There's no shortage of consumable items on a typical mountain bike, and brake pads are amongst the most consumable of the lot. Lots of riders have moved over to disc brakes, which can offer better pad life (although occasionally they just crumble to nothing for no adequately explained reason). They'll still wear out eventually, though. Fortunately replacing them is a piece of cake, especially if you've grown accustomed to the three-handed faff of replacing rim brake pads...

Disc brake pad
pad 1

 

 

 

 

 

Disc brake pad
pad 2

 

 

2. The majority of hydraulic brakes are self-adjusting and automagically maintain correct pad clearances as the pads wear. This means that there’ll be no room for unworn pads, so the first step is to push the pistons in the caliper back out. The easiest way to do this is with a broad screwdriver or similar. If you prise the pistons apart with the old pads still in place there’s little risk of damaging the pistons themselves. Owners of brakes with manually-adjustable clearances (like Hope C2s and most varieties of mechanical disc) will need to wind the relevant adjusters out.

Disc brake pad
pad 3

3. Caliper designs vary between brakes, but most have a threaded pad retaining pin. To stop it undoing itself, there’s usually some sort of clip on one end. We’re pretty good at losing these out on the trails, but if by some chance yours is still there, pop it off with pliers and then undo the retaining pin with a suitable Allen key (3mm on Shimano brakes, 2.5mm on Hope Minis).

 

 

Disc brake pad
pad 4

 

Disc brake pad
pad 5

 

 

Disc brake pad
pad 6

 

 

 

 

Disc brake pad
pad 7

 

 

7. Reinsert the retaining pin and snug it down. If it doesn’t line up with the holes in the pads and spring either they’re not pushed fully home or something’s gone in in the wrong orientation. With the pin in, put the clippy thing back on the end to keep it in place.

 

Disc brake pad
pad 8

8. Before replacing the wheel, make sure the rotor is clean and undamaged. Give it some brake cleaner action to get rid of any greasy deposits. With everything back together, go outside and do a few hard stops to bed the pads in before venturing back off-road.