This guide covers the best brake pads for aluminum rims. Enjoy
Can you get excited about brake pads? Yes. Yes, you can. If you're riding a lot, there will come the point when you need to replace your brake pads, and I've got the best.
Brakes come in all shapes and sizes. There are road brakes, threaded stud breaks and smooth stud breaks. These can come as one piece or as a cartridge. There are also pads for carbon and aluminum wheelbases.
Reading all that sounds a little confusing (like cassette sizes), but this guide will help to clear everything up. Let's get going.
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Different Rim Brake Systems
There are three main types of rim braking systems. They are road brakes, threaded stud brakes, and smooth stud brakes.
Road And Threaded Stud Brakes
Road and threaded stud brakes look similar and are what we're looking at in this guide.
The difference between a road brake and a threaded stud brake is that the threaded stud brake pad has a series of two convect and two concave spacers, which allow for adjustability.
A road brake pad will have a thin washer, maybe a spacer, but it won't have the concave or convect spacers making it hard to adjust.
In the smooth study system the post extends from the pad and is pinched by a mechanism in the caliper arm, there are no threads on the post.
One Piece and Cartridge
All three of these brakes can come in a one piece where the pad is fixed to the stud or cartridge style where the pad can be slid in and out.
What you choose here is up to you, but it may be cheaper to replace the pad instead of the entire brake each time they wear out.
The good thing about cartridge brakes you can set them up perfectly and then just swap out the pads when they're worn out. Easy installation great, but it's not always possible to find the correct replacement pads meaning you'll have to buy a new set anyway.
For more info see Sheldon Brown's explanation on rim brakes.
Top row = One Piece: Road brake, threaded stud brake and smooth stud brake
Bottom row = Cartridge: Road brake, threaded stud brake, smooth stud brake
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Aluminium and Carbon Rim Pads
There are two types of wheel surfaces. They are aluminium and carbon.
If you regularly switch between a set of alloy training wheels and carbon race wheels, you need to ensure that each time you change wheels, you also change your pads.
Don't Mix And Match
The reasons for this is because braking on alloy rims in wet weather often causes the brake pads to collect shards of alloy. If you then use those pads on your carbon wheels, you risk scratching the brake pad surface on your carbon rims and will permanently damage them.
Braking performance will decrease when you use the wrong type of brake pad.
A set of pads for alloy braking surfaces will be too soft for carbon rims, causing the pads to wear out quickly.
A set of carbon pads will be too hard for aluminum rims, causing the rims to wear out more quickly.
For more info on this click here.
If you're interested in carbon rim specific brake pads these are some of the most popular. For the rest of this review, we will be looking at aluminum rim brakes.
Shape And Thickness
Some brake pads will be curved to follow the shape of the bike wheel. The pads will fit more efficiently on the rims and give you greater stopping power.
Pads that are going to be used in particularly dirty conditions, for example, mountain bike pads, will flick up at the back. The pads will act like a squeegee helping to remove any grime.
Pad thickness can also vary quite a bit so make sure you check this before making a purchase. Some pads will be a good 2mm thicker than others and will, therefore, last much longer.
Brake pads come with lots of grooves in them but as they wear these will disappear along with the pads performance.
If the pads wear a lot, you'll end up braking metal on metal. Your performance will suffer, and your rims will get ruined.
You'll also want to make sure the pads have not picked up any metal over time. If they have, you should remove it as they can speed up the wear on your rims.
If there's plenty of life left on the pads, but you notice a slightly shiny surface on it. The shiny surface is most likely a result of glazing which occurs from heat build up after prolonged braking.
You'll be able to get a little extra performance back into the brakes if you take some fine sandpaper ad very gently file the top layer off of the brake.
You could do all of this by yourself with just a multitool, or You could take your bike to shop, and they'll get it all tuned up for you.
Below is a great video by the Global Cycling Network which runs through in detail ways to get the most out of brakes and ensures that they last as long as possible.
To install a new brake pad, you'll want to smooth the wheel out with some fine sandpaper and give them a good clean with some rubbing alcohol.
