Its a simple, easy process that you can do pretty quickly, and requires no disassembly, solvents, wrenches, skinned knuckles etc.
Put your new, fresh pads in. Have a place with lots of traffic-free runoff available. Usually your local neighborhood streets are good. You want an area where you can ride for at least a half mile without touching the brakes, and which has so little traffic you can do the following:
Assuming this is an ebike
- Get the bike up to its maximum head of steam. 25 mph. 28 mph… whatever. Go fast.
- Apply ONE of your two brakes with firm pressure. Do NOT slam them on. Get the bike to decelerate firmly but whatever you do don’t lock up the wheel or stop the bike. NO MATTER WHAT. Pads sitting directly over a single spot on a rotor being bedded – or worse still clamped to that stationary rotor – will make the rotor cool unevenly and thats how you warp a rotor in seconds.
- When your speed has decreased to, say… 10 mph… accelerate again to your max.
- Repeat Steps 2 and 3 15-20 times. Yes this is a lot and that excess is deliberate. Take it out to the furthest reach of your test area.
- Return slowly and steadily to your point of origin. Do not touch either brake if at all possible. This is the critical cooling off phase, where you ensure you do not damage your brake rotor after abusing it in the previous steps. At this point your brake rotor should be blackened and smoking. Thats a good thing as it means pad material was transferred to the rotor surface, which it can bond to thanks to your overheating it like you did. Now you have to let that rotor cool. Above all do not stop. Do not touch the brake lever of the caliper that was just bedded, unless you must for safety. If you need to brake, use the other brake that you didn’t use on this current run. But try to pick a spot where you can just do this procedure and safely putter along back to your start.
- Repeat Steps 1-5 this time using your other brake caliper.
What you are trying to do is deposit a thin coating of pad material evenly across the surface of your brake rotor. This will aid in properly stopping the bike, and typically also lessens or eliminates brake squeal, if you have it. To get this material transfer the rotor must be HOT. Thats why we overdo the braking process – to generate that excessive heat.
On an ordinary neighborhood bike, bedding is not such a big deal. On an ebike that gets up to some serious speeds, and may even be an automobile replacement used on city streets, its a lot more important.
Do a Mini-Bed On The Fly
There is a way to do this as a part of your normal daily ride, if you have a fairly steep hill you ride regularly somewhere.
I live at the top of a steep hill. Going down that hill, I can brake as described above to keep my speed slow, and alternate the use of my brakes: Squeeze the front, then the rear, then the front and so on. I’m using the braking to keep me from careening unsafely down the hill. I stay slow and never stop. Its only about 100 yards of travel, but thats plenty to do a quickie bedding.
By the time I get to the bottom of that short hill I have noticeably stronger braking, and before I get to the bottom I have to mellow out because if I don’t I will start overheating them. So… a short hill will do the job just great. Also since its short I don’t have to do the cool-down phase because I haven’t superheated anything like I would a formal bedding session.
How Often Do I Re-Bed?
When the brakes get noisy, if they ever do.
- If you change out a worn-out rotor for a new one, Do a full re-bed on the new rotor.
- If it rains, and you ride in the rain, that is going to wash the rotors and pads down but good. My brakes often squeal like banshees after a ride in a rain storm. Do a full re-bed.
- If you change pad compounds with new pads, then MAYBE you will get some noise as a result. Try a light bedding on the fly. If that doesn’t work, do a full re-bed on the affected wheel(s).
- If they just start getting noisy, do a short bed on the fly and see if that shuts them up.