Which disc brake pads to use for bikes25 July 2020
Different riding styles and different riding conditions require different brake pad materials to get the best out of your swish hydraulic brakes. There’s no point having £200 a set brake levers and callipers if you are choosing the wrong pads for where and how you ride. If you want the best stopping power you need to have a think about how the different pad types are made and what they are made from and to be prepared to spend a bit of time giving your brakes all the love they require in order to keep them in the best condition.
At its simplest, your decision will be between the two different types of bicycle disc brake pads - organic and sintered. Manufacturers add varying amounts of compounds to fine tune the mix and performance of both types choosing between sintered and organic brake pads will narrow down your search considerably. A little bit of insight into how they differ and the physics behind them will help you make the best choice.
Organic brake pads
Organic brake pads are made of a matrix of heat cured paste bound up with high friction organic fibres. Cellulose, aramid and PAN fibres can all be mixed in to create a high friction pad with excellent dry weather performance and reasonable resistance to brake fade with increased temperature. The downside to organic pads is that they wear more quickly than sintered pads particularly in the wet- on the flip side though they wear your discs out much more slowly.So for summer riding, cross country racing and the like these are probably your best choice.
Sintered brake pads
Sintered pads, on the other hand, are made up of a mixture of powdered and flaked metallic compounds. Instead of having a heat set paste form the pad they use a mixture of low and high temp melting metals. The low temp melting point materials are fused together during manufacture binding the higher temp metals together into a homogenous pad.
Sintered pads are tougher and more durable than organic pads so they last longer and are the better choice for wet and muddy conditions, Unfortunately, this also means they put more stress and wear on your discs, which may cause them to wear out quicker. They also require more braking force to create the same stopping power as an organic pad so they are a little heavier on the hands. On the upside, they are much more resistant to temperature related brake fade, making them the ideal choice for long descents.
As we’ve explained, organic pads are best suited for dry riding, on tracks where temperature related brake fade isn’t going to be an issue. They also offer the lightest action at the brake lever and are less hard-going on your discs. For downhill racing, Enduro or Megavalanche style events go for a sintered pad. Sintered pads are also your best bet for wet weather riding - just keep an eye out for that accelerated disc wear we mentioned..
Fortunately disc brake pads are inexpensive here at Planet X. We sell both organic and sintered pads suitable for a wide range of different brake models. If you’re not sure which type of brake pads is right for your riding style, why not stock up on both types and experiment a little? Having both types to hand also ensures that you always have the best braking possible for the prevailing conditions- after all it only takes a minute to swap your pads over and boost your performance.
Have fun and ride safely.