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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Shimano brake pads - what's the difference?

    Sorry if this is the wrong forum. But it pertains to my new wheels - specifically the AL-33 rims with the ceramic brake track (RFSW3's from November). Long story short, the supplied carbon pads are wearing VERY quickly. So I purchased some pads from Amazon after trying to find the correct pad. I decided to double check the model and I'm not sure if I have the correct pad or not. Shimano's website does not easily find or locate the pads. The manual site does not have them either. I was hoping someone here might definitively answer the question.

    The pads I have are the R55C3, They are tagged by the marketplace seller as Ceramic. But on a few other sites, I'm seeing them listed as carbon pads not ceramic. The ceramic ones are R55C. I know I can use carbon pads, but what's the difference between the 2? Is one a harder compound and will last longer? I'm hoping to get a pad that is longer wearing than the ones that came with the wheels. Thanks.

    And before you claim I'm riding the brakes too much, I can't remember the last time I replaced the pads for any of my other wheels (over a year at least) and I haven't changed my riding or braking habits. I road ceramic rims for years on the mtn bike (Mavic Crossmax) and pads lasted around a year unless I road in a particularly muddy race or trail using Shimano ceramic v-brake pads.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I can't speak to the specific question of the Shimano pads or to what they might do to your rims, but...

    1. While called "ceramic" none of the current crop of rims are ceramic. They (except HED) are some variant of plasma electrolytic oxidation coated. Can't compare them to old Mavic ceramic
    2. Initial pad wear can be dramatic but it will decline exponentially once the rims and pads are bedded together. You'll wear pads more often than "never" but the current rate isn't the long term rate from what we saw - I've got a set of pads with 1500 miles and tons of life left.
    3. Unless your screen name is a tremendous head fake and I've got you confused with someone else, we sent you two complete sets of pads. Just use those.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Dave. You've got the right guy. And thanks BTW for the second set of pads.

    I was hoping that was the case about the pads and track bedding in. I take it, I don't really want to seriously "clean" the track then - just wipe it down to get the dust off or light soap and water not scrubbing. Otherwise, I'll go back to chewing pads up until it beds in again. Is that correct?

    Just for your info, I have burned the rear pads away by half in 3 short rides, ~73 miles. There were a few short steep descents (8-10%) on those rides however with stops at the bottom. I don't ride the brakes, but I don't like sudden hard braking either, and will feather the brakes as needed to control speed in pacelines or following on someones wheel.

    I really like the wheels so far. I'm holding off posting my impressions until after the TNW ride tonight. Very positive experience so far aside from the brake pad wear. And having to upgrade my brake calipers to fit the wide rims but that's not a knock on the rims themselves.

    I would still like to know the Shimano brake pad info however. It almost looks like there might be 2 different version of the R553 - an aluminum rim version and a ceramic version. The packaging I have for the R55C3 shows an icon/image of brake calipers, and icon with a rim cutaway with AL in it (assuming that means aluminum rims), and square icon with a sun in it, and a square icon with rain cloud in it. I just wish I could find official info from Shimano on it.

  4. #4
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    The differences are explained here: https://www.bike24.com/p223208.html

  5. #5
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    Thanks Jay Strongbow, that was one of the retail sites that had info that I was looking at. Other retailers have missing information and/or possibly conflicting info. That is why I was hoping for a shop mechanic to chime in or someone to point me at Shimano literature to differentiate the pads.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinball View Post
    I was hoping that was the case about the pads and track bedding in. I take it, I don't really want to seriously "clean" the track then - just wipe it down to get the dust off or light soap and water not scrubbing. Otherwise, I'll go back to chewing pads up until it beds in again. Is that correct?
    Soap and water with a softish brush is great. In my experience you have to really get after things to require a re-bed. Like when I take sandpaper to disc rotors, they need a re-bed. But a brush and soapy water is great.

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