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Disc Brake Pads: the new toilet paper?

Old 11-25-20, 10:36 AM
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Disc Brake Pads: the new toilet paper?

We have several bikes with disc brakes, but probably my main ride accounts for much of the consumption of pads and rotors. I reckon I have to replace a rotor after every fourth set of pads changed.

The cup below has 10 pairs of pads in it:




I've filled that cup at least twice before, since 2015.

I just bought two more sets of pads, at almost $25 a set. (Shimano JO3A). Previously, I bought a bunch of them at about $17/pair (Ben's), but try to find prices like that, now, with the current shortages (or shorting).

So, at $25/pair x 30 pairs = $750, and probably about another $375 in rotors, this is beginning to add up to a number greater than what many people pay for a reasonable bike. (Again, I got some of these pads a bit cheaper, but if today's pricing is the "new normal"...).

(I won't do the toilet paper calculation, but for a family of 5, it also adds up.)

I really prefer disc brakes, but this is a significant expense. If I had a bike shop maintain our brakes, we would really be feeling the squeeze.
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Old 11-25-20, 10:47 AM
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They stop good. But they don't tell you at the shop they don't last long. I burnt up the first set of Shimano pads after 300 miles... couple of steep downhills in the dirt. Rotor was orange.
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Old 11-25-20, 10:53 AM
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How much do you weigh? what mileage are you riding? which type of pads? which weather?

On my old mountain bike with SLX brakes I replaced front pads every 1200 / 1500km aprox, and rear ones between 1800 / 2100km. I usually climb between 700 and 1200m for every 30km I cycle, so I do quite a bit of descending. I mostly used sintered and kevlar aftermarket pads (discobrakes) which lasted for a similar amount of time. Rotors (Avid G3) lasted for 18.000km before I replaced them, and I only did it because they were overheated and would no longer brake properly, as they still had enough thickness according to SRAM specifications.

On my current MTB with MT520 brakes and the stock organic pads I'm around 1000km mark and they're still ok. They're lasting more than on my old bike judging by the remaining thickness.

On my current road bike I'm around the 5000km mark and I'm on the 2nd set of front pads and the rears are still the stock ones with plenty of life remaining.

I don't think it's really that expensive provided you don't buy stock pads. IMHO discobrakes pads offer good stopping power, great life and are quite cheap. I usually buy them in packs of 4 as they're cheaper that way. In any case, it's true that they wear faster than rim brakes, but you never need to replace a worn rim, and braking is so much better it's totally worth it.
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Old 11-25-20, 10:59 AM
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Like toilet paper, maybe you should use the brakes a little more sparingly

I’ve done 13,500 miles since 2015...3500 on disc equipped bikes...but I can’t recall changing a pad of any kind since 2015. My touring bike has the same rubber rim pads on it that it had before and after I did a 5 week loaded touring trip around Lake Erie. The bike I ride most often has over 7000 miles alone and still has the same pads (rim brakes) from long before 2015.
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Old 11-25-20, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Like toilet paper, maybe you should use the brakes a little more sparingly
This is true. I have one kid (now lives in Portland) who went through about one roll per day.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Iíve done 13,500 miles since 2015...3500 on disc equipped bikes...but I canít recall changing a pad of any kind since 2015. My touring bike has the same rubber rim pads on it that it had before and after I did a 5 week loaded touring trip around Lake Erie. The bike I ride most often has over 7000 miles alone and still has the same pads (rim brakes) from long before 2015.
I get that I burn though pads more than most people, and that I am more cautious on descents. I am less clear why it is that this would account for anything more than a factor of 2 in pad/rotor consumption.
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Old 11-25-20, 11:13 AM
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I'm new to disc brakes. But so far I've got over 2000 miles on a road bike with discs. The pads and rotors look like they'll last much longer. I don't brake if nothing is in front of me though.

I'm a reasonably light rider. Less than 190 lbs including bike and bottles. I'm sure total weight probably has a bearing on the wear rate.

