PSA: Check your brakes!


When we bought our cargo bike in 2020 we checked and adjusted the brakes. The disc brake pads had plenty of life so we never replaced them initially.

Since then we rode the bike in fair weather regularly but not frequently. It was our grocery getter before Toothless was born and our baby hauler / transportation to the park after he was born.

Brakes Fading

For a couple rides before the GDT thru I noticed the brakes fading. They still had pad life from what I could see, seemed fine and I never did pull the pads out to confirm exactly how much life they had left. I barely rode the bike so I couldn’t imagine the pads wearing that quickly.

Our GDT thru took up most of the summer season, so no riding our bikes for most of the summer, and a month or two after we got back Toothless started daycare and we had to quickly get the bike ready for that.

We have been using the cargo bike to take Toothless to/from daycare regularly for the past month (keeping in mind that he had gotten sick often enough after starting that he only has actually gone in 50% of the time) and in the past week noticed the brakes being weak and squealing. We had been riding in severe rain and wind lately so we were preoccupied with some issues with the controller cutting out due to water ingress and corrosion in a connector as well the speedo shorting out.

After sorting out the controller I adjusted the brakes but they still made a squealing sound. I pulled the pads completely out and saw this.

Yikes! We should have checked the brakes sooner.

The bottom pad is worn so far into the metal that it’s become thin enough to start to bend away from the disc. Its about 0.2mm thick on the bottom left.

Thankfully Natasha has a bike seat on her bike for Toothless as well so we parked the cargo bike until we could replace the pads.

We didn’t have spare pads, and we couldn’t find any in stock at our LBS on the weekend but eventually found them in stock at a bike shop that was open Tuesday – Saturday. We ordered them for pickup and managed to get new pads this week.

Now we have spare pads and a bike with brakes that actually work.

Moving Forward

These brakes were installed by the previous owners when the hub motor was installed. The brake bracket was welded on the forks during the conversion. Disc brakes are necessary for this much weight but I have been considering an upgrade to get more braking power. Maybe larger rotors and a hydraulic system.

Now that we have new pads (and I know the brand and age of them) I think I’ll wait a bit and see how these perform before making a decision to upgrade.

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