How to fit new rim brake pads in six easy steps

Worn brakes are an accident waiting to happen, sharpen up your stopping by fitting new pads...

Freddy Vangoidsenhoven, team mechanic with the An-Post Chain Reaction UCI Pro Continental team, demonstrates what steps you need to take to replace rim brake pads on your road bike.


1. Unscrew the retaining bolt

You’ll need an Allen key
Dave Caudery / Cycling Plus

Start this simple maintenance task by using an Allen key to unscrew the retaining bolt that holds the worn brake pad in place.

The heads can easily round off, so take care and replace if this is starting to happen.

2. Remove the wheel

Wheel away
Dave Caudery / Cycling Plus

Flip the quick-release mechanism on the brake caliper (top left) and remove the wheel in the usual fashion.

You’ll need it out of the way to remove and fit the brake pads to the cartridges.

3. Out with the old

You might need a screwdriver for a bit of encouragement
Dave Caudery / Cycling Plus

Remove the old brake blocks by sliding them backwards out of the cartridges.

This can be quite a tough job with your thumb if the blocks have been in for a while, so I like to use a screwdriver for extra leverage.

4. In with the new

Check that the brakes are positioned in the correct direction
Dave Caudery / Cycling Plus

To ensure you insert the new block in the correct direction, look for the arrow on the back.

Slide the block in, and if it’s stiff use a dab of grease on the back — never get it on the brake surface!

5. Secure with the retaining screw

Be careful not to overtighten
Dave Caudery / Cycling Plus

Secure the new blocks in place with the retaining screw, using the Allen key to turn the screw clockwise until it nips up securely.

Don’t overtighten, but do ensure it is secure enough not to work loose.

6. Centre the wheel

Into the centre
Dave Caudery / Cycling Plus

Replace the wheel, close up the caliper by pushing down the quick-release mechanism.


Adjust the wheel and the caliper until the former is perfectly centred between the two arms of the latter.