How to Measure Motorcycle Brake Pad Thickness?

How to Measure Motorcycle Brake Pad Thickness?

Some riders don’t realize the importance of measuring the thickness of their motorcycles’ brake pads. Well, it’s a way to find out how much the pad has gotten worn.

It’s all part of the maintenance process. Each manufacturer provides a minimum thickness for its brake pads. We break down the why and the how of measuring brake pad thickness.

Why You Should Measure Brake Pad Thickness

When you buy a new bike  (Harley Davidson, Triumph, whatever) and ride it for a long time (thousands of miles), you eventually have to replace the pads. You don’t, however, have to change the rotors. In due time, however, after thousands of miles of riding your motorcycle, your rotors do wear and start to become thinner. As the rotors get thinner, the brake pads start coming closer together.


Furthermore, as the pads wear, the backing of the pad (made of steel plates which the brake material adheres to) starts to come closer together. Due to all this coming closer together, the piston has to extend further out. The piston, however, can only come out so far. If the piston eventually pops out, that is the end for your brake pads because there is no more brake pressure.

It is therefore important to measure the brake pad thickness. It will let you let you know when it’s time to change the pad. Measuring the brake rotor thickness is also important for the same reason.

Brake pads typically have visual indicators that let you know how much they are worn down. These indicators are usually painted strips or slots cut into the material. You can see the wear indicators without having to remove the brake pads from the caliper, but it might be necessary to remove the inspection cover.

The more the pads wear down, the more these indicators wear down. If you notice the indicators have disappeared, it is definitely time for pad replacement.

Brake pad manufacturers often provide a minimum thickness for the pad material. That is typically from around 1.5 mm to 2.0 mm. In fact, anything less than 1 mm thickness and you are entering the danger zone.

That is why you must inspect the brake pads to see how much they are worn down. Don’t rely on the aural technique of waiting to hear the grating sound of metal against metal or pads against the rotor.

When doing maintenance or repair work on your motorcycle, remember to follow the instructions provided in the repair manual – you can get the manual online or at a dealer.


Use Caliper

You can use a caliper to measure the thickness of your motorcycle’s brake pads. Your brake pad’s minimum thickness is provided by your manufacturer. Measure the thickness of both the front and rear brakes.

Calipers are available at any automotive store, hardware store, or from online vendors.


Measure Brake Rotor Thickness

You can also measure the brake rotor’s thickness. As we said, over time, the rotors begin to wear down too.

To measure motorcycle brake rotor thickness, you can use a caliper or a micrometer.


A micrometer is great because it can reach the part of the brake rotor that you really want to measure. You see, rotor thickness is not even – the thickness variations are as a result of rotor overheating. If your measuring tool only measures the tip, you are going to have an incorrect measurement. You need something like the micrometer that can go beyond the tip and measure the part that really matters.

Measuring the thickness of the brake rotors lets you determine if it’s time to replace the brake discs. By checking the thickness of the rotors, you are able to see if the disc is thick enough. You also check the rotor’s surface quality.

Just like brake pads, rotors too have a minimum thickness designated by the manufacturer.


Measuring brake pads is all part of maintaining your bike’s good health. It is necessary for both preventive and corrective maintenance.

So long as the pad hasn’t worn down too much, everything is okay. If the pad wears down too much, you are in the danger zone, and sooner or later, you will have to replace the pads.

joshua mattie

Joshua D. Mattie

My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!

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