Me and a friend of mine are going on a long bike trip (which will take us a month) and we're finetuning our bikes for this.

We will be bringing about 14kg of luggage each, only riding on paved roads (with the occasional badly paved road). We leave here in Belgium, riding as far as we can in one month, towards Italy.

What would be the best type of brake pads for this purpose? I'm thinking of several aspects here:

  1. Brake-safety, even when wet
  2. noise
  3. ease of mainenance
  4. I wouldn't like too much wear on my new rims
  • 'only riding on paved roads' you mean only riding on roads made for cars (as opposed to dirt, gravel, etc...)? I can't see a path from Belgium to Italy that would be paved all the way or is there one?
    – jv42
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 14:02
  • What kind of brakes are on your existing bikes? Commented May 31, 2011 at 14:18
  • I meant we will be going for roads made for cars, the occasional cobblestone, and a some countryside roads. My bike currently has the MAFAC Centerpulls. My question mostly concersn with kind of brake padding I should use (eg composite rubber...)
    – romeovs
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 14:42
  • I updated the title to match your new description.
    – lantius
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 21:27
  • 2
    "I don't want wear on my new rims", then you should be using disk brake pads :)
    – Мסž
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 23:51

5 Answers 5


The trick with rim brakes is to get ones with replaceable blocks. In that way you can setup the brakes once so that they have perfect toe-in (small gap at back so they do not squeal) and so that they hit the rim dead-centre (not at an angle, falling off the bottom or hitting the tyre). Then, when the brakes get worn you can simply replace the inserts and not have to start again with the setup.

Due to different places selling different stuff and having made an investment in your setup, it then becomes a matter of what are the most widely available inserts. In the UK this probably means the 'Aztec' brand. From my personal experience the after-market Aztec blocks and shoes are better than the cheeze-o-blocks that Shimano supply. 'Kool Stop' are also pretty good and widely available in selected markets.

As for choice of rubber, if you are undecided, what is wrong with dual compound? In that way you get durability and stopping power all in one.

I am not wanting to specify a shop/endorse a brand, however, here is what you should be looking for (as Googled earlier).

You can always try the different compounds to see what works best front/rear, what wears your rims out quickest (soft on rear is a good idea as rear rims wear quicker) and what fits your budget.

Moving forward, the replacement shoes are a double whammy of time savings and money savings. Not only are they quicker to replace, they are cheaper and you do not lose your settings.

And finally...

Enjoy your tour!


I have no qualms about recommending a brand because I ride 3000-4000 miles a year and have tried and worn out a lot of different brakes.

Hands down, the best pad for touring that I have used is the Kool-Stop dual-compound mountain shoes but they are unfortunately for linear-pull brakes only.

Next best is the Kool-Stop Mountain Salmon, which are suitable for all bike types (not just MTBs) with non-linear-type rim brakes. These have a bit less durability than the dual compound pads but slightly better stopping power.

For info only (not an endorsement of any particular bike shop): http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/brakeshoes.html#mountain

  • I have a hard time imagining how pads could be vbrake only. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 5:17

I do a lot of touring and really like the Swissstop Viking brake. They are great in the rain, easy to install, and last a long time. Have a good tour!

  • thanks for the tip; but my question was really aimed at the "type" of brake pad. One has a choice of many things (one kind of rubber, three kinds of rubber, hard rubber, soft rubber,...)
    – romeovs
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:31
  • Then whatever type of rubber is used on that brake pad. :)
    – chris
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:40

I've been using Manthauser Pads for more than 30 years. Don't know if they came up with something better.


When I upgraded the brakes on my Surly Long Haul Trucker in preperatio for what was planned to be a 5,000 km tour which turned into a 3,000 km tour I fitted Koolstop Tectonic v-brake shoes.


Koolstop describe them as ..

come[ing] with a multi friction compound set up, but single or dual compounds can also be configured.

I have found them to work well on a loaded touring bike in dry and wet conditions. Without a doubt the whole upgrade to the bike (going from cantilever brakes to v-brakes) was a significant improvement. How much is just down to the pads I cannot say.

BTW those pads are still on the bike.

  • I use the KoolStop dual-compound pads and find them the best of any I've ever used. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 14:21

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