I use the plain self-centering side-pull cantilever brakes found on 99.9% of road bikes. (Well, it's a road bike. ;) ) I've got alloy rims. Both my current internship location and back home are moderately hilly areas, which force me to "ride" the brakes quite a bit. I "pulse" the brakes a bit in order to reduce heat build up and all that jazz, but it seems I go through the pads themselves quite quickly -- my last rear pads lasted less than half a season, and the ones I replaced them with look to be on their last leg now.

I don't have any issues with braking performance -- I just would like to find something that will last longer.

What should I look for? Am I out of luck (e.g. have to switch to something like a center-pull brake design?)

  • Move to the flatlands? My brakes last forever... Have never used up a pair yet. Just they eventually get hard/brittle and need to be replaced! :-) Jun 20, 2011 at 14:07

1 Answer 1


Frankly, unless you are willing to swap to a disc brake bike, you are out of luck. I assume that you are riding the bike regularly, but I would not expect to get more than 1-2 months out of a rubber or cork road brake pad (Cork is typically only used on carbon fiber rims). Especially in a hilly area. You can extend the life slightly by ensuring your rims are clean and dry, but only by a small percentage. A bike ridden in wet weather can use up a set of rubber brake pads in one ride. 1/2 a season or more is an excellent usable life for this type of pad.

A disc brake pad will last much longer, because the pads are made of sintered metal, like the pads in your car. Average life is 1 to 2 years, with variation in riding style and weather. That requires changing at minimum your wheels and brakes, but most likely would require a new bike. Not something I would consider cost effective solely to save money on brake pads.

  • Close as I can recollect, my cantilevered brake pads have about 10K miles on them, most of it commuting. I replaced them once when the bike was fairly new (the originals were too hard for my taste) and haven't done so since. (They are about due, though.) Jul 5, 2011 at 1:09
  • You can't be serious. Or you never use your brakes. But you don't seriously expect me to believe that your canti pads, essentially rubber eraser on a stick, lasted 10,000 miles of friction on aluminum rims... and then you say you swapped them for soft pads, too?
    – zenbike
    Jul 5, 2011 at 5:20
  • I said I can't recall ever changing them -- certainly have not in the past 5000 miles. But they're not "soft", they're "medium" -- the original pads were really hard. The terrain around here is not flat, but I'm definitely not a gonzo rider, and little of my riding is on city streets, so that may have something to do with it. Jul 5, 2011 at 11:25
  • For what its worth, I go through 1-2 pairs of brake pads a year on my commuter. Rain+snow+dirt tend to ruin them pretty quickly.
    – Batman
    Oct 18, 2014 at 17:53

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