12 Best Bike Brake Pads in 2018
Most casual riders don’t put a lot of thought into the type of brakes on their bikes, they just know how to use them. Well, when it comes time to replace the factory set, things can get downright confusing unless you buy a factory replacement. That’s not always going to be an option, especially if you want something better than what came on the bike.
Our list of the best bike brake pads consists of two types of brakes styles with brake pads that stop on the rim and those that sit on a disc braking system. Regardless of your style of bicycle, we have included something for you in our table below.
Top 12 Bike Brake Pads Comparison Chart
|Design||Name||Style||Multiple Sizes or Colors||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Shimano Road Brake Pads||Rim||Yes||4.7|
|2. SwissStop Full FlashPro Original Black Brake Pad Set||Rim||Yes||4.7|
|3. Shimano B01S Resin Disc Brake Pad & Spring||Disc||No||4.7|
|4. Kool Stop Bicycle Brake Pads with X Pad||Rim||No||4.6|
|5. Tektro Novela/IOX Disc Brake Pad||Disc||No||4.6|
|6. Swisstop FlashPro||Rim||Yes||4.6|
|7. Kool Stop MTB Mountain Bicycle Brake Shoes||Rim||Yes||4.5|
|8. Avid Elixir Disc Brake Organic Pads with Aluminum Back||Disc||No||4.5|
|9. Zipp Tangente Platinum Pro Evo Brake Pads||Rim||No||4.5|
|10. Kool-Stop Dual Compound Mountain Pads||Rim||No||4.5|
|11. Promax V-brake Shoe 3 Color||Rim||No||4.5|
|12. Avid Juicy/BB7 Disc Brake Pads||Disc||Yes||4.4|
Bike Brake Buying Guide
Unless you want to take a tumble on the road or trail, you need a good set of brakes on your bike. Finding the right size is fairly simple, but finding the best for your riding style and bike requires some knowledge.
While there are two main types of brakes on our list of the best bike brake pads, there are several variations on those brakes or different styles. Some manufacturers even have variants that branch off specialized lines, but we’re going to try and keep things simple. Our list focuses on two main styles in Rim brakes and Disc brakes. That means you will not find any bicycle pads for vintage bikes or electric scooters this time around.
Rim style brakes are mounted in a “shoe” and can easily be replaced by most riders. They use a pad on each side of the rim to apply pressure that brings you to a halt. These cantilever brakes have pads on the ends made or rubber or a mix of exotic compounds. These are commonly found on road bikes, BMX bikes, and are by far the most popular for general use. They are the most popular style of brake across the board, but not without their drawbacks.
Have you ever tried to stop in the rain on a bike and you just kind of slide? Well, you probably had wet, rubber rim brake pads. Their performance dwindles when they get wet or clogged by any road grit from the rim. You will also need to adjust them as they wear down if you want full stopping power. Pay close attention to the wear level as well, or you could eat into your rims.
This is something started by Shimano, and a variation of the classic rubber brake pad you will come across more often than not. These are rim pads, commonly referred to as a direct-pull or linear-pull braking system. These are a popular way to go on mountain bikes but need a longer cable on older bicycles due to the amount of travel. They work in a similar fashion to cantilever brakes with the exception of springs.
While rim-style brakes use rubber pads and your rim to stop, disk brakes are more high-tech. They apply force to the rotor at the center of your wheel, instead of directly to the rim. This style of system is usually reserved for heavier bikes or Pro models although they have slowly made their way to budget-friendly bikes as well. Just like rim brakes, they have advantages and disadvantages.
This brake style runs off a hydraulic system or cable. If it’s the former, you are going to have to deal with bleeding the brakes and keeping tabs on your levels over time. Not ideal for some and they can fail if the hydraulic fluid comes to a boil under extreme heat. It’s rare but can happen during downhill racing on small discs. Keep the type of materials used in mind as well.
- Resin – These are dubbed “organic” pads and are made from fibers and other materials bound together by resin. They aren’t the best in inclement weather and can wear down quickly, but they are quiet and don’t take nearly as long to break in.
