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Upgrading or replacing your brakes is just part of motorcycle ownership, and it is one that you shouldn’t take too lightly. Safety should always be a top priority with all riders, which is why it is essential to break in your new brakes before trying for any off-roading, exploring or touring. Therefore, before trusting your new brakes are fade free, it is necessary to bed or burnish them in.

How to break in new motorcycle brakes is a pretty straightforward process, and it involves performing repeated braking applications while warming up your new brakes. This process is used to transfer pad material to the rotor for smoother and more consistent braking. However, before diving into the bedding in or burnishing process, it is necessary to understand its importance.

Understanding the Importance of Bedding In

While not every rider may understand the importance of Why You Need to Bed in Your Brakes, the process is actually beneficial to the overall safety and riding experience. The bedding in procedure is performed for at least two fundamental reasons.

Creates a smooth surface

While it may be hard to tell by mere sight alone, your new pads and rotors have a rough textured surface out of the box. The machining process does great to form and shape these intricate pieces of equipment, but under magnification, you will see a reasonably abrasive surface. Therefore, burnishing is used as a way of smoothing out the working surface between the rotors and the pads.

Burns off compound binding chemicals

Once the surface areas have been smoothed out, the remaining braking applications of the bedding in process are used to burn off any residual compound chemicals found in organic pads. Don’t be alarmed if you smell or see smoke as this is natural for these types of pads.

It is essential that you work the brake levers and the burnishing process correctly to avoid any costly or time-consuming complications. There are at least two problems that may arise from performing the bedding in process incorrectly.

Green Fade

Green fade refers to the off-gassing that creates a liquid substance between the rotor and pad, which inhibits adequate braking ability and can potentially lead to glazing. This issue often occurs when a motorcycle owner fails to bed in the brakes properly or stops the process prematurely. Essentially, high temperatures lead to pad binding and chemical off-gassing, which in turn causes the liquid and difficulty braking.


While this issue mainly applies to organic pads because sintered pads don’t use the chemical binders that cause green fade, glazing is caused by rapid heat buildup. This situation can lead to the hardening of the pads. Once hardened, it is likely best to replace your pads. However, you can try block sanding the pads, but it will most likely offer mixed results.

Performing the Bed In Process

In order to gain the most benefit and avoid any potential issues, it is necessary to understand the appropriate method for bedding in pads and rotors. The process is straightforward, although it is essential to follow the process precisely because braking too hard or quitting the burnishing process too soon can lead to the issues mentioned above. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure an adequately burnished brake.

Remember to squeeze the brakes

The first thing you should do before even starting the bedding in process is to remember to squeeze the brakes. Replacing the brakes can lead to a lack of hydraulic fluid or pressure in the lines. Therefore, you squeeze the brake levers a few times to bring back hydraulic pressure in the system, which in turn ensures that your brakes work when you need them, and you avoid an accident.

Accelerate and decelerate

The bedding in process is a revolving system of acceleration and deceleration. You will bring your bike up to speed – about 40 to 50 mph – and then slow it down to around 5 mph. However, you want to slow it down using only about 60 to 80% of your braking power initially. You will do this in succession about 10 to 15 times, and each time you will gradually increase your braking pressure. However, you never want to come to a complete stop.

Cool down between runs

In between runs, it is crucial that your brakes be allowed to cool down before the next cycle of braking. However, since you should never entirely stop during this process, you cool down the system by cruising back up to 40 or 50 mph. Cruising and increasing speed gradually should allow enough time for your system to cool before the next braking session.

Do not stop completely

It can’t be said enough. Never come to a complete stop while burnishing. There is a chance of transferring a large amount of pad material if you come to a full stop with hot brakes. While transferring pad material is kind of the point with bedding in, leaving too much pad material in one spot can lead to changes in the friction coefficient, which may cause inconsistent or pulsing brakes. Also, if you accidentally make a complete stop during this process, be sure you check your rotor and remove the excess material as leaving the excess can permanently damage the rotor.

Look for discoloration

A slight gray discoloration is what you are ultimately looking for. While there is an ideal amount of pad material transfer, it is likely indiscernible to the human eye. Therefore, to verify that your brakes have been appropriately burnished, look for an even distribution of the gray discoloration.

Take Your Time, and Do It Right

Burnishing the rotor and pads is essentially a one time shot. If you get it wrong the first time, then you likely have to replace the pads or worse yet the rotor. Therefore, take your time, reread the above process and make sure you are prepared for the 15 to 20-minute process.

Learning how to break in new motorcycle brakes is not that difficult. However, you should remember to never stop completely, always allow a cool down by gradually increasing your speed and look for even discoloration when finished. Also, if you haven’t done so already, stop wasting time and go out and purchase your new motorcycle brakes and control.



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