Last edited by Iride01; 11-25-20 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 11-25-20, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Amt0571 View Post
How much do you weigh?
Probably 95 kg clothed.

what mileage are you riding? which type of pads? which weather?
Probably about 3000 miles/year, but lots of steep up/down. Shimano JO3A resin pads, currently, or their precursors. These do wear out faster than metallic ones. Fair weather (coastal central CA), on and off road.

I don't think it's really that expensive provided you don't buy stock pads. IMHO discobrakes pads offer good stopping power, great life and are quite cheap. I usually buy them in packs of 4 as they're cheaper that way. In any case, it's true that they wear faster than rim brakes, but you never need to replace a worn rim, and braking is so much better it's totally worth it.
I've almost always used the finned stock pads. The one time I tried a cheapo alternative, I went through them and trashed a rotor before I realized what happened.
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Old 11-25-20, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Probably 95 kg clothed.



Probably about 3000 miles/year, but lots of steep up/down. Shimano JO3A resin pads, currently, or their precursors. These do wear out faster than metallic ones. Fair weather (coastal central CA), on and off road.



I've almost always used the finned stock pads. The one time I tried a cheapo alternative, I went through them and trashed a rotor before I realized what happened.
There's something wrong there. You shouldn't be eating pads so fast, and definitely you shouldn't be trashing rotors at that rate while using organic pads.

Do you drag your brakes on descents?

I've only seen pads disintegrating that fast on Formula C1 brakes, but that brake was so bad at all levels that it shouldn't be called a brake at all.
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Old 11-25-20, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Amt0571 View Post
There's something wrong there. You shouldn't be eating pads so fast, and definitely you shouldn't be trashing rotors at that rate while using organic pads.

Do you drag your brakes on descents?
Yes.

Lots of steep roads here, and I am scared of descending fast (getting old, previous broken ankle psyched me out, etc, but I have never been good on descents).

I'm checking out diskobrakes now, but the lack of fins has me worried (being a brake-dragger, brake fade is a worry.)
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Old 11-25-20, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Yes.

Lots of steep roads here, and I am scared of descending fast (getting old, previous broken ankle psyched me out, etc, but I have never been good on descents).

I'm checking out diskobrakes now, but the lack of fins has me worried (being a brake-dragger, brake fade is a worry.)
Then your problem could be related to lack of technique. You really shouldn't drag the brakes, it's bad for the pads, the rotors, and with adequate braking technique it shouldn't be necessary even to ride at a slow pace unless you're descending a 20% gradient.

I've used finned pads and non-finned pads without any noticeable difference. I currently use discobrakes kevlar pads on my road and mountain bikes with zero issues. In my opinion, fins are a gimmick. Lots of time ago I tried Clarks pads and they were crap (noisy, and lacked stopping power), so I've stuck with discos since then.
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Old 11-25-20, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I get that I burn though pads more than most people, and that I am more cautious on descents. I am less clear why it is that this would account for anything more than a factor of 2 in pad/rotor consumption.
That depends on how cautious you are. Dragging the brakes from top to bottom is going to wear the brakes down faster than pulse braking would. I tend to let the bike run downhill, hit the brakes hard to scrub speed and then get off the brakes. Wash, rinse, repeat. For illustration, I did a ride last summer on Swan Mountain Road in Summit County, CO. Itís a very fast 2 mile downhill, dropping about 500 feet over two miles. Itís easy to hit 40 mph without trying. I even ran up on cars on the downhill which really slowed me down....damn it! I was riding with someone who is far less confident than I am and I had to wait at the bottom for about 10 minutes. It took me 3 minutes to get to the bottom (about) so my ride partner was riding the same distance over 13 minutes. 13 minutes of braking is going to wear much more pad material than approximately 30 seconds out of 3 minutes.
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Old 11-25-20, 12:23 PM
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I get worried above 30 - 35 mph. The brake pads are probably less expensive than the team of shrinks I would need. Out my door, at 1700ft, it is about 5 miles to sea level, but the steep bit is concentrated in the last 3.
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Old 11-25-20, 12:34 PM
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Brake life is highly variable for any vehicle. I know drivers who can go through a set of automobile brake pads in less than 10,000 miles and others who make them last 100,000 miles. It depends on the terrain you drive in, how well you anticipate your brake use and how aggressively you drive. Bikes are the same way.
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Old 11-25-20, 01:00 PM
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I like the Kevlar compound from Discobrakes. It seems to be a middle ground between Resin and Metallic pads with good stopping power and longer pad life than Resin.