- Sintered – While these are the only way to go in poor weather conditions and last longer although you are going to need to break them in before hitting any heavy trails. Another advantage would be fade however as these don’t fade out like their resin-based counterparts.
Top 5 Best Bike Brake Pads Reviews
Our top choice comes from Shimano and carries the model number R55C3. These are brake pads built for the rim and geared towards the road, not for biking down trails in the wilderness. They will work with the Integra, 105, and popular Dura-Ace systems from Shimano and are a factory OEM replacement pad.
The installation will be simple and relatively straightforward on these if you have changed out pads before. If not, you’ll just need a screwdriver and a little elbow grease to slide the old pad out of the cartridge and the new one in. Another perk is the construction as these are designed to be “squeal free” and work well in rainy weather although you will need to pay attention to your rim style.
The Shimano Dura-Ace R55C3’s are available in black and come two pads per pack. You can choose the pads built for carbon rims or ones geared towards aluminum wheels as well. If you need a robust set of replacement pads for your road bike, these should be your first choice if they work with your particular braking system.
SwissStop is another manufacturer well-known in the cycling world for their reliable brake pads. These are another set geared more towards bikes that prefer the pavement to the trail, and it’s a full kit to boot. That means you will get a set of brake pad replacements along with new holders. While that does increase the price, the installation will be a breeze with the full FlashPro’s.
These brake pad replacements are made from BXP rubber, a compound cooked up by the company and built to last. Compared to previous models, these have deeper grooves and a higher edge for better performance and a smooth linear response when braking. This particular pair of pads from SwissStop is also known for their stopping power in the rain thanks to the aforementioned grooves.
If you have SRAM or Shimano brake calipers and aluminum rims, you will want to consider these pads. They are one size fits all, but available in several different styles with black, blue, Yellow King and Prince Black. Like most pads on our list, these only come in a two pack, so you’ll have to double up if you want a full set.
Our first disc brake pad set comes from a familiar name in Shimano. This is the third version of their Shimano B01S pad replacement system that is resin-based and comes complete with two pads, springs, and the proper hardware.
While you will want to check your rotors to see if resin is right for you, these pads will work with a plenty of systems. A few of those include the Deore BR-M575, BR-M495, BR-M525, BR-M415, BR-M445, and BR-M485 just to name a few. There is no heat sink, but they do offer up superior noise resistance for disk brake pads and have fantastic power modulation.
These 8-gram disc brake pads are the only way to go if you need B01S replacements. While these are sold in single sets, there is a double pack available as well with the same resin pads if you need to replace all your brake pads at once.
Kool Stop’s next entry onto our list of the best bike brake pads is for the rim and feature X-Pads. This is a kit complete with aluminum pad holders with the company’s logo emblazoned on the side. They look good, and you will be able to stop on a dime with a full set.
We don’t have a full list of compatible cartridge brake systems the Kool Stop X-Pad’s will work with, but you should be good to go if you’re using Shimano Dura-Ace, Ultega or a similar cartridge-based system. Alignments will be simple regardless of the rim angle due in part to the built-in pivot adjustment system. This pad replacement set is just for one wheel but comes with two sets of pads.
The regular pads are dual-compound (Black/Salmon) and ideal for all conditions, and probably what you will want to use out of the box. That being said, if you reside along the coast or in areas that are wet more often than not, install the Salmon pads to deal with the rain.
Our second choice from SwissStop is another set of FlashPro brake pads, but these are a bit different from our last pick and allow you to deck out your entire bike or replace the worn set. Yup, you can buy a full set of four provided you need rim-based pads although you will get a choice in that area as well.
We opted for the 4-pack of pads which are the “Yellow King” color and geared towards linear braking performance. In other words, you can feather the brakes if you want to slow your roll. This set will work with SRAM or Shimano systems and are built for carbon rims. The carbon set is also available in Black Prince with yellow highlights.
If you have aluminum rims, but still like what these will do have no fear. The 4-pack can be purchased in BXP Blue or Original Black. Keep in mind, all the sets are just for the pad and do not come with holders like some replacement pad sets.