Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Hope Brake Pads: a short term review

Posted by Muddy John | December 15, 2010 | 11 comments so far

Worn Hope brake pads
It is just over two years that I have been riding reasonably regularly with the Moles and for me one of the big plus points, apart from the camaraderie, is how much I have learned. Not just new all the new routes, but especially my riding technique.

One thing that comes to mind today is what Colin has been telling me about braking with the focus very much on using the front brake. Since he mentioned this I have worked at changing my habits from “back dragging” to strong, progressive use of the front brake.

So what has this got to do with a short term review of Hope brake pads? Well, on our slushy trip to Reigate last week I noticed that the rear brake on my new Orange Five was getting noisy. Changing the pads on the Hope Tech X2s turned out to be a doddle, almost a pleasure in fact, if the state of the rear pads wasn’t such a shock.

I now see the rear brake had been steel on steel – the pad had absolutely no friction compound left and was worn entirely smooth.

The interesting thing here is that with travel commitments since I got the new Five, I have only ridden it about 300 miles since new. Is 300 miles all I should expect from a set of brake pads? Hence the title for this review – short term is the only review I can do for these Hope brake pads.

I checked the front pads expecting to find a similar story, but was surprised to find they looked only half worn, with at least a couple of months of life remaining. So why had my rear pads worn out while my front pads are lasting well?

As I replaced the maxle on the front wheel, another pleasure, I could think of only two options. Either I am not applying Colin’s advice as well as I had though, and am still dragging my rear brake on downhills. Or, that when I was bedding in the pads on the new bike, I generated enough heat in the front brakes but not the rear brakes.

Of course there could be other reasons, and any suggestions would be gratefully received.

On Matt’s recommendation I have now fitted a set of Superstar Red (Kevlar) pads to the rear, and will see how well they last. I did a few stops from high speed using only the rear brake to try to get them up to temperature but I suspect that will not be enough to get them fully bedded in, so I must remember to do it properly on the first downhill on Sunday—and temporarily ignore what I hoped I had learned from Colin.

Muddy John

About the author

John has been biking in the Surrey Hills since the late 1990s but only started riding with the MuddyMoles in 2008. In the couple of years since then he has learned more about mountain biking from the Moles than he learned in the previous ten.

Having remained loyal to his vintage pale blue and orange Stumpjumper hardtail since the last century, he has recently explored the limits of his storage space and his wife’s patience by adding an On-One Inbred Singlespeed and an Orange Five.

John is usually wearing or riding something blue and does not eat any raw fruit beginning with the letter T.

There are 11 comments on ‘Hope Brake Pads: a short term review’

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  1. pij says:

    I tend to use my rear brake to tame the back end down in mud when I’ve inadvertantly mashed the pedals too hard – perhaps you are doing same?

    Slow to react pistons? Adjustment at the handleba all the way in? Dunno.

    300 miles – you never know; you may have worn them to nubbins on that single ride. Seen that a few times.

    It does seem that aftermarket pads last a bit longer than the originals, and any improvement on 300 miles is a bonus!

    Have you tried running water direct from the hose through the calipers after a ride?

  2. Matt says:

    I’ve known pads to disappear in one ride! Could be a dodgy batch or not bedded in etc. Once properly bedded in they seem to last hundreds of miles normally, especially if they sintered.

    It might be worth getting some IPA (alcohol) and cleaning the pistons though as often a sticking piston causes uneven wear on the pads. Try moving them in and out a few times as well.

    My tip is when you change pads to put the new ones on the front – Colin’s absolutely correct that the front should be doing 60-70% of your braking anyway so it gets nice and hot and beds in pads better. The older ones I rotate to the rear.

    The rear brake on the other hand is a great ‘balancing’ brake as PIJ alludes to – it straightens the bike out so is good for what he describes.

    Using it in a corner makes the bike ‘stand up’ so not ideal anyway but if you’re doing low speed techy stuff it’s great. Try pulling it on so it’s barely dragging the disc and you’ll find you can turn a bike almost in it’s own length.

  3. pij says:

    On one ride up Leith Hill my mate got through both front and rear pads within 20 miles. They were pretty new as well. I did one 8 mile ride in Belgium before a set went. The next set have lasted so far 500 miles. Sometimes life sucks and the Great God of Mountain Biking wants a sacrificial donation. Most likely you had a sucky day is all. We all benefited from your donation.

