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Is resurfacing the brake pads in disc brakes (hydraulic or mechanical) necessary? If so, what would you use to do this - medium sandpaper?

I spoke to one mechanic while shopping for a bike, who suggested resurfacing on a monthly basis...

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Why the downvote? –  OMG Ponies Oct 23 '11 at 19:45
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This is a perfectly legitimate question as lots of folks think it's necessary. Just because it's a misconception doesn't mean it deserves a downvote. –  joelmdev Oct 23 '11 at 21:21
    
Can you change hydrolic to hydraulic? I can't because only two characters, and my edits require six. –  Jason S Oct 24 '11 at 4:56
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You've met a mechanic that either wants you to buy more brake pads from his/her shop or doesn't know what he/she is doing. There's really no good reason to resurface your disc brake pads, let alone on a monthly basis. All that's doing is decreasing the life of your pads and temporarily decreasing your braking power until your pads bed back into the rotors.
I think that the reason some mechanics feel the need to resurface disc brake pads is a carryover from the need to resurface rim brakes, which do need to be resurfaced in some instances.

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Not true. On very heavy, long descents, in very dry conditions, and on older/smaller disc rotor types 'glazing' can occur (I've only seen this on metallic sintered, not ceramic pads) where presumably a component in the pad material partially melts causing the pad surface to become smooth greatly decreasing braking power. You need to be doing some serious biking though... –  cmannett85 Oct 24 '11 at 7:08
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I had a customer that weighed 300+ lbs and only rode his very pricey mtb on the hilly roads around his neighborhood, with road slicks no less. He regularly came in with glazed pads but no amount of sanding or filing would get the pads to work properly again. Disc brake pads, especially metallic pads, are excellent heat conductors and are designed to dissipate heat so if the physical properties of the pad are going to change on the surface, there's a pretty good chance they're going to change throughout. If the surface truly does glaze, a little bit of riding will wear it off. –  joelmdev Oct 24 '11 at 13:30
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I've had recent experience of glazed Shimano resin XT pads. I can't really tell how the pads got in that state as my use of the bike is pretty standard. I sanded the surface with medium grade paper and rebedded the pads which has restored them well.

I think it's only worth doing if you notice a loss in braking power and feel. Otherwise you are just wasting pad material and needing to bed the pads each time.

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