When you install a new set of brake pads on your mountain bike, or disc brake equipped bike, you'll want to bed the pads in. During manufacturing the surface of each brake pad is left slightly rough. The process of bedding in your pads transfers a small amount of brake pad material to your rotor so that your new pads can sit flush, with as much of the brake pad contacting the rotor as possible. It also provides a uniform layer of brake material on the rotor, helping to minimize squealing and create consistent power.
Bedding in your pads creates a consistent surface for braking on the pad
Follow these steps to correctly bed in your new brake pads.
Step 1: Clean the Rotor
To make sure the pads give you the power you're looking for, create a clean interface between the pads and rotor. By wiping off any older brake pad material or contaminants, you can bed in the new pad on a clean surface.
Step 2: Install the Pads
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing your new brake pads. In most cases you can install the new pads without any additional work, but sometimes your brakes will need a bleed of the caliper and lever.
Step 3: Easy Initial Braking
Find a safe space, like a driveway or alley to begin the bedding process. The first thing you'll want to do is gently introduce the new pads to your rotor. This minimizes any issues with premature heat build up.
Start by braking easy for about 5 seconds while riding at a moderate pace of 7-10 miles an hour and let go of the brakes before coming to a complete stop. Repeat this process at least 3 more times.
Step 4: Brake Harder
After the initial braking process you'll need a bit more speed so you can continue the bedding in process. This step is easier if you can find a hill to help you get up to speed.
While riding at a brisk pace, brake with medium power and release them just before coming to a complete stop. This process should be completed 10-15 times at a minimum and each time you should feel the brakes getting stronger. In between each braking moment, allow the brakes to cool as to not overheat them during this process.
Step 5: Adjust Your Levers
After installing new pads you may find your levers need adjusting. Most brakes offer pad contact adjustments, or at least adjustment of the braking lever itself. If it feels different than before you installed the pads, make adjustments to regain a comfortable lever feel.
Step 6: Go Ride!
Your brakes should be performing at their best and the new pads will give you increased power and confidence on the trails.