How to Change Brake Pads on a Kawasaki Ninja

Updated on October 2, 2017
wilderness profile image

Dan is a "backyard mechanic" who has always done his own auto repairs whether on motorcycles, boats, cars or even motorhomes.

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.

1999 750 Kawasaki Ninja ZX7R used for photos
1999 750 Kawasaki Ninja ZX7R used for photos | Source
01-02 SUZUKI GSXR1000: EBC HH BRAKE PADS - FRONT (BLACK)
01-02 SUZUKI GSXR1000: EBC HH BRAKE PADS - FRONT (BLACK)

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Location of the brake caliper; on the rear side of the front wheel.Loosening the first of the two bolts holding the caliper to the bike.Caliper has been removed - the old brake pads are clearly visible.Compressing the caliper by twisting a large screwdriver between the old pads.Back side of the caliper, showing the metal plate to be removed.The plate is off, revealing the pin and cotter key to be removed.Removing the retaining pin.Old pads have been slide out.New pads are installed.  They will still slide apart very easily, allowing the entire assembly to once more be placed over the brake rotor.
Location of the brake caliper; on the rear side of the front wheel.
Location of the brake caliper; on the rear side of the front wheel.
Loosening the first of the two bolts holding the caliper to the bike.
Loosening the first of the two bolts holding the caliper to the bike.
Caliper has been removed - the old brake pads are clearly visible.
Caliper has been removed - the old brake pads are clearly visible.
Compressing the caliper by twisting a large screwdriver between the old pads.
Compressing the caliper by twisting a large screwdriver between the old pads.
Back side of the caliper, showing the metal plate to be removed.
Back side of the caliper, showing the metal plate to be removed.
The plate is off, revealing the pin and cotter key to be removed.
The plate is off, revealing the pin and cotter key to be removed.
Removing the retaining pin.
Removing the retaining pin.
Old pads have been slide out.
Old pads have been slide out.
New pads are installed.  They will still slide apart very easily, allowing the entire assembly to once more be placed over the brake rotor.
New pads are installed. They will still slide apart very easily, allowing the entire assembly to once more be placed over the brake rotor.

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Location of the rear caliper on the bottom of the brake rotor.Removing the first bolt with an allen wrenchCompressing the calipersRemoving the cap on the back side.Removing the double cotter keyOne pin has been removed, the other partially removed.Correct alignment of the wire hold downs.Pins re-installed.  Note how the hold downs are behind the pins.Cotter key re-installed.
Location of the rear caliper on the bottom of the brake rotor.
Location of the rear caliper on the bottom of the brake rotor.
Removing the first bolt with an allen wrench
Removing the first bolt with an allen wrench
Compressing the calipers
Compressing the calipers
Removing the cap on the back side.
Removing the cap on the back side.
Removing the double cotter key
Removing the double cotter key
One pin has been removed, the other partially removed.
One pin has been removed, the other partially removed.
Correct alignment of the wire hold downs.
Correct alignment of the wire hold downs.
Pins re-installed.  Note how the hold downs are behind the pins.
Pins re-installed. Note how the hold downs are behind the pins.
Cotter key re-installed.
Cotter key re-installed.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Dan Harmon

    Comments

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      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        Thank you. Yes, a youtube tutorial would be great and may be used in future tutorials on lots of things.

      • profile image

        skymaster 

        6 years ago

        Really good work here. Maybe make it a youtube tutorial next time you do the change

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        On the 1999 the rear caliper is lower than the axle as shown in the third picture of the second set. It is on the bottom.

        Other years could have been moved, though.

      • profile image

        Rene 

        6 years ago

        My rear caliper is located on the top...is this right?

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        I hope so. It's not a difficult task and should be well withing the capabilities of everyone.

      • CJ Pnelli profile image

        CJ Pnelli 

        6 years ago from So Cal

        Great pictures sir. Those will surely help the "do-it-yourselfers" a ton.

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        Thanks for the compliment. Yes, this job, for both wheels, took less than 1/2 hour, required no special tools and was a snap to do.

        You're right, though - rotors would be a little different.

      • eddiecarrara profile image

        Eddie Carrara 

        6 years ago from New Hampshire

        Nice hub wilderness, bikes are a lot easier than a car when it comes to brake jobs, unless you need to change the rotors, then I'm sure the job would get a little more involved.lol

      • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

        Dan Harmon 

        6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

        Thank you. It's really an easy job for anyone with even minimal mechanic skills.

      • sassyk73 profile image

        Karen A. Harris 

        6 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

        Very useful and interesting hub. Someone will really benefit from this :)

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