How Long Do Bike Disc Brake Pads Last?

You’re a newbie rider, and you’re wondering if you should replace the disc brake pads. Someone told you about the dangers of not replacing worn-out pads.

However, you’re clueless and want more information before you go on and replace the worn-out brake pads.

You’re not alone in this dilemma. Many people have decided to take cycling as a hobby and have no idea how long do bike disc brake pads last and when to replace them.

Fortunately, this article explains what you need to know about brakes. So kindly read on to get the definitive answer to your questions.

Which Is Better: Disc or Rim Brakes?

 Rim Brakes

Disc and rim are both brake pads you use on your bike. However, each has its pros and cons; thus, you should learn to differentiate one from the other.

Rim Brakes

Rim brakes stop your bike by applying pressure to the wheel rim’s exterior. They use cables and calipers.

Pros

  • Easier to repair
  • More aerodynamic and lighter
  • Cheaper

Cons

  • Damaging to the tire rim
  • More quickly damaged from debris and weather
  • Decreased performance in wet or rainy conditions

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are newer versions, and many cyclists use them today. They work by applying pressure to a brake rotor mounted to the tire hub.

Disc brakes may be hydraulic or mechanical. The first uses hydraulic fluid, while the second uses cables.

Pros

  • Won’t damage or heat the rim
  • Function better in wet weather
  • More quickly adjusted power

Cons

  • More expensive
  • More complicated and harder to fix and maintain
  • Bulkier and heavier aesthetic

Generally, disc brakes are more durable and use less friction. Therefore, they won’t quickly deteriorate.

However, rim brakes are more popular, and studying the durability discrepancy reveals that rim brakes aren’t more inefficient.

Therefore, the choice between rim brakes and disc brakes is due to personal preferences.

The former is easier to maintain and more aesthetically pleasing, while the latter is more technologically advanced.

Kinds of Disc Brake Pads

Your choice of disc brake pads depends on the bike’s brake model because the disc fits a specific type.

Therefore, your choice of size and shape depends on the brake model. However, you may select the brake pad material.

Here are some types of disc brake pads:

  • Sintered – metallic-based pads that are noisy yet more weather resistant
  • Organic – resin-based pads are best for dry and warm conditions and reduce their efficiency and durability on steep declines and in wet weather.
  • Ceramic – ceramic-based pads that are weather-resistant and quiet but the most expensive and aren’t for racing.
  • Semi-metallic – a combination of organic pad and sintered compounds that are less noisy and weather resistant

Which Is Better: Mechanical or Hydraulic Brakes?

A mechanical disc brake uses a cable and mechanical brake lever connected to the brake caliper.

Once you pull the brake lever, it draws a cable triggering a lever pushing a single bike brake pad.

Then, the braking system flexes the disc brake rotor and squeezes between the fixed and moving brake pads.

On the other hand, mechanical disc brakes push the brake pads against the rotor.

On the other hand, a hydraulic brake uses fluid to transfer force. The master cylinder holds this fluid and is in the brake lever body.

Once you pull the lever, the braking system pushes the piston forcing the fluid out of the reservoir and to the caliper. The fluid moves the pistons against each rotor side.

Mechanical brakes are straightforward to repair, simple, and highly reliable. Therefore, touring cyclists prefer them.

However, the housing and cables are less efficient and more susceptible to contamination. In addition, you need manually adjust the braking system as the pads become thin.

On the other hand, hydraulic disc brakes are lighter. As a result, they produce less mechanical friction and require less effort.

Mountain bike designs and high-end drop bars need hydraulic hoses for their flexibility for concealed cable routing.

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Disc Brake Pads

A disc brake pad can have a lifespan of at most 1250 miles, depending on several factors.

Terrain

If you’re riding on rougher terrain, the faster the disc brake pads wear out. Also, mountain bikes require more brakes than road bicycles, so you need brake replacement sooner.

Weather

Disc brake pads last longer and function better based on climate or weather conditions.

Winter or Cold Weather

Some disc brake pads are more responsive during snowy winters. For example, hydraulic disc brake pads are more functional at (-)15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Disc Brake

On the other hand, organic resin pads and mechanical brake pads are better at (-)30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Summer or Hot Weather

Heat friction increases as you regularly slam on your bike brakes. Therefore, the hot climate damages the disc brake pads even more.

Organic pads struggle under extreme friction and heat, limiting braking power. Sintered metallic brake pads are much better in rough terrains and hot climates.

Braking Habits

Some cyclists may cause wear and tear on their bikes’ disc brakes; therefore, they should replace them every hundred miles.

If you’re constantly using your brakes, you should consider these tips:

  • First, don’t lean forward to reduce pressure on the front brake.
  • Instead of using the brake when you slow down while turning, you should lower your body as you reduce your speed.
  • Finally, lightly press the brake during rainy conditions, and ease the pressure on the brakes and tires as you slow down.

When Should You Change Your Disc Brake Pads

You may find it tough to decide when changing your disk brake pads, and the timing varies depending on whether you use a road bike or mountain bike.

It would help to replace your disc brake pads when they reach 1.5mm thickness to keep you safe.

