Saturday, 11 August 2012

Routine brake pad check

This is about the importance of taking a closer look at your bicycle.  As an example of why this is important, this morning I checked over my bike, I discovered there was an issue with the rear brakes on my Thorn Audax.

On one side there was a tiny bit of metal embedded into the brake pad.  This was enough to cause a horrible grinding noise which is why I took them off for a closer look
Note the vertical grooves: these are wear indicators
The brake pad on the other side shows how the pad was a little too big for the wheel rim.  As it gradually wore down, you can see how it was just starting to wear into the tyre.
Running horizontally is the wear line of the rim (not very worn at all)

These brake pads are manufactured by Shimano and are original equipment on my bike.  Their performance has been adequate but not outstanding at all.  It is, of course, worth bearing in mind other factors do make a difference: levers, cables, cable outers and of course the brake callipers themselves.

For a moment I felt rash and decided to buy some new pads even though they weren't completely worn out.  After all, in nearly 3,000 miles I have replaced one inner tube and now some brake pads; whatever next?  Heck, does this mean my bike is nearing the scrapheap?

For quickness I have bought another pair of Shimano pads (£10.99 from Evans) but will research alternatives that might be a bit better.


  1. I got mine back from a service once and they had forgotten to actually tighten up the nut holding the brakes on! Half way home and they came off!! Now I check my brakes every time I go out!! Good to see you do too! ;o)

    1. Flippin' 'eck, eeeeek and everything else we can say in those situations!

      Reminds me of that really old saying of a mechanic asking his apprentice....

      Question - "what's the most important nut/bolt on the car?

      Answer - "the one that hasn't been checked".

      Safe cycling!


  2. I find that Aztec brakes are pretty darn good. I replaced my shimano ones with these a while back and have had no issues with them (so far)

    1. I remember Aztec brakes from way back in the 1980s. I think I might track some down for the other set that will need replacing soon; many thanks for the helpful tip.

      Just had a quick glance at your blog - well worth me having a closer read sometime soon.

  3. I also have a Thorn Audax with the Shimano one-piece brake pads. With all the hills where I live I comfortably wore them out in less than 1000 miles. The braking got progressively less effective - especially in the wet - and I replaced them with Ultegra blocks, which have cartridge pads. They were just £10.99 a pair from Chain Reaction. They're better, but when the pads wear out I shall probably try the SwissStop or Kool Stop versions. Going down a 1:4 in the wet is a fine way to learn how good those brakes actually are...

    1. Thanks Gavin! If you get either SwissStop or Kool Stop pads in the near future, do let me know how you get on with them. I'll be looking to replace my front pads soon as well.

  4. Thanks Enoch. That's a good reminder I need to upgrade my pads sometime soon as well as checking my bike over ready for the warmer weather!

    Regards, Doug.