How to Change Motorcycle Brakes

How to Change Motorcycle Brakes


Prop up the motorcycle and support it on its center stand. If you have a work stand for a motorcycle, this will work, too. Keep the fork free so you can easily turn the front wheel.


Disconnect the bolts for the caliper with a wrench and remove the caliper by sliding them off the fork if you can. Some bikes have fixed calipers that you can't remove.


Compress the caliper pistons by pressing them from the inside with a flat screwdriver or piece of wood--keeping the old brake pads in the caliper as you do this will give you more leverage. Check the brake fluid level within the master cylinder as you compress the pistons to make sure the fluid doesn't overflow.


Remove all retaining pins and dust shields for the brake pads with a flat blade screwdriver or allen wrench. If there are retaining clips, use needle-nose pliers to remove them by grasping them at the loop end. The pads and their bracket should fall out once all the retainers are removed; on fixed calipers, shake them until the old brake pads fall out.


Clean the inside of the caliper with an aerosol brake cleaner, especially the area surrounding the caliper pistons. Use disposable towels to wipe away any excessive build-up that the cleaner alone won't remove.


Fit the new brake pads into the calipers, checking the directions to see if you use new squeal shims and brackets with them or the original ones. Avoid touching the surface of the pad faces as you insert the pads into the calipers.


Place the caliper back in the same position it was originally in on the fork if you removed it. Secure the caliper back onto the fork leg by reinstalling the retaining pins, clips and bolts.


Set the brakes by pumping them until they feel firm.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you can remove the caliper, you can look inside to check the pads' wear indicators while they're still in the caliper to see if they need changing. On fixed calipers, you'll need to remove the pads first to check them.
  • If you remove the caliper, don't let it hang by the hose for a long time, as this can damage the hose.
  • The time frame that you need to change your motorcycle's brake pads varies depending on how often you ride and how hard you operate the brakes. If it feels like you need to work the brake handles harder, you should inspect the brake pads and replace them if they are worn down. The brake pads are contained within the calipers on the front wheel, much like on cars.