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I’ve discovered in my parts box some rim brake pads that have been there for several years. Aside from age, they are in fine shape (some are new). Can I put these on my bike, or is there hidden damage?

In other words, how long do stored rim brake pads remain safe?

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I would guess that brake pads, still in their package and not exposed to sunlight, petroleum fumes, et al, should be good for 10 years at least. Varies a little with the composition of the pad. Tossed into a spare parts bin with old oily clusters, etc, they would be a bit more suspect. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 15 '12 at 18:46
I've seen bikes come into the shop from the 70s and 80s with period brake pads that did a decent enough job of stopping the bike. – user973810 Jul 16 '12 at 2:38

I have already bought some pads that the LBS had for more than 4 years, and they work perfectly. I think the specific compounds from which brake pads (and tires, most probably) is not prone to self-degeneration if stored in a "normal" environment.

So, the suggestion would be to take a ride and check if the pads brake well. If so, use normally.

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Indefinitely. Do inspect them. Some poorly made ones can get hard or brittle. I've only seen than on mounted (unused) pads though, which are more subject to oxidation/sun/contamination etc.

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I wouldn't worry about the viability of old brake pads, unless there is something obviously wrong with them.

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Welcome to Bicycles SE. We typically ask that answers have more detail. Please consider adding support behind your reasoning, i.e., why the OP need not worry. – jimirings Sep 3 '14 at 23:08

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