Video: Remi Gauvin Compares if Different Brake Pads Can Make You Faster

May 25, 2020
by Rémi Gauvin  

In the past I have pretty much exclusively run Metallic Pads in my Shimano brakes. But over the years I have heard all sorts of theories about how the different types of pads can can improve braking performance. Resin for less bite, more control and less loss of traction and Metallic for more raw power and longevity. I have even heard of some riders putting one of each type of pad into their brakes for best of both worlds. I wanted to test it out for myself so I did a few back to back race laps on each type of pad and I was pretty surprised how big of a difference such a basic change could make! It also helps that I already have the best brakes on the market!




128 Comments

  • 122 5
 Metal is what you want, never heard of anyone listening resin
  • 28 0
 \m/ \m/ \m/
  • 10 2
 Went metal once, never went back...especially in the wet, the difference is night and day.
  • 62 1
 I went metal. Like actual metal. Like my pads wore out so it was metal on metal. Don’t do what I did.
  • 5 0
 Never really got in to metal but still prefer it to plastic.
  • 7 0
 Hah....only comment that got the reference was @Mathullah . Well, at least the upvoters caught on. lol
  • 2 0
 @JacobyDH: what a coincidence, I tried those last week. They don’t work very well and are expensive in the long run
  • 1 0
 @ewoodard024: low key Classified reference?
  • 5 0
 @JacobyDH:
Metal on metal
Feeling the grind
  • 1 0
 @Bob-Agg: I guess I can’t argue with that! lol
  • 2 0
 i wonder if Rock would work too?
  • 1 0
 I like that metallic “clang” when I pull my brakes.
  • 5 0
 @faul: what about “plant based pads”. Instead of killing a sheet of metal, or resin, use the environmentally friendly way of things. Get some grass, compact it, get some super glue, and mix it in there. Then stick it to your pads, and trust me, you will never use your brakes again!
  • 1 0
 @JacobyDH: What about ELECTRonIC
  • 1 0
 @Kashima: genius! Or bio fuel based!
  • 4 0
 @JacobyDH: Beans would work. Dried ones for winter, soaked for summer, jumping beans for slopestyle and bmx. Race matrix would be a tofu bean curd hybrid woven with 6 different grasses and some pepper. Pepper to taste.
  • 1 1
 @blowmyfuse: nah, pretty sure everyone got it bru.
  • 2 1
 @SoddenDeath: read the first 3 comments under his "bru". They did NOT get the joke. It's about metal music...and they're commenting on wearing pads down to the metal. Obviously they missed it.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: well if that’s the reference, then I like death (to) metal!
  • 58 20
 As a test engineer ????‍???? 1 or 2 laps can give you an Idea, but you need at least 100 run of each, within different conditions and different trails to come to a conclusion and exclude all other variables.
  • 24 0
 With as much variables as in a MTB timed laps, there is no way to know which is faster if the difference isn't significant enough.
  • 31 0
 This isn’t an engineering exercise, it’s a rider preference exercise. They’ll both slow you down, this kind of back to back testing is about feeling confident in setup choices. He’s been running metallics forever, he’s used to them, not surprised they were faster for him. A rider that’s been on organics for years would likely have the opposite experience. But, this dispels any doubts about whether he’d do better with different pads.
  • 5 2
 The problem is, with that many laps of one trail the variables are probably infinite.
  • 4 3
 @ssteve: yes variable are infinite, but what count is the time at the end.
If you are doing some testing back to back, you will normally get approximately the same variables for one round.
You just need more round to be sure. Imagine you make a little mistake at the end of the first laps with pad X, you will be slower on the second laps with laps Y because of the confidence, not because of the pad.
  • 25 4
 @JordanHuschard: BuT i'M aN eNgInEeR!
  • 12 6
 How would you expect any mountain bike racer to put in 100+ laps with each change they made??? There would be no time to improve anything! Its not about proving it scientifically, it's about proving it to your self.
  • 7 1
 How do you know if someone's an engineer?
  • 7 1
 @remrem: motocrossers do it all the time. A lap on a motocross track isn't very long, but you're putting yourself through 4 laps of 2:30. Positive and negative reactions on each lap multiply as well as your personal fitness/fatigue.

