Brake pads. What is there to say? People tend just to use whatever is within arm’s reach or whatever a bike shop has at the time they’re in there. As with most things though, there’s more than meets the eye – and it’s probably a good thing to think about, considering the vital service brakes perform and the seemingly high cost for such a small component.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that brake pads can be much-of-a-muchness. If they stop you when you want them to and they last a while, you’re happy, right? The thing is, we’ve known brake pads to catastrophically fail (both branded and budget bundle buys) which, aside from being potentially dangerous, is (a) a ball ache when you’re in the middle of nowhere/on holiday and (b) not a fun way to waste anything from £5 to £25.
With most of the major brake pad brands you can be sure to get a quality product that will last long enough to count as ‘value for money’, but with the cheap brake pads that can be found online it’s hard to be sure of what you’re getting.
There are three main factors I think a brake pad should be checked against. The first is longevity. It’s all well and good having a nice set of expensive pads, but if they’re gone in a day’s riding in the mud, you don’t really get any of the benefit, and it costs quite a bit to be constantly replacing pads. That brings us onto the second key feature – price. Obviously, the cheaper the better, as long as performance doesn’t suffer. Performance of course is the final factor and there is definitely a range from ‘Don’t stop me and squeal loads’ to ‘Stop on a sixpence whatever the conditions.’ So where does that put these pads from Uberbike?
On longevity, I rank them highly. I’ve had a set of the sintered pads on some Avid brakes for a good while now, and I’m nowhere near into the metal. It hasn’t been an easy ride for them, either – here at Bike Magic Towers we’re located bang smack in the middle of wet muddy territory over the winter as we’re perched on the Welsh border.
At £5.49 for semi-metallic, £6.99 for sintered, or £7.99 for “ultralight" (half the weight at 10g for the pair) or kevlar and £8.99 for the top-line 'Race-Matrix' compound (with "Higher friction coefficient than our other pads") the pricing can barely be sniffed at. Especially as the alternative option is to buy sets of four starting at £17.99. The obvious choice is to opt for the multiple purchase, considering that you’re unlikely ever not to need pads.
Finally, performance – the most important of all. Several of us here at Bike Magic have been on the pads and we haven't had any trouble to report home about; there is barely ever any noise and we’ve tested both semi-metallic and sintered with no issues whatsoever. Whether I’d opt for the lighter pads or 'Race-Matrix' compound at an extra couple of quid for both ends I’m not too sure. The sintered ones work perfectly for me and with the constantly changing weather round here they would be my default choice at all times.
These are good pads at a fraction of the cost of some branded pads. Brake pads may be unexciting, but they are vital and these come pretty close to the top of the pile.
They provide plenty of power - even the cheapest semi-metallic
They don't squeal in the wet which is a big bonus
Neither pad nor metal backing disintegrate like some do
Are there any?
Price: From £5.49 a pair or from £17.99 for packs of four pairs.
More information: Uberbike Components brake pads