SHORT GUIDE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE DISC BRAKE PADS

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Whether you run hydraulic or mechanical/cable actuated disc brakes, there is a few things that will effect your disc brake pad life :

  • Rider weight
  • Weather/trail conditions
  • What type of riding you will be doing
  • What size rotors you run
  • How hard you brake

In general, if braking surface on your disc pads has less than 1.5mm, it’s time for replacement. Changing your pads isn’t generally a complicated process and can be done at home. You will come across 3 different types of disc brake pads with the first two being the most common: Sintered (metallic), Resin (organic) and Semi-Organic. All types of pads have their pros and cons.

TYPES OF MOUNTAIN BIKE DISC BRAKE PADS

Sintered (metallic) Brake Pads

Metalic pads are made up of compound of added hardened metal ingredients. – usually copper shavings.

Pros
  • Fade at a higher temperature than resin disc brake pads
  • Perform much better in wet conditions
  • Last longer than resin disc brake pads
Cons
  • Noisier
  • Longer brake-in time
  • Less initial bite
  • Heat is conducted through the caliper, not the rotor
  • Causes the most rotor wear

This brake pads are best used if: You ride in typically wet, muddy/mixed weather conditions, you are heavy, you ride a lot of downhill or steep descent courses.

Resin (organic) Brake Pads

Also referred to as ‘organic’ disc brakes pads – are made from a high-density ceramic that are bonded with rasin.

Pros
  • Less Noisy
  • Shorter brake-in period
  • More initial bite
  • Prevent heat buildup
  • Heat is transferred back into the rotor
  • Don’t wear your rotor as much as disc brake pads
Cons
  • Wear out much quicker
  • Not as good in wet/muddy conditions

This brake pads are best used if: You are a lighter weight rider, your riding requires less braking. Generally they better for cross country and riding in flatter areas. Although these brake pads will provide better initial stopping power and heat dissipation in low-speed conditions they won’t perform very well in wet, muddy, or even dusty conditions.

Semi-Organic Brake Pads

These disc brake pads will offer a tradeoff between braking performance and pad wear/noise. They will still stop very well while making braking a little less noisy and cause a little less rotor wear. Some manufacturers will fix these brake pads on higher end all-mountain, trail, and cross country oriented mountain bikes.

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