April 9th – Whoops. The bike I’ve been riding over the past few days has been having an issue with the front brake pats just lightly touching the disc. The noise was irritating me, so before I set out today, I got down to realigning the caliber, and then noticed the pads were a bit worn. Having spares on the bench, I whipped the old ones out.
Oh dear. The bad set, for those not in the know, are on the left, the replacements on the right. The pad on the one side is so worn, it’s to the metal, and the spring is mashed, too.
I also had an issue with the piston sticking. Hopefully that’s sorted.
Hydraulic brakes wear pads quicker. I must remember that.
August 19th – I’m fussy about brakes. Very fussy indeed. Urban cycling – particularly in heavy traffic – demands the ability to control speed and stop with certainty and dependability in all conditions.
Since I discovered disc brakes a few years ago now, I’d never have a bike fitted with anything else. After using cable controlled versions – the excellent Avid BB7 – these days, I use hydraulic brakes by Avid (part of what used to be Sachs for old timers reading out there) and by Shimano.
They are both excellent kit. Being hydraulic, however, they absolutely devour pads.
Modern cycle disc brakes started on mountain bikes, where braking is usually short, or at relatively low speed. With similar units on commuting and road bikes, engineering questions of heat dissipation, wear and glaze on the pads are critical.
Discs and callipers get fearsomely hot very quickly. It’s not unusual to see my discs steaming on wet rides. Prolonged use can cause the surface of the brake pad to become shiny and lose grip, ‘glazing over’, and the wear is constant.
There are two general types of brake pad; sintered metal and resin (AKA ‘organic’) – sintered last a long time, are great in the wet but can howl in use and wear discs heavily. Resin pads wear quickly, are silent, and generally offer softer control and better ‘modulation’.
I’ve been very, very pleased with the Shimano brakes, which have been on the bike for about 4-5 months now, but the resin pads they came with haven’t impressed me. The pads for these units come on a heatsinking vaned plate, and are very easy to change, which is a blessing as the rear set were never the same after I cleaned the bike using normal bike cleaner. The front ones glazed out a few days ago.
I went to sintered on the back when they became poor, and was shocked at the huge difference made, and the fact that so far they’ve been silent, so today, I popped some in the front, too. (The new sintered pad is on the left; the knackered resin on the right).
Braking harmony restored.
I must say, recent experience is leading me away from resin or organic pads.
April 8th – Heres a cycling one for the tech heads. Sorry, but it may save some folk hassle.
Disc brake pads. Don’t skimp on them, it’s just not worth it.Two of my bikes have Avid BB7 units fitted. One bike has original factory-fitted Avid brand pads, and the other, which is older, after the originals wore out had some Kool Stop ones, which were good at first but glazed over, reducing the stopping performance. I replaced those with some cheap ones from Decathlon as I was passing at the time and it was easy. They were awful. I was noticing that the Avid pads on the newer bike were far better than the others. Eventually, after cleaning and roughening discs, adjustments and degreasing, I gave up, and ordered some original Avid sintered metal pads. Performance restored.
The moral of all this is that your brakes are your life. Don’t waste time with cheap shit.
January 28th – I’ve not mentioned much about the bike technology on this blog, which is a bit odd, really, because without it, I wouldn’t be able to ride like I do. One of my favourite innovations of the last ten years or so is the road disc brake. This model – the Avid BB7 – is designed to work with road, rather than mountain bike setups and levers. It is cable operated and stops you on a sixpence, wet or dry. There’s no rim wear, no rubbing, and the pads last for ages. Maybe not quite as good as a top-end set of hydraulic discs, but not far off in my opinion. All my bikes have disc brakes, fantastic things.