ProX Pro Mechanic Tip: How to Change Dirt Bike Brake Pads

July 31, 2019 / by Donn Maeda

We worked with a Tech Specialist from Kawasaki to create a step-by-step guide on replacing dirt bike brake pads.

Brake pads are among some of the quickest wearing parts on your motorcycle and they are critical components that should be regularly inspected and replaced. Great-working brakes are important for quick lap times, as the better they bring the bike down from speed, the deeper and harder you can drive the bike into corners.

Inspecting the amount of pad material that’s left on your brake pads should be a regular part of your bike maintenance routine, but well-worn pads are not the only ones that should be replaced. Pads that have been overheated can harden the surface and become less effective at efficiently stopping the motorcycle; the telltale sign is a squealing sound and reduced performance.

Inspecting brake components is part of regular maintenance. Keep reading for our step-by-step on replacing brake pads, and click here for more details on brake systems and required maintenance.

The new 2019 Kawasaki KX450 is equipped with an oversized 270mm rear that is prone to overheating, especially in the hands of riders who tend to drag their rear brake. After overheating the stock pads, we recruited Kawasaki Tech Services Specialist Mike Chavez to share some tips about replacing the front and rear brake pads on a motocross bike. We’ll be replacing the stock pads with ProX sintered brake pads. The sintered material provides a superior advantage to OEM pads because they stand up to high temperatures better than organic pads, offer better feel and modulation, and last longer.

Tools Needed:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Various metric-sized Allen wrenches (usually 4mm and 6mm)
  • Appropriately sized wrench or socket for rear axle
removing dirt bike brake caliper
“On the front caliper, it is a good idea to loosen the pad retaining pin before you remove the caliper from the fork lug, as you will have limited leverage holding the caliper in your hand. On most bikes, this is a 4mm Allen.”
removing dirt bike brake caliper 2
“Remove the caliper from the fork lug. On most bikes, there are two 6mm Allen head bolts securing the caliper. If your bike has a front disc guard, this will need to be removed first.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“I like to use a screwdriver to spread the pads apart and get the pistons depressed into the caliper before I remove the old pads. This makes installation of the new pads much easier, as there is plenty of room.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“Remove the pad retaining pin from the caliper. Once this is removed, the old pads should practically fall out of the caliper as this is what keeps them in place.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“While the pin is out, inspect it for grooves or excessive wear. If there are signs of either, the pin should be replaced as this will prevent the brake pads from sliding freely when the brake is applied.”
shaving brake pads shaving brake pads
“At the manufacturer level, and especially during new bike testing season, I remove and reinstall the wheels of motorcycles numerous times. To help make this an easier process, I like to bevel an edge on the inner edge of the brake pads to help guide the brake rotor in between the pads. It doesn’t take much, just a few passes with a flat file is good enough to round the edges of a normally square pad.”
ProX brake pads
Sintered metal brake pads are better at managing heat, have better feel and modulation, and last longer than organic material brake pads. ProX pads are produced under a very strict sintering process, which fuses metallic particles with a combination of heat and pressure.

Find ProX brake pads and components for your machine here!

installing new prox dirt bike brake pads
“Install the new pads by slipping the squared end into the corresponding notch on the inside edge of the brake caliper. Because you’ve already depressed the piston into the caliper, the new, thicker pads should slide in easily.”
installing new dirt bike brake pads
“Slip the pad retention pin back in and thread it in semi tight. Once the caliper is mounted back on the fork, you should snug it down when you have the benefit of mounted leverage.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“Reattach the brake caliper to the fork lug with the two bolts. Before installation, I like to clean the threads of the mounting bolts out and apply a thin layer of grease on the threads to prevent seizing. Check your owners’ manual for proper torque specifications.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“Don’t forget to snug up the pad retention pin! Some manufacturers use a small, threaded cap over the head of the pin to prevent against backing out. If your bike has this, it’s a good idea to clean and grease the threads on this, too, as it’s a commonly seized part.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“After you have tightened all the fasteners, be sure to pump the front brake lever several times to get fluid back into the caliper. At first, there will be no pressure at the lever, but after a few actuations all should feel normal again.”

Think you need to bleed your brake system? Click here for our complete how-to on bleeding brakes!

replacing dirt bike brake pads
“Though it is possible to change rear brake pads without removing the rear wheel, it is tricky to remove and install the pads in the caliper when you have to work around the disc. That said, take the extra step to remove the rear wheel and make your life easier with just a little effort. Loosen and remove the rear axle nut and slide the rear axle out. While it is out, it’s a good opportunity to wipe it clean and inspect it for wear. Be sure to apply a thin coat of grease on the axle and threads before reinstallation.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“As you did with the front caliper, use a flathead screwdriver to spread the pads and retract the piston into the caliper, as this will make the removal of the old pads and installation of the new ones an easier affair.”
replacing dirt bike brake pads
“From here, the process is the same as the replacing the front pads, with the exception of removing the caliper from the swingarm. Loosen, remove, and inspect the pad retention pin, replace the old pads with the new set, reinstall the pin and snug it down before reinstalling the rear wheel and tightening up the rear axle. Be sure to check your owners’ manual for recommended torque settings. Finally, pump the rear brake pedal to activate the caliper and get the pads extended against the disc.”

Topics: featured, Powersports, Tech, Maintenance, How-To

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Written by Donn Maeda