Ah, the joys of Shimano Cartridge Brakes

I had promised myself I’d change the brake pads on our Thorns before our trip to Spain in late September.  It was not a job I was looking forward to.  I am not one of the world’s natural mechanics.  My projects often end in disaster, with the original problem half solved, but another two new problems created.

In my experience fettling brakes can be a time-comsuming and fiddly job.  Not so with this marvellous Shimano cartridge system.

Shimano Deore M590 V Brakes

Both of our Thorn Raven Sport Tours are fitted with Shimano Deore M590 V brakes. They work wonderfully, giving super stopping power and great confidence.  However, after a year or so they were showing signs of reduced performance, especially on Jacqui’s bike.

The for a change

Inspection of the pads showed that the wear levels differed, but all were approaching the limit marks and some were unevenly worn or badly scored.

In some ways the worst bit of the job was deciding which replacement pads were needed.  Unless you know the model name of your brakes and the pads required you are faced with a welter of options when ordering online.  A good tip if in doubt is to remove one of the original cartridges. (I assume cartridge is the new speak name for pad!)  Ours were clearly marked on the reverse – S70C from Shimano.

What I was not prepared for was the price – I paid over £30 for the four pairs needed from SJS Cycles.  That seems a lot of money for 8 small blocks of rubber like material!

However, working on the bikes was a treat.  All you need is a bull-nosed pliers or a small awl to remove the retaining pins on the pads.  Pushing them upwards then pulling with the pliers to extract them worked for me.  The pads can then be pushed out – towards the open end of the grooves they sit in.

One of the sources below delivered the best tip – remove and replace one pad at a time.  That way you cannot muddle up the right and left pads or fit them facing the wrong way.  Remember to fit the new retaining pins that come with the kits.

I was delighted to find that the new pads slipped into place without needing any further brake adjustment in all but one case.  All that was necessary was to release the brakes using the quick release mechanism.  There was no need to remove the wheels or to dismantle the brake pad assemblies.  As a result the whole job took only 20 minutes for all four sets of pads.  Simples!

I looked at these YouTube videos and sources before starting and found them all useful:

Jim Langley on Brake Maintenance

The Cycle Systems Academy

The Livestrong Guide

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