    Happens to us all, and often for no apparent reason. Sometimes a set of pads will last years [I’ve a set on my Orange that have been in for over 6 years] and sometimes you’ll get one ride out of them. Can’t always be down to the rider dragging the brakes now can it?

    Front to rear swopping out is, may I be frank here Matt, a bloody brilliant idea – send it in to the mags quick and get your £100 voucher! Do it now before I do!!

    How come nobody has switched this innocent and informative pads discussion to a more subversive tubeless tyres v. tubed one anyway? What’s up with you people!

  4. stevend says:

    In my experience the rear brakes attract a lot more dirt than the fronts, and if this gets stuck between the pads and disks it can cause wear and even damage to the both the pads and rotor if you are very unlucky. I assume that this is due in part to the location of the chain and other nearby mechanicals but that may or not be the reason.

    What I do know is that currently my front and rears have similar wear but I have making a point of using more front since replacing both pads.

    I now make a point of directing water at the pads when washing and removing the wheel to check the pad surfaces after every ride. It is a 2 minute job but it is amazing how much dirt builds.

  5. Dazzler says:

    You got your money’s worth out of them pads!! I’ve found that the Superstar pad’s “red” aren’t that great in sloppy cond. But they are my first choice brake pads. “cost” & they have good power for stopping.

    Plus no sound under braking

    if you look at the Superstar brake pads I’ve found that the braking surface is smaller than original Hope & other makes, which when you look at the size of the pad’s I guess they must be about 9% smaller, which is a huge amount when you look at them.

    One way I bed the pads in is jump on the bike & peddle like mad with one brake on.

    It soon heats up.

    As for braking % Dry weather for me is 70/30 Front.

    Muddy conditions 60/40 Front

    On ice it’s 80/20 Rear, sometimes I won’t touch the front if the is any chance of ice under my wheels.

    Hope that helps…

  6. John R says:

    Some interesting insights there. My suspicion is that I didn’t bed in the back pads enough because I was trying to do my braking mainly on the front – so when we got some typical Mole Valley mud they soon wore away.

    I like Matt’s idea of swapping the old pads to the rear – they are well bedded in now so should last. I will do it as soon as I am home on Saturday.

  7. Markymark says:

    I’m running Tech X2’s and they are a fantastic braking system.

    If you want some decent tips on bedding in pads, check out this article on how to Bleed Hope Brakes and see the last couple of paragraphs.

  8. Dandy says:

    You da man, Mark! – when it comes to bedding in brakes at least. That sounds like the final word on the subject to me (cue further thoughts from some of our ‘regulars’)

  9. Bored Jem says:

    Years ago a motor mechanic friend told me to put the brake pads of my Vw scirroco in a hot oven for ten minutes to harden them.

    Would this work for bike brake pads??

  10. Markymark says:

    I understand that you really need to generate friction heat (which affects the resin in organic) AND pressure in the pad, then cool it down, repeat, for longevity. It’s common to draw up the resin in organic pads and burn it off which is why they sometimes don’t last under certain riding conditions. The process of hardening by ‘bedding in’, rather than ‘baking’ encourages movement in the friction compound to keep the resin/particles balanced. Sintering is the fusion under heat and pressure of metallic particles and in the case of brakes it blends various other elements to enhance friction properties and wear life. Heat/cooling and pressure are relevant to maintaining pad life.

  11. pij says:

    Seems that often they give up the ghost when fairly new, and when one rides in wet, sandy conditions. Here with the presence of so much sand in the area, sometimes it’s like riding on a beach during a storm. Indeed geologically speaking we probably do! It’s just life; sometimes on a ride we’re doing nothing more than gently sanding our pads away to nubbins.

    You can carefully bed your pads in, change them front to rear, but sometimes life is just a big sucky thing. Get on’t ‘net and order them bulk lad.

    Go for sintered if you want a bit more life from them? OK at times you’re grabbing the lever for all you are worth and nothing happens for an instant, but they do last a bit longer.

    On a different slant, Hope rotors seem to have a higher iron content than most others, so the Tech 2’s may well be a bit more ‘grippy’ once bedded in properly. Don’t know – just noticed they rust around the edges, and isn’t rust always a good sign with rotors?

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