The Best Bike Brake Pads For Mountain Bikes

Brakes are one of the most important components of a bike. In the case of mountain bikes, brakes are not only important but also essential to maintain in excellent conditions, especially if practicing downhill.

To keep your brakes functional, you need great bike brake pads. Learn what they are and how to choose them, or use the links below to go to our selection of the best bike brake pads available on the market.

How Are Bike Braking Pads Made?

Brake pads are made up of two components, a support plate, and a brake lining, or underlayer. The plate constitutes the body of the brake pad and it is fixed to the piston. This component usually has holes or another type of attaching system used to mount the pad to the braking system.

The plate is typically made of steel, a cheap material that is stress-resistant and durable. The plate has the role to evacuate the heat transmitted by the braking system, to ensure a great performance while braking.

The brake lining is the actual brake pad and it is made of a mix of different materials fixed to the steel plate. The task of the lining is to go against the rotor of the wheel and generate friction, causing the wheel to stop. A spring is often inserted between the two pads with the purpose to facilitate the removal of the pads from the disc when the oil pressure in the circuit decreases.  

Types Of Bike Braking Pads

Bike braking pads are classified into three different groups, depending on the type of compound used to create the brake lining.

As such, the braking pads can be:

  • Organic: with a brake lining made of a mixture of resins, polymers, and natural gums. This lining is usually malleable and most of the times the composition includes Kevlar, a material that increases the stress resistance of the pads.
  • Semi-metallic: the lining is made of a variable percentage of ferrous materials such as steel or copper and a mineral, usually graphite. The ferrous material gives mechanical strength to the pad while the mineral is a refractory material that is used to avoid overheating.
  • Sintered: the mixture of this lining is very similar to that of the organic pads. The main difference occurs in the braking process, that in the case of these pads happens through sintering. The materials used to make this lining are usually powders that mix together into a mold. The mold is heated to a very high temperature, a process that causes the molecules of the different materials to bind together, creating a strong, solid material.

What Type Of Bike Braking Pads To Choose?

Choosing a certain type of brake pads over the others involve considerations that go well beyond personal preference. Some types of pads are more suitable for certain types of riding styles, therefore you should consider the discipline well before choosing the pads.

1. Organic Bike Brake Pads

Advantages

  • Good heat output: the braking system needs to reach an operating temperature to work well. This temperature is usually reached after a few brakes and the organic pads will allow you to reach that temperature in less time.
  • Low speed modularity: organic pads offer an excellent low speed modularity and a great braking efficiency. At low speed friction between the rotor and the lining is minimal, therefore this is an important advantage.
  • Impressive power: because the lining is malleable, it deforms in contact with the rotor. This deformation allows the pads to fully adhere to the surface of the rotor, increasing the overall power of the brake.

Disadvantages

  • Heat dissipation: although organic pads have a great heat output, they also offer one of the worst dissipation of the heat.
  • Contamination: organic pads are porous and very sensitive to the action of oils, lubricants, and grease. If the pads become soaked in these fluids, the result is a very inefficient braking.

2. Semi-Metallic Bike Brake Pads

Advantages

  • Excellent resistance to stress: thanks to the steel materials present in the lining compound, these pads have an optimal resistance and are usually designed for downhill disciplines.
  • Heat dissipation: the graphite used in the mix acts as a refractory coating that avoids transmitting the heat to the rest of the system.
  • Cost: from all the mountain bike brake pads available on the market, this model offers the best quality/price ratio.

Disadvantages

  • Cold operation: due to the high braking power, these pads are designed to work at high temperature and have scarce performances in cold weather.
  • Wear: the hard lining consumes the disc surface faster than all the other types of pads.

3. Sintered Bike Brake Pads

Advantages

  • Lifespan: the sintered brake pads are less malleable than the organic counterparts but softer than the semi-metallic ones, having a longer life compared to both counterparts.
  • Wear: thanks to the intermediate softness and excellent heat dissipation, these brake pads consume the disk slower.
  • Resistance to contamination: the sintered pads also suffer from the action of oily fluids but have a better resistance to contamination compared to the organic counterpart.

Disadvantages

  • Cold operation: the sintered pads are also designed to work at high temperatures and need to warm up before braking efficiently.

