When it comes to the components on your bike there are some parts that are more important than others. Brakes are definitely high on the list.
Prior to this trip when it came to replacing my brake pads I would find the cheapest pads I could find, because hey they are just going to wear out and they are all more or less the same. Right? Well let me tell you that after over a year of riding with quality brake pads, that all brake pads are not made equal.
Full disclosure here, Koolstop has sponsored us since the beginning of the trip, but as always we aim to write unbiased reviews of all our gear.
That being said, I would definitely recommend their pads to anyone and would say that it is worth the difference in price.
They last. Claire started with generic brake pads on her bike when we left London. After about 2 months they were toast. Our riding environment had a few ups and downs and one big mountain pass in that two months. We were ocassionally in wet weather (which wears out the pads faster) but the brakes were not really given a hard workout. Comparatively since using our Koolstop pads they have been lasting for twice that time if not longer, and under far heavier loads (i.e. riding the Himalayas and in the monsoon season)
Stoping power. The pads perform better than generic pads we have used in the past. We have found that the pads provide great stopping power, and perform fairly well in the wet too.
Choice of compounds. Koolstop makes several different compounds which are fit for different purposes. Claire and I use different compound brake pads on our bikes. Claire uses a dual pad with two compounds – salmon and black, a generic all rounder. Whereas I use a black compound specifically made for CSS rims. This is great for me as my rims tend to shred other pads or are very noisy.
Longevity. As I noted at the beginning of the article our Koolstop pads outlast generic pads by 2 to 3 times.
Neither of us have had a problem with brake squeal nor have we had small rocks embed themselves in our pads causing that horrible scraping noise against our rims… I hate that.
The pads we are using can be replaced really easily and without removing the brake shoes from your bike. Simply remove a small pin slide out the old insert and replace it with a new one. Changing the pads takes only a few minutes and generally requires little to no adjustment to your brakes.
The only beef I have had with the pads is that the fasteners (nuts and bolts) on the Koolstop brake shoe rusted out fairly quickly. It isn’t a massive problem as they are still functioning properly without an issue, but those fastidious about their bikes might not be so happy with rusty nuts and bolts on their ride.
I have been thoroughly impressed with the performance and longevity of the pads throughout our trip.