None of us expect you to run 100 laps on a 2:30 minute track pedaled or shuttled up. Honestly, I think you'd see a lot better results from your test if you sessioned (even if by small shuttle if possible) 20 laps of a 30 second section with 4-5 brake points on it(not changing pads) then swap pads & do 20 more laps. Run it dry one day and then come back on a gooey, moist day.
The absolute biggest variable you're short selling yourself on is not pad material or trail length. It's comfort with each setup. Keep one set of pads on the bike for all 20 laps. Then swap out and run the other set. Give yourself a chance to get gradually better with your braking points on each pad material so you'll have muscle/mind memory with the pad set.

The reason I say you may be selling yourself short is for the same reason most any of us who've raced DH know very well. We all wish someone would have timed our 3rd practice lap because holy heck was it our fastest. You did your 3rd lap faster than your first 2 just like any of us would...and on a foreign feeling pad set. So popping your muscle memory stell pads in for lap 4 you stood a 50/50 shot of it being a ripper or ruinous (ruinous if your memory had those soft pads in your programming when you yanked in a slow turn).
  • 2 1
 @remrem: One last thing...if I brainwashed you into doing it my way, I can almost guarantee the steel pad set will be faster on the wet day for you. Not because they are MOAR BETTER, but because they are what you know and knowing your brakes on a muddy trail amplifies your ability to either time your moves or ruin them.

In the words of Starsky & Hutch..."DO IT!"
  • 6 0
 @gnarnaimo: they will tell you in the first sentence of their response. It usually goes "As an Engineer..."
  • 3 1
 @bikelust: Yet people still buy products designed by engineers. Must be something to it?
  • 2 0
 @bikelust: The Office US: "His nickname is Actually"
  • 3 0
 @dsmdan18: So..if I tell everyone I am an engineer they will buy products I design? Infallible logic!
  • 4 0
 #broscience
  • 3 0
 @bikelust: I always thought that sentence applies only to those who studied law.
  • 1 0
 @gnarnaimo: They keep telling you?
  • 1 0
 @gnarnaimo: Well As An Engineer, let me tell you..
  • 1 0
 @faul: Yep, in the end, the faster option will come down to the one the rider is more comfortable in!
  • 30 1
 It's worth mentioning that best practice is to bed in your rotors based on the pad material. ie, if you have metallic pads and bed in your rotors for metallic pads, switching to resin pads would warrant a switch to new rotors to bed in the new pad material. It will work without doing this, but will not give you top performance. That could be part of the reason his times were so vastly different.
  • 8 2
 You can just sand the rotors
  • 12 0
 @clink83: Sanding + isopropyl alcohol is my MO any time I get new rotors or change pads...makes them bed in so much faster...and yes, this "test" is pretty worthless without either swapping rotors or sanding and cleaning them when changing pads.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: Doesn't always cut it IMO
  • 1 0
 @mnorris122: This totally. I've done A/B testing between resin and metallic and found out the hard way you need to sand + iso the rotors and do a complete re-bedding for the pads to actually work right.

@remrem I'm thinkin the way to do this test would be to have an extra set of wheels with rotors bedded to each different material that you swap between laps, that way you guarantee top bite for each pad material. Would be psyched to see a follow up vid.

