How do you get new BB7 pads to install in the new caliper bodies? By "new" I mean the ones with the spring steel "cap" on the opening at the "top" of the caliper unit (the side opposite the axle).

On my c. 2004 Gary Fisher, the silver calipers are closed on the side opposite the axle. On my 2015 Salsa Vaya the black calipers have an opening on that side, and they have a spring steel cap that clips into the opening. The upper "ears" on the pads extend up into that space.

Here is what it looks like from the "top" (looking toward the axle):

enter image description here

You can see the pads through the opening in the cap.

On the old Fisher, I would install BB7 pads just by pinching the pad-spring-pad "sandwich" and pushing the sandwich into the caliper from the "bottom" (the side toward the axle). This is how all the advice on the web tells you to install BB7 pads. On the Salsa Vaya, with the cap installed, I can only get the pads all the way in about one in fifty tries--usually one or the other pad will not go all the way in. Sometimes both pads hang up short. If I take the cap off, then the pads go in fine. I rode all the way across the U.S. with the cap off because that was the only way I could get the pads into the caliper. What's the trick?

  • 2
    You are allowed to answer your own question. I suggest you break good post in two, as a question and answer. And please remove the "love tap" words. These are often used in the context of violence against women.
    – andy256
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 10:53

3 Answers 3


There is a trick: The pads need some "persuasion" to get past the spring clip. Here is a side view of the pads and the spring clip showing how the pads nest within the steel clip. This should make obvious why a little force is required to get the pads to move fully into the caliper.

enter image description here

After much frustration, I finally looked at the pad and the clip in that side view and realized that the "ears" on the top of the pad need to be forced (gently) past the narrow, re-entrant part of the cap (expanding the cap outward as they pass). The force required was more than my fingers could muster, and more than was implied by the instructions I found on an Avid site and elsewhere.

The way I applied the necessary force was by setting a drive pin across the edges of both partially installed pads at their bottom (next to the bottom "ears") and giving the drive a light tap with a plastic or rubber mallet. The pads moved ever so slightly as the ears pushed past the re-entrant portion of the steel cap. A piece of wood or a dowel of the right dimension would be better, and a steel hammer would work fine. No matter what you use, be gentle.

  • 1
    I use a rubber mallet to seat them into place. The fit seems to have gotten tighter in recent Years
    – Rider_X
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 19:45
  • It was exactly my situation as well: not enough finger force to press the pads in, and it required tapping it with a tool. Avid's manual was unclear on that topic. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 5:44
  • Well, today I found out I've been fitting my pads wrong for more years than I can count. FWIW I used a 5 mm Allen key, and the parallel edges fitted nicely between the little arms sticking out from the pad. Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 11:50

I used an unsharpened pencil to finish seating the pads into the caliper. Worked beautifully. Nice to hear that SNAP.


Just to add a bit more colour to Volga89's answer, here is a shallow view into the opening in the cap - you can see that the golden-coloured "ears" of the pad hook over the top of the silver-coloured lip of the spring clip:

a shallow view into the opening in the cap of a BB7 brake caliper

And here is a view into the jaws of the caliper, showing that when fully seated, the pads do not fully cover the caliper piston, which misled me for a while, because i thought that couldn't be right:

a view into the jaws of a BB7 brake caliper

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