When Do You Replace Mechanical Disc Brakes on eBikes?

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Updated September 4, 2022

When considering electric bike maintenance, it’s important to know when you need to replace the mechanical disc brakes. And just like knowing how big of a motor you need for an electric bike, proper maintenance for your brakes is important to keep your bike running smoothly and your safety. Continue reading to find out which parts you need to care for and potentially replace in order to maintain your new eBike. Alternatively, if you are looking to purchase an ebike, you can check out used electric bikes for sale to save some money on your new ride.

Key Takeaways:

  • Maintain and service the mechanical disc braking assembly regularly.
  • Noises and decreased performance while breaking can signal a problem.
  • Check the pads, rotors, levers, and cables to see if they need to be replaced.

Maintaining Mechanical Disc Brakes on an Electric Bike

The braking system on an electric bike needs to be well maintained and functioning properly to ensure safety. How can you tell if the mechanical disc brakes need replacing? There are several indicators to look for and parts you can check to find out. If you are considering changing your brakes from mechanical to hydraulic, you may want to check out some ebike hydraulic disc brake tips. Regardless of which disc brakes you use, the key is that they work well because they are for your safety. And if you are going to be riding at night or in bad weather your brakes are even more important as is having a light on your electric bike.

When Do Mechanical Disc Brakes Need Maintenance?

It’s always recommended that you check your electric bike’s braking system regularly, including a check before each ride, and to have your bike serviced every six months or so. That being so, there are also warning signs to look for that indicate your electric bike’s disc brakes need to be replaced or maintained:

  • There is a squeaking or harsh, scraping metal sound when you brake.
  • It takes a longer time to come to a full stop when braking.
  • You have to apply more pressure to the brake lever to stop.
  • The brake lever “sticks” a little when braking.

If your electric bike is experiencing any of the above, you can inspect the different components of the mechanical disk brake assembly to identify where the problem may be coming from. Oftentimes you can repair or replace a piece of the assembly to avoid replacing it entirely.

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Maintaining Different Parts of Mechanical Disc Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes are a system of moving parts that need to be maintained properly. Over time, part of your bike’s braking system will experience wear. That doesn’t mean you need to replace the entire system. Inspect each major competent and maintain it accordingly.

Mechanical Disc Brake Pad Maintenance

Just like on a car, electric bike brake pads will wear down over time. If there are any issues with your bike’s braking system, checking the brake pads is a good place to start. A new brake pad will be about 13mm thick. If your brake pads are 3mm thick or less, you’ll need to have them replaced. If they are still thick enough to function, they may just need a good cleaning.

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Mechanical Brake Rotor Maintenance

Mechanical brake rotors, or discs, usually require very little maintenance. If you’re experiencing friction between the brake caliper and the rotor, check the rotor for any dirt and debris that may be on it. A good cleaning with rubbing alcohol may clear things up. You can also try realigning your brake assembly to make sure everything’s properly in place. Also, replacing your aluminum or partially plastic rotor with a stainless steel one can eliminate noises and improve performance.

Mechanical Brake Lever Maintenance

Brake levers can loosen over time and accumulate dirt that impedes their motion. If it has become more difficult to squeeze the brake levers of your mechanical disc brake system, apply lubricant to the moving parts of the lever. Squeeze and release the lever continuously to see if things loosen up. Be sure to also check that your bike’s brake pads are properly aligned when the lever is fully squeezed. If the pads are too far from the rotor, they’ll need to be adjusted.

Mechanical Brake Cable Maintenance

Brake cables in a mechanical disc system often experience wear and tear with use. Cables may stretch out over time, which will cause a delay in braking and require the rider to squeeze on the lever harder. Additionally, brake cables can become damaged as they are exposed to the elements. Make sure to also check the brake cable housings. Sometimes the housings will accumulate dirt or rust, impeding the cable from functioning properly.


Mechanical disc brake assemblies have rotors that come in many different sizes, from 160mm (6.299 in) to 203 mm (7.992 in) in diameter, and can influence the performance of the bike.


High-powered eBikes can reach speeds of up to 28 mph.




When Do You Replace Mechanical Disc Brakes FAQ

How do I know if my bike brakes need replacing?

It is rarely necessary to completely replace the entire brake assembly of your electric bike unless you are looking to upgrade it. You will, however, need to replace certain components of your bike’s brake assembly, such as its pads, cables, hardware, and rotor. Look for a decline in performance, friction among parts, and noises as indicators that you need to inspect your bike’s braking system.

How do I know if my brake pads are worn out?

If it takes longer for you to brake and requires you to squeeze the bike lever harder to brake, this could be a sign that your brake pads are worn out. The easiest way to check if your pads need replacing is by measuring their thickness. Brake pads that are 3mm thick or less need to be replaced. They can be replaced before that, though, to maintain peak performance.

Should you replace all four brake pads at once?

There are two brake pads on each wheel of the electric bicycle. That means that the two pads on a given wheel should wear down at the same rate as the other. If that is not the case, then you should have your electric bicycle checked for alignment issues. You should always replace both brake pads of a given wheel at the same time, though it is not necessary to replace the other wheel if the brake pads on it are still good.

Are disc brakes safe?

Disc brakes are safe if regularly maintained and serviced properly, as is the case with any braking system. Electric bikes almost universally all use disc braking systems because of the safety benefits and easy maintenance.

What is the difference between hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes?

The two-disc brake systems used on electric bicycles are mechanical disc brakes and hydraulic disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes operate by physically tightening a cable to apply the brakes onto the bike rotor. Hydraulic brakes compress fluid through hoses to apply the brake.
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