Analyzing Brake Pads
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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Analyzing Brake Pads

    My bike has had the same brake pads for years. Shimano 105/Ultegra on the front and Aztec pads on the back. It's just whatever I bought at the time.

    What has become annoying is a scraping sound when the brakes were applied. So I removed the pads, picked out all the metal bits, and sanded the pads flat, then reinstalled them. There is plenty of swiping groove on the pads so I know they're not worn down.

    And the process repeats itself.

    First, I can only imagine the metal bits being pieces of my aluminum rims, rather than road grit. Agree? I can't imagine the rims shedding material from brake pad use.

    Second, I'm guessing the brake pad compound deteriorates with age, either increasing the ability to pick up those rim bits/road grit. What do you think?

    Yesterday I took a ride to the bike shop and bought replacement pads. The brakes are Shimano 105, and I've always used 105/Ultegra pads. What the clerk sold me were Shimano pads I later noticed were labeled for Sora and Tiagra.

    Are Sora and Tiagra level brake pads of a different compound than 105 and Ultegra?

    I installed them already and plan on checking out their performance today, but I'm wondering whether I can't use the presence of the swiping groove as my gauge to whether it's time to replace the pads?

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Anecdotally:

    Worn/well used pads tend to pick up more grit. By well used I don't really mean time but how much crap they'd been through. One hilly rain ride involving gravel will do more to them than a full season of riding in nothing but good weather on the road (not exaggerating there).

    I think compound does make a difference. If I ride Shimano pads in the rain they become grit magnets after that unless I sand/scrape off the entire surface. Swiss Stop seem seem more like new after just picking out the shards.

    I've never kept a pair of Shimano pads until the groove was gone because they had turned into grit magnets before that and I get to lazy to send them down to expose a 'new surface'. I haven't been using Swiss Stop long enough/in the rain enough to say for sure but it looks like I'll probably be able to use those all the way down.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    My bike has had the same brake pads for years. Shimano 105/Ultegra on the front and Aztec pads on the back. It's just whatever I bought at the time.

    What has become annoying is a scraping sound when the brakes were applied. So I removed the pads, picked out all the metal bits, and sanded the pads flat, then reinstalled them. There is plenty of swiping groove on the pads so I know they're not worn down.

    And the process repeats itself.

    First, I can only imagine the metal bits being pieces of my aluminum rims, rather than road grit. Agree? I can't imagine the rims shedding material from brake pad use.

    Second, I'm guessing the brake pad compound deteriorates with age, either increasing the ability to pick up those rim bits/road grit. What do you think?

    Yesterday I took a ride to the bike shop and bought replacement pads. The brakes are Shimano 105, and I've always used 105/Ultegra pads. What the clerk sold me were Shimano pads I later noticed were labeled for Sora and Tiagra.

    Are Sora and Tiagra level brake pads of a different compound than 105 and Ultegra?

    I installed them already and plan on checking out their performance today, but I'm wondering whether I can't use the presence of the swiping groove as my gauge to whether it's time to replace the pads?
    Some rims are more prone to shedding bits of Al than others, but it sounds like these had long use and then the problem came up and repeated itself. Unless you can think of a change in riding conditions or a new route where you might be picking up the grit, then maybe it is just the age of the brake pads. If the chunks in the pads are clearly metal, then the rim is the most likely culprit, but it could be from a car wreck or a construction site too.

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