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Favorite Disc-Brake Pad Material?

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Favorite Disc-Brake Pad Material?

Old 02-25-23, 06:19 AM
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Favorite Disc-Brake Pad Material?

Is there a favorite pad material within the bike-commuting community for disc brakes and, if so, is that any different from that of mountain bikers?

I got my first disc-brake-equipped bicycle a little over a year ago: a Priority Continuum Onyx. Prior to that acquisition I don’t think I had ever even ridden a bicycle with disc brakes. In addition to disc brakes, this bike has a belt drive and an Enviolo CVT rear hub, all of which were new to me.

My only disappointment has been the brakes, as from the start they were prone to occasional, faint-yet-annoying, rubbing sounds. Additionally, early on the front brake starting to make a grinding noise when applied, and more recently the rear brake started to make a squeal.

I decided to replace the pads as a first step toward building familiarity with disc brakes and, frankly, simply learn how to remove the rear wheel on this bike, which I hadn’t yet done (!).

I was a bit overwhelmed to learn that not only are there different pad-shape conventions, but there at least three different material choices:
  • Resin (aka organic);
  • Metal (aka sintered); and
  • Ceramic.
Perhaps others, too? As expected, it was easy to find online articles about the material choices, including pros and cons, but essentially all were written from the mountain-bike perspective. In my case, however, this is for my commuter bike, and although I commute essentially year round, the fact is that my total riding in a typical day is only about five miles, and I have enough flexibility in my commute that I rarely ride in heavy rain. Additionally, it’s relatively flat where I live, so I’m not doing long descents, either.

The calipers on this bike are Promax Solve, which are hydraulic (the fluid is mineral oil), use the Shimano B-series shape for pads, and came stock with metallic pads.

It may be that I neglected to do some adjustments upon initial assembly of the bike that would have resulted in a better braking experience from the outset, but I decided to move away from metallic pads and try resin pads because I want to prioritize smooth feel and quietness, even if that would reduce braking performance and / or longevity. I bought four pair of resin pads through Amazon from one of the many mystery brands they carry for about $10 — not bad to give this a shot.

Thanks to some videos on YouTube, I was pleasantly surprised to find that removing the rear wheel was easy, as was replacing the pads, with no need to make any adjustments to the hydraulic fluid: I simply pulled out the old pads, made sure the cylinders were retracted, and slipped in the new pads. I also made some minor adjustments to the caliper positions to to center them as well as I could.

I’m pleased to say that the brakes now perform as I had hoped they would from the beginning: they feel smooth, they have plenty of braking power, and they’re totally quiet. I realize that the resin pads won’t last as long as the metallic pads would have, but I’m not too concerned, as I’m so happy with the experience of using them now.

Is this a typical conclusion for commuters? That is, that resin pads are the best choice for commuter bikes due to smooth feel and low noise, or do people tend to go with metallic pads (or another material) in order to reduce the replacement interval? Perhaps it "all depends..." just as it does for mountain bikers?

Last edited by Derailed; 02-26-23 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 03-23-23, 03:24 PM
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I do not have disc brakes on my old bike.
I do have disc brakes on my cars.
I would vote Ceramic, based on my car experience.
Why Ceramic you ask?
More bite, less noise.

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Old 03-24-23, 07:38 PM
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I ride in the rain a lot (Seattle commuting). I run organic pads. They wear faster but they squeal less.
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Old 03-24-23, 08:38 PM
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the ceramic are great quiet always even in the rain its not bad long lasting. my only complaint is they are hard to hold onto the nyou insert them and they don't come with a pin. they are fantastic on our tandem that eats brake pads.
https://mtxbraking.com/
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Old 03-31-23, 07:10 AM
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Thanks for the replies, although I note that after nearly a month of no responses, I had transitioned from disappointment / embarrassment to amusement that I had started a post that wasn't of interest even to readers on a specialized forum such as this. Is there a record for least-interesting post, perhaps measured by time before first response, or number of reads before first reply? I coulda been a contender!

Anyway, based on my experience thus far, and the comments above, it seems as though for a commuter like me, the best choice would most likely be either resin / organic or ceramic, with cost being the deciding factor. Personally, I'd either go with the cheapest resin / organic pads I could find (low-cost option) or splurge for some relatively high-end ceramic pads. I've started with the former (resin / organic), but if I'm disappointed with how long they last, I'll try some fancy ceramic pads. At a month in, the cheap resin / organic pads remain quiet, feel smooth and provide sufficient stopping power.
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Old 04-01-23, 10:10 PM
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I think that forums like this, in general are sying a slow death to the facebook crowd.

With that said, I've tried ceramic pads over the years and have found that they squeal when they get any kind of contamination on them (general road gunk) and get wet. Organics have always performed better for me. Don't get me wrong - in the right conditions an organic pad will squeal too, but less that the other varities (in my experience). So I am willing to put up with the faster wear.

