** Disclaimer ** The following is not intended to provide instruction on any mechanical procedure. I am not a mechanic and do not provide advice or suggestions on working on your motorcycle. I know nothing about brakes. My bike is different than yours. This is for discussion purposes only. If you work on any system on your bike you do so at your own risk. Faulty brakes can lead to injury or death, and if you follow any remarks below you may render your braking system faulty.**
Removed and replaced my front brake pads today for the first time. This is on a 1999 LT with Brembo calipers and ABS but not Integral brakes. As always, I checked the manual, which has instructions on the order of "– Remove the brake calliper.
• Remove the split-pin keeper (1) from retaining
• Remove retaining pin (2).
• Remove brake pads by pulling downwards."
Always so helpful to neophytes (see disclaimer above!) Then I checked the HoW (always my first stop), and Technical Articles (always my second stop), but did not find much about front pad R&R, other than posts about brands and types of pads. Did a search on front brake pads, got about 10,000 postings, read through the first 5 or 6, scanned the headers of the rest on page 1, and dropped it. I had done the rear pads about 2 weeks ago, so I trotted off to do the fronts, secure in the belief that the front pads would not be too different. (I am an idiot. See disclaimer above.)
Tools, trouble light, bike on center stand, new pads within reach, started on the right side. Pulled the split-ring keeper from retaining pin. (I know, the manual says "Remove the brake caliper." I am an idiot. See disclaimer above.) Looked at the retaining pin with its pretty little slotted head and got a small blade screwdriver to unscrew it. Turned the screw counter-clockwise. For a long time. (Do I have to keep repeating myself about my mental acuity and the need to read the disclaimer?) It turned really easily. Didn't seem to be coming out, though. Tried tightening it - didn't tighten either. Stripped threads? Bad thoughts about previous installer not following torque specs. Tried to grab the pin with needlenose pliers and pull it toward me. No movement. Got needlenose vise grips, same attempt, same results. Must be some threads still holding it from sliding out, but they are so cross-threaded that it will not screw out. Looking through the wheel to the rear of the caliper on the other side I see that the nose of the other retaining pin is visible through a small hole. Aha - I get a small L shaped hex driver, slip it around the rear of the caliper I am working on, find the little hole, get the short end of the hex driver into the hole, and squeeze to put horizontal force on the pin while turning it. Some portion of my damaged brain is singing "To every thing, turn, turn, turn ..." Nix. Now I'm thinking I'm gonna have to cut that pin in half or drill it out.
Instead I come back to the forum and do another search on front brake pads. Aha - David Sheahy, among others, describes how to REMOVE THE FRONT CALIPER to do the R&R. OK, back down to the bike, remove the retaining bolts, use the Sheahy method of retracting the pistons so the pads can move back to get clearance, and finally get the caliper off. Now I can really push on the nose of the pin through the little hole in the back as I unscrew the pin. "To every thing, turn, turn, turn..." Finally I'm fed up. I get a nail set with a small point, set it against the nose of the retaining pin from the rear, and bang it. The pin pops out. The pads fall out. Surprise, surprise - the pin is not a screw, it has a split ring internal friction retainer of its own. It just required more force from the rear than I had been giving it before taking the caliper off. (Since this fiasco I have discovered several posts that describe this. Haphazard research on my part, but you already know why.)
Got the pistons fully retracted by using a small shim of wood and 2 small C clamps (2" size). Shim over the pistons, C clamps over the shim centered on each piston, a bit of cardboard on the outside under the other foot of the C clamp, 1/4 turns (slowly), and then repeat for the other side of the caliper. Got the new pads in, greased the retaining pin and installed it through the holes in the ears of the pads, got the caliper back on and bolted down, put a blade screwdriver in the slot in the head of the retaining pin, and tapped it home with a small hammer. At this point I'm about 3 hours into the job. And I realize that I forgot to put the split-pin keeper in the retaining pin. But NOW I finally realize why they put a slot in the head of the retaining pin; so I can slowly turn the pin while holding the split-pin keeper with needlenose pliers in the approximate position where its hole is in the retaining pin, and shove it home when it finds that hole. OK, right side R&Red.
Over to the left side. Pull the split-pin keeper. Stare at the caliper. Now why do I need to remove the caliper? Because I can't punch out the retaining pin otherwise. What about from the back side? I search around the garage for something that will serve as a long drift with a small enough point. Nail set is too short. I finally grab a 12" long spade bit. **See disclaimer** I stick it through the wheel opening just above the right caliper and seat the point against the nose of the retaining pin in the left caliper. Hit it twice with a light hammer. Pin moves. Around to the left caliper, I can grab the head of the pin and pull it out.
OK, but the pads are still tight in the caliper and the pistons are completely un-retracted. I can remove the mounting bolts and push the pads against the rotor to push them back, but if I'm going to do that why not just remove the caliper in the first place. I try the C clamp. No place to grip beneath the caliper. But, hmm, one foot of the clamp against the protruding center tab of the old pad, one foot (cardboard protecting the caliper) against the outside of the caliper, slow 1/4 turns to tighten, and space begins to open up. The pad does cant slightly from top to bottom; am I pushing the pistons at an angle that will cause binding? I take off the C clamp to try to inspect more closely and the pad drops. It hangs against the bottom of the caliper. I wriggle it a few times and it drops right out.
I try the inner pad with the same retraction process. After I remove the C clamp the pad drops, I wriggle, and it comes out.
New pads, quick before I wake up. Too tight, pistons not retracted enough. Slip the old inner pad back in place, but this time don't push it all the way up, leave a lip at the bottom right side that the C clamp foot can push against. Set up the C clamp, close it slowly with 1/4 turns, take it off, try the new pad, and with some wriggling and trying different angles, it slides right in. I let go of it to work on the outer pistons and it slides right out. OK, outer pistons, old pad, not all the way up, C clamp at the bottom, slow retraction, remove C clamp and pad, try new pad, wriggle, jiggle, it slides in. Hold it in place, grab the other new pad, wriggle , jiggle, it's in, hold both in with one hand, retainer pin slides in and holds them in place, bang the retainer pin home. Split-pin keeper held in place with needlenose, rotate the retainer pin, feel the hole catch the split-pin, shove it home.
Double-check everything. Clean up. Pump the front brake until there is resistance. Take it off the center stand. Duck-waddle backward, front brake stops the movement. Slow test ride. Front brake feels great. Don't notice a rattle from the EBCs, but that may come. If it does I'll replace them with pads from the dealer that have anti-rattle springs.
OK, lessons learned. Read ALL the posts related to a proceedure if I have not done it before. It IS possible to R&R front brake pads (this applies only to my bike! With yours it may not be possible!) without removing the caliper (but READ THE DISCLAIMER), but I'm not certain that it really saves anything in terms of time/effort. The C clamp method seemed to work well in this case, but again I'm not sure that it has an advantage over other methods of pushing back the pistons.
I warned you that this was a long story