Need to remove wheel to change brake pads?

ecelis

New Member
Region
USA
Hello,
I’m new in this website and not very experienced with bike repairs. I have a Trek Super Commuter 7 bike and would like to know how to replace the brake pads. Front wheel is ready to remove but rear not so much. My question is if I could remove the brake assembly to change the pads without having to take out the wheel. My brakes are Shimano and it looks like removing two Allen bolts would free up the brake. I don’t want to damage anything. Thanks.
 

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ki11a

Well-Known Member
I saw some videos but all take wheels off

Thats because its the way that it is meant to be done. If can see in your picture its not an allen key to take apart the brake, its a star shaped key; because they dont want you to be able to take it apart and mess it up.
 

ecelis

New Member
Region
USA
Thats because its the way that it is meant to be done. If can see in your picture its not an allen key to take apart the brake, its a star shaped key; because they dont want you to be able to take it apart and mess it up.
The star shape key takes the brake itself apart. The top and bottom bolts take the brake off from the bike frame …
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
You don't always have to take off the wheel to replace the brake pads, although that's probably the best way, I don't take my wheel off unless I really have to.

 

McCorby

Well-Known Member
Why are you averse to removing the wheel? It’s not too difficult to do on your bike. How do you plan to repair a flat when that occurs?
 

McCorby

Well-Known Member
Unbolting the caliper versus removing the wheel poses more problems imho. You risk stressing the brake line and it’s connection to the caliper. Not to mention needing to realign the caliper. For me, leaving the caliper on makes replacing the pads easier, since you don’t have the caliper flopping around.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
my magura I could just pop the pads out push the pistons back in and put new pads in. but thats hydraulic mechanical brakes you usually have to puttee pads in from the underside so you have no choice but remove the wheel.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I just take the caliper off to change the brake pad. Takes about 20 minutes, 5 is taking the pannier bag off in the back. Taking the wheel off is a pit*. I have to take both panniers off, turn the bike upside down, pry the chain off with a screwdrivers, pry the chain around the shaft while trying to force the axle back in the slot, then have to wind up the derailleur takeup with pliers because I'm not strong enough to do it with my hands. May as well change the tire if I'm taking the wheel off.
BTW I avoided buying hydraulic brakes to avoid the maintenance hassle. downside, I have to spend 2 minutes adjusting the brake pad every 1000 miles.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
I just take the caliper off to change the brake pad. Takes about 20 minutes, 5 is taking the pannier bag off in the back. Taking the wheel off is a pit*. I have to take both panniers off, turn the bike upside down, pry the chain off with a screwdrivers, pry the chain around the shaft while trying to force the axle back in the slot, then have to wind up the derailleur takeup with pliers because I'm not strong enough to do it with my hands. May as well change the tire if I'm taking the wheel off.
BTW I avoided buying hydraulic brakes to avoid the maintenance hassle. downside, I have to spend 2 minutes adjusting the brake pad every 1000 miles.
actually its less work. if your only adjusting pads every 1000 miles your not braking much.
 

McCorby

Well-Known Member
I just take the caliper off to change the brake pad. Takes about 20 minutes, 5 is taking the pannier bag off in the back. Taking the wheel off is a pit*. I have to take both panniers off, turn the bike upside down, pry the chain off with a screwdrivers, pry the chain around the shaft while trying to force the axle back in the slot, then have to wind up the derailleur takeup with pliers because I'm not strong enough to do it with my hands. May as well change the tire if I'm taking the wheel off.
BTW I avoided buying hydraulic brakes to avoid the maintenance hassle. downside, I have to spend 2 minutes adjusting the brake pad every 1000 miles.
With the op’s bike, there is no prying or forcing required to remove his rear wheel.

Hydraulic brake maintenance hassle? I only have a little over 2500 miles on mine, but the only maintenance I’ve had to perform is replace one set of pads. Super simple. No other maintenance or adjustments needed.

Edit: If you’re referring to needing to bleed the system, this is not a normal occurrence. The only reason to bleed the brakes is if you remove a brake line or have a leak.
 
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fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
With the op’s bike, there is no prying or forcing required to remove his rear wheel.

Hydraulic brake maintenance hassle? I only have a little over 2500 miles on mine, but the only maintenance I’ve had to perform is replace one set of pads. Super simple. No other maintenance or adjustments needed.

