Why It Is Important To Change Your Brake Pads Once In A While

Written by Boston Biker on Sep 03

So…I sorta waiting too long to change my brake pads over the winter, and ended up grinding down the sidewall a bit (run out of brake pad and you are grinding metal on metal)…several months ago this happened…

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Whoops…I had been telling myself for weeks to get it fixed, but instead it just EXPLODED while I was riding. So loud that I was deaf for a moment, and people rushed out of their homes to see what had happened. A giant cloud of powder erupted from the front wheel, and getting to a full stop was an effort in control.

This sort of thing can happen at any time, I was standing in downtown crossing and heard a loud BANG, everyone else immediately began to look around, thoughts of Marathon Monday, I am sure, in their minds. But I had heard that sound before, a couple tire pinches later and I found the culprit. Someone had a worn down side wall and BLAMO it just exploded when the tire heated up in the sun (expanding air + worn down side wall = bang!).

Moral of this story, always change your brake pads when you can no longer see the groves in them (or slightly before).


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Posted in bostonbiker, Mechanical | 4 Comments »


4 Responses to “Why It Is Important To Change Your Brake Pads Once In A While”

  1. By Chris on Sep 4, 2013 | Reply

    Actually this probably has little to do with your brake pads. Wheel rims wear out – eventually this will happen to *any* rim, no matter how well you maintain your bike. The metal (typically soft aluminum) wears away as you brake – especially if you ride in the rain, or in the winter (because of sand and salt).

    A lot of high-end rims come with wear bars, so that you know when to replace them. If your rims don’t have that feature, you can just measure the thickness of the remaining metal each time you change tires.

  2. By MacCruiskeen on Sep 4, 2013 | Reply

    Or you can ride with disc brakes–no rim wear. But you do still need to change the pads every now and then. Being able to stop is good.

  3. By patrick on Sep 9, 2013 | Reply

    yup, wrecked a front wheel myself from not changing the pads. by the end, the sound of the brakes on the rim was this really awful screech, but since it had gotten steadily worse over time i sorta got used to the noise and never realized it was a sign of a problem.

    chris is right that all rims are going to get worn out, but trust me that wearing your pads down to the metal is a whole other level. you’ll gouge canyons into brand new rims in a matter of weeks.

  4. By William Furr on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    Brake pads will squeal even when they’re in perfect working order.

    Like Chris said, this just happens to bikes with rim brakes, especially if you ride in wet or snowy conditions. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it except try to keep your rims and pads clean.

    A better solution is disc or even better drum brakes. Weather sealed, need servicing about every two years if you ride daily.

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