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Metallic versus organic brake pads - which should you choose?

Let’s put a stop to the confusion, shall we?

Metallic versus organic brake pads - which should you choose?

Have you ever changed your motorcycle’s brake pads yourself? Maybe you’re new to motorcycles and are wondering how to go about this very important maintenance job. Or maybe you’ve been into bikes for some time now and have always relied on your dealer for maintenance, but now want to try your hand on doing things yourself. Whatever it may be, brake pads are among the most important parts of your bike, as they’re largely responsible for putting your trusty machine to a stop. 

Naturally, anything related to brakes is not something you want to cheap out on. That being said, when it comes to brake pads, always make sure to choose a set from a reputable manufacturer. Now, when it comes to the types of brake pads, there are usually two types: organic and steel-sintered (also known as metallic) pads. Today, let’s dive a little deeper on the two types of brake pads so you can determine which one is the best for you and your style of riding. 

Steel-sintered or metallic brake pads

Motorcycle Braking System

Let’s kick things off with metallic pads. These brake pads, which usually come standard in a lot of factory motorcycles offer the best all-around use, as well as the longest service life. Now metallic brake pads achieve this longevity thanks to a process known as sintering. These brake pads combine metallic compounds and pressurize them under extreme heat to create a material that’s extremely resistant to friction. Because of this, sintered metallic pads do an excellent job of putting your motorcycle to a stop. 

Now, despite the ubiquity of metallic brake pads, they do come with their own set of disadvantages. For starters, these brake pads tend to take a bit longer to warm up, as their hard material is more difficult for heat to travel through. On top of that, metallic brake pads eat away at your rotors as compared to an organic set of brake pads. What you get in return, however, is a harder-wearing brake pad that’s capable of stopping your bike even in the harshest and most grueling rides. These pads will also last much longer than organic brake pads. 

Organic brake pads

Motorcycle Braking System

Now, organic brake pads, on the other hand, don’t make use of metallic compounds, but instead, incorporate a mix of fibers and fillers that are bound together with a durable resin. Premium organic brake pad manufacturers even include fiber components like carbon, ceramics, and even Kevlar to improve the durability and longevity of these brake pads. Furthermore, organic brake pads are especially known for providing a very good braking feel. Given the softer compounds used on these pads, they offer a more linear pull on the brake lever, resulting in very progressive braking performance, in contrast to the harsh initial bite of metallic pads. 

Because organic pads make use of non-metallic compounds, they also produce significantly less wear on your bike’s rotors. This means that you’ll be able to get much longer service life from your bike’s brake discs, which tend to be difficult and expensive to replace. With that, the drawback of organic brake pads lies in its service life. Because of the softer compounds, organic pads don’t last nearly as long as metallic pads, and succumb much sooner to high heat under heavy braking. Cheaper, unbranded pads can also suffer from brake fade under heavy loads. 

Semi-sintered brake pads

Motorcycle Braking System

There lies, however, a solid compromise between metallic and organic pads: semi-sintered brake pads. As the name suggests, this type of brake pad combines the best of both worlds—the longevity of metallic pads and the linear braking performance of organic ones. They also produce much lesser wear on your rotors than a conventional metallic pad would. Semi-sintered pads usually combine a blend of soft metallic compounds like copper, with non-metallic composites such as carbon and ceramic. 

Semi-sintered pads are ideal for those looking to go on a variety of different types of rides. Their progressive feel makes them ideal for use in the city for daily commuting, while their metallic properties which give them high heat tolerance make them ideal for performance riding too. While they won’t last as long as a standard metallic pad, they’ll certainly offer a few extra kilometers versus their organic counterparts. The only issue would be the cost and availability for your specific model of bike. Naturally, combining two manufacturing processes to produce one product is costly, translating to a more expensive retail price. 

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