How To Choose Bike Braking Pads

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of the main types, here is how to choose the pads based on your preferred discipline:

  • Leisure off-road cycling: due to the low speeds and reduced braking temperature, the organic pads are the more indicated.
  • XC: in this discipline is crucial to be able to break at any moment, and for this reason, the organic pads are the most indicated.
  • Endure: the braking in this type of discipline must be very powerful, and for this reason, the sintered pads are the best. These pads offer a high heat resistance and at the same time make braking more linear.
  • Downhill and freeride: in these disciplines riding speeds are very high and the braking power should be maximal. For this reason, the semi-metallic pads are the best solution.

With this in mind, let’s have a look at the best mountain bike brake pads.

The Best Bike Brake Pads For Mountain Bikes

1. 2 Pairs Shimano Disc Brake Pads & Spring B01S (Resin)

Although not suitable for all disciplines, organic brake pads are among the most popular. From all the models available on the market, one that offers an excellent price/quality ratio is the Shimano Disc Brake Pads & Spring B01S.

These brake pads might be considered expensive at a first glance. Nevertheless, Shimano quality is undisputable and these brake pads are made to last.

The pads boast a brake lining made of high-quality resin. Thanks to this component they are almost silent and also offer a better modulation compared to other similar brakes.

2 Pairs Shimano Disc Brake Pads & Spring B01S (Resin)

Moreover, these pads are compatible with various types of Shimano discs, being suitable to use on a wide range of bikes.

Things We Liked
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    Compatible with Shimano discs: more specifically, the pads are compatible with BR-C501, BR-M575, BR-M525, BR-M495, BR-M486, BR-M485, BR-M475, BR-M465, BR-M447, BR-M446, BR-M445, BR-M416, BR-M416A, BR-M415, BR-M4050, BR-M3050, BR-M395, BR-M375, BR-M355, BR-T675, BR-T615, and BR-TX805 disc types.
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    Silent: these brake pads make a really low noise when braking, not to mention their excellent power modulation.
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    Impressive performance: the pads adhere well to all types of discs, offering an impressive braking performance in all situations.
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    Durable: although made of resin, the pads boast a long lifespan and are less porous compared to similar models.
Things We Didn't Like
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    Because they are made of resin, the pads absorb a high quantity of dirt and greasy liquids. This is perfectly normal but it makes the brakes hard to clean after a ride.

2. ODIER Bike Brake Pads for Shimano Sram Avid Disc Brake

Bike Brake Pads for Shimano Sram Avid Disc Brake

ODIER Bike Brake Pads is another type of resin brakes compatible with a series of Shimano brake systems. The main peculiarity of these brake pads is the semi-metallic and resin mixture, that makes these pads an actual hybrid between the two types.

The ODIER brake pads have, in fact, a semi-metallic compound that increases the long-term performance of the pads, but also their adaptability and heat dissipation. On the other hand, the resin component acts gently on the disc, providing a smooth and powerful braking.

Another great feature of these pads, given by the resin component, is the less harsh noise produced when braking.

On the other hand, the pads are ideal for several purposes, such as cross country, all mountain trail, leisure cycling, and commuter bike riding.

Things We Liked
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    Money back guarantee: the manufacturer claims to give a full refund if the product doesn’t rise to the standards.
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    Shimano compatible: these pads are perfectly compatible with the Shimano brakes M355, M395, M446, M475, M485, and M495.
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    Efficient: thanks to the semi-metallic and resin compounds, these brakes are really efficient and suitable for multiple disciplines.
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    Rotor protection: the resin component is less harsh on the rotor, increasing the lifespan of the braking system as a whole.
Things We Didn't Like
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    The manufacturer doesn’t give the same attention to the pad accessories, and some users complained about the springs that keep the pads in place.

3. PAMASE Bike Disc Brake Pads for Avid Elixir

A type of brake pads particularly popular are the semi-metallic resin coated brake pads by PAMASE. These pads are perfectly compatible with a rather wide range of brake systems, including Avid Elixir among others.

The brakes come in a set of two and the manufacturer proposes a range of different shapes, each of them manufactured for a different type of brake system.

