August 19th - I’m fussy about brakes. Very fussy indeed. Urban cycling - particularly in heavy traffic - demands the ability to control speed and stop with certainty and dependability in all conditions.
Since I discovered disc brakes a few years ago now, I’d never have a bike fitted with anything else. After using cable controlled versions - the excellent Avid BB7 - these days, I use hydraulic brakes by Avid (part of what used to be Sachs for old timers reading out there) and by Shimano.
They are both excellent kit. Being hydraulic, however, they absolutely devour pads.
Modern cycle disc brakes started on mountain bikes, where braking is usually short, or at relatively low speed. With similar units on commuting and road bikes, engineering questions of heat dissipation, wear and glaze on the pads are critical.
Discs and callipers get fearsomely hot very quickly. It’s not unusual to see my discs steaming on wet rides. Prolonged use can cause the surface of the brake pad to become shiny and lose grip, ‘glazing over’, and the wear is constant.
There are two general types of brake pad; sintered metal and resin (AKA ‘organic’) - sintered last a long time, are great in the wet but can howl in use and wear discs heavily. Resin pads wear quickly, are silent, and generally offer softer control and better ‘modulation’.
I’ve been very, very pleased with the Shimano brakes, which have been on the bike for about 4-5 months now, but the resin pads they came with haven’t impressed me. The pads for these units come on a heatsinking vaned plate, and are very easy to change, which is a blessing as the rear set were never the same after I cleaned the bike using normal bike cleaner. The front ones glazed out a few days ago.
I went to sintered on the back when they became poor, and was shocked at the huge difference made, and the fact that so far they’ve been silent, so today, I popped some in the front, too. (The new sintered pad is on the left; the knackered resin on the right).
Braking harmony restored.
I must say, recent experience is leading me away from resin or organic pads.