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Disc Brake Pads


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How to choose mountain bike disc brake pads: Disc brake pads are the point of contact between the rotor and the brake caliper. Pads follow a simple two-piece design: they have a metal back plate that attaches to the piston of the brake caliper, and a contact surface that creates friction with the rotor. Brake pads are offered with different braking surfaces that are intended to provide superior performance in a variety of conditions. After time, brake pads wear down and must be replaced. Upgrading to a pad that is tailored to your riding style and trail conditions can improve braking and increase overall bike control.

Disc Brake Pads

Types and Materials

The back plate and braking surface both come in different materials. Back plates are either steel or aluminum, but they can also be coated in copper to reduce heat transfer to the caliper.

The braking surface is made of one of three basic pad materials: organic, semi-metallic, or sintered metallic material. Each offers varied performance and ride characteristics, and there is no perfect pad for every condition.

Organic pads offer smooth braking in dry conditions and offer good value for recreational riders. These are best for lower speeds, break in quickly, and have the least noise and vibration of all options. Unfortunately they have a short wear life and are poor choice for wet weather, but they are relatively inexpensive.

Sintered metallic pad compounds are more expensive, but are designed to increase braking power and durability. They are the best choice for high speeds and wet weather, but require the longest break in time, make the most noise and vibration, and cost the most. On the plus side, they last the longest of all three types.

Semi-metallic pads are a combination of metal and organic material. They offer ride characteristics in between the two extremes and are similarly priced.


Brake pads come in as many sizes as there are models of disc brakes. Pads are made to fit a certain type of brake and are easily installed. Brake manufacturers offer replacement pads for their products and there are also companies that specialize in aftermarket brake pads.

Things To Look For

Most disc brake models require brake pads specifically designed for them. When purchasing replacement pads, be sure to know the model of brake you're shopping for in order to ensure compatibility. The next thing to look into is the type of braking surface that best suits your riding style.

How Much To Spend

Brake pads range in price from $10 to $40.

In the $10-$25 range, pads are available for most brake models in an organic or semi-metallic compound. This price range offers solid performance and durability for recreational riders.

The $25-$40 range of brake pads contains brake pads designed for more expensive brake designs, and more performance oriented products with metallic braking surfaces and superior back plate technology.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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