Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
I went to install new brake pads on my CRF450R, and when I put the new brake pads in, I couldn’t get my disc to go back into the caliper. Are these new brake pads the wrong ones or too thick? Is that even possible?
Miserable Mike
[email protected]

Mike, Mike, Mike, I’m constantly amazed at the necessary service a large glut of dirt bike riders fail to do when it comes to their brakes. Brakes play a crucial role in the performance of your machine, and when they are abused, you can pay a heavy penalty. Can you imagine what would happen if an F1 team treated its brakes with the reckless care and feeding that you have shown your stoppers?

What has happened in this case is that you have run your old brake pads for far too long, and the piston in the caliper has been pushed beyond its performance spec. Quite simply, you must get the caliper piston to return enough to give the pads space to accept the brake rotor. I would try using a flat-bladed screwdriver and fitting it in between the brake pads. Gently work it in and pry the pads apart. This should force the caliper piston to retract. If this fails, remove your pads and use a medium-sized C-clamp to put light pressure on the piston to push it back into the caliper. Remove your reservoir cap as well, so the fluid will have a place to go as you’re pushing the piston back into the caliper. You should then have enough clearance in the new pads to throw your wheel back on. One other note here: changing the brake fluid is a good thing. I change my rear brake fluid every 5 to 7 hours—more frequently if I’m doing a substantial amount of woods riding where I drag the brake, there isn’t a plethora of cooling air, and the fluid contaminates easily.


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