Well set up disc brakes provide powerful, consistent stopping. But when you fit new pads or rotors, it's essential that you wear off surface glaze and contamination before you rely on your brakes.
Editor's note: These steps are demonstrated on a mountain bike but the same goes for any bike equipped with disc brakes.
Here's how to do it...
1. Clean your rotors
One of the biggest mistakes riders make is putting new pads into a system where the rotors are dirty with oils or other contaminants. Use disc brake cleaner to remove residue from the rotor before bedding in new pads.
2. Check new pads
Ensure that you use clean and undamaged new pads, as anything else won’t bed in. Pads that have seen any use at all will have been through braking cycles. While they will work to a degree, you won’t get the full benefit.
3. Find a safe place
With your new pads fitted to your caliper, you need to find a long, gradual road descent with a smooth surface. Something that allows a 20mph roll with enough space and safety to perform some hard stops will be ideal.
4. Drag and stop
Everyone has their own method of getting new pads to bite. We build up speed, drag the brake for five or six seconds to build heat and then increase lever pressure until the bike stops. Six or seven runs should bring a good improvement.
5. Think about water
Some people like to douse the caliper and rotor in clean, cold water after each stop cycle. We’re split 50/50 on this practice. None of our brakes feel different, so it’s up to you whether you douse or not.
6. Ignore early pulls
Early stops will feel poor, but the response should build with each cycle. The heating of the pad causes it to transfer some of the material to the rotor, keying the pad and rotor together and giving your brakes bite and immediacy.
7. Adjust the lever
You might want to tweak your brake lever so that it adapts to the feel of the newly bedded brake pads. Some brakes adjust automatically, but those with lever bite-point adjusters can also be fettled manually.
8. Dirt/road test
Now that you’ve bedded in your new pads, it’s time to hit the dirt and see whether or not they’re allowing you to hit turns harder and more deeply. And remember, it’s brakes that help racers go faster!