How to Clean Bicycle Brake Pads

How to Clean Bicycle Brake Pads
Bicycle brake pads take a lot of wear and tear from the intense friction between the pad and aluminum rims. This can cause small aluminum shards to splinter off the rim and become embedded in the pad. Pads also accumulate standard dirt and sediments that need to be cleaned away periodically. Whatever your reason for cleaning your brake pads, this is one of the easiest maintenance jobs you can do on your bike.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Awl, nail or needle
  • Cloth
  • rubbing alcohol
Step 1
Rub around the edge of the brake pad where it meets the metal bracket using a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. This gets rid of potentially corrosive elements that can eat away at the metal and lower the life expectancy of your brake pad.
Step 2
Rub the front of the brake pad--the part that makes contact with the bicycle rim. Dirt and other sediments can get stuck in the rubber of the pad and scrape against the rim, even taking off some of the aluminum. It can also create a high-pitched sound when the brakes are applied.
Step 3
Check the brake pad for aluminium slivers or other debris and use an awl, nail, needle or other sharp instrument to pick it out. Dislodge the debris similar to the way you would try to remove a sliver from your skin. You might also try using tweezers to pluck out debris.

Tips & Warnings

Brake pad cleanings are a good opportunity to inspect or test your brakes. If the pad is getting worn down, you might want to replace the pads altogether.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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