I'm replacing some old cartridge pads that I can't find inserts for with one-piece Kool-stops. Both are asymmetrical types, but the front set of old shoes are explicitly designated for "tail-forward" installation (see image). The only reason I can think of for doing this is for clearance of the fork when cable tension is released. Assuming that this isn't an issue in this particular case (it doesn't look like it would be) is there any other reason to follow this example, rather than installing in the more typical tail-behind orientation that the new pads are designed for? Context is cantilevers on suspension fork brake arch, if that makes a difference.

Shimano cartridge pad oriented tail-forward

  • Think about it: When you activate the brakes the top of the wheel is moving forward. The pad will tend to twist slightly on the brake arm, forcing the "heel" of the pad into the rim. The more "heel" you have, the more the brakes will tend to grab uncontrollably, in addition to squeaking more. Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 1:19
  • Isn't this the reason why the shoes should be mounted with the trailing (forward) end of the pads slightly toed in towards the rim so they contact the rim first and as the arms twist the pads become more parallel to the rim? Does the length of the pad in front of the arm (as the wheel turns, towards the back of the bike) make a significant difference as long as the toe in is adequate?
    – dlu
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 1:57
  • @DanielRHicks - I'm familiar with toe-in and other aspects of brake set-up. I'm not sure what exactly you're saying about the specific situation at hand, though. The forces acting on the front brakes are the same as the rear ones. Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 2:50

1 Answer 1


Some of the KoolStop pads have a ramp at the leading edge (facing in the direction that the wheel rotation comes from – i.e., towards the back of the bike) that is supposed to help sweep water and other contaminants off of the rim. If you have these you'd want to face them in the right direction if you can.

Other than that and clearance I can't think of a reason why it would matter unless the pads are the type with replaceable cartridges in which case you need to make sure that the open end of carrier faces towards the rear so that the pads are pushed forward against the stop.

  • Yep, the little plow-tip makes it pretty clear that the Kool-stops aren't designed to go tail-forward, hence my question. Also, these are one-piece Eagle2 types, so no worries about the forces acting on a sliding insert... whereas there would be if I swapped sides with the existing pads, obviously. Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 2:31
  • Making this the accepted answer, since no opposing points have been raised, and it agrees with my own reasoning and empirical experience. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 16:55

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