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What Are ATV Brake Pads?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

ATV brake pads are components installed in the braking system of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). Different types of braking systems exist for different types of ATVs, though just about all systems include ATV brake pads that press against a rotor or drum to slow or stop the vehicle. The components used to press against the drums or rotors are known as shoes or pads respectively, and they can be made from various materials, including asbestos or ceramics. The backing or frame of the pad is usually made from steel.

Most modern ATV brake pads are contained within a hydraulic braking system. This means hydraulic fluid, usually some sort of oil, is contained within hoses, master cylinders, and calipers to control the movement of the ATV brake pads. When the master cylinder is activated, the fluid is pushed through the hose and into the caliper; this caliper features pistons that will then activate and press against the backing of the pads. The pads will then move toward the rotor to create friction that will slow the vehicle, as the rotors are mounted to the wheels of the ATV. Most calipers feature two ATV brake pads, though some will feature four brake pads instead.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The massive amount of friction created between the ATV brake pads and the rotors means the system will get very hot, one of the reasons why asbestos has been a common material choice for brake pads. They can pose a health risk, however, so other materials that are less damaging may be used to create the brake pads. Ceramic, for example, can resist heat damage while still creating enough friction to slow the rotor, though when such pads are used, other components may need to be changed out to accommodate the ceramic materials.

Some ATVs use drum brakes instead of rotor brakes. The ATV brake shoes are contained within the drum and will push outward against the inside of the drum when the piston activates. This piston is usually known as a wheel cylinder, and features two arms that push outward from either side of the cylinder. These arms will press against the backing of the shoes, thereby expanding the pads to press against the drum. This is usually a less efficient system than a rotor brake system, and the drum brake can also be heavier than rotor systems.

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