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I'm fairly new to mountain biking and I was able to put in around 900 miles on my first set of brake pads on my Giant Anthem X2. At that point they started grinding metal on metal. I went and bought new Shimano pads (I have Shimano brakes) and after only 100 or so miles one of the front ones has already worn out.

The last time I rode the bike was in rain and mud so I'm not sure if that contributed to it.

How long do the brake pads typically last? Is there something else going on?

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    Well, once you've gone metal-to-metal for any length of time you've wrecked the surface of the rotor and it needs replacing. Apr 8 '12 at 19:37
  • Several things can effect pad life.How hard you ride,conditions you ride in,pad material and how they were installed.I ride 50-75miles a week for our 8 month season.I show about 50 percent wear after a season.Did you replace the rotor that was damaged.If not that will cause premature wear.When you replace the pads make sure the caliper is centered over the rotor.Look for an air gap between the pad and rotor.If one side is rubbing loosen the caliper mounting bolts center it and retorque.Spin the wheel and look to see if the gap shifts or stays constant.If it moves from side to side the rotor ma
    – mikes
    Apr 8 '12 at 23:52
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    Does this answer the question asked? It seems more comment than answer, to me.
    – zenbike
    Apr 9 '12 at 2:45

11 Answers 11

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There are different types of pads, even to fit the same model of brakes.

Sintered metal pads last longest, but are noisiest, often to the point of not being worth the better durability.

Resin pads are softer, and will last less mileage, particularly in wetter weather, but still should last far longer than 100 miles.

I would say that the rotors are damaged from being ridden metal on metal before, and need to be replaced, along with new brake pads.

Your mileage will vary based on weather, braking habits, pad type, riding style and terrain. But you should normally get 500-700miles from a resin pad, and 1000-1250 miles from a sintered metal pad.

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    I had no idea that disk pads wore out so quickly. I just this spring replaced the pads on my cantis for the first time -- something like 20K miles. (And they were only maybe 2/3rds worn.) Apr 9 '12 at 11:21
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    I agree that this is on the low side. I've also had pads last 2 to 3 years, but it depends a lot on trail conditions and on your braking habits and riding style. I tend to replace mine conservatively early. But if you got 20k miles out of canti pads, kudos. That is 4-5 years of riding? What's your weather usually like? You know that the rubber pads harden and lose a lot of their effectiveness after 2-3 years?
    – zenbike
    Apr 9 '12 at 13:44
  • That's actually closer to 10 years of riding, I'm guessing. And, though the pads were getting hard, they weren't as hard as the original ones I changed out right after I got the bike. (I really need to go back through my records and find out how many miles I've put on the bike. I've been through several cyclometers, but I wrote down the last mileage on each.) Apr 9 '12 at 17:22
  • @DanielRHicks What kind of pads are you using? That sounds insanely long. Although I guess it depends what kind of miles you are putting on the bike. If you do lots of long rides in the country where there's very little braking, then I could see this happening. I bike in the city mostly, so I tend to brake every 300 meters or so.
    – Kibbee
    Mar 11 '13 at 12:31
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    I commute over 125 km/week, year round, and thus put in in excess of 5000 km (3000 miles). I change pads quite a bit less frequently than once a year. Maybe every 1.3 years or so.
    – Kaz
    Aug 7 '17 at 1:40
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The Strathpuffer race ( a 24 hour MTB race in Scotland in January) is famous for grinding down brake pads in one night. The year I did it, I replaced the brake pads twice during the 24 hour period. Its something to do with the mud at Strathpeffer turning into a grinding paste that just eats the brake pads.

Saying that though, in everyday use, a set of brake pads last me a season.

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if I am ridding at my local trails a can get about 600 miles out of my metallic pads, but if I go to the dh park I will only get about 80 miles out of them and go though about 3 sets of pads on the front and 2 sets on the back in a weekend.

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The answers here are mostly about mountain biking - and the question text too - but the title is general and the question will be found by people riding other kinds of bikes.

On my gravel bike with the default TRP pads on TRP Spyre brakes I made 6500 km and I am now nearing the 0.8 mm thickness limit. That is considerably more than what people indicate here for mountain bikes.

Many of those kilometers were on the road but many were on forest trails. Do take into account that TRP pads are hybrid resin/metal. Pure resin pads may last much less (and will be cheaper).

