How to Change Disk Brake Pads on Mountain Bike

Christine H. Groce10 Apr 2022

The brakes are arguably the most important safety component on a mountain bike. Going up and down and round on a rugged course with a loose surface can be treacherous. But the superior braking performance on a mountain bike helps you to remain in control of the bike. For this reason, you want to ensure that the brakes on your MTB are always in good shape. What better way to do this than to replace the brake pads every once in a while? So, how do you change brake pads on an MTB? This guide explains it all!

Why do you need to change your bike brake pads regularly?

Brake pads are the most important safety equipment on your bike. The job of the brake pads is to stop your bike. They do this by pressing against the braking surface of your wheel. For them to work properly, they need to be in good condition and replaced regularly. If you don't, you risk damaging your braking surface or having an accident. If your braking surface is damaged, you'll need to replace it with new brake pads and discs. The paddles will also need to be replaced.

What are the signs my brake pads need changing?

Brake pads are what slows down the bike when the brakes are applied. It is important to have them well maintained to last long and work efficiently. You should replace your brake pads if you notice any of these signs: - The brake lever is hard to push - The brakes squeak - You hear grinding noise when applying the brakes -There are no rubber indents on your brake pads - Brake lever pulsation - A long pedal stroke before the brake engages

How do you change brake pads?

Before you begin the process of removing and replacing your brake pads, be sure to have the following tools on hand:

  • Needle-nose pliers or appropriately sized hex key
  • Wide flathead screwdriver
  • Disc brake cleaner
  • Replacement pads
  • Paper cloth

Once you have everything is in place, follow the steps below to change your mountain bike brake pads:

Step 1: Inspect your brake pads for wear

Normally, brake pads are changed when they wear down and deteriorate in functionality, so you want to start by checking for this on your MTB. Take off the bike's wheels and inspect the brake pads for wear and tear, both with your eyes and fingers. If it is so serious that there is metal-to-metal contact with the backing plate, you need to replace the pads ASAP, lest they destroy your brake rotors. Ideally, you want to change your brake pads when the braking material remaining is 1.5mm or less. Remember, this is something you must do regularly to check on the state of your mountain bike brakes.

Step 2: Remove the brake pads and clean them

Use your flat head screwdriver or pad pusher tool to push the current pads into the caliper. It is important to do this now and not on the new pads as it can damage them. Proceed to take out the pad prevention system. This will usually vary from one bike to another. Some systems employ a split pin that you can remove with a pair of pliers, while others use a flathead screw-in pin. Use needle-nose pliers to remove the pads and springs, then clean the rotor with a little degreaser and paper cloth (to remove brake dust/dirt buildup) Be wary of the brake rotor – if you have any oil or grease on your hands, this will quickly transfer to your cleaning pads.

Step 3: Install the new brake pads and adjust them

It's now time to install your replacement brake pads. Do this alongside the retention clips and pins before reinstalling the wheels on the bike. Make sure not to squeeze on the brake lever just yet. Finally, place the caliper close to the rotor. The rotor should be running parallel and central to the caliper body. If it's not, undo the mounting bolts and adjust it so that it is.

How long do mountain bike brake pads last?

There is no standard answer to how long mountain bike brake pads last because it varies depending on the frequency of use and other factors, such as the quality of the pads and the weather conditions. Mountain bike brake pads typically last between a few months to a year, depending on use. For example, if you are only using your brakes once or twice a week, they may last six months. However, if you are braking more than ten times per day, they may wear out in just one month.

How much does it cost to change bike brake pads?

Brakes are a safety feature that is essential on every bike. They are also one of the most common reasons for bike accidents. The brake pads make the brakes work, and they need to be replaced when they wear out. The cost to change bike brake pads will depend on the type of brakes, the type of pad, and where you buy them. It can range from $10-$50 for a set of pads.

Can I change MTB brake pads by myself?

If you have never changed your brakes, it can be intimidating to do so for the first time. However, you will soon find that it is not as hard as you think with a little patience and practice. MTB brake pads are designed to be replaced by the user. If you are unsure of what type of MTB brake pads your bike needs, the best advice is to consult with a professional.


Getting your brakes replaced early can keep you safe and add to your mountain biking experience. If you're unsure about getting a new set of brake pads, it's always better to get them replaced as soon as possible. Safety is the most important aspect of any vehicle, so use the guide above to install your new brake pads at home!

Christine H. Groce

Christine H. Groce

Christine formed a passion for cycling back when she still had training wheels as a kid. She wants to write about her adventures, along with tips and tricks for beginner cycling fans.

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