How to check motorbike brake pads and disk wear

Does anyone know how to check motorbike pad and disc wear?

I have a Yamaha Nouvo. Had a look at the front wheel but I can't seem to see the pads at all. Perhaps it’s well covered up for good reason (keep water, grime, dust away from pads and disk?).

The reason I ask is, recently I went on a long trip and the front brakes suddenly gave way. Turned out the pads had completely worn out. I made a post about it here:

https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.p … 60#4753765

I think it's quite important to check this (brake pads and disks), especially if you are going on a long trip.

What about the back brake?.Is there any way of checking this without taking the wheel off?. Does it give some clues to us before it completely wears?

So you should see them little bit.. brake pads that is, for disc you would need calipers and service manual to know what is the service limit unless it is stamped in the disc.

Rear drum you will see mostly from adjustments when they are running out so are your pads too.

Ps, if
You hear metallic sound that is brake pads gone..

Listen for scraping sounds. As the pads wear, the braking tends to be poor and, when they hit the metal, the sound is terrible.
As for a rear drum, the same applies but you usually see the adjustment wing nut is way down the bar.
These are very basic checks, easy to spot with regular maintenance, and easy to sort out with minimal mechanical knowledge.

Off topic a little, but make sure you have tubeless tyres and check the tread and pressure at least once a week.
If the rim of a coin won't go completely in, change the tyre. Check sidewalls and tread for any bulges. Any sign of one, change the tyre because it's ikely to explode without warning.
The explosion can take your hand off, even with a small moped tyre, so change it immediately.

Battery issues are very easy to spot. The moment the starter starts to labour, it's knackered. You'll get a few warnings before a battery dies completely.

Fred :

Listen for scraping sounds. As the pads wear, the braking tends to be poor and, when they hit the metal, the sound is terrible.....

Wald0 :

You hear metallic sound that is brake pads gone..

I didn't notice any deterioration in performance.

Was miles away from home (near Moc Bai border), applied front brake, it lost all pressure, then pressure returned, then when I applied brake it was the horrible scrapping sound.

Actually, about a month before this happened, I had took the motorbike back to the hire shop to sort out issue with battery. The guy changed the battery and had done some tweaks (I noticed the bike ran much better when I got it back). If there is a performance change in the front brake as they wear I would have thought he would have noticed it when working on it (presumably he would have used front brake when moving the bike around the shop). Perhaps the change in performance is only felt one or two weeks before it finally gives up?...honestly, for the life of me I didn't notice any change, and I'm not a 'stick gas in the tank and just ride' kinda motorbike user.

Wald0 :

So you should see them little bit.. brake pads that is

I had look but can't see anything. Obviously, I'm not looking closely enough.

Various sources on Internet also talk about groves on the pads to indicate wear. i.e. if the pads have worn beyond the groove marks then it's time to replace.

The disc of course if clearly visible. When I changed the pads they changed the disc also. I think this is standard practice. Presumably, if I ever need to change the disc before the pads, the pads will also be changed together with the disc?

Fred :

As for a rear drum, the same applies but you usually see the adjustment wing nut is way down the bar.

Wald0 :

Rear drum you will see mostly from adjustments when they are running out so are your pads too.

Agreed. Mine is way down the bar. TIme to have it checked out I reckon.

BTW, how often would you say we should check brake fluid? (only applies to front disc brakes I believe). I read do this every 100 km or every 1 month (presumably whichever comes sooner).

sanooku :

...

I know virtually nothing about bike mechanics, so I may be asking a stupid question:

Is there anything on a bike that corresponds to a master brake cylinder on a car?

This sounds very much like whomever should service and check out the bike is failing in the same sort of way I fail to crack funny jokes.

Brake fluid is easy to check so once a week. You only have to look at the little window.

Fred :

....
Brake fluid is easy to check so once a week. You only have to look at the little window.

Wonder how many of us do this every week.  :D

May be have a poll?

I did when I ran bikes, as I checked the tyres and brakes.
Riding a bike is far more dangerous than driving a car because you have bugger all protection if things go pear shaped on you, so making sure the thing is roadworthy is an absolute must.
Servicing was so cheap I just let the Honda guys do it, but I did most myself in England.

It says in the link below brake fluid only needs to be checked every 100km or every month or so:

https://www.elf.com/en/lubricants-faq/h … motorcycle

I think you checked it more often because it's simpler to incorporate it in to weekly routine/habit. I also think it's useful to make it a point to do the checks on a certain day of the week. e.g. Sunday. That way we don't need to keep a tally of how many miles we've done since the last check.