Edit: If you’re referring to needing to bleed the system, this is not a normal occurrence. The only reason to bleed the brakes is if you remove a brake line or have a leak.
or if you squeeze the brakes without a spacer in or sometimes if you put the bike upside down. I was always having to adjust the knob on regular mechanical brakes every couple of weeks to keep the lever at where I like it. then having to recenter them as the pads wear unevenly. plus a lot more hand work and they don't feel that good compared to hydraulic
 

McCorby

Well-Known Member
or if you squeeze the brakes without a spacer in or sometimes if you put the bike upside down. I was always having to adjust the knob on regular mechanical brakes every couple of weeks to keep the lever at where I like it. then having to recenter them as the pads wear unevenly. plus a lot more hand work and they don't feel that good compared to hydraulic
I’ve never had issues due to having bikes upside down. I have owned three with hydraulic brakes and two were always stored upside down. This is really only a problem if there’s air trapped in the system to begin with. If there’s no air in the system (I.e. a properly bled system with no leaks), this should never be an issue.

This is from roadbikerider.com

I spoke with John Krawczyk, a product manager at Park who knows his stuff and has helped me out many times over the years. He gave me a two-part answer to Bill’s question.

Bicycle Hydraulic Brakes Are Sealed

First, John told me that it’s perfectly fine to hang disc brake bikes any way you want, because bicycle hydraulic brakes use sealed systems. Since they’re sealed, the brake fluid can’t get out and the air can’t get in. So hanging the bike won’t harm the brakes in any way.

Second, he explained that since Bill is having an issue with his brakes when he hangs the bike, it has to be because the system isn’t sealed anymore. This could happen if a piston had gotten stuck allowing air to get in behind it. Or, if somehow a pinhole had developed in a brake hose somewhere on the bike.

In that scenario, the brake could operate adequately when riding but it would be losing a small amount of fluid and simultaneously taking in a little air. Then, when the bike is hung upside down, the air could find its way to the high point and escape. That could result in the feeling Bill experienced having no brakes when he takes the bike down and checks it.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
if your only adjusting pads every 1000 miles your not braking much.
Much of the brake adjustment on cheap bikes is cable stretch caused by making the cables out of recycled scrap metal containing tin, lead, copper. Replace garbage cables with clarks or jaguar, which in my experience don't stretch. I put 6000 miles a Pacific Quantum, $200 kiddie toy.
 

Sierratim

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Nevada City, CA & Paradise Valley, AZ
Hello,
I’m new in this website and not very experienced with bike repairs. I have a Trek Super Commuter 7 bike and would like to know how to replace the brake pads. Front wheel is ready to remove but rear not so much. My question is if I could remove the brake assembly to change the pads without having to take out the wheel. My brakes are Shimano and it looks like removing two Allen bolts would free up the brake. I don’t want to damage anything. Thanks.
There are a number of threads that discuss brake maintenance and pad replacement. Several will come up if you enter 'brake pads' in the forum Search function.

This thread covers most considerations with links to videos, etc.

Taking the wheels off is the first step. You can remove the pads for inspection and cleaning without removing the wheel, but to install new pads you will need to remove the wheels.

Removing the rear wheel is a bit more more complicated with the derailleur. With the bike mounted in a work stand I shift into the smallest rear cog. While holding the wheel in position with one hand I remove the rear axle (or quick release skewer as the case may be) and extend the derailleur with my 2nd hand. The wheel will then more or less drop out of the frame. I always insert a pad spacer in the brake caliper after removing the wheel until I ready to remove the pads. This prevents an inadvertent bump against the brake lever from over extending the pads.

Before removing the pads you will need to reset the brake pistons fully into the brake caliper. Hydraulic brakes adjust automatically for pad wear leaving the pads extended when installing new pads. This is an easy process that is detailed in the link above.

After resetting the pistons remove the old pads and install the new ones. Then install the wheel. Test the pads by spinning the wheel and pulling the brake lever. The wheel should spin freely without any rubbing of the new pads against the rotors and stop quickly. You're done!

It's best not to loosen the larger bolts that secure the brake caliper to the bike frame. This isn't a huge deal but would require realignment of the caliper to eliminate any rubbing of the pads against the rotors.