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. 

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

Cons
-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.

6 comments:

  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.
    Fab

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    1. thanks for sharing your experiences Capt. Fabulous.

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

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    Replies
    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!

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

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  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

    ReplyDelete