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Weekly Cycle Tip - Disc Brake Pad Options

Brenda Carlton | Published on 5/15/2022

Weekly Cycle Tip: Disc Brake Pad Options

Organic Pads ... may have come stock on your bike.  Organic pads are made from non-metallic additives like glass, rubber, carbon, and Kevlar. They are generally a pad that works for most people but isn't very durable under hard use.


  • Excellent initial bite from cold
  • Low noise
  • Minimal rotor wear
  • Lots of brake feel


  • Fades with high heat/hard use
  • Pads wear quickly


Sintered Pads ... use a high concentration of metallics, such as copper, steel, and iron to work well under extreme conditions.


  • Strong braking under normal/high pad temps
  • Slow wear even under poor conditions, wet, mud, road grime


  • Can be noisy
  • Less bite when cold
  • Faster rotor wear 


Semi-Metallic Pads ... are a mixture of metal and organic fillers to balance the performance of organic and sintered pads. They provide better hard use performance than organics, but they share some of the cons of the other options.  


  • Better high temp performance than organics
  • Less noise than sintered
  • Good cold bite


  • Performance varies widely brand to brand
  • Noisier than organics
  • Can't match sintered on high heat performance


Confused about which pad is for you? It's time to examine your personal use and to compromise as needed. Organics might be fine if you're a light brake user in flatter territory.

Hard brake users, you know who you are, riding in hilly country, dragging a brake, or riding in occasional bad weather, might only consider sintered pads. Semi-metallic pads are a respectable compromise, but nothing is stopping one from mixing pads front to rear to suit their needs. For example, riders who use the front brake hard might want sintered pads in the front and a lesser pad in the rear since under hard front braking the rear may be easily locked. Mtb/gravel riders may want sintered or semi-metallic pads because of the trail conditions they encounter - wet, dusty.