Workshop Focus – SwissStop Disc Brake Pads Review

There is a plethora of bicycle disc brake pads on the market, but ask professional bike mechanics what their preferred option is, and SwissStop is often the popular choice. The brand produces disc brake pads for all kinds of bicycle; from road to cyclocross, and mountain bike. In this blog post I report back on my review findings after testing the complete range of SwissStop disc pads both off-road and on-road over the last year, with close to 25,000 kilometres of riding.

SwissStop make four different models of disc brake pads: Green Organic, Yellow RS Racing, ExoTherm, and Silver Endurance. All of these pads are organic (not sintered) formula pads; providing a low noise and rotor-friendly contact with the disc brake rotor. All the pads are also designed to be stable at extremely high temperatures, such as those encountered on long mountain descents. The pads differ in the composition of the organic formula though, and also in the case of ExoTherm there is a different back panel.

I have been using the SwissStop range on my 3T Gravel Bike, and on my Kona Rove Road/Touring bike for the last 12 months; including on my #RoadsFromRome tour (when the bike weighed 26 kilograms and was ridden over numerous mountain passes). The objective has been to see firstly if SwissStop does out-perform other disc brake pads used in similar conditions (in previous years), and secondly whether there is a notable difference between the different SwissStop disc brake pads in their range.

I tested the SwissStop disc brake pads on their new SwissStop Catalyst Disc Rotors, to provide consistent feedback across the board.



Longevity

If there is one criticism of SwissStop in the marketplace, it is the price. However, when you consider longevity versus cost, SwissStop fares far better than most.

I have used both SwissStop Green and the new SwissStop Endurance (Silver) pads on my gravel bike throughout the winter months; as well as on my road bike for long heavily laden bike tours. The pads last longer than anything else I have tried. No question.

As a clear example, the SwissStop Green pads lasted around 5000 kilometres on my 3T Exploro (Gravel) in the worst winter weather this January to March; in comparison to around 2000 kilometres for a set of Clark’s disc brake pads in the preceding two months.

Similarly, on the road, the SwissStop Green pads lasted around twice as long as the Shimano Resin Disc Brake Pads fitted on the same hydraulic disc brake system on my Kona Rove.

The new Silver Endurance Pads from SwissStop are designed to be the most durable of all the models within the range, with a slightly harder compound than the others. If longevity and value for money are your top priority, then these are the best choice.



Modulation

If you have not heard of the term ‘brake modulation’ before, it can most easily be described as how consistent the feel and bite of the brake is throughout the brake lever pull. Poor brake modulation leads to a sudden bite as the pad engages the rotor; good pad modulation will provide a progressive braking feel and performance.

SwissStop pads all exhibit exceptionally good modulation performance, thanks to the quality of the pad compounds. An excellent quality compound across the field provides the sought-after balance of gentle pad engagement, but a firm and consistent feel. I was not able to distinguish better modulation on one SwissStop disc brake pad compared to another variety, but all the pads provided significantly better brake feel than the majority of the competition from other disc brake pad brands that I have tried.



Heat Dissipation

The final component that is crucial to braking performance is the avoidance of excessive heat build-up. This is because a hot pad and rotor causes significant 'brake-fade' and loss of performance, and in the worst case can cause complete brake failure.

I have only once witnessed the true severity of serious disc brake pad heat build-up… On the #CoastsandCols tour, my disc brake pads and rotor got so hot on one long descent in stifling summer conditions in the Pyrenees that the front brake pad completely delaminated from the pad back plate. The cheap unbranded resin pad had effectively melted and become dislodged from the rusted backing plate; leaving me with a steaming rotor and zero braking power on the front brake. Luckily, it was on a long straight downhill, otherwise I am unsure how I would have stopped the fully loaded touring bike…

SwissStop pads provide far better heat tolerance than most, thanks to their compound composition. Unlike sintered pads that contain small fragments of metal, the SwissStop pads use organic compounds that are less susceptible to heat-inducing friction.

Last year, SwissStop also introduced their new ExoTherm range of finned disc brake pads; the science behind this is that the fins stick out of the disc brake caliper and dissipate heat from the pad backing plate and pad.

I have to admit that during testing of the SwissStop pads I have not been able to get any of the SwissStop pads hot enough to testify that the ExoTherm version are any less heat generating than the rest of the range. However, other brands like Shimano IceTech use similar technology, and lab tests for both Shimano and SwissStop show that in environments such as Downhill Mountain Bike where the braking is sudden and frequent, the fins can dramatically reduce the chance of brake fade and failure caused by heat build-up.

If you are a rider doing a lot of downhill biking in hot mountain conditions, then the SwissStop ExoTherm range is well worth looking at.



SwissStop Brake Pads Review

To summarize, I set out at the start of this year-long test period to see if the SwissStop pads out-performed other pads on the market enough to justify their higher cost. My findings suggest that they do. SwissStop disc brake pads provide better brake modulation, better brake feel, better brake performance, and a much longer life than the vast majority of disc brake pad options on the market. Reliable and consistent braking is both a safety and performance consideration, so in my view the SwissStop products are well worth investing in.

The recent expansion of the range provides even better brake performance from SwissStop, thanks to different models tailored to various kinds of riding. The SwissStop RS Disc Brake Pads are most suited to those looking for the highest possible braking performance and modulation in race conditions. The SwissStop Endurance Silver Disc Brake Pads are most suited to those looking for added longevity, or those riding in tough muddy conditions. The SwissStop Organic Green Disc Brake Pads are a superb all-rounder that provide a mix of the RS and Endurance properties. Finally, the SwissStop ExoTherm Disc Brake Pads are specifically designed for long downhills in hot conditions.

Pick your partner for top performance braking.

>> View the range of SwissStop Disc Brake Pads at Tredz.co.uk <<

SwissStop Disc Brake Pads Review

SwissStop UK provided a selection of SwissStop Disc Brake Pads to lifeinthesaddle.cc for this test and review

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