PAMASE Bike Disc Brake Pads for Avid Elixir

On the other hand, thanks to the perfect compatibility, the brakes are really easy to install. In fact, it is enough to clean the rotor after taking off the old pads and mount the new one. As easy as pie!

Another thing we really like is the money-back guarantee. The manufacturer gives you 30 days to return the product and receive a full refund, regardless of the reasons why you return them.

Things We Liked
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    Suitable for daily use: the brake pads are designed to provide a powerful braking system reliable for intensive use.
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    High-quality materials: the pads are made of Dupont friction materials that include reinforced copper, Dupont Kevlar fiber, and GH resin.
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    Compatibility: the pads are compatible with XXWC, SRAM XX, Avid Elixir, and XO brakes.
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    Performance: the pads are ideal to use for multiple disciplines, they produce a really low noise and have an excellent power modulation.
Things We Didn't Like
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    Compared to similar models, the brake pads seem less sturdy.

4. Shimano B01S Resin Disc Brake Pad & Spring 3rd Version

Shimano B01S Resin Disc Brake Pad & Spring

If you are looking for original Shimano components to use on your bike, then these Shimano B01S 3rd Version resin disc brake pads might be the ones you were looking for.

These brake pads are simply impressive. They are made of high-quality resin, boast an impressive resistance and durability, and are compatible with many Shimano discs and brake systems, including Deore BR-M575, BR-M495, BR-M486, BR-M485 and BR-M445 Calipers.

These resin pads are preferred by many cyclists thanks to the really low noise produced when braking. Moreover, they boast an excellent power modulation.

The pads are easy to install and they resist fairly well to heavy use. Nevertheless, being made of resin, they get contaminated quite easily, so keep that in mind before buying.

Things We Liked
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    Original Shimano: Shimano bike components are always a guarantee. This is also the case of these brake pads, that are of a really high quality.
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    Easy to install: the pads are really easy to install on almost all types of bikes.
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    Pads and springs: the manufacturer sells the set of bike brake pads together with the springs, for an increased convenience.
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    Organic pads: these brake pads boast a lining made of only resin. This makes the pads really suitable for leisure cycling and cross country disciplines.
Things We Didn't Like
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    The brake pads become easily contaminated and you will have to change them quite often.

5. Cooma 2 Pairs Semi-Metallic Disc Brake Pads

Last but not least, if you are a lover of downhill and freeride, you might want to consider these semi-metallic disc brake pads by Cooma. These pads are compatible with a wide range of disc brake systems are of a really high quality.

The main thing that strikes is the lifespan, which is twice than the normal lifespan of semi-metallic brake pads. Moreover, these pads also boast an enhanced modulation and a shorter braking time.

Thanks to these characteristics, the pads deliver a smooth braking, they produce minimal noise and provide an excellent rotor protection.

These pads are manufactured according to the EN European Standard for mountain bike safety and are tested for their safety and performance.

2 Pairs | Avid Elixir Trail X0 Trail Elixir 7 Trail Elixir 9 Trail Sram
Things We Liked
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    Heat resistance: these brake pads withstand heat up to 600 degrees Celsius, providing an excellent power in all circumstances.
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    Lifespan: thanks to the heat resistance, the brake pads also last longer compared to similar models.
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    Heat dissipation: the heat dissipation of these semi-metallic pads is excellent, therefore the component provides impressive long-term performance on trail mountain biking.
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    Safe: the pads are manufactured in accordance with the European safety standards and are safe to use for almost all mountain biking disciplines.
Things We Didn't Like
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    Because the pads also have a resin component, they get contaminated easily and must be replaced often.

Conclusion & Final Pick

Without a doubt, the best bike brake pads for mountain bike available on the market are the Shimano Disc Brake Pads & Spring B01S. These brake pads provide an excellent price/quality ratio, are made to the highest standards and are of an undisputable quality.

In fact, Shimano is a guarantee for the quality when it comes to cycling. As such, even if these brake pads are not suitable for all disciplines, they are still the best for leisure cycling and cross country.

The only thing to pay attention to is the contamination, a downside for all organic brake pads. Other than this, the pads come in a set of two, are easy to install, and literally compatible with almost all Shimano disk brake systems.

Because of their popularity, the reliability of the brand, and overall performances, these bike brake pads truly stand among the bests.

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