Generally, you should check your brake pads regularly, especially when riding on a trail or before a long ride.

When Should You Replace Brake Calipers

You may replace a brake caliper after ten years because the brake fluid may leak when the rubber seals become loose through wear and tear.

You should also check the pins, bushings, and slides when you replace the brake caliper. Ensure that it has no damage, cracks, or rust.

Use new mounting hardware, slides, and bushings when you change the brake caliper.

Where Can You Buy Disc Brake Pads

If you wish to change your disc brake pads, you may buy them online or from your local bike shop.

Online Disc Brake Pads

You may find competitive prices online if you have experience maintaining your bike and know what you need.

Some online shops have a wide variety of disc brake pads. However, if you have a nearby bike shop, you’re better off buying from there.

Bike Shop Disc Brake Pads

Some people prefer talking to a professional bike mechanic from a local bike shop because they can install the disc brake pads.

If you don’t want dirty hands, you may prefer to transact with a local bike shop. Moreover, you may feel confident that your ride will be safer.

A bike mechanic can also teach you about the many brake pad alternatives to select the right one for your requirements.

How Much Are Disc Brake Pads?

If you’re to change your disc brake pads, you should prepare the amount. Non-cartridge pads are straightforward and affordable if you’re on a budget.

You may get non-cartridge pads for $7.00; however, cartridge pads may cost $10. On the other hand, you can expect high-performance pads for more than $20.

If you would rather have a professional replace the brake pads, prepare to pay more, depending on the brakes you want and the bike shop you choose.

Another option is to buy the brake pads online and have a professional install them.

How to Replace Disc Brake Pads

You may find the entire activity tricky if it’s your first time replacing your bike’s disc brake pads. However, you’ll soon realize how straightforward it is.

Disc Brake Pads

It’s easier to change the pads when you remove the wheel first. Then, have a bike stand or pop your bicycle against the wall on carpet or cardboard for protection.

Loosen the clip and pin; then, remove the brake pads. It would be best if you pushed back the pistons into the caliper body.

Hydraulic and other disc brakes are self-adjusting. Therefore, the piston will push out of the caliper to maintain the proper clearance.

On the other hand, you should manually adjust the cable tension and caliper rim brake if you have mechanical systems.

Place the new pads after pushing back the pistons into the caliper. Then, reinsert the clip and pin it before putting back the wheel.

Try the brake lever a few times. Remember that getting used to the new disc brake pads takes time.

FAQs

How Will I Know if I Need to Change my Bike’s Brake Pads?

A brake pad has a backing plate and braking material. You should review the caliper to know if you need to replace the brake pads.

Moreover, you may bring your bike to a local shop to have an experienced mechanic check your brake pads.

If your bike has Shimano pads, you should change them when they measure less than 0.9mm.

However, if you have SRAM pads, they shouldn’t measure less than 2.5mm with the backing pads.

For Campagnolo, you should replace the pads if you can no longer see the grooves at the pads’ center.

You should also check for uneven pad or rotor wear because you have issues with the caliper mounting surface or brake.

Moreover, you should know that some brake pads, especially the Shimano pads, will squeal if they need replacement.

What Happens if I Don’t Change my Worn-out Brake Pads?

Many modern brake systems warn you if you need to change the brake pads. For instance, they may produce noise when braking.

However, if you don’t heed the warning signs, you’ll notice a ticking sound from the rotor as it catches the pad spring.

If you still don’t change the pads, the backing plate will act as friction material, and you will soon need new disc brake rotors.

Sometimes, you also need a new caliper, rotor, and pads.

Moreover, the master cylinder will try to compensate for the diminished capacity by drawing in air, resulting in a brake bleed.

Why Should I Ensure Oils Don’t Get into the Disc Brake Pads?

You shouldn’t allow any contamination on your hypersensitive disc brakes. Therefore, you should be careful when degreasing your drivetrain.

It’s advisable to take out the wheel when spraying the degreaser. Remember to cover the brake caliper too.

Moreover, refrain from using spray lubes on your chain. It would help if you also carefully use detergent when washing your bike.

If you clean your drivetrain, use a dummy hub in place of the rear wheel. Again, using a plastic bag to cover the brake caliper would be best.

Should I Clean My Bike’s Disc Brakes?

Occasionally, you can wipe the dust from your disc brakes using a lint-free rag and a few drops of water.

You may also use isopropyl alcohol, but ensure it’s at least 90%. Stay away from the diluted alcohol you buy from drugstores.

You may have a hard time looking for this type of alcohol, and it’s expensive. However, it can clean your brakes without damaging the seal or leaving any residue.

Moreover, it would help not to use car disc brake cleaners because some brands leave an oily residue. Others may damage the rubber seals.

It would be best to be cautious about using bike-specific disc brake cleaners because some brands are car cleaners remarketed as bike cleaners. Others may even use isopropyl alcohol and charge higher.

Thomas Kersten

Hi, I am a passionate biker, and I have been riding for more than ten years and share my biking tips and tricks with the world. I've tested more than 300 bikes.

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