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DISK BRAKES AT RICOL 
CYCLE REPAIR & SERVICE CENTRE  
 

DISC BRAKES 

For optimal results, new disc-brake pads and rotors should be put through a break-in process 
known as (interchangeably) "bed-in", "burnishing", or "burn-in". When properly done (and 
maintained) the bed-in process improves brake power, reduces brake noises, eliminates 
judder (rapid alternating slip and grab, resulting in shaking, vibration, and squeal/honk), and 
prolongs rotor and pad life. 
 
 
Unfortunately, while disc-brake manufacturers all publish recommended bed-in procedures, 
for the sake of simplicity these procedures are, at best, loose guidelines. If mechanics follow 
these procedures to the letter, they may waste a great deal of time and effort, the results could 
fall short of accomplishing bed-in, or the results could be badly overheated brake-system 
components that are more likely to produce the very symptoms that bed-in should prevent. 
 
Here are some examples of manufacturer's recommended bed-in procedures: 
 
Shimano: Clean the rotor. On pavement, get the bike up to a good speed, then firmly and 
evenly apply the front brake until the bike comes to almost a complete stop. Repeat 10 times. 
You should notice the brake becoming more powerful with each braking cycle. Repeat for the 
rear brake. 
 
Avid/SRAM: Accelerate the bike to a moderate speed (approximately 19 kilometers or 12 
miles per hour), then firmly apply the brakes until you are at walking speed. Repeat 
approximately 20 times. 
Accelerate the bike to a faster speed (approximately 32 kilometers or 20 miles per hour). 
Then very firmly and suddenly apply the brakes until you are at walking speed. Repeat 
approximately 10 times. 
Do not lock the wheels up at any point during the bed-in procedure. 
Allow the brakes to cool prior to any additional riding. 
 
Hayes: Disc brakes require a special burnish period to achieve maximum braking power. The 
burnish period lasts for about 30-50 hard stops. During this period some noise may occur. 
 
Brake pads are complex structures. At the simplest level, brake pads are a combination of 
abrasive particles or fibers (of various materials) bonded together by a phenolic resin. 
Complexity results from the wide variety of abrasive materials and resin compounds that are 
used. Additionally, variable ratios of the abrasive material to resin material exist for different 
pads. 
 
The bed-in procedure, therefore, has two purposes. First, if the brake setup has not 
established perfect parallelism between the pad faces and the rotor faces, then the bed-in 
process improves this conformity. However, the amount of braking necessary to produces full 
conformity is a function of the initial degree of severity to which the pad and rotor faces are 
not parallel. 
Below are some guidelines to help you (If you have a new bike you can skip to step 3): 
 
1 Clean your rotors 
 
One of the biggest mistakes riders make is putting new pads into a system where the rotors are dirty with oils or other contaminants. Use disc brake cleaner to remove residue from the rotor before bedding in new pads. 
 
2 Check new pads 
 
Ensure that you use clean and undamaged new pads, as anything else won’t bed in. Pads that have seen any use at all will have been through braking cycles. While they will work to a degree, you won’t get the full benefit. 
 
3 Find a safe place 
 
With your new pads fitted to your calliper, you need to find a long, gradual road descent with a smooth surface. Something that allows a 20mph roll with enough space and safety to perform some hard stops will be ideal. 
 
4 Drag and stop 
 
Everyone has their own method of getting new pads to bite. We build up speed, drag the brake for five or six seconds to build heat and then increase lever pressure until the bike stops. Six or seven runs will have the brakes working perfectly. 
 
5 Think about water 
 
Some people like to douse the calliper and rotor in clean, cold water after each stop cycle. We’re split 50/50 on this practice. None of our brakes feel different, so it’s up to you whether you douse or not. 
 
6 Ignore early pulls 
 
Early stops will feel poor, but the response should build with each cycle. The heating of the pad causes it to transfer some of the material to the rotor, keying the pad and rotor together and giving your brakes bite and immediacy. 
 
7 Adjust the lever 
 
You might want to tweak your brake lever so that it adapts to the feel of the newly bedded brake pads. Some brakes adjust automatically, but those with lever bite-point adjusters can also be fettled manually. 
 
8 Dirt test (Not Required for Road Bikes!!) 
 
Now that you’ve bedded in your new pads on the road, it’s time to hit the dirt and see whether or not they’re allowing you to hit turns harder and more deeply. And remember, it’s brakes that help racers go faster! 
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