My experience was more bite from the ol' resin, more power + better all around with the ol' metallic, so I run metallic. Have yet to try one of each, but very interested in how that would feel.
  • 12 0
 @brettkel: @BigLips93 @mnorris122 @Jshemuel I did think about swapping disc's as well as the pads but I wanted to make this test a relatable as possible. Disc's are pretty expensive to buying with every time you swap to a new pad compound. I did try and do a thorough bed in with each swap but its possible that ultimately the fact that I didnt swap disc's could have skewed my results. Maybe one day I will do a follow up video. I would like to do it in super skatey dry/loose conditions.
  • 5 0
 @remrem: Totally. Regardless, very rad video dude! An awesome by-product of no racing is seeing you shredders put out content like this.
  • 2 0
 @remrem: nice work, good to see people actually testing things! It would definitely be good to try the same test with separate new rotors that have been bedded in with the pads they are going to be run with. The pads deposit material on to the rotor which helps friction so if you change compound the different materials won’t have as much friction
  • 2 0
 @TheSuspensionLabNZ: What are you guys sanding with? I've got some 50 grit wood sandpaper in the closet but thinking that's not the right choice Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: 250 grit works for me
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: yea, far too coarse.
  • 24 0
 You wanna go fast? Soak your brake pads in oil overnight, you’ll go Mach Chicken guaranteed!
  • 6 0
 Another secret tip to going fast: Sometimes your hydraulic cables are too tight into your levers. If you pull the hose out, you can gain a LOT more speed.
  • 2 0
 Or just install some first gen OEM calipers from the 2000's and let that brake fluid ooze past the pucks like we used to. Super fun.

Or better yet, run a first gen oil bath Boxxer & Deluxe Coil and allow them to spray your rotors for you.

Man...riders got it EASY nowadays. Big Grin
  • 3 0
 OR... lube up your rotors with new non-caloric silicon-based kitchen lubricant, my company has been working on. It creates a surface 500 times more slippery than any cooking oil. --Clark Griswold
  • 1 0
 @slovenian6474: tried it, didn't end well.
  • 14 1
 About a month ago, a racer on Pinkbike was touting mixing the resin and metal on each wheel. So I tried it. What happened is that my rotors started heating too much on the metal side and making that gawd-awful screeching. So I went back to the drawing board and thought about it. The same pad type is clearly needed on each wheel, but each wheel needs to perform differently. Now I'm using resin in the rear and metallic up front. This is giving me great rear modulation and the shear stopping power needed up front. The weather has been dry, so I'll need to keep testing for a while to see how this set up works in wetter conditions.
  • 4 2
 This was actually a common World Cup trick in an era of noisy SRAM/AVID brakes Edit: And Greg Minaar below. more suggestion that perhaps it was something you did that caused the noise, not the setup inherently.

Your rotors are not thick enough (IMO) that heating one side is a thing. More likely is that the pad that was not natively bedded to your disc rotor was making the noise, unrelated to any heat issues.
  • 6 0
 I run all the other way. Resin pad in the front,metal rear.
I have better felling overall this way, Resin pads runs a little bit hotter,it can be good or bad. For the rear brake, a metallic pad is more aggressive,so less fatigue for your finger. For 200f/180r mm disc I think this way I have the best performance.
My brakes are Shimano.
  • 2 0
 @nouseforaname: it isnt the side of the rotor getting hotter, it is the brake pads that will take and hold heat differently. I've dont this too, it works more like a "worst of both worlds" setup.
Mix/match front to back makes plenty of sense.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: I would add maybe you are bending the disc brake between the pads a lot more. When 1 piston is sticky the brakes work very poorly,both surfaces are not working 100%.
  • 2 0
 @homerjm: definitely not the case. Any time pads get touched, pistons get serviced and rotors get trued and cleaned.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: Sorry, What I like to said there was maybe mixing pads in the same brake,causes some bending or not so good contact while braking like when you have a sticky piston. If the pads push the disc with different power,it would cause an issue.
Not saying you ride a bend disc,cos it is very noticeable.
  • 2 0
 @homerjm: I actually have this set-up as well with Sram G2. I like it a lot.
  • 7 1
 How about a real test where the rotors are bedded in with the correct pad material. "everybody" knows that the pad and rotor need to be bedded in together, as the pad material is transferred to the rotor. Some brake nerds even say you should switch rotors when switching pad material. That may have an influence on the performance on the resin pads, as I assume the rotors were bedded in with metallic pads. Good to see a good test, though.
  • 2 0
 Haha, you got downvoted. I love when people get downvoted for making unbiased, factually correct statements. Brake nerd checking in.
  • 9 0
 No brake makes me faster. First corner makes me stop harder.
  • 11 6
 >> I have even heard of some riders putting one of each type of pad into their brakes for best of both worlds

