Are you looking to change your disc brake pads? Organic, Metallic, Semi-metallic – there are a whole bunch of pad-options to decide on. Which pads to use boils down to the kind of riding you do, the riding conditions and are also a personal preference.


There are two major types of Disc Brake Pads – Organic and Metallic.
The Semi-Metallic is the hybrid option between Organic and Metallic brake pads.


  • Softer compound
  • Quieter
  • Shorter break-in period
  • More initial bite
  • Does not deal well with heat and heat can be transferred back to the rotor
  • Does not wear the rotor as much
  • Wears out faster
  • Brake fade is faster under heavier riders and under heavy braking conditions

These brake pads are best used if the rider is lightweight or if their style of riding requires less braking. These pads are not as good in wet, muddy and dusty conditions as the braking power is reduced when wet.

Generally blue, green, black, etc color.

However, nowadays almost every brake pad has some metal powder in it. Technically all are semi-metallic that way.


Pad compound is typically made of hardened metal ingredients, usually copper shavings.

  • Noisier
  • Have a longer break-in time
  • Less initial bite increases once heat builds
  • Conducts heat well and is conducted through the caliper, away from the rotor
  • Causes the most rotor wear
  • Last longer than organic disc pads
  • Brake Fade is at a much higher temperature than resin pads

These are the do it all brake pads and are a must if you’re riding in winter or wet and muddy conditions. Metallic pads are a must in Downhill/Enduro/All Mountain situations as they resist brake fade under high braking loads and heat.

While these were built for Downhill bikes, these are no widely used on road bikes. Majority of road bikes with hydro discs now have fully metal brake pads.

Generally golden, silver or copper color.


A hybrid between the Metallic and Organic pads, these pads offer a good balance between braking performance and pad wear & noise. They stop very well while making less noise and cause less rotor wear.

These pads have a good initial bite and hold quite well thru most of the usage. A majority of bikes that visit our service center have brake pads in this category. These brake pads contain resin with copper & brass dust for improved braking performance.

Red color pads are true semi-metallic pads.


Brake fade is a term used to describe a temporary reduction of braking power which typically occurs when the braking surfaces no longer generate sufficient friction to decelerate the bicycle.

There are three types of face

  • Green fade: because of resin boiling off of new pads
  • Fluid fade: system losing pressure because of boiling brake fluids
  • Pad fade: pad loses friction because of overheating

Contaminated brake fluid is a principal reason for fluid fade and a yearly service keeps this at bay. Choosing the correct pad is a simple way to ensure pad fad can be managed. This is especially important if your riding style requires heavy braking.

Hope that was a good primer on how to choose a brake pad for your bike. Braking is an important aspect of cycling and a tiny brake pad can make a massive difference to your ride. As explained, brake pads can be a personal choice and all depend on your riding style and the riding conditions.

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About the Author

Soumya Chatterjee

I am a hardcore mountain biker and enjoy Downhill racing. My hometown is in Kolkata and I am in Bangalore because of the fantastic cycling scene in the city and love it here. I absolutely love working on all bikes, especially on components which experience the highest amount of wear and tear. I feel extremely proud when I can extend component life by understanding technology, apply mechanical fundamentals and work my magic on them. I am the go-to guy for anything related to service and repair of suspensions in India. You're guaranteed to have the best solution! Working as a Bike Mechanic at BUMSONTHESADDLE allows me to work on some of the best bikes in the country. Discipline: Mountain Biking & Downhill Racing Current Bike: Scott Ransom Dream Bike: Specialized S-WORKS Enduro

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