Then you should install the pad so that it rests on the rims squarely, evenly and with as much space above the pad as below it. Installing the pad too high or too low then it could potentially rub against the tire or end up in the spokes.
By hitting the rims squarely, you're getting the most amount of performance from your brake. If it squeals slightly, then you can toe-the-pads-in. Toeing-the-pads-in means that the leading edge of the pad will strike the rim about a millimeter before the trailing edge.
Here's a great video by Park Tool which helps you to identify which type of brake pad you have and how to install it.
Best Brake Pads For Aluminum Rims: Review Of The Top 3
Ventura Complete Bike 70 mm Brake Pad Set
The Ventura Brake Pads are threaded stud brakes which are useful for easy adjustment.
However, what makes these brakes good, is that they come in a pack of four.
Coming in a pack of four means that they're excellent value for money. You can easily kit out your whole bike or save a set for when you need them next.
The brake and cartridge come together in one piece so you'd swap the entire brake pad over when the pad is worn out. So if you want to keep your cartridges, then these are not the brakes for you.
Shape And Grooves
They are 70mm in length, and they feature five threads which contribute to the adjustability of the brakes.
The brakes also come with three large grooves which help to remove most grime ad dirt away from the rims.
- Value for money as you get two sets of brakes instead of one.
- Easy to adjust with its threaded stem
- Only uses one compound while other products in this review use two
Kool-Stop Dual Compound Mountain Pads
Kool-Stop are some of the most favored brake pads available at the moment, and Kool-Stop Dual Compound Mountain Pads are some of the best.
Like the Ventura's they have utilized threaded stems, so you'll be able to adjust them quickly to fit your rims.
However, unlike the Ventura's, they come in a pair. So, if you're looking to kit out your whole bike, you'll need to buy two sets.
The pads are also made out of a dual compound so that they can give you predictable stopping power in both wet and dry conditions.
The pads mix their standard black all-weather compound with their salmon compound, which is designed to offer better stopping in very wet conditions.
Shape And Grooves
These pads have been designed to conform to the form of the wheel rim, and they're the longest (78.5mm) pads in this review. By following the wheel and being long, they're able to give you some great stopping power.
The pads have a pair of grooves in them which helps to remove any water away from the rims in the rain. They also have a slight flick at the back of them which acts as a squeegee and is another way they help to remove any wet.
Check out this video by Smiling Frog Reviews that gives an excellent overview of the Kool-Stop Mountain pads
- The pads curve the match the curvature of the rims.
- The come with grooves and a "flick" to help remove dirt and water away from the rims
- The dual compound to help in all-weather conditions and very wet conditions.
- They only come as a pair, so you'll need to buy to sets for your whole bike
- Because they move a lot of grime away from the rims, they'll have grit on them after every ride and will require cleaning
Aztec 2 Linear Bicycle Brake Pads - Pair
The Aztec Linear Bicycle Brake Pads are a favorite of many and boast proven extra-fast stopping power.
They're the lightest brakes in this review at 46g. However, they're only 62mm in length. This is 16.5mm shorter than the Kool-Stop pads which is one of the reasons why they're lighter.
The pads are made out of Aztec's own compound which boasts prove stopping power and a lifetime warranty on original defects. Not a huge game changer but nice to know you get them easily replaced if you notice anything wrong with them.
Shapes And Grooves
Similarly to the Kool-Stop, these pads conform to the form of the wheel and because they're a little shorter than the Kool-Stops the size of the wheel that you're riding on won't matter as much.
They come with four grooves which remove grit and water away from the rim, and they're a slim profile which is another factor contributing to their low weight.
A low profile great but make sure that they don't wear out too quickly. Otherwise, you'll risk damaging your rims.
- The lightest brakes in this review
- Curved to match the curve of the wheel
- A little shorter than the other brakes here
- Slim profile. Ideal for saving weight but perhaps not so good for longevity
Kool-Stop Dual Compound Mountain Pads
Kool-Stops Dual Mountain Pads are the easy winner here. They're curved to follow the curve of the rim, use a dual compound, and they're the longest.
All of these makes gives them exceptional stopping power and easily the best brake pads for aluminum rims.