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Why should I bed in my disc brake pads and what's the best way to do it?

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What does "bedding" mean? – Neil Fein Nov 23 '10 at 19:59
is this like "toe in" on normal brake pads? – dotjoe Nov 23 '10 at 21:16
@dotjoe No. Toe in refers to an angular measurement in the installation process. – Brian Knoblauch Nov 24 '10 at 15:24
Nevermind...bed in simply means to "break in". – dotjoe Nov 24 '10 at 15:40
Bedding brakes should only be done in the privacy of your home. Remember, a gentleman never tells! – Daniel R Hicks Mar 2 '12 at 19:31
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Bedding in brakes removes any glaze from your new pads, and any contamination from your disc rotors. It also transfers material from the pads onto the rotors, which helps them work together. It's essential to get the optimum performance from your brakes when you change pads. Follow these steps:

  1. Clean your rotors - you don't want them to transfer any grease and grime to your new pads. You can buy dedicated brake cleaner.

  2. Fit the new pads and find a place where you can build up a bit of speed. A hill is helpful for this.

  3. Build up some speed and then brake to a gradual halt. Repeat a few times.

That's probably all you need to do. However some people, myself included, like to pour water over the hot brakes. I'm not sure this actually improves anything but even if it doesn't it sizzles and steams, which is pretty cool

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By pouring water, you are effectively qunching the rotors. Although I suspect the temperature is not high enough for any noticeable changes. – Vorac Feb 4 '15 at 8:25

Bedding in is a term applied to most metallic braking devices. Pads and rotors/discs wear at different rates and can end up slightly grooved depending on the natural variations in the pad/disc materials. when replacing one or the other or both items you need to bed them in to ensure that both surfaces conform to each other.

The best way to bed brakes in is NOT by slamming them on, but rather by applying firm, even pressure to the brakes which will help ensure they bed in correctly. Too light pressure and you could "glaze" the pad - i.e. turn it too hard and polished to effectively brake, too hard and you could damage the rotor or pad by scoring its surface or worse.

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Does this also apply to rim brakes, or just disc brakes? – Neil Fein Nov 25 '10 at 16:03

The reason for bedding them in is to get the proper performance and lifetime out of them that they were designed for. The process should be specified by the manufacturer. It will vary based on the pad's materials/design.

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The reason you need to bed in your pads is so that they contact the disc rotor evenly. Even if you think you've set them up perfectly, the rotor and the pad are very hard and when you apply the brakes initially there is not going to be completely even contact between pad and rotor. By bedding them in, you're effectively wearing away the top layer of the disc rotor so you get completely even contact.

To do this you simply need to brake hard, generating heat and wear. I find sprinting down the road and put the front brakes on hard, whilst keeping my weight well back to prevent an embarrassing endo, works well. For the rear I again sprint off but then apply it steadily and firmly, also with weight well back and just enough pressure to brake hard without skidding. It helps if you're on a really grippy surface like tarmac.

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bedding in pads -whether on a car, motorbike or bicycle should be done with firm pressure not slamming them on. – Mauro Nov 25 '10 at 12:19
@Mauro It depends on the manufacturer. Really need to check the instructions for whatever pads you use. On my car, I've had some that say "drive real easy, light braking only", others that say "drive normal, but try not to overheat", and the current set says "do repeated maximum effort braking from 60mph until you can smell them, then drive without stopping for 5 minutes to allow them to cool". – Brian Knoblauch Nov 29 '10 at 14:19

Yes, you will need to do a series of brake applications to ensure a nice even coat of pad material is layered on the brake rotor or disk. What your essentially doing here is cooking your pad so that the rotor will have pad material transferred to it. Also, your also making sure the pad is mature enough to be used for those big hills. If you want to know what a rotor looks like when you do this wrong, then check this car website out:

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