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Cork vs. Rubber...


Maximum Pace
Nov 4, 2006
I'm talking about "brake-pads" here!
Of course, I would never put any cork on my little-fella downstairs.

The problem I'm having is that, usually when it rains, I find the rims of my wheels covered in black powder brake pad residue. And I want to know if those of you out there who are using "cork" brake pads experience a similar problem.

If anyone has previously switched from rubber to cork, or had some experience with both and chosen one over the other, I would be interested in hearing your opinion.

At the moment, I'm using standard "Dura-Ace" rubber pads; and although they're not that bad for stopping, etc, I'd like to keep my hands clean each time I handle my wheels!

Any and all comments would be most welcome!


Actually they are no "Dura Ace" specific brake pads by Shimano, the same brake pads are sold for Ultegra, 105 and Dura ace. I experiences similar braking problems and exchanged black Shimano against green Swissstop brake pads. This solves the problem insofar as there is no black residue left on the rims, only green one. The impact on the brake performance is virtually nil.

Nagai-san from Positivo recommended to clean the rims to increase braking performance. I think there is some special cleaning from Mavic available. Also it should be possible to "sharpen" the rims by using some kind of fine sanding paper. This should increase performance, however will create even more wear on the pads. Of course we are talking here about alluminium rims, not carbon.

I tried many things but unfortunately nothing really helped. I have no experience with cork pads, but Nagai-San didn't recommended them. My feeling is that a new bike with new pads and new rims has an acceptable deceleration that get worse over the time of usage. Also my rim pads are full of small metal parts, I presume that this is wear from the rims. Insofar should working on the rims plus exchange with new standard pads give the best results.
Please note that I know zilt about cork pads...the only cork I want to know about shout be stained red and smell of alcoholic grape residue....

If your brakes work, that is all you should worry about.

Mine have been going strong for 5 years and I have asked my LBS guru twice over the last year if I should change them (yet)...he always says there is still a few millimeters of wear left in them and not to worry.

I don't do as much downhill work as you guys and this is probably where you get your problems from.

I wouldn't worry about dirt or grease..just wipe and wash more often. You are always going to have grime and grease somewhere on your bike...cork frames? cork chains? cork cassettes?

You don't really need to touch your rims that often ( I tend to only touch them with toilet paper)....:D...

I can't say I've ever seen anybody using cork...and I'd imagine there will still be some kind of dirt...

This post has been brought to youby 2 cans of grapefruit chu-hi... :D
As far as I know, cork pads are only suitable for carbon rims and, from back in the day, bamboo rims. I have never used them, but everything I've read suggests a significant reduction in brake effectiveness.

The only real solutions to the grey goo problem are:
  1. Disc brakes
  2. Ceramic coated rims and suitable brake pads; or
  3. Not riding in the wet :)
  4. Not braking in the wet :eek:

Shimano pads do seem to generate more grey goo than, e.g. Kool Stop or Swiss Stop though.
You could try Kool Stop Salmon pads. They don't leave a black mess, since the pad is an orange color.
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