Fred :

.....
Brake fluid is easy to check so once a week. You only have to look at the little window.

Did you change the brake fluid 'around every 2 years'?

Fast bikes with a lot of fast miles so at least once per year.
Can't afford a easy to avoid mechanical cock up at 200kph

Oh, and yes, I was a very naughty boy in England.

Easy, bring it into the shop and let an expert do it .

Changed front pads and disc last month. so, probably not necessary as yet. (my usage is about 50 km a week)

Fred :

Fast bikes with a lot of fast miles so at least once per year.
...

How did you keep track of last changed date/next due date?

From memory, using a paper based diary/calendar or using mobile phone/digital organiser/computer?

sanooku :

Changed front pads and disc last month. so, probably not necessary as yet. (my usage is about 50 km a week)

You may not have needed new rotors.  If you wait for the scraping sound you are already scoring the rotors.  So, changing early avoids the added cost of new rotors.  Automotive rotors can be turned down (i.e. milled) but I expect that motorbike rotors are too thin for that.

THIGV :
sanooku :

Changed front pads and disc last month. so, probably not necessary as yet. (my usage is about 50 km a week)

You may not have needed new rotors.  If you wait for the scraping sound you are already scoring the rotors.  So, changing early avoids the added cost of new rotors.  Automotive rotors can be turned down (i.e. milled) but I expect that motorbike rotors are too thin for that.

Seems you are right about the rotor not needing to be changed with the pads if changed before the scraping sound (scoring the rotor):

Although, it seems, if a rotor needs changing, then invariably the pads will need to be changed:

Wonder if this could happen. You change pads, then soon afterwards you discover that the rotor is worn (due to use), so you have to replace both the rotor( and the pads), wasting the pads that were changed just weeks ago. I suppose if there is any sign of wear on the rotor to begin with then best to change them together.

Wald0 :

So you should see them little bit.. brake pads that is,....

Had another closer look.

from back:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6o78kgeoynp8mid/Yamaha-nouvo-front-brake-from-back-IMG_20200114_155810.jpg?raw=1

from front:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/3p7fwwi9i44qzw3/Yamaha-nouvo-front-brake-from-front-IMG_20200114_155810.jpg?raw=1

I'm starting to wonder if the concealment is particular to Nouvo's in general, or maybe the model of Nouvo (I think there are many).

sanooku :
Wald0 :

So you should see them little bit.. brake pads that is,....

Had another closer look.

from back:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6o78kgeoynp8m … .jpg?raw=1

from front:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/3p7fwwi9i44qz … .jpg?raw=1

I'm starting to wonder if the concealment is particular to Nouvo's in general, or maybe the model of Nouvo (I think there are many).

Here's a YouTube link for you explaining the front and rear brakes on the Nouvo. If this looks too daunting, then just take it to a shop.

https://youtu.be/SPB9mujBeyo

Suppobill :
sanooku :
Wald0 :

So you should see them little bit.. brake pads that is,....

Had another closer look.

from back:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6o78kgeoynp8m … .jpg?raw=1

from front:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/3p7fwwi9i44qz … .jpg?raw=1

I'm starting to wonder if the concealment is particular to Nouvo's in general, or maybe the model of Nouvo (I think there are many).

Here's a YouTube link for you explaining the front and rear brakes on the Nouvo. If this looks too daunting, then just take it to a shop.

https://youtu.be/SPB9mujBeyo

Thanks. It seems we cannot see the wear unless we remove the unit and inspect.

It looks like the norm for other motorbikes also:

https://youtu.be/iRtLoll2j5M?t=39

Although, on some bikes no need to do that:

https://youtu.be/RiMKrks1xqA?t=19

sanooku :
Suppobill :
sanooku :

Had another closer look.

from back:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6o78kgeoynp8m … .jpg?raw=1

from front:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/3p7fwwi9i44qz … .jpg?raw=1

I'm starting to wonder if the concealment is particular to Nouvo's in general, or maybe the model of Nouvo (I think there are many).

Here's a YouTube link for you explaining the front and rear brakes on the Nouvo. If this looks too daunting, then just take it to a shop.

https://youtu.be/SPB9mujBeyo

Thanks. It seems we cannot see the wear unless we remove the unit and inspect.

It looks like the norm for other motorbikes also:

https://youtu.be/iRtLoll2j5M?t=39

Although, on some bikes no need to do that:

https://youtu.be/RiMKrks1xqA?t=19

I have to pull the calipers on my Triumph to see the pads also. Pretty normal for motorcycles.