Not sure if that's how science works.
  • 26 0
 Psychology
  • 6 1
 Haven't tried it but it makes sense to me. Say pad A bites hard but levels off at higher brake pressures. Whereas pad B doesn't bite as hard initially but brake force gradually increases with increased brake pressures. Then what you'd get is that when you apply brake you're getting the initial bite of pad A and then when you increase pressure the brake force continues to increase because of pad B.

Now it seems Remi is using one single pad per side. Makes me wonder if a symmetric setup in four piston brake (accepting four individual pads) like the Magura MT5 or MT7 caliper would be even better. So the two front pistons get one pad type A and the rear two pistons get pad type B. Seems like you could go mental with all the combinations on offer!
  • 5 0
 www.pinkbike.com/news/the-jungle-bites-back-practice-cairns-dh-world-cup-2016.html

The 2nd picture in this World Cup Pits article shows Greg Minnaar using 2 different pads. If it helps the GOAT, and arguably one of the most over-analytical riders on the circuit, I can't help but think there must be some degree of value to this setup.
  • 1 1
 If you don't want full bite of metallic but want more than resin. It works but would be better if there were a range of mixes of compounds.
  • 2 1
 It helps, organic pad gives the initial bite and metal pad comes in when you lay in to the brake. Also helps if you are steaming the brakes at least the metal pad will bite while it is hot and organic fades.
  • 6 0
 it is actually, the sum of the net coeffiecient of friction is the average between the different compounds, the bite/release envelope would be a hybrid of the area under the curve if you dynod the friction materials. very common practice at race tracks of all sorts
  • 10 0
 @tomoostv: bit.ly/2X03De3
Greg is a puzzler at heart, his mechanics probably do tons of tweaks on his bike that have no meaningful effect on the ride. A world cup mechanic's job is doing whatever needs to be done to keep a fatigued, stressed out and overthinking rider focused on the task at hand.
I'm not saying the two compound pad setup has no effect, I'm just saying take all those tweaks and mods with a grain of salt and the knowledge that you probably don't have the skills/fitness/balls needed to ride a bike at a level at which those tweaks make a significant difference.
  • 3 0
 Works for minnaar...
  • 2 0
 Should give a similar result to semi metallic pads. But they're only available from third party manufacturers like Galfer.
  • 6 0
 Used to have V-brake pads that were a mix of compounds.
  • 5 0
 I remember those. I always wondered if they just used 3 different dyes in the same compound.
  • 3 0
 @chachmonkey: cool stop pads had different compounds
  • 2 0
 I'm most impressed at how much time he was able to improve from the first run to the last - 16 seconds is big amount given that he's a very good rider and has probably ridden the trail previously a few times. Lovin' the vids Remi!
  • 2 0
 In order for your test to be fair......BOTH the pads AND the rotors need to be changed after each ride... Because I'm certain that the metallic pads will respond better with the rotors they were initially bedded in with - & the resin rotors won't perform well on rotors with metallic pad compounds bedded into them...
  • 4 0
 I hate noise! So I use resin and 203's front and rear to make up for the power.
  • 1 0
 Same. I actually much prefer the feel of resin, and local descents are short, but mostly noise.
  • 7 2
 No brake pads will make you faster.
  • 2 1
 Nailed it! Secret sauce!
  • 2 0
 Maybe have bedded-in rotors that are matched with the pads for the next test? A pain to swap those too but I'm guess it'll make a difference.

