they are used on many motorcycles, although they are becoming less widely used.

Disc Brake Maintenance

When it comes to disc brake maintenance, it is most commonly the brake pads that need to be replaced. Inside a disc brake pad is a piece of metal that acts as a wear indicator and shows when the pad should be replaced. If too much of the pad material has worn away, the wear indicator contacts the disc and makes a squealing sound. This noise is not only unpleasant to the ear, but is also a sure sign that it is time to service the motorcycle. Another indication of brake wear can be seen inside the caliper, through its inspection opening. Through this opening, it is possible to check how much friction material remains on the pad.

Servicing Brake Rotors on Disc Brakes

Brake rotors may become damaged if deep scores get worn into them. Typically, this is a result of not changing the brake pad at the right time and leaving the worn pad on for too long. The rotor may also lose its flatness and cause vibrations or shuddering when the brakes are applied. The flat surface of the rotors can be restored by removing some of the material from the rotors. This process is called machining, turning, or refinishing the rotors. However, this should not be done too often, as it can shorten their life. In the brakes specifications, one should be able to find the minimum allowable thickness that the rotors can have before they need to be replaced completely.

Drum Brake Maintenance

In the case of drum brakes, the brake shoes, the parts that are pushed against the drum during braking, are commonly replaced once they wear out. They wear because of the friction created every time the brakes are applied. Through an inspection hole often found at the back side, it is easy to check whether or not the brake shoes are too worn. If only 0.8 mm of material is left on the brake shoe rivet, it requires replacement. However, if the friction material is glued to the backing plate with no rivets, then the replacement should be done when the thickness is 1.6 mm.

Servicing Brake Drums

If a worn brake shoe is not replaced when it should be, the brake drum may eventually become damaged. Grooves and scores on the brake drum are a result of the worn brake shoe causing friction on the brake drum.. If there is not enough material on the brake shoe, the rivets on it start to cause damage. The scores can be refinished. The maximum allowable diameter of the drum brakes should be checked. The contact surface is located inside the drum, and as material wears from there, the diameter increases.

Comparison of Disc and Drum Brakes and Their Maintenance

The following chart compares motorcycle disc and drum brakes and summarises their features. It also details the parts of the brakes that need to be most often maintained.

Brake Type

Disc Brakes

Drum Brakes


Brake pads, caliper, rotor

Brake shoes, piston, springs, adjuster brake mechanism, emergency brake mechanism

Price and Usage

More expensive

Older motorcycle models, cheaper


Replacing the pads, machining the rotors

Replacing the pads, repairing brake drums.

Although the two brake types on motorcycles differ from each other in their structure, the parts that wear out are generally the same in terms of function. Most often, the brake pads or brake shoes need to be changed because they eventually wear out. Rotors and brake drums are repaired on brakes, and these also perform similar functions.

Buying Motorcycle Brakes on eBay

If maintenance has not preserved your motorcycle brakes at a safe standard, you should buy new ones in order to continue riding safely. When looking for motorcycle brakes on eBay, you can easily begin by typing the relevant keywords into the search box that you can find at the top of any eBay page. Determine whether your motorcycle has disc or drum brakes and word your search accordingly. After you receive the initial search results, you can sort them either by auction time or price, or set the item condition to new or used. You can also click on related searches in order to find similar results, if the first search does not yield the results you are looking for.

For more specific results, you can include the motorcycle make and model in the search, but this may not yield many results, as not all sellers include motorcycle names in their listing titles. In case of doubt, you can always contact the seller to enquire about the brakes, in order to guarantee that they are compatible with your motorcycle. You can also ask about refunds, exchanges, delivery, payment methods, and postage. Asking such questions before bidding is recommended in order to avoid misunderstandings.


Motorcycles are convenient to use because they do not get stuck in traffic jams the way cars do, and they also require less petrol and maintenance. They offer a sense of freedom, and allow their riders to make a statement. However, they do have parts that may wear and that must be maintained in order to remain safe. Brakes are crucial to any motorcycle, because any failure may be fatal.

The two main brake types are disc and drum brakes. In disc brakes, the brake pads are pressed against the rotor, which transmits the pressure to the wheel. The pads are always in contact with the rotor, as there are no springs to pull the pads away. On disc brakes, the pads wear over time and require replacing at some point. Brake rotors may become damaged if the pads are too worn, but they can be saved by refinishing. The minimum standard of allowable thickness of the rotor should be followed.

Drum brakes have more parts than disc brakes, as they have springs that pull the brake shoes away when the brakes are released. The shoes eventually wear, and depending whether there are rivets or not, should be replaced when the material thickness is either 0.8 or 1.6 mm. If left unserviced for too long, the brake drums may be marred by grooves and scores. Refinishing may help in this case. It is important to consider the maximum allowable drum diameter.

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