Quick brake pad check

2/12/2024

Ensuring your brake pads are in good condition is vital for safe riding. Brake pads wear out a very different rates. A heavy electric cargo bike might need new pads for its disc brakes as often as every 300 miles. A light weight road bike could go thousands of miles on a set of pads. If your brakes are making an unfamiliar sound, or if they don’t feel as strong as they usually do, you should inspect them immediately. Here's a straightforward, step-by-step guide to check your bicycle's brake pads for wear:

  1. Park Your Bike on a Stable Surface: Make sure your bike is stable and won’t move around. A bike stand is ideal, but if you don’t have one, lean it against a wall or other sturdy surface.
  2. Locate Your Brake Pads: The brake pads are located inside the devices (the calipers) that wrap around the brake rotors (for disc brakes) or around the rim of the wheel (for rim brakes).
  3. Inspect the Thickness: Check the thickness of the brake pads. For disc brakes, the pad material should generally be at least 1 mm thick (thicker than a credit card). For rim brakes, if the pad is less than 1/4 inch thick, it’s time to replace them. Some rim brake pads have wear indicators, such as a grove or a hole that disappears when the pad wears down. If these indicators are gone, replace the pads.
  4. Examine the Surface for Even Wear: The pads should wear evenly. If one side is thinner than the other, this might indicate a problem with the brake alignment. Use the thinnest part of the pad to determine if the pads need replacing. So for disc brake pads, if one part is less than 1mm thick, but another part is thicker, you still need to replace them.
  5. Check for Contamination: Look for any oil or grime on the pads, rotors, or rims. Contaminated pads might squeal when applied, and might not function properly. Try wiping the pads, rotors or rims with rubbing alcohol to clean them and test them to make sure they are working.
  6. Test Brake Function: Gently apply your brakes while walking your bike. They should engage smoothly and evenly. Any grinding or squeaking noises can indicate worn pads or dirt/grime on the pads or rims/rotors.
  7. Consult Your Bike’s Manual: If in doubt, consult the manual specific to your bike model for any additional guidance on inspecting and replacing brake pads.

If your pads do need to be replaced, and you are a Tempo member, let us know and we will ship you a new set with instructions on how to replace them. If you have any doubts about your brake pads or how to replace them, you can always take your bike to a professional mechanic for a check-up. Tempo can help you find the right mechanic in your area for your bike, and get your bike picked up and taken to their shop for service.

When our family bought an electric cargo bike earlier this year, one of my biggest fears was that this lovely and expensive new machine was going to get stolen. So I got the best lock money could buy, and I started to investigate: did I need ebike insurance?

First, I called my homeowners insurance provider to see if they would cover the bike if it were stolen. To my surprise, because it’s an electric bike, not only did my policy not cover it, they wouldn’t even add it for an additional fee or sell me a separate policy for it, the way they did for our family car.

Instead they referred me to an insurance company that specializes in bikes and ebikes. I bought a policy from them and sleep a little better for it.

I’ve heard similar stories from other ebike owners. And I’ve heard worse.

What can happen without ebike insurance

The saddest stories are the ones where someone assumed their homeowners or renters or car insurance covered their ebike, and after it was stolen or seriously damaged, it turned out it wasn’t covered.

And then there are the stories about people whose ebikes were covered by their homeowners policy, but their premium went way up when they made a claim for a stolen ebike.

Why it’s hard to insure an ebike

When it comes to insurance, ebikes land in a gray area outside standard homeowners insurance and auto insurance. Here’s why:

  • Ebikes are new in terms of the insurance industry. Most of the several million ebikes in the U.S. were purchased in the last two years. Insurers aren’t familiar with them, and insurers don’t like to be surprised by unfamiliar products.
  • Ebikes are more expensive than regular bikes. Policies that cover bikes, like most homeowners or renters policies, might have also covered ebikes until the insurer had to pay much larger claims than they expected to replace a damaged or stolen ebike. See above about insurers and surprise. So some policy terms got changed.
  • Finally, ebikes get stolen a lot, and not only from people’s homes. They are ridden and locked up outside all over the place, which makes them more vulnerable than other valuable household items.

Steps to take to properly insure your ebike

The odds that your ebike is covered by your existing insurance is lower than you may think. Here’s what to do to find out if you need ebike insurance:

  1. Call your insurance company and find out what they cover. Things to bring up: coverage of accidental damage, theft, and travel (like what would happen if you flew somewhere with your bike and the airline did a number on it). Does the insurance company consider your ebike a “luxury item”? If you’re happy with the coverage, great! You’re good to go.
  2. Consider bike-specific coverage. If you aren’t covered, or feel like the coverage you do have isn’t enough, here are some things to think about.

Bike insurance covers all kinds of bike specific things, not just theft. Think damage to the bike from a collision, medical payments if you are injured in a collision, insurance for the bike if you are traveling with it or racing it, or a bike rental while your bike is being repaired. Some policies even cover things like accessories (like bike lights and panniers) and riding clothes.

Bike claims won’t affect your other insurance premium. Should you need to make a claim on your ebike, your home insurance premium won’t change or get canceled.

We can help

Want to learn more about ebike insurance? Join Tempo and get easy access to insurance quotes, and other ways to protect your ebike right inside the app.

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