Heading into winter in the UK means one of a few things for most people, most notably:
1: It’s the end of the riding season 2: I’ll only ride on a nice day, on my terms, with the sun shining and no rain for a few weeks (go get a lottery ticket if you are waiting for that) 3: Bring it on this is what I bought the bike for!
UK winter is notoriously harsh on all the wearable parts of your bike. Bearings, brake pads and drive trains take a beating. If you have had summer on your pads, most likely they won’t see you through the whole winter.
In any case, if you’ve been riding your bike more than you’ve been seeing your nearest and dearest lately, as is the case with any eMTB, it’s probably about time you checked your brake pads for wear.
Now, most people opt straight for manufacturers own brand for max compatibility and peace of mind. There are of course many other aftermarket brands to choose from. You, of course, pay a premium for SRAM’s own pads but these are a good brake pad that performs generally very well.
What a lot of people don’t realise about the bike industry and in fact many industries now is that most ‘branded’ components come out of the same factory as OEM parts.
Enter Disco Brakes. These are quite simply the cheapest pads available at what seems like no degradation in quality from the other more expensive ‘branded’ equivalents. For example, Nukeproof ‘make’ brake pads when in fact it would seem they come from an identical supplier as Disco Pads, with nothing other than a packaging and price difference.
I took my Levo this summer on the famous Coast to Coast ride from St. Bees near Whitehaven to Robin Hood Bay near Whitby in Yorkshire. A ride of over 225 miles with some very long, steady (and sometimes very fast) descents where I was hard on the brakes. One descent was so fast we could all smell the distinctive smell of brakes burning…
I was sent a pair of Disco Brakes’ most basic set of Semi-Metallic pads priced at £6.75. The only SRAM Original pad available is £17.99. That’s a huge saving, but they are far from the same. All that was in stock with Disco, at the time they supplied me, was the cheapest pair of Semi-Metallic pads from Disco. SRAM does not offer Semi-Metallic so comparing on price and performance isn’t possible, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking they are the same.
A Sintered pad from Disco is £8.79. So for a comparable SRAM pad from Disco, you save around £10, you save even more if you buy multiple units.
Fitting the pads required a lot of fiddling as you get a bucket load of ‘pad’ for your money. This meant for me, even pushing the pistons right back using a piston tool I had to sand the pads quite considerably to get them to fit and not snag the rotor. Both on the front on the rear I would say it took me an hour to fit them. Now with a SRAM original part, whilst you get ‘less pad’ it slipped right on and needed no fettling. So whilst I got extra pad thickness from Disco, I had to remove a lot of it to get it to fit correctly. It was a pain in what is usually a simple job. It took me 10 minutes to change back out to a SRAM part.
So onto the performance. They worked fine. That’s it. Please bear in mind these were Disco’s cheapest option so I felt they simply stopped the bike. Nothing more or less. There wasn’t much feel or modulation compared to the SRAM original brakes but here, of course, we are not comparing like for like. I only make the comparison I changed out my old pads as I was offered these as a test for review so the SRAM original pads are my benchmark.
If you’re expecting good feel and stopping power from the pad then these aren’t the pads for you, but they have many that will be. I needed a lot of power through my fingers to stop with virtually no modulation or bite. I lost a lot of the feel I had from my old SRAM Pads but then both were different compounds. Hence why I state I didn’t love them, and wouldn’t buy this compound.
Looking through the Disco range the Sintered pads which compare to SRAM fitted pads these come in at £8.79 and Nukeproof £11.99
Nukeproof SRAM pads look exactly the same from the same factory just branded differently and priced accordingly.
In summary, don’t swap out your existing SRAM pads for Disco’s cheapest option and expect it to perform the same. If you match the compound I am sure they would perform similar, only you save money. How much fettling to fit them I don’t know. You may have no issue, it may take you an hours sanding and fiddling time.
In terms of the first try of a set of very affordable replacement pads heading into Winter if you’re on a budget it’s certainly worth looking at. I guess it comes down to how much you value your time and are prepared or able to modify them or the pistons if pads are too thick and need adjusting. You local bike shop are unlikely to fit these for you for free negating the cost-saving so it’s down to you, and how handy you feel.
Heading right up the pricepoint and performance charts on Disco’s website they beat Manufacturer’s hands down every time on price and most other comparables bigger ‘branded’ replacement pads which, by all visual inspections, seem like they have come from the same factory.
They have multiple different compounds suitable for any taste, I just tried the most basic one so it’s hard to give a balanced opinion on the other compounds but they were a very cheap set of pads that got me through a long week of varied riding. I just never felt like these were anything more than cheap pads, but then these aren’t trying to be anything more. In essence, they did as they promised it was just a little bit of a faff to get them onto the pistons without rubbing the rotor with everything fully released.
I changed the Disco’s out for SRAM for the MEGAVALANCHE just because I wanted a fresh set ready for the whole week. As soon as I did I could feel the difference, I had the SRAM fitted as part of a bike service rather than insisting on them, but at the next change or if I get offered anymore, I’ll probably try one of Disco’s other compounds as £9 as opposed to £18 is a good discount if they perform, but I will report back on that.
Now I won’t go into compounds, feel, the applicability of each compound to each use case, but needless to say, did these work as advertised?
In a word, Yes. Did I love them? No. Would I buy them? Yes. But not this set, but Disco Pads yes, when I need a new set.
All in all four stars out of five simply due to value. Loss of 1 star as they weren’t the easiest to fit. This compound was a budget one but their other compounds are well worth a look if you don’t mind changing your own pads and fancy a punt on a bargain. If you just want to grab the handle and stop as cheaply as possible then this is the pad for you. If you want a bit more, it’s only cost you a bit more...and a lot less than SRAM.