Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The best XC disc brake pads

Can disc brake pads really make a big difference with your braking? 
The answer is yes, brake pads can make a huge difference in the performance of your disc brakes.

So who makes the best pad?  And why are they so good?
I have tried many different pad companies, many different rotors, and many different brake systems.  All 3 of these components play a crucial role in brake performance and a weakness on any one of the 3 can make a good brake perform poorly.

The best brake pad for your XC bike, drum roll please, is the Jagwire Mountain Pro Semi-metallic.

What is wrong with other pads?
The main issue I have found with OE and other aftermarket pads is a nasty thing called glazing.  Glazing is when you build up a super hard conglomerate of brake dust and crud on the surface of the brake pad.  This makes the pad very smooth and rock hard.  This makes your brakes squeal like a banshee, gives poor modulation, and can send paralysing vibrations through the entire bike. The worst examples can be found in Avid and SRAM OE brake pads which become un-useable after a period of time.  I have had customers whose Avid pads have glazed over in just a few rides.  Regardless of whether you brake them in properly, brake too much, or get them too hot, brake pads should never get so bad as to be thrown out a few weeks into their service life.
I have tried lots of different things to deal with glazing.  I have sanded and degreased rotors, installed brand new rotors, installed different types of rotors, and I have physically sanded the glazing off of brake pads.  All of these were very temporary solutions or accomplished nothing at all.  I had narrowed it down to the brake pad construction and compound.  Something needed to be done.
Enter Jagwire!  I have found that Jagwire pads NEVER build up a glazing.  They are a smart mix of different composites and considered a semi metallic.  They give you the best compromise of everything really.  They grab hard but have a decently long service life.  They are inexpensive and lightweight.
Whether it be Shimano, Avid, Formula, Hayes, I have always found the Jagwire pads to be an improvement over OE compounds.
For the past 4 years I have been converting riders who seem ready to give up on their current brakes due to poor performance. 

-no glazing
-no squealing
-consistent performance in most weather
-light weight
-performance doesn't deteriorate as they wear down

-only last about 3/4 as long as a full metallic

Semi metallic construction with super light weight aluminum backing plates.  Yummy

So go out and buy a set of these for your disc brakes and relieve yourself of the crappiness of OE pads.


  1. Hey Benno:
    I agree 100%. Had a problem with XO brakes last summer, terrible vibration through whole bike. Tried everything, new Avid pads, new rotors etc. Nothing seemed to work. Finally tried some Jagwire semi-metallic pads and instant solution to the problem, quiet, no vibration, great braking.

    1. thanks for sharing your experiences Capt. Fabulous.

  2. The Swiss Stop pads are also great, for organic compound.

    1. I've always wanted to try some of those but never got around to picking up a set. Thanks for the reminder, I'll try them on my next build!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience on brake pads, I really like it.

  4. Thanks for practical matters such as you talk about..sharing this information. I found it very informative as I have been researching a lot lately on.
    carbon wheel

  5. Are you from Dubai? and want to buy best brake pads in Dubai? then you can check online at Sand Dance Tyres.