The Dennis Kirk Blog
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We all love twisting the throttle to go down the road, but being able to stop your motorcycle is nice too. Brake pads can be one of those things that you keep neglecting over time and think to yourself that you’ll get to it later. Hopefully, later doesn’t come too late and you end up sliding through one of those unexpected intersections. Over the years, we have noticed that one of the reasons riders put off changing their brake pads is because they just don’t know which ones to get. Sintered vs. organic and all of the different variations of each can get confusing. Once you understand the basics of these different types of motorcycle brake pads, you can choose the ones that will perform the best for your bike and the type of riding that you like to do.
Sintered Brake Pads
Sintered brake pads have now become the most popular type of brake pads, and in fact, they have become standard Original Equipment on 99% of motorcycles from the manufacturers. One of the reasons that the manufacturers have opted to equip their bikes with sintered brakes is because they will cover the broadest spectrum of conditions that a rider may encounter. So what is a “sintered” brake pad? Sintering is the fusing of metallic particles under heat and pressure to create a compound that is very resistant to friction. Some brands like EBC Brakes use copper in their blend to achieve the best results.
The race track is where sintered motorcycle brakes shine above all other types. Because racers are heavy on the brakes, more heat is generated. This is also true for riders in the city and on very hilly terrain. The nearly pure metal construction of sintered brake pads provides a stable coefficient of friction from hot to cold. This cuts down on warm-up time and the pads will produce good bite right away. They can also handle the extreme heat from a lot of brake use and will not fade. Not only will these pads perform well under extreme heat stress, but they will typically last longer than any other type. Sintered brake pads are an excellent choice if you regularly experience varying riding conditions. They can perform well in just about any weather condition, including rain, snow and mud, because of their porous nature.
While all of the positives of sintered brake pads are appealing, they do have their drawbacks. One of these is the wear and tear that they put on rotors. In fact, if your bike’s rotors are not made to be used with sintered pads, you should absolutely not use them. Sintered pads produce more wear on rotors because they are so hard. If you are a casual rider who likes to opt for the easiest maintenance on your bike, you might want to choose organic pads because it is easier to change pads than it is rotors. Sintered pads are also louder than organics when the brakes are applied. You can expect to pay more for sintered pads because the materials and the processes used to make them are more expensive.
Organic Brake Pads
For the casual rider, organic brake pads are a solid choice. They are made from a mix of fibers and fillers that are bound together with a resin. Companies like EBC Brakes have begun to add higher tech fiber components like Kevlar and carbon to increase the durability of the pads. While organic pads are not the pad of choice for OE, they can be the right choice for you if they fit your style of riding.
One of the biggest advantages that riders enjoy from organic motorcycle brake pads is their “feel.” The softer makeup of these pads provides the rider with a more varied and progressive feel when the brakes are applied, contrary to the abrupt bite of sintered pads. The low initial bite of the pads will give you more control at lower speeds. Another benefit of organic pads is that they produce very little wear on rotors, as mentioned above. This is great for the guy who doesn’t want to replace rotors often or if your rotors are not suited for sintered pads. The softer materials that are used to make organic brake pads make them far quieter than other types. Organic pads are also a good choice for show quality bikes. They will not damage the shine of the rotors as quickly and organic pads produce very little brake dust. The little that they do create can be wiped away quite easily. They are generally cheaper than sintered because the materials and processes used are less expensive.
Of course, organic brake pads have their downsides too. You will have to change these pads far more often than you would with sintered pads. The softer make-up of the organic pads allows them to be worn away more rapidly. Another downside is that they are not as tolerant to excessive heat. Organic pads will lose their coefficient of friction very quickly once they reach their max operating temperature and will burn up fairly fast. If ridden in wet or muddy conditions, organic brake pads will not be able to perform to their full potential and can even build up a “glaze” on the outside that can hinder your future braking ability, even in dry conditions.
Semi-Sintered Brake Pads
If you’re looking for brake pads that are the best of both worlds, the semi-sintered pads from EBC could be what you are after. They combine the long life of a sintered pads with the progressive feel and lack of rotor wear of organic. The construction of the semi- sintered pads is 30 percent copper by weight within an organic matrix. These pads fill fall right in the middle for durability and performance and are a good compromise if you are struggling to decide between sintered and organic. You can even replace both types with the semi-sintered pads from EBC.
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