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I have a road bike and a mountain bike which both use shimano B01S brake pads. The road bike has done 4000km and the mountain bike has done 320km. The brake pads on the road bike look brand new while the mountain bike pads are almost worn out.

The most obvious reason for this is I take the mountain bike on steeper paths and use the brakes more but I use the road bike in the hills a lot and for commuting so I use the brakes on the road bike a fair bit as well. It seems remarkable that the road bike with the exact same brakes and brake pads has lasted more than an order of magnitude more while still being in a much better condition.

I asked some people about this and they suggested that the mountain bike pads would be getting more dirt in them which could be wearing them out faster. Is this a realistic cause for brake pad wear? Should I be cleaning the pads after use?

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    Wet + gritty situations will kill organic pads very quickly. In dry + dusty conditions organic pads will last a long time. Consider whether you should use sintered/metallic pads on your mountain bike. – Warren Burton Apr 22 at 9:43
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    This could be a factor. I never ride my road bike in the mud but I do with my mtb – Qwertie Apr 22 at 11:35
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Yes, dirt is a realistic cause for increased brake pad wear

According to Chain Reaction Cycles

Organic pads – also referred to as ‘resin’ pads – are made from a high-density ceramic and have a softer compound than metallic sintered pads. Organic pads generally provide better stopping power and heat dissipation, which means that they are slower to heat up and so are advisable for use in braking systems with a low boiling point. However organic pads can wear out more quickly in wet and gritty conditions.

Sintered pads: Also referred to as ‘metallic’ pads, these use a compound with added metal content – usually copper shavings. This makes them noiser, and they heat up faster, but in wet conditions they last far, far longer than organic pads. Ultimately your choice may depend on the prevalent conditions you ride in, with sintered pads advisable for the typical wet/mixed weather encountered in the UK (unless you have no problem changing your pads often).http://hub.chainreactioncycles.com/buying-guides/components/brake-pad-buying-guide/

It depends on many variables but cleaning the pads after each ride might help.

  • The dirt on the pads at the end of a ride won't be there at the beginning of the next ride.
    • If the next ride has less dirt then not having the previous ride's dirt might help a lot.
    • If the next ride gets dirty quickly then the benefit is reduced.

Sintered/Metallic Pads

There is an on-going debate over the wisdom of switching from resin to metallic
According to Shimano:

The SM-RT30/53/51 rotor should be used together with resin pads. If it is used with metal pads, the pads will wear out very rapidly. https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/si/SI-8JW0A-001-ENG.pdf

Determining what works best for you would require some experimentation.

  • CRC are normally reliable but either they're taking nonsense or flying someone else who is - ceramic isn't the same as resin (in fact ceramics are inorganic compounds). Most ceramics and all resins have a lower thermal conductivity than copper, meaning that metal pads (or at least the business side of them) should heat up more slowly - but they'll transfer heat to the calipers more efficiently and that would mean heating any fluid quicker. – Chris H Apr 22 at 17:43
  • Good catch! They should not have lumped ceramic in with resin. But, organic pads can wear out more quickly in wet and gritty conditions. I guess they can't be right all the time. – David D Apr 22 at 17:58

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