Changing Brake Pads on a Triumph Rocket III Motorcycle

How hard can it be to change the brake pads on a Triumph Rocket III?

It is pretty darn easy as long as you don’t read the service manual when you get ready to do the rear pads.

You heard right, DO NOT read the instructions in the Triumph Rocket III service manual if you want to know the correct way to change out the rear brake pads. They wrote clear, simple, and accurate directions for swapping out the front pads, but apparently the yearning fool came on shift right after that and wrote the incredibly misleading and confusing instructions on changing out the rear pads.

In spite of what the manual says, all you have to do is remove the two cotter pins that hold the back caliper pin in place and pull it out. Next, lay the pin and cotter keys on the concrete so the pin rolls away under a nearby vehicle and the cotter keys get stuck in between the treads on your boot. Then slide the old pads out to toward the rear. You may have to do a little jigling, they have a hook at the front that keeps them in place. Get the front end angled up and they should slide right out.

Now, slide a flat piece of metal such as a screw diver shaft in between the piston cup and rotor. DO NOT pry with it. Get your finger tips under each end of the shaft and use hand pressure only to compress the piston cup back into its cylinder. Slide the new pad in and make sure the hook part at the front gets over the front pin, then repeat on the opposite side of the rotor.

Take your time, and if something doesn’t seem right, put it back together and take it to your dealer. Don’t go doing crazy stuff like reading the manual and trying to figure out how to take that spindle nut off. You’ll find yourself trying to figure out how to get an eight hundred pound bike without a back wheel onto a trailer so you can take it to the shop.

You’re almost there. Take a deep breath and hunt down that rear caliper pin that you previously set on the concrete and subsequently kicked under the car without realizing it. You should find those two cotter keys somewhere close by as well, unless they’ve gotten wedged in between the treads on your boot.

Put the rear calliper pin back in, insert the cotter keys, pump up the brake pedal, and you’re ready to go.

Check this thread out at the R3owner forum if you’re still confused:

The next time you change those rear pads it should take you less than five minutes. It took me about five, not including the two hours the night before I spent trying to figure out how to follow the bogus instructions in the service manual and looking for specialty tools to hold the axle fast so I could remove the spindle nut. Thank goodness I wasn’t able to locate that tool.

By the way, see that nasty scrape on the side of my rear calipr housing? That’s leftover damage from my crash last November that the jerks at BMW/Triumph of North Dallas (Plano) didn’t alert me to or repair on top of all the other things they put on upside down, didn’t tighten properly, or just flat failed to complete. I didn’t know it was there until I took the saddlebag off on that side to do this brake pad job. Yet another reason why they will never get any more of my business and all work on my bike in the future will be done by Eurosport Cycle of Fort Worth.

avatar GROG

I know it’s a bit late, but if you are desparate for a big allen driver:
Find a bolt and couple of nuts with correct head size, weld them all together and shove a socket on the end.
Also I undo one caliper bolt, slacken off the other, then I can tilt the caliper up to get a piston retractor in.
Still think the top answer is brilliant, my manual has a post-it on that page, “DO NOT DO THIS, CALL GROG”
In the USA, what do you call the tapered thing that holds a bicycle crank to the shaft?
We call that a cotter pin, leaving the term splitpin available for a pin with a split in it.

avatar JL Mealer

I figured the pad swap (old to new) would be this simple… Just wanted to make certain. Only issue now is rolling the Rocket III out into the rain and whether I can reach under the hard bags to the caliper.

Just so everyone knows, you can find a FULL SET of Kevlar carbon pads front and rear for $25 (shipped) from Ebay and even on Amazon… A few bucks more for the carbon ceramic and Sintered and metal impregnated.

I’ll let you know how the stock Kevlar pads turn out.

I am certain everyone knows how dealerships cheat those who refuse to work on their own vehicles.

Thanks for the humorous article, by the way, Timothy. Guns, Liberty and Motorcycles… Who could ask for more?

Now I need to become elected Arizona Governor!

avatar peter coulston

after reading my rocket 3 manual i wasn’t happy to spend hours changing my pads,after reading your post,5 minutes later i had successfully changed them,mate you are awsome,thanks heaps,pete-palm beach queensland.

avatar Greybeard

I just bought this Moto Guzzi SPIII, but it came with no operator’s manual… no service manual. There is a ton of information available online if I just know where to search for it, but I was hopeful a good service manual would help, not hinder. Now you’ve got me worried. At least your “Rocket” manual was probably originally written in ENGLISH, (even if it does refer to using a “spanner”)!

avatar Tim Frazier

And it calls cotter keys “split-pins” and all torque specs are in Newton Meters instead of lb feet…and of course everything is Metric. Wish the British had just done like the U.S:

Okay everyone, starting Wednesday we’re all using the Metric system.”
Wednesday comes and goes.
Thursday, “Hey, Bob, I thought we were switching to the metric system yesterday.”
Bob: “Yeah, we tried it for an hour or so. Too confusing, just ignore it.”

Funny how we still use the English Standard system of measurements while the English switched to metric decades ago. Americans, we’re rebels to the core.

avatar Jim

The REPAIR MUSE was helping you by not allowing you to find that big HEX. You must have gotten reacquainted with chattin’ up those fine shop folk. You did good to stay off the internet with 24 hour delivery these days.

Like to hear that the test drive went fine on those new pads.

avatar Tim Frazier

Yes, test drive was fine. Pads and oil change are off the check list. However, riding to work this morning I was once again nearly side-swiped by a driver who was yakking on her mobile. My next article will be titled “Dumb Asses and Smart Phones”.

avatar Tim Frazier

Very observant of you, Jimster.

I got BB all jacked up off the ground, pulled the right saddlebag off, slapped a wrench on the spindle nut, and turned it along with the axle… Made a call the the family mechanic and he pointed out that I needed a big 13 or 14 mm hex socket on the other side to hold the axle while I backed the spindle nut off.

Trips to AutoZone and O’Reily’s were fruitless…no such socket in a hex head available larger than 10mm.

Back to the drawing board. Going to see if CycleGear has a set tomorrow and give it another try tomorrow night.

I’m cussing the Brits tonight, saying all kinds of bad stuff about them like “No wonder they couldn’t win a world war without us…”; but I’ll feel bad about that and apologize the next time that front wheel lurches off the ground and I get that awesome rush you feel when a 2300cc English triple tries to pull your arms out of their sockets while pushing your eyes further into theirs.

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