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How Long Do Mountain Bike Disc Brake Pads Last?

how long do mountain bike disc brake pads last

Brake pads are one of the parts of a bike that get paid the least amount of attention. This makes it even more frustrating when brake pads need replaced. One of the most common reasons you experience poor brake performance is brake pads that have been worn out.

How long can you expect your brake pads to stand before you need to replace them? There are different things to take into consideration when it comes to how long your brake pads will last. Do you ride your bike on rough terrains or in bad weather?

In most cases, you should get between 500 and 700 miles if you have resin pads, and between 1,000 and 1,250 miles from sintered metal pads.

When to Replace Mountain Bike Brake Pads

If you ride your mountain bike frequently, it is essential and sensible to replace your brake pads on a consistent and regular basis. Brake pads typically last a while, but how frustrating would it be to get miles from your home and have your brake pads go out on you. That would be because you didn’t replace them in a proper amount of time.

Different weather conditions will also play a role in when you need to replace your brake pads. They will usually wear down quicker in winter weather, so it is important to keep this in mind when you are trying to determine if you should replace them.

If you notice your brakes feel like they aren’t working at their best, like when you first bought the bike, it could be a sign that you need to replace the pads. When it comes to mechanical disc brakes, you will be able to tell when your pads are worn down because the brake level will hold itself closer to your handlebar.

It can be difficult to visually determine if your disc brake pads need replaced. You can look at the calipers to see if there is a proper amount of brake bad material left, but sometimes it is quicker and easier to take the wheel off to inspect the brake pads.

Replacing Mountain Bike Disc Brake Pads

If you are replacing disc brake pads for the first time, it can be a little difficult to do. Once you get the hang of it, it will be super easy. In some cases, you will be able to replace the brake pads without even taking the wheel off, but it is easier to remove the wheel first.

It would be extremely beneficial to use a work stand if you have one. However, if you don’t that’s fine too. You can lean your bike up against a wall against a piece of cardboard. The purpose of the cardboard is to protect your wall and your bike from any accidental damage.

Disc brakes will have a retainer pin that goes in the top of the brake pad along with a clip at one end. You need to remove that clip carefully, followed by the pin, and put them both somewhere that is safe and where they won’t get lost. Take off the worn-down brake pads and get rid of them.

The next step is the most difficult part. You will need to push the pistons back in the caliper. In most cases, disc brakes are able to self-adjust. This means that the pistons will automatically  push themselves out the caliper in order to correct the clearance made by the pads as they wear down.

When the brake pads have been removed, take a flat head screwdriver and push the pistons back in place. When the pistons are back in place in the caliper, you will be able to put the new brake pads on, which is literally the reverse of taking them off. The new brake pads should go in easily. Once they are set, put the retaining pin and clip back in.

Finally, you will need to put the wheel back on. Cycle the brake level a couple times to make sure the brake pads are secure. It can take a little while for the brake pads to completely set in how they should be.

Disc Rotors

When it comes to using disc brakes, there will be no wear on your wheel rims. However, your disc brake rotors will wear down over time. Thankfully, they have a pretty long lifespan and are pretty cheap to replace when necessary.

If your rotors need replacing, then we recommend purchasing an entire set with brake pads and rotors like this one by RUJOI. It comes with an aluminum front and rear caliper, rotors, and tool free adjustment brake pads.

Worn Out Disc Rotors

Disc rotors typically have such a long lifespan that they are considered a ‘fit and forget’ part of your bike. Manufacturers will usually make their rotors as thin as they can. For example, some rotors start out as thin as 1.8mm thick. Different brands use a different thickness, so make sure you know what your bike is equipped with.

If your rotor is 1.8mm thick, it is highly recommended to replace them when they get down to 1.5mm. This recommendation also depends on the brand of the rotor, so read up on the manufacturers manual to get accurate information for your specific rotors.

It is not easy to give an exact mileage range of when your disc rotor will need to be replaced because wear will vary according to the type of rotor, the pads, the weight of the rider, braking habits, weather conditions, the terrain ridden, and the cleaning of the rotors.

Bent Disc Rotors

If your disc rotors are bent, you will want to replace them immediately. Disc rotors can bend if they get hot, if the bike is in an accident, or if there is too m uch pressure applied to one side (typically during travel).

In most cases, you will be able to clearly tell when your rotors are bent, but other times you will only realize when a part of the rotor rubs against the brake pad during a turn.

Buying New Rotors

There are two different standards when it comes to disc rotors. The first is 6-bolt and the second is Centerlock. The difference between the two is that the 6-bolt uses sick bolts to hold the rotor in. The Centerlock system uses a single lock ring to hold the rotor in.

If you have a preference for one over the other but it is the opposite of what your bike has, there are adapters you can buy to make things easy for you to switch between the two. No matter which system you prefer, you can make it happen.

Upgrading Disc Rotors

Someday, you might want to replace your regular disc rotors with a fancy upgrade. Cheap rotors are most commonly cut from steel and are in one piece.

Floating rotors are more expensive, as they are centrally made with aluminum and have a braking surface made from steel. This is to help you get consistent performance, even if your braking system heats up in use.

Final Thoughts

Brake pads are a part of your part that you typically don’t think about, so they don’t really get much attention. This can make it even more frustrating when you are trying to replace your brake pads, because you don’t do it often.

However, bad brake pads are one of the most common reasons that your brakes are performing poorly.

If you are wondering how often you need to replace your brake pads, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your bike, your brake pads, and how often you ride. 

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