How to change your brake blocks

Worn and dirty blocks mean worse braking and greater rim wear. Is it time to change yours? Find out how to get started below.

Wheel away

It is possible to change your brake blocks with the wheel still in place, but it’s easier if you take it out. This also gives you a chance to inspect the rim for wear. Most rims will have either a groove or a series of dots set into them. If you can’t see these, it’s time to get the rims changed before they can no longer deal with your tyre pressure and crack. Don’t forget to release the brake calliper’s quick release lever before you start.

Getting started

Most road rim brakes these days feature cartridge pads, which allow you to slide pads in and out of a metal casing. That casing supplies a sturdier resistance than an all-rubber block, improving stopping power. So if your bike doesn’t have cartridge brake blocks – and many budget road machines don’t – it is worth upgrading to them.

Pad out

Assuming you have cartridge pads, they will be held in the metal casing by a 2mm grub screw. Use an Allen key to remove the screw – you can leave it sticking into the casing a little to stop it getting lost – then slide the pad backwards to remove it. It might need a good shove.

New in

New brake pads will be specific for right and left casings, and it is vital that you put them in the correct way round – they should be marked either L or R and have an arrow denoting the direction in which they should be inserted. Once you have slotted the pad all the way into the casing, retighten the grub screw to secure the pad firmly in place.

Get set

If you’ve corrected your brake settings to deal with the worn pads you’ve just removed, you will need to adjust them again to stop the new pads rubbing against the rim. Twist the calliper’s barrel adjuster clockwise to reduce the cable tension until the pads are just clear of the rims on either side.

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