Disc Brake Pulsing: Causes and Solutions

Disc brake pulsing is a common problem among cyclists. Pulsing disc brakes can be annoying while cycling. Many people have asked about disc brake pulsing and whether it is a cause of concern or not. It is recommended to fix pulsing disc brakes as it can do more damage to the bike in the long run.

Ever wondered what causes disc brakes to pulse? This article will explain in detail the reasons behind disc brake pulsing and what are the solutions for it. We will first look at the causes of disc brake pulsing. We will then look at how to fix disc brake pulsing.

Causes of Disc Brake Pulsing

There could be a number of things causing disc brake pulsing. Let’s start from the most common ones first followed by some rare ones.

Brake pads have worn out

The most common cause of disc brake pulsing is that the brake pads have worn out. This can happen overtime and quite common among bikes that have covered a lot of miles. Overtime, miles accumulate and the frequent use of brakes wears down the brake pads. This could very well be the reason why disc brakes are pulsing.

Warped rotors

Rotors can become warped when you brake hard. Hard braking is used mostly to stop quickly or in emergency. Frequent hard braking causes heat to rise in rotors and brake pads. This overheats the rotors and as result, warps them. This overheating in brake pads is another cause of disc brake pulsing.

Brake pads misaligned

It is quite possible that the disc brakes are pulsing because the brake pads are not aligned properly. Misalignment of brake pads will cause the disc brake to pulse because when you press the brakes together, you will feel a spring like feeling resisting the brakes.

Rust deposit

Taking the bike out on trails can cause rust and dust to buildup in the brake pads. When you press the brakes, this rust can increase the friction and heat up the brakes. This can also cause disc brakes to pulse.

Solutions to Disc Brake Pulsing

Following are the solutions to disc brake pulsing.

Replace the brake pads

The first thing to do if you have pulsing disc brakes is to replace the worn out brake pads. With worn out brake pads, there is not much you can do in repairing them. The best option is to replace the worn out brake pads. Failing to replace the brake pads and using the same worn out brake pads will cause further damage to your bike. This will increase the repair cost as apart from the cost of fixing the brake pad, you may also have to replace the damaged parts caused by using worn out brake pads.

Avoid hard braking

One great way of avoiding disc brake pulsing is to brake gently. Try to avoid hard braking and sudden stops as much as you can. Hard braking wears out the brake pad and overheats the brakes, which causes disc brake pulsing. By coming to a stop gently, you will not overheat the brakes and as a result, avoid brake pulsing altogether.

Wheel adjustment

Another solution to disc brake pulsing is to align the bike wheels properly. Sometimes, the wheel is not aligned properly which causes the brakes to pulse. You should also check the bolts to see if they are tightly screwed and there is no loose end. This will help with the issue of disc brake pulsing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do my brakes pulsate when slowing down?

Disc brakes pulsate when you hard brake and stop suddenly. This is because when you press brakes hard, the brakes heat up and this overheating is what causes the brakes to pulsate. Another reason for brakes pulsating is that your brake pad may be worn out. You should replace the worn out brake pad. If your bike has been covering a lot of miles lately, it is natural for the brake pad to wear down. If this is the case, it is recommended to replace the brake pads.

How do I fix brake disc pulsing?

Brake pads have the tendency to wear out when used to slow down suddenly. The brake pulsing can be fixed by replacing the worn out brake pads. If you only feel brakes pulsating when you brake, you should try to avoid hard braking. Hard braking is when you stop suddenly. This act overheats the brakes and disc brake pulsing occurs. Therefore, it is important to stop gently to avoid disc brake pulsing.

Is it safe to ride with disc plates pulsing?

Yes it is safe to ride with disc plates pulsing. However, if the plates have been pulsing for a long time, it is better to get it fixed. By cycling on pulsating disc brakes, you will damage other components of the bike. Disc brakes pulsing can be easily sorted by replacing brake pads. However, by delaying the replacement of the brake pads, you may end up causing more damage to other bike parts. As a result, the cost to fix your bike will rise significantly. Therefore, it is recommended to solve the disc brake pulsing problem. Other than that, it is safe to ride with pulsing disc brakes.


This article goes in detail about what causes disc brake pulsing and what can be done to fix it. Pulsating brakes are a common problem and many people write to us about this problem. Hopefully with this article, you will be able to solve the issue of brakes pulsing. Let us know in the comments if you have more solutions to pulsing disc brakes. We would love to hear from you.

About the author

John Tomac

John Tomac is a retired American professional cyclist who is considered one of the greatest mountain bikers of all time.

He won numerous national and international titles during his career and also competed in road racing events such as the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia.

Tomac now works as a coach and commentator and is also involved in charitable organizations that support disadvantaged youth and promote the sport of cycling.

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