How to Change Brake Pads on a Kawasaki Ninja
750 Ninja ZX7R Brakes
Eventually everything will need new brake pads and motorcycles are no exception. This article is devoted to changing those brakes on a 1999 Kawasaki Ninja ZX7R 750 cc bike - while it may be applicable to other years or models there is no guarantee of that. Nevertheless, the basic procedures should be similar if not exact; it will simply require a little more thought and investigation if your own bike is not this particular model and year.
The Ninja 750 carries three brake calipers, each with its own pair of brake pads - two on the front wheel and one on the rear. You may notice in the pictures that the front pads did not really need changed; they were replaced because the front forks had leaked oil and the pads were thoroughly soaked. It was a good decision; braking ability increased dramatically after changing out those oil soaked front pads.
This article is broken into two sections, front and rear wheels, with detailed photos for each. Feel free to click the thumbnails; they will expand into full size photos and give a much clearer view.
The bike was supported on a rear stand for the procedure, but while this made it a little easier to work, it is not necessary. It will just require a little more bending and contorting to get into position to work if you don't have one.
These pads fit a wide variety of bikes, including the 1999 ZX7R, and if you are using OEM pads you will likely find they do a better job.
Changing the Front Brake Pads
The obvious first step is to locate and remove the old brake pads. Photo one shows the location of the right side brake caliper; there is a matching one on the left side of the bike. Remove the entire caliper by removing the two 12mm bolts holding it in place. Do not use excessive force when working out from the wheel; a little finesse and it will come clear quite easily. It is good practice to have some kind of support to place the caliper on as without it the caliper will hang from the hydraulic cable. Do not remove the hydraulic line unless you plan to replace and bleed the brake fluid - just take a little care that the line is not damaged.
Loosen the brake fluid reservoir cap and wrap a rag around it. During the process you will need to compress the calipers, which will force a small amount of fluid back into the reservoir and it may spill.
Compress the brake calipers back into the housing. A large screwdriver or small pry bar may be placed between the old brake pads and twisted or pried on to separate the pads. Make sure the calipers are forced completely back into the housing; if this is not done it will not be possible to replace the caliper onto the brake rotor.
The back of the caliper assembly has a metal plate held in place with two small allen wrench screws. Remove the screws and plate.
This will expose the pin that holds the brake pads in place. The pin has a small cotter key holding it in the caliper assembly; remove the cotter key with needle nose pliers and push the pin out of the caliper assembly.
Make careful note of how the brake pads fit into the caliper assembly and work them out. Again, force is not necessary; they should come out with just a little jiggling and twisting. Blow out any brake pad dust in the caliper and clean the rotor if need be.
Insert the new brake pads into the assembly. Press the pin through the assembly, both brake pads and into the assembly on the other side. Lightly tapping with a screwdriver or other small tool will facilitate the pin installation.
Replace the cotter key in the pin.
Holding the new pads as far apart as possible, slide the caliper back over the brake rotor and replace the two bolts that hold it in place.
Repeat the process on the other side of the front wheel.
Changing the Rear Brake Pads
The rear wheel brake caliper is mounted towards the bottom of the wheel on the right hand side, and is held on with two allen bolts. Remove these bolts and slide the caliper off of the brake rotor.
On the rear brake caliper there is a plate that simply snaps off instead of being held with screws. Insert a screwdriver into the slot, pry or twist and the cover should come right off.
With the cover off the cotter key and pins are exposed. This time there are two pins, but one double sided cotter key is used to hold both of them in place. Remove the cotter key. There are two wire hold downs on the pads themselves, with the wire being held behind the pins and thus having a small amount of spring tension on them. Take careful note of just how these hold downs are placed and carefully remove the pins. They once again slide straight out, but the hold downs will try to fly out when the tension is removed from them.
Again compress the caliper by forcing the old pads apart with a screwdriver or small pry bar. Take care not to damage the wire hold downs.
Slide the old pads out, being careful not do disturb the hold down wires. Place the wires on the new pads and insert them into the caliper.
Press the pins back through the caliper and pads, making sure that the hold down wires are behind them. This is a little tricky, so unless you have help and someone can press the hold downs back into the assembly while you press the pins into place take your time and make sure you don't damage the hold down wires.
Twist the pins so that the double cotter key can engage both of them and re-insert the cotter key. Snap the cover back onto the caliper assembly and remount the assembly onto the rotor.
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© 2011 Dan Harmon