Glad they are working for you. Stay safe out there.
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Old 04-03-23, 01:39 PM
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This isnít a very active sectionÖ

I just use koolstop for all my pads whether rim or disc, I donít know what the pad material is but it works and isnít loud which is all I really ask
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Old 06-13-23, 12:08 AM
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Iím liking metallic

Aka sintered pads lately

Metallic vs Resin Pads with Mechanical Disc Brakes on a Gravel Bike
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Old 06-18-23, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox
Aka sintered pads lately

Metallic vs Resin Pads with Mechanical Disc Brakes on a Gravel Bike
https://youtu.be/UgWwfhgwa9Q
Thanks for this. The rear pads (resin) that I installed have started to squeal, so I may replace them pretty soon. I'm still thinking I may try spending more to see if cost correlates with squeal or other noises, but not sure if I'll go back to metallic or try some fancy ceramic pads.
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Old 06-18-23, 04:58 AM
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I use resin on the rear and semi-metallic on the front. I hate my disc brakes. Noisy and a constant PITA.

The resin brakes wear and brake fast and the semi metal ones squeal. I use the rear to feather speed in a group. The semi metal seems to be better for high speed and hills and the wear better. I don't get 1000 miles out of front resin pads. I use SRAM pads. Favorite? Swissstop Prince rim pads.
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Old 06-19-23, 12:44 PM
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Thanks for starting this thread, I'll be watching to see how the ceramics work out for you if you go that route (I'm thinking of going ceramic myself, but mostly for extra longevity). I just bought the same bike a few weeks ago and noticed the rubbing right out of the box, so I had to reset them which helped. I still get intermittent rubbing in the front; when I do I give the brakes a good press and that usually makes them quiet again.
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Old 07-25-23, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
... I hate my disc brakes. Noisy and a constant PITA....
I haven't replaced mine again, yet, but both front and rear are squealing now. I still have two pair of the inexpensive resin pads I mentioned previously (I bought a set of four pairs), but I'm hesitant to bother installing them because I don't want to be changing them out again in a few months. (I only ride about five miles per day; I'm disappointed to be ready to replace after only about 500 miles.) Thus far, in my limited experience, I'm not enjoying the disc brakes. Although I've had rim brakes squeal from time to time, it was always an easy problem to fix. Maybe with more practice I'll come to view changing the disc-brake pads as a trivial task, but I'm not there yet...
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Old 08-04-23, 08:46 AM
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I did another replacement yesterday with some Shimano BO5S-RX pads; the RX indicates that they're resin. I bought them from Amazon, which I regret, as even though they came in what looks like genuine Shimano packaging, I've become increasingly leery about counterfeit products from Amazon. That said, I don't understand why the previous pads started to squeal so badly -- it's not clear to me that it had anything to do with their inherent quality.

In any event, I'll be curious to see if how these hold up. If they start squealing within a few months again, I'm going to suck it up, take the bike to my favorite LBS, and see what they recommend.

Thus far, I'd say that I'm a fan of the belt drive and Enviolio CVT hub on this bike, but for my riding and braking needs, I'm wishing it had old-school cantilevered rim brakes -- the hassle that I associate with the hydraulic disc brakes has significantly exceeded the small benefit that they provide, IMHO.
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Old 10-04-23, 05:32 PM
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Just under two months after switching to Shimano BO5S-RX pads and my rear brake has started to squeal. Previously I said I'd next throw the towel and go to my LBS. That's still an option, but I think I may try some ceramic pads first.
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Old 10-05-23, 06:58 AM
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I also have a Priority Continuum Onyx and have been riding it since March 2023. I have put about 1000 miles on the bike this year. This thread is really timely for me. As I have notice that my rear brakes have started to squeak occasionally. Also I thought the brakes needed to be bled. So I brought the bike to my lbs and they looked at the bike. They said the brakes don't need to be bled as of yet, and also the brake pads are fine and don't need to be changed. Also for point of reference I have always had rim brakes not disc brakes.

You gave so much information about the bike in your original post which I didn't have. So thank-you for that.
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Old 10-05-23, 06:09 PM
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Disc brakes usually donít need to be bled unless thereís something wrong with them or you have to open the lines for some reason. Some people just like to mess with things and call it maintenance. The pads on the other hand, do wear down. But 1000 miles is not very much unless itís poor conditions
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Old 10-05-23, 09:37 PM
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I'm still experimenting with the various materials; have not tried ceramic yet. So far, in rainy, hilly Seattle, on a 5-days-a-week, year-round commute, squealing and lack of bite have not been a problem for me. Maybe I'm changing them before the problems manifest.
Since this is an easy-to-replace consumable, I tend to buy cheap on Amazon. The downside is that you are not sure what you are getting (the last set said "copper" - I am not sure what that means). I seem to get about 1,000-1,500 miles per set.
I find that if I am doing that much work, bleeding the brakes (not a full mineral oil replacement) is worth the little bit of extra effort. Have to get extra o-rings though.
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Old 11-16-23, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra
I also have a Priority Continuum Onyx and have been riding it since March 2023. I have put about 1000 miles on the bike this year. This thread is really timely for me. As I have notice that my rear brakes have started to squeak occasionally. Also I thought the brakes needed to be bled. So I brought the bike to my lbs and they looked at the bike. They said the brakes don't need to be bled as of yet, and also the brake pads are fine and don't need to be changed. Also for point of reference I have always had rim brakes not disc brakes.
Any update with the squealing?