If the lighting was better in the from-front pic you should be able to see how much meat is left on the pads. Easier to see when there is actually a bit left to see haha. Never had a bike I couldn't ogle the pads with a bit of squinting.

But really, as someone else said, just take it to one of the 537 local mechanics if you aren't sure what you are doing. Your tires and brakes are the most critical components if destiny is about to hand you a shitty day.

Brick23 :

If the lighting was better in the from-front pic you should be able to see how much meat is left on the pads. Easier to see when there is actually a bit left to see haha. Never had a bike I couldn't ogle the pads with a bit of squinting.

But really, as someone else said, just take it to one of the 537 local mechanics if you aren't sure what you are doing. Your tires and brakes are the most critical components if destiny is about to hand you a shitty day.

Wonder if my motorbike hire place did much oggling when I took it there (to replace battery) one month before the brake failed.

Your tires and brakes are the most critical components....

I don't reckon anyone's disputing this. I've just replaced the pads and disk, so doubt they need replacing. Yet I can't see them. If I take it to the hire shop or any local mechanic now, I can guarantee you the answer will be 'No, you don't need to replace just yet'.

So, now it's a question of when do I take it to the local mechanic or hire shop to have it checked. After 100km?, 200km or 1000km?..I doubt it depends just on mileage. Pretty sure the riding conditions (I guess city riding with lots of breaking would entail lots of wear, simlarly riding at high speed then stopping suddenly) have something to do with it.

Really, it's common sense to say just take it to the local mechanic to have it checked. In fact, I reckon most expats, if they are aware how to get on a plane, would be aware of this wonderful insight too.

sanooku :

If I take it to the hire shop or any local mechanic now, I can guarantee you the answer will be 'No, you don't need to replace just yet'.

I don't think it is a contentious statement to say that preventive maintenance is not practiced by most Vietnamese.  It took a few trips to a local "Head" Honda shop for them to understand that I wanted our bike screened for upcoming potential problems as well as current tasks like oil changes.  Even then, they they would almost apologetically show me the worn parts while seeking my authorization to replace them.  Finding a mechanic who understands the concept of preventative maintenance could be a problem.

We had a 2012 Air Blade and like many Honda models it has a brake design where one lever activates both the front discs and rears in a balanced way.  As a result I probably used the front brake more than I would have in regular separated system and had to change pads more frequently than I expected.  As others have said, nothing is more important than brakes and tires.  The cost of new pads and rotors is minor compared to the cost of an avoidable accident.

THIGV :
sanooku :

If I take it to the hire shop or any local mechanic now, I can guarantee you the answer will be 'No, you don't need to replace just yet'.

I don't think it is a contentious statement to say that preventive maintenance is not practiced by most Vietnamese.  It took a few trips to a local "Head" Honda shop for them to understand that I wanted our bike screened for upcoming potential problems as well as current tasks like oil changes.  Even then, they they would almost apologetically show me the worn parts while seeking my authorization to replace them.  Finding a mechanic who understands the concept of preventative maintenance could be a problem.

Actually, what I was saying was that the mechanic would realise that my pads have recently been replaced, so the answer would be 'No, you don't need to replace just yet'.

However, I think you raise an important point. In places like Thailand and Vietnam, generally, the practice is to use until broken, then replace. I doubt this practice would extend to brake pads though. i.e. if they are nearly worn, I reckon the mechanic would advise to replace, not wait till they fail.

As others have said, nothing is more important than brakes and tires.

As I've said in the previous post. Anyone with half a brain will be aware of this.

The cost of new pads and rotors is minor compared to the cost of an avoidable accident.

Unfortunately, my question in the previous post still remains unanswered. i.e. being aware when to take it to mechanic for checking. Instead, we just have the same old common sense spiel repeated verbatim.

Due to the above, I think it's best for the rider to be able to perform these basic checks than rely on a mechanic.

p.s. Perhaps this is the real reason some manufacturers/models hide the pads from the untrained eye, so we keep having to take it to the mechanic every month (is this even enough?) to check.

Most motorcycle user manuals will have a periodic maintenance and adjustment chart. In it you will see most of the checks to be done at 1000, 4000, 7000 km etc. For some maintenance jobs (e.g. change coolant) it will say every 3 years. For front brake pads it says replace 'whenever worn to the limit' . But without being able to see the wear we don't know if it's 'worn to the limit'.

Let me guess, some hanger on will post an answer next. Brakes and tyres are the most important, so take it to a mechanic. Gee, you don't say, let me take it to a mechanic everyday for checking. That should do it. ;)

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