I've been commuting to work for about 6 months and most of the time I've taken my bike to a local bike shop for repairs/maintenance, but lately I've done my own. I've replaced tires, tubes, but now I have to replace my brake pads. My bike is from the 1980's and the pads look different than the ones I see in stores. Are they compatible? Can I still use them?
too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
There are two options.
1- if you have metal shoes with slide in pads, there may be pads that fit, and that's the least expensive option.
2- you can replace the entire shoe as long as the mounting hardware matches the brake. If you have a road bike with caliper brakes, a 6mm slot was pretty much standard back then, (and still is, though less so) so just about any shoe with 6mm hardware (may be marked for Shimano) will fit. You have a choice between one piece molded shoes, or metal holders with replaceable pads, which cost more now, but you can save later (not a smart decision if you plan to wait another 30 years).
Kool Stop and JagWire, both offer top quality replacement brake shoes.