Rather than replace my pads again, I went overboard and decided to do a wholesale replacement of the entire braking system and did the install last weekend:
  • Levers: Shimano BL-M4100
  • Calipers: Shimano BR-MT410 (with resin pads installed)
  • Rotors: Shimano SM-RT56-S (160 [mm])
The levers and calipers came as separate packages for the front and rear, with the lines already connected to the calipers and filled with mineral oil, and plugged at the lever end. That made it really easy to do the install, as even though I had to cut both the front and rear lines, very little fluid got out. Thanks to online instructional videos I did my first "lever bleed," and that turned out to be quite easy. (I also bought some specialty tools: hydraulic line cutter, barb inserter and Shimano-specific bleed kit.)

Replacing everything was certainly overkill, but I was going a bit crazy with the squealing and didn't want to do another pad replacement. So far, all is quiet, but that's been the case with each set of new pads I've installed... for a couple of months.

Were I to have taken a more scientific approach, I may have started with just replacing the rotors, as my current hypothesis (essentially untestable now) is that the rotors may have been the culprit and, I suspect, especially prone to resonating. The cutouts on the new rotors are quite different. I also note that the new rotors are marked as being for resin pads only. I presume this is because they're made of a softer alloy. Perhaps that will mean they'll wear more quickly, but perhaps it also means that they'll be less prone to squeal.

I also note that the braking is noticeably better overall. It's not clear to me if that's related to the Shimano versus Promax levers and calipers or, perhaps, just the fact that the Promax components that I replaced were ready for a bleed. I really do think it was silly to replace everything, especially as in the process I finally learned a bit about how to maintain hydraulic brakes, and I could have easily done a bleed for the Promax parts. Part of my motivation for replacing everything with Shimano was so that I'd have parts for which one can easily find instructional videos, and there's a lot more available for Shimano than Promax (although, again, now that I have basic familiarity, I see that one could easily translate the videos from the Shimano platform to the Promax platform).

So, I may have been able to save $100+ in unnecessary part replacements, but I've learned a few things about maintaining hydraulic disc brakes and am (at least somewhat) optimistic that I'll get more than a couple of months of quiet braking.

Last edited by Derailed; 01-14-24 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 11-16-23, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Derailed
Any update with the squealing.
No real change in the squealing though it doesn't happen that often. So I am going to keep checking in at the lbs so they can monitor when the brakes need to be bled. I am finding that the left hand brake has a lot of pull before the brake engages. Back when I had caliper center pull brakes I would have that fixed so there wasn't much play in the lever. That feeling is very uncomfortable for my liking.


I hope all the work that you put in by way of changing the components works and stops the squealing for good. You are very fortunate to have such good skills as to be able to do the work yourself.
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Old 11-19-23, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra
No real change in the squealing though it doesn't happen that often. ... I am finding that the left hand brake has a lot of pull before the brake engages.
I'm optimistic that you'll be okay, but I'll keep my fingers crossed on your behalf. Even though I ended up replacing my entire braking system, I don't think it was necessary. That is, I don't think there's any reason to worry about the brake system on the Continuum Onyx, specifically.

If I could do this over again I would have replaced just the rotors and pads, simultaneously, once the the squealing got bad the first time and coupled that with a lever bleed. I suspect a lever bleed is all you need to reduce the pull before your left-hand brake engages. It's quite easy even the first time although I was nervous to do it. The only trick is getting a kit with a funnel that will properly thread into your lever. Once you have that, however, it's just a matter of getting your bike oriented correctly, threading the funnel into your lever, adding a little fluid to the funnel, and working out some bubbles -- videos are very helpful. I bet that would have solved my problem (relatively) quickly and easily (...of course this confidence will be ruined if the squeal comes back in a couple of months!).

Most of this thread should have been in the Bicycle Mechanics forum because ultimately it seems likely that something simply got funky with my rotors, or a combination of my rotors and the pads I was using, but that this was all just a generic case of brake squeal with nothing of special relevance to commuting.

All of that said, thanks for the many helpful replies and patience as I (hopefully) got this sorted out!

Last edited by Derailed; 11-20-23 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 11-20-23, 05:25 PM
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I've used metallic pads (always noisy) and resin (occasionally noisy), never tried ceramic.

I learned a few years ago that making sure that rotors are clean and "bedding" new brake pads results in quieter and more effective braking. My commuting environment is pretty gritty, so this is very important for much of my riding.

Here's one article that seems to capture the idea pretty well: https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/wor...sc-brake-pads/
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