(That said, metallic(a) all the way!)
  • 1 0
 different brake pads can definitely make you faster. I have good experiences with using different pads front and rear depending on the trail / track I am riding. A top tip for getting faster by braking is using the original pads but mount them with the metal sind facing to the disc, I've tried and it works. It took me a while and I am sure this technique will be used in the DH World Cup soon.
  • 1 0
 You could have added the 3rd variable set: hybrid pad pairings. 1 metal and 1 resin on each caliper. Or even a 4th and 5th: all metal or all resin on front or rear... then hybrid pads on the front or rear and all metal or all resin on the other caliper...but your blood glucose and lactic acid levels must be checked for consistency as post-snack or meal rides might gain you favor from fueling up...O2 saturation & VO max might other variables... oh let's just pick some pads and ride them...good luck racing this season RG!
  • 1 0
 I have no idear about breaking pads.... but... if you use a coffeemachine with a bottomless portafilter in your movie... at least the coffee should poar out nice Smile Smile Smile otherwise just take a normal one Smile But you are a hell of a rider!
  • 3 0
 I have a simple equation for brake pad material...... X > 200lbs = metallic pads
  • 2 0
 What about a last try on resin pads, full gas!!! It seems he was pushing harder in the last one! Like race mode!
  • 2 0
 Seemed like he was just getting a little faster on each lap from getting comfortable with the current track conditions.
  • 3 0
 I find that brake pads, and brakes in general, make me slower. YMMV.
  • 3 0
 So does anyone have a too long, didn't watch?
  • 8 0
 Yes. Practice makes you faster, and he prefers using his preferred pads.
  • 1 0
 Cool to see! Would you consider using a BrakeAce to test this? You can quantify your brake time, total energy, power, balance, and especially, your FlowScore. Feelings + data
  • 1 0
 Read previously that some riders use a mixed setup, 1 resin & 1 metallic in each caliper... Actually I think Pinkbike may have even posted the article previously.
  • 2 0
 Remi doesnt need pads. He doesnt brake at all
  • 2 0
 what i would watch to avoid working...
  • 2 0
 So basically, less braking = faster.
  • 2 0
 No brakes will make you fastest.
  • 3 1
 My Sram Guides make me faster.
  • 3 0
 That trail looks brutal!
  • 1 0
 "It also helps that I already have the best brakes on the market!" Ooooohhh, game on!
  • 1 0
 A blind test where someone put them and didn’t tell you what you are running and write the times
  • 1 0
 There is zero possibility you wouldn't be able to tell as soon as you pull that lever.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: maybe ,how about the mechanic bleeding the breaks to make it more like the pads ???so many testing to be done ,make them guess in a safe way ,but yes maybe metallic pads might suit better to an advanced and aggressive rider and the organic to a maybe slower or more precise rider ,who knows
  • 1 0
 @oneheckler: it doesn't matter how you bleed them, the pads feel so completely different.
  • 1 0
 I needed this to take my mind off of work this morning. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 good stuff. I like the idea of different pads for different conditions.
  • 2 2
 Rotors make a difference in stopping power as well. Some rotors have more stopping power than others.
  • 1 0
 Rotors go a long way. If a rider replaces their pads and still thinks their brakes suck, they probably need new rotors.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-phd: The design of rotors makes a difference. I have tested several different rotors and there is a difference in stopping power for different designs. I keep going back to a specific model that has more stopping power.
  • 1 0
 Which are your favourite rotors?
  • 1 0
 @tacklingdummy: ah, brake power and testing, you are speaking my language!
  • 1 0
 so the takeaway i got from all off this.....clean your rotors
  • 1 0
 Awesome test! Thanks Remi!
  • 1 0
 Oxymoronic...removing the brakes altogether will make you the fastest.
  • 1 0
 (Taco ad) Why cant we have both?
  • 1 0
 @remrem I see you with the bottomless portafilter. good man.
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