How to Break In Motorcycle Brakes

How to Break In Motorcycle Brakes

Growing up, we were always told that first impressions matter. First encounters with classmates, coworkers, and peers will have a major impact on the relationship that develops thereafter. You’ve likely heard this before too; But, did you know that the same applies to your motorcycle brake pads and rotors? Your first ride out on your new brake pads will have a major impact on your brake’s performance in the future. And if you aren’t careful, that impact will not be good. Luckily for you, we know a thing or two about bedding your brake pads. With our help, you’ll be able to begin a long and happy relationship with your brake pads and rotors.

Why You Should Bed Your Brakes 

Before we tell you how, we are going to tell you why. While your brake pads and rotor might look flat, they are not perfect. They are covered in tiny ridges and divots, and those ridges and divots need to be smoothed out for maximum performance. When brake pads and rotors first grind together, a small amount of the brake pad material sticks to the rotor. This material fills in the divots and gives you a perfect connection between your pads and rotors. Until this happens on your bike, your brakes will likely feel much weaker than you would expect. It is essential that the distribution of the brake pad material is nice and even to have the best possible braking experience. If spread unevenly, your brakes can feel like they are pulsing; sliding too easy on one section of the rotor and catching hard on another. This problem is easily avoided, as long as your brakes are properly broken in.


How to Bed Your Motorcycle Brake Pads

Now that you understand why this is important, we can tell you our not-so secret formula to brake pad bedding.

  1. Make sure that your brake pads and rotor are perfectly clean. Any amount of dirt or grime could alter the bedding process.
  2. Find a nice, empty stretch of road. You don’t want any other cars, and you don’t want any stop lights or stop signs.
  3. We call this step the “warm up”. It’s just like exercise warm-ups for your brakes, with repetition and all. Accelerate to about 30 miles an hour, and then lightly brake your way back to 5 miles an hour. Do not reach a complete stop. Repeat this step about 5 to 10 times. Are you starting to see why you don’t want any traffic around?
  4. This step will look a lot like the last, but this time, we are going to brake a little more aggressively. Accelerate to 40 miles an hour, and brake moderately down to 5 miles an hour. Again, avoid reaching a complete stop, and again, repeat this 5 or more times.
  5. Now we are really going to see what these brakes can do. This time, Accelerate to 50, and brake aggressively back down to 5 miles an hour. Repeat this at least 5 times. It’s important that you do NOT allow your brakes to lock up, and do not reach a complete stop. (We will explain why later)
  6. Now that we’ve completed our braking exercise, it’s time for a cool down. You can either ride your bike around and avoid braking, or park your bike at home. This is the end of your bedding exercise for the day.


Other Notes

Earlier, we said that you should avoid coming to a complete stop while bedding your brakes, and avoid locking them up. This is because when you do either of these things, your brake pads are sticking to the same spot on your brake rotors! This can leave an impression on your rotor, not allowing the material to spread evenly. This could lead to the pulsing that we are working to avoid. We know that many of you won’t have a perfect road like the one that we described. If you are forced to come to a stop, just pop your bike in neutral so that you aren’t forced to hold your brakes down. That should help you avoid any impressions.  

While this process will be about all you need to do for organic brake pads, sintered brake pads are not completely bedded until almost 200 miles in! This process is a great start for sintered pads, but we don’t recommend testing your brakes often until you are confident that they are well and truly broken in.


Now that you know how to break in your brake pads, and you know why you should, you are one step closer to the perfect brakes. If you have any questions, or any advice on the topic, leave it in the comments section below. Safe Riding!

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I’m about to replace the front brakes on my 84 Yamaha Virago 1000 and upon searching for replacement pads your website mentions Never use sintered metal brake pads in calipers originally equipped with non-sintered brake pads. If that’s the case and you have no clue if the pads are OEM or have been replaced, are you suggesting a rotor replacement as well? Or could a good clean up of the rotor be sufficient?

Worked great on the new sintered pads I but on my BMW R1200RT. I had problems with pulsing in the past when I did not follow this procedure. Thanks!

So how did you remedy the pulsating? Can you correct it by going back and following the seating process properly if caught early on like within the first few hundred miles?

Is it normal for new brakes/brakes on new bike to hear rubbing from the rear at slow speed or when manually turning the back wheel or moving bike in neutral? Is this happening as the brakes are beginning to bed in?

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