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To add one more data point - I have a Trek FX Sport 5 that I bought a little under a year ago. Been riding 50-250 miles per month on it, call it 1800 miles since purchase, and I just had the pads wear out. My normal ride is a 500ft elevation change, with the majority of the elevation change within a half mile stretch.

Edit: Sorry, just realized this post was specific to mountain bikes. I'm riding a hybrid bike on pavement, not offroad. Sorry!

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    Welcome to the bikes SE! Do you ride in all conditions, or fair weather only?
    – Weiwen Ng
    Feb 25 '20 at 15:39
  • Thanks! Assuming it's not raining, I'll ride as long as it's above 32ºF
    – ehed
    Feb 26 '20 at 18:22
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I typically ride 50 miles per week with 8,000 to 10,000 ft of descent (and ascent). I get about 200 miles out of a pair of pads. (SRAM Centerline 200 mm rotors and resin pads.)

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  • Doesn't seem like much, specially when compared to the other general numbers estimated here. Do you drag/ride the brakes a lot on descents? Might be worth exploring metallic pads for you.
    – Criggie
    Jun 9 at 5:41
  • That is really little. Some people reported destrying a pair in one CX race, but that involves a lot of mud. I would at least look for pads that are hybrid resin/metallic.
    – Vladimir F
    Jun 9 at 7:15
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    10000ft in 50mi sounds like it's probably uplift assisted and therefore also probably steep and technical coming down, so not all together unsurprising.
    – Andy P
    Jun 9 at 13:15
  • Thanks for your comments. I ride a mountain ebike so I have pedal assist on the ascents and you are right--the downhills are steep and technical and require a lot of braking. I've tried metallic pads but get too much squealing so I've just lived with the short life of the resin pads and am ok with it. Jun 10 at 6:09
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Another data point:

I ride in the North Shore of Vancouver, BC, Canada, which is an area famous for its rough, steep, and technically challenging trails. I got ~800km out of my front brake pads. At that point, the rear still had a millimeter of pad remaining or so.

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I've made 1700 km before I changed my pads (just rear - front pads are still OK, at about 50%). I had resin pads and now I have switched to sintered metal - so far not too loud, but braking force is better.

I have Shimano BR-M395 hydraulic brakes, and IMHO they are great (not perfect, but in city - more than enough for me).

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I have Promax Decipher Hydraulic brakes and I have sintered metal brake pads. I have roughly done about 1000 miles in last 6 months. My brake pads are still fine. It seems like they will probably do another 800 miles without a problem. I had these other mechanical disc brakes and their brake pads finished under 100 miles. I changed the rotor and the calliper and after that no problems. I would suggest you to do the same. Hope that helps.

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    > I have Promax Luckily, it's not contagious and there is a cure.
    – Kaz
    Aug 7 '17 at 1:43
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I'm fairly new to mountain biking. However, I have been riding using my Avid Elixir 3's since August last year and have only had to change the pads this week having done 25-40 miles every week. So I think in such short time you have not done so well with your pads. I hope I helped.

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    25-40 miles per week since last August comes out to 700-1120 miles on your pads. 900 miles would be right in the middle of that. So I'm not sure why you think the OP has "not done so well."
    – jimchristie
    Mar 10 '13 at 23:52
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Although not for MTB, but for road: my front resin K03S pads wore out in 2000 km. 99% braking with front brake and 1% with rear brake.

I have a theory that hard braking could cause more pad wear. I found some studies about correlation of pad wear and rotor temperature, and it seems high rotor temperature (hard braking) causes more pad wear. Also, I found a study about drum brake lining wear in trucks and buses, and it seems long distance buses that brake less but harder (2x as hard) than city buses see far more pad wear, so much that for the same amount of braking, hard braking causes 2.5x times the pad wear that easy braking would cause.

I have a rather sporty riding style, braking as late as possible, as hard as possible, to increase my average speed. However, recently I calculated one brake application late and hard causes only 0.3 second time savings compared to easy and early braking, and that the value of my time that I save by braking hard is about third of the cost of the additional brake pad wear it probably causes (assuming the 2.5x coefficient that was valid for bus drum brake linings is valid for bicycles too). So I have to reconsider my riding style.

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