So I am installing a brand new cartridge brake pad assembly on my mountain bike. I noticed that the brakes have a left and right written on them so i install them properly. What seems fishy to me is that the cartridge slides in from the back of the bike.

This means that if i were to lose the pin holding the cartridge in place, next time i were to apply the brakes the cartridge would probably be pulled out of the holder because of friction.

This is the part that seems very counter intuitive to me. If that hole was in the front of the brakes, this scenario would never occur. This also leads me to believe that maybe the LEFT and RIGHT markers are suppose to be flipped.

  • 2
    While walking the bike forward, gently squeeze the brake lever and observe which way the wheel "wants" to push the brake pad. Commented Dec 22, 2012 at 23:47
  • It's all a big conspiracy designed to foil those of us that want to ride our bikes in reverse. It started with that "freewheel" (free...ya right) and has continued with the brakes.
    – Ken Hiatt
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


The brake labels are correct, please don't ignore them.

When you're moving along the top of the wheel, where the brake is, is moving forwards. When the brakes touch the rims, the rims are trying to pull them further forwards, were the holes in the front, they'd be pulled straight out.

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    i am an idiot. when i was installing the breaks my bike was hanging at a strange angle. i thought it was 30 degrees but it turned out to be 210. I put my breaks in backwards :)
    – mkoryak
    Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 15:28

The open end of the brake always faces rearward on the bike. Right and Left are identified with respect to you as if you were sitting on the saddle facing forward on the bike.

If the pin fell out, the brake pads would only slide out of place if you held the brakes and rolled the bike backwards. You can improvise a pin with a bent paper clip if need be to replace a missing one.

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