Brake Pad Compound Comparison for Off-Road and Dual-Sport Motorcycles
By Corey James Scribner – GalferUSA
Brake pads come in a variety of compounds from a number of manufacturers. Each compound is catered to a different type of riding, so your choice of brake pad compound should be made accordingly. Here are the most common types and their different characteristics:
- Semi-Metallic or Organic Brake Pads
This compound makes for a great all around pad. You can expect minimal rotor wear with good performance in most weather and terrain conditions. The feel and modulation of the Semi-Metallic pads are excellent, and this long-lasting compound will give you braking versatility across the board.
- HH Sintered Ceramic Brake Pads
This type of pad is manufactured to withstand higher temperatures than your OEM brake pads. They're best for moderately aggressive off-road use where they deliver excellent feedback, feel, and modulation. HH Sintered Ceramic Brake Pads are capable of handling just about any type of riding you're looking to hand them with their fast heat recovery, which leads to more consistent braking. Since ceramic pads do not have the same levels of metallics in them as many OEM and aftermarket brands that are based on copper, they tend to be easier on your rotors.
- Kevlar® Brake Pads
This compound of choice for many Supercross, motocross and other riders spending a lot of time racing at the track and constantly on and off the brakes. Kevlar® brake pads offer a very predictable, powerful, linear and progressive feel with little rotor wear. Kevlar® brake pads are excellent in dry conditions where they offer great modulation and control.
Brake Pad Maintenance Tips
Once you've chosen your brake pad compound, its important to properly maintain your braking system before, after, and during installation of your new pads. Here are some tips for brake pad maintenance.
- When installing new brake pads, be sure to clean around the pistons of the caliper according to your service manual. This helps the pistons slide easier and gives you better release for the brake pads
- Clean the caliper pad slide pins if equipped. This will help the pads retract when the lever is released.
- Always check your brake fluid level in your reservoir. New pads and rotors are thicker than the old ones and too much fluid in the system can apply the brake when you are not on the lever.
- Replace brake fluid every 6 months, no more!
- Brake pads should be bedded in to clean rotors (you can easily clean your rotors with 600 grid sand paper and water then towel dry -- this simple exercise will remove most dirt and old material from your rotor's surface). To bed the pads in, Start with slow stops ranging from 10-15 mph and increasing in blocks of 10 mph until about 40-50 mph. Repeat this step 2-3 times and resume casual riding. Bedding in brake pads helps prevent glazing and helps to mate the pads to the rotor surface.
- Changes to the brake system are known to affect the suspension of your vehicle. You may need to adjust the settings of your suspension after upgrading your brake system.
- If you are also installing brake lines with your pads and rotors, you may want to do the brake lines first in case brake fluid is spilled on any of the components. Brake pads can absorb brake fluid and will contaminate them.
- For installation videos on brake pads (as well as lines & rotors) visit: http://bit.ly/brake-install-videos
Here's a sample:
Hopefully this article will help you select the best brake pads for your application and also allow you to get the maximum performance from them.
All the best!
Corey @ GalferUSA