I wore a set of Resin pads down to the metal in one rainy gravel ride. I did a similar ride after switching to the kevlar pads and they survived that ride and are still going.
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Old 11-25-20, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dsaul View Post
I like the Kevlar compound from Discobrakes. It seems to be a middle ground between Resin and Metallic pads with good stopping power and longer pad life than Resin.

I wore a set of Resin pads down to the metal in one rainy gravel ride. I did a similar ride after switching to the kevlar pads and they survived that ride and are still going.
Do you miss the fins at all?
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Old 11-25-20, 03:55 PM
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Something tells me with the way you ride you would wear out rim brakes and rims in short order.
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Old 11-25-20, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Pop N Wood View Post
Something tells me with the way you ride you would wear out rim brakes and rims in short order.
I was wondering about that. The brake track on the front wheel on my 1987 Bianchi appeared to be perfectly fine when I finally replaced the wheel about 5 years ago. But, then, I had Modolo brakes.
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Old 11-25-20, 04:52 PM
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Unfortunately disc pads do wear faster than a thick rim brake pad. My son lives in Seattle and burns through disc pads every year on his commuter bike. Before he had disc brakes he replaced the rim brake pads every third or forth year. Recall the performance mountain pads for rim brakes? The backers stayed on the bike and the pads could be slid out of the holders after removing a tiny pin. They wear quickly as well. Just not as much material there as the standard low performance rim brake pads. With performance comes a cost of maintenance. Had a 911 that used 10 quarts of oil. Yep, performance costs more. Too bad I never drove it to utilize that engine. Such a waste.
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Old 11-25-20, 05:38 PM
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You should really try metallic pads, they should last significantly longer. The main disadvantage to metallic pads is that it takes some braking to get them warmed up for optimum braking. But dragging your brakes will generate plenty of heat so you won't really notice. Metallic pads also handle heat much better.
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Old 11-25-20, 05:45 PM
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Maybe I should. The audio feedback might be enough to get me to feather the brakes more, or learn to stay off them completely.
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Old 11-25-20, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Maybe I should. The audio feedback might be enough to get me to feather the brakes more, or learn to stay off them completely.
They wear the rotor quicker. Impressive you kill J03A pads that fast....Shimano claims double the life of J02A.
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Old 11-25-20, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
They wear the rotor quicker. Impressive you kill J03A pads that fast....Shimano claims double the life of J02A.
I see no noticeable difference. I started with F01A in 2014, then J02A, then to J03A.

I have found the Ultegra splined rotors (160mm) with fins seem to last longer than my 6-bolt XT icetech rotors. But these are on two different wheel-sets that I use differently, so I haven't really been doing a proper controlled experiment. (The Ultegra rotors are on my mostly off-road wheelset, however.)
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Old 11-26-20, 02:43 AM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
You should really try metallic pads, they should last significantly longer. The main disadvantage to metallic pads is that it takes some braking to get them warmed up for optimum braking. But dragging your brakes will generate plenty of heat so you won't really notice. Metallic pads also handle heat much better.
Metallic pads also wear the rotors faster. That's never been an issue for me as rotors last years to me, but he seems to be wearing rotors down at an alarming rate.

I've been using DiscoBrakes kevlar pads for a few years and they seem better than metallic ones to me. Less noisy, with a stronger bite, and only a slight sacrifice in durability (they're certainly closer to metallic than organic in that department).
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Old 11-26-20, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Do you miss the fins at all?
I'm using SRAM brakes, so I've never had fins.
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Old 11-26-20, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by dsaul View Post
I'm using SRAM brakes, so I've never had fins.
Do you miss the silence and stopping power?
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