Metal vs. Resin Brake Pads – What’s the Difference?

Metal vs. Resin Brake Pads - What's the Difference?

Metal vs. resin brake pads - what's the difference? Having a good set of hydraulic disc brakes on your mountain bike is one of the key components that allows you to go as fast as you can on the trail. Without a strong set of brakes to slow you down, dropping in to steep and fast terrain is much more dangerous. Brake pads are an important factor of your braking system and are another wear item on your bike that should be changed when worn down. Understanding the different kinds of brake pads available will help you make the right decision when getting yourself some new pads. We are going to break down the differences between metal (sintered) brake pads and resin (organic) brake pads in this following article. In need of some new brake pads? Shop our full selection of brake pads here.

Metal (Sintered) Brake Pads

Metal brake pads (also referred to as sintered or metallic) are made from metallic particles fused together.

Due to the versatility of metal brake pads and their ability to perform in many different conditions, this is usually the preferred pads for most people. That is why metal pads are typically found in OEM bikes. One of the main advantages of metal pads come down to precipitation. Metal pads will last way longer in wet and rainy conditions opposed to their resin counterparts. If you live and ride in an area that gets a lot of rain, you will save money by going with metal pads. If not, you would have to replace your resin pads after only a few rides.

The main disadvantage to metal pads is noise. Dust, moisture, and other contaminants can get in your brake pads and metal pads are particularly susceptible to loud squealing when contaminated - way more than resin pads.

The feel of metal and resin brake pads will also differ when it comes to power delivery. This usually comes down to personal preference, but metal brake pads tend to have more of an immediate bite to them. If you have metal and resin brake pads we would recommend trying both to see which power delivery works best for you.

Resin (Organic) Brake Pads

Resin brake pads (also referred to as organic or semi-metallic) are made from fibers that are held together by resin. The fiber materials that are used are softer - and as a result, typically quieter than metal pads. A disadvantage to this is that they will usually wear out faster than metal pads as the soft resin wears down much faster than the metal will. Due to resin pads wearing out particularly fast in rainy conditions, they are often more popular in dusty and dry climates, where they won't wear out as fast.

While metal pads have more of a bite in terms of power delivery, resin pads tend to have a more modulated feel. This allows you to ramp up power at a more measured pace, which can be an advantage depending on the type of riding you're doing. An example is if you are riding in loose material and are worried about locking up your wheel, the modulation of resin pads may give you more control.

Heat buildup is also a factor in brake pads and heat dissipation can help reduce brake fade. Resin pads are more likely to fade quicker than metal pads as a result of heat buildup. So if you are riding very steep terrain where you are going to be on your brakes a lot (and generate a lot of heat buildup) then resin pads would probably not be the best choice.

Our Take

At the end of the day it really comes down to personal preference, riding conditions, and the type of riding you are doing. We would recommend using metal pads and then try resin pads and see what works best for you. You really have to try both and feel how both function to get an understanding of which one you will prefer. Some people will mix up brake pads and run metal on the inside and resin on the outside. This would be worth trying as well. While the type of riding you do and the riding conditions may dictate which pads you use, it is still nice to know how the power delivery and modulation feels between the two.

The below chart highlights some of the differences between Shimano metal and resin brake pads.

Comparison Brake Pad Chart

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