Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Give me a brake

Posted by Lee | December 16, 2008 | 4 comments so far

Now I don’t profess to be any kind of expert on disc brake pads, but is it really too much to ask of the major manufacturers that they design something that lasts mildly longer than the first sexual experiences of a 16–year old yoof?

It’s not often I rant about things, but just recently I have felt totally cheated by the inadequacies of products from the industry’s so called leading brands.

Since October last year I have gone through the original two pairs of Shimano XT pads supplied with my 08 brakes, a further set of sintered XTR pads, all four of my standard sets from Superstar Components (which are made by a “leading manufacturer”) and, most recently, both pairs of Goodridge pads fitted just over six weeks ago before my sojourn to Afan.

A couple of years ago I remember a set of standard issue Deore (M555) pads on my Stumpy lasting me about 14 months before they began squealing like Miss Piggy in Danepak’s factory.

Brake pads used to be largely fit and forget components in my life. Sadly they are now only fit and forget because the pads in question forget they are a nice lump of compressed matter and think they are lump of cheese. A chunk of Cathedral City (other cheese brands are available folks) offered up more resistance against my grater the other evening than my pads did on Sunday!

So what gives? Am I bedding them in correctly? Well, same as I’ve always done. A dozen or so sprints down the road and slam the anchors on as hard as possible to get heat into them. Am I riding differently? Well, I may subconsciously be riding slightly more aggressively now I’m riding as part of a group as opposed to solo, but surely not enough to warrant such short lifespans. Is global warming to blame? Apart from President Bush, isn’t global warming to blame for everything? Admittedly, Sunday’s ride was not conducive to disc pad life—endless miles of mud, grit and, in some parts, water up to our knees caused by some fairly excessive precipitation.

However, prior to the ride on Sunday I knew I was riding with pads almost as good as new as I’d had them out for cleaning due to squealing the week before. By the end of the ride it was a combination of my feet and pad backing plates stopping any further forward motion.

All this is getting pretty damn expensive. Including the £25 I’ve just spent on four pairs of sintered pads from Superstar (again)—just in an attempt to get out next week—I reckon I’ve spent in excess of £120 on pads in the last 12 months.

So, is it just me? Is anyone else having similar issues? I know Dave and Jem may well have done on Sunday. Is there anything we can do about it? Anyone have their tried and tested favourites? Should a pair of pads really cost what they do given the volume that they are churned out in? Anyone have a fool–proof bedding in process? Please, for the sake of my wallet if nothing else, discuss.


About the author

As Baz Luhrmann said in his Sunscreen song: look after your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone. Well, until they do finally give up the will to live and screech to a halt like a knackered bottom bracket, I'm just going to keep riding because that's what I love.

Whilst I'm more full time parent and part-time biker these days, I still make the best of the time family life affords me, even if the fitness yo-yos massively.

I ride a Cotic Soul, which is currently single-speeded, and also a 2010 Trek EX-8 for drier times.

We are a pretty lucky bunch to live in such close proximity to the Surrey Hills, which gives us an embarrassing amount of trail choice. Some of my all time local favourites have sadly now been 'decommissioned', but with the likes of BKB, Summer Lightening and China Pig, there's still plenty to smile about whichever way you turn.

There are 4 comments on ‘Give me a brake’

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  1. Dave says:

    In fairness to my Juicy 3’s the back brake problem looks like I have the wheel too far back in the drop out. I need to take a link out of the chain after taking the two teeth from the gears!! I had a nice ridge of pad left at the top of one pad. Probably take the 456 out tonight!

  2. Matt says:

    I find increased pad wear is often caused by mucky pistons preventing the pads being applied evenly.

    Try giving them a good clean and work them in and out (not too far in or you’ll never get them out again!). After that you should get a more balanced pressure on the two pads and less wear.

    If not, might be time for a service—I’ve not tried with XTs but should be DIY–able.

  3. Andy says:

    Did a set of Deore pads in one ride of Leith Hill, never really had issues with Hope pads though.

    Still on my first set of pads after two trips to the alps and numerious other downhill days on my Mono six’s.

    Judging by how hard it was to buy Code pads (my mate got through four sets), the Hopes are pretty good on wear.

  4. Jem says:

    I had a similar problem with my Hope Mini’s. I found the answer was cleaning the piston with disc brake cleaner and pushing and pumping the piston a few times.

    The product I used was by Muc-off, but any brake or clutch cleaner would work. Not had the problem for a long while now. If you want to try, borrow the can and give it a go.

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