Listen to the podcast

Some lessons can’t be told through books – only through a real-life experience.

Even if that experience wasn’t exactly a smashing success – failure can sometimes be the best teacher of them all.

Case in point – the very first time I attempted anything mechanical (and which didn’t require something more than a screwdriver).

Even though it was an easy job, it turned out to be a real ordeal – but through that, something good came out of this experience.

Tune in to discover:

  • How my first attempt at changing brake pads “went a bit south”
  • How I solved the issue I had
  • The 2 invaluable lessons I had from this ordeal


  • Ebook – “5 Mechanical Life-Lessons I Was Taught From Real-Life Experiences
front cover of 5 mechanical life lessons i was taught from real life experiences ebook dwj


Hello and welcome to 30 Minute Motorcycling – the podcast where we’re talking two-wheelers – from motorcycles, to scooters, and other things on two wheels – in under 30 minutes.


This episode will be a little bit special – because here, we’re talking about brake pads. But wait, didn’t we already cover brake pads in episode 18?


Yes we did, but this time, I’m going to share a personal story of mine – specifically, the story about the very first time I attempted to change brake pads, and how it didn’t go according to plan.


I’ve decided to share this story with you for a very good reason – you can learn a lot about mechanical repair from books, online courses, and even DVDs – but some of the greatest lessons can only be taught from real-life experiences.


And this experience/ordeal that I had changing brake pads for the first time taught me not just one, but two invaluable lessons that I still use to this day.


But before we get to it, you need a little bit of context, because this story takes place all the way back in 2021.


Back then, I had decided that I wanted to learn a brand new skillset – so, I decided to enroll in a 1-year job training course to become a certified automotive technician – or in layman’s terms a “mechanic.”


Now, I should mention that during my time there, I worked on cars, and ONLY cars – but please, don’t get caught up on that, because this story and the lessons I learned could easily apply to any kind of vehicle – whether it has two, four, or four hundred wheels.


Anyway, a big part of this course involved doing a lot of practical exercises – such as changing brake pads.


In fact, changing brake pads was the very first thing I was asked to do while I was at that school.


As far as repair jobs go, this is one of the easier ones. Even better, the school I went to had some very handy step-by-step instructions, complete with illustrations that showed in great detail how to change the brake pads.


It sounds so easy right – just follow the instructions carefully, and, as they say in the UK – “job’s a good’un” – right?


No – far from it. As it turned out – even though I had all the resources at my disposal I could possibly need, this was a lot more difficult than I imagined.


Of course, these days, I can change a pair of brake pads easily and quickly – but remember, this was back in 2021.


And at that time, this was a completely new experience for me – at that time, I had NEVER attempted any kind of mechanical repair job.


But although it wasn’t too difficult getting the old brake pads off – putting the new ones on was a completely different matter.


In order to get the old pads out, I had to apply the brakes. This would then push out the old brake pads, making them easier to remove.

But now – I had a “problem.”


The brake piston (i.e. the thing inside the brake caliper that pushes the brake pads towards the brake disc) was still pointing out.


While it was pointing out, it was impossible to get the newer, thicker brake pads in. I had no other choice but to push the piston back in again.

And I had no idea how to do that. No matter how hard I pushed, it just wouldn’t budge.


And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back –  so much so that I slammed the spanner I held in my hand against the top of the tool chest in anger and stared at the brake caliper.

In fact, I kept staring at it for nearly an hour while a handful of not-so-nice thoughts rolled around in my head:

“I’m such a screw-up – I’ll never get this right!”

“What made me think I could do this?”

“Damn it, what the hell am I doing wrong?”

Do you know what I did wrong? And more importantly, how I solved this?


This scenario is actually quite common – but it has an easy solution. Remember those old brake pads I just took off?


I figured out that I could have used those as a wedge of sorts to push the brake piston back into the caliper – and presto – I could now install the new brake pads.


What a handy trick! But surprisingly, that trick was not one of lessons I learned from this experience – although we’re about to dive deeper into those now.


The first, and above all, the most important lesson to take away from this story is this – “let your first time take time.”


Sure has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? But it’s true – by far, the biggest mistake that I made here was that I rushed through the entire thing.


The way it went in my mind at the time was that I had to change the brake pads as quickly as possible. So that meant that I was needlessly stressed out.

And once again, I need to remind you that this was the first time I picked up a wrench. And think about this:


When you did something for the first time – was it a flawless run? Probably not right?

So what would be the point of rushing through something you’ve never done before? Wouldn’t it be better to:


  1. Give yourself plenty of time

  2. Read through any instructions you might have carefully

  3. Complete the job with a great sense of “yeah, I did it!”

The job might not get done as quickly as you would like it to, but don’t let that discourage you.

The second time you attempt the same job, you’ll do it a little faster, and better. Then, the third time will be even faster and better than your second time, and so on.

But either way – don’t rush it. Once again – “Let your first time take time.”

The second lesson to take away from this story is that nothing good comes from complaining.

Do you know that saying about how “quitters never win?” Well, complainers never win either. And what happened to me certainly proves it.

  • Did complaining solve the task at hand? – No

  • Did complaining give me any ideas about how to solve the problem I had? – No

  • Did complaining make me feel better? – No – not by a longshot.

Imagine if instead of complaining about how I would “never get this right,” I would have replaced it with this thought:

“Hmm, I can’t push the piston back into the caliper with my bare hands. Hmmm – let’s see… I wonder if there’s anything I could use to make it easier?”

It would have required some detective work on my end, but at least it’s better than simply giving in to the frustration and (almost) giving up.

If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, it’s better to stop what you’re doing, step back, and look at the big picture again. And if you have to, take a break. Every problem has a solution.

And that concludes this episode about how something good came out of the very first time I attempted to change brake pads.

What’s funny is that Despite my initial frustration at a simple repair job, it really was all uphill from there.

I just got better, and better – and one year later, in 2022 – I had become a fully qualified automotive technician.

It was certainly an educational year for me – not just from what I read, but also from experiences like the one I just shared with you.

These real-life experiences taught invaluable lessons about how to improve my mechanical skills that no book, video, or Google search could teach.

And because of their invaluable lessons, I’ve decided to compile all these stories into an ebook – “5 Mechanical Life-Lessons I Was Taught From Real-Life Experiences

Inside this ebook, you’ll discover more about another time I was spared from more aggravation doing a much more complicated repair job – all thanks to a tool you don’t normally keep in a toolbox.

You’ll also get to read a remarkable story I’ve dubbed The Tale of Mr. Bottle” – a story that truly is stranger than fiction (I couldn’t make up something half as strange if I could).

If you’d like to check out these stories, the link to the ebook is inside the episode description to this podcast.

Alternatively, you could visit and download it from the “Ebooks” sections.

Thank you for tuning in, and until next time – happy trails – no matter what or where you ride!