Many years ago I drove by an automobile brake shop and noticed the slogan on their sign, “If you can’t stop, don’t start.” Well, the same thing is true for cyclists—it doesn’t matter how fast you can go on your bike, if your brakes are sluggish it could cost you your life. Earlier this year I rebuilt an old Trek 1200 road bike and customized it to handle foul weather (mainly rain). The finishing touch on this rebuild was the brake pads—and after a bit of research I chose Kool Stop Bicycle Brake Pads due to their superior stopping power in wet weather.
Kool Stop International, Inc., a company based in Oregon, has been making bicycle brake pads for over 30 years. They make a variety of brake pads, but my Trek 1200 uses their Dura Road Pad set (Dura-Ace/Ultegra), so that is what I have used. The Dura Road Pad (like their Campi Pad) is a dual compound insert that fits inside an aluminum holder. This holder has a “dual pivot adjustment” (a conical washer) and is very easy to adjust.
Kool Stop manufactures several different compounds for use in their brakes—some compounds are best for dry weather cycling and others are very aggressive for use in wet weather. As the name implies, the “dual compound” brake pads are a combination of two compounds—it uses a black compound usually found in their dry weather pads along with their aggressive salmon colored pad that offer superior stopping power in wet weather. Kool Stop ships these brakes with the dual compound pads preinstalled, but they also include an extra pair of salmon colored pads (for really nasty weather).
Even though the Chicago area has had a drought this summer, I have been able to ride a few hundred miles in the rain (mainly in the spring) with these brake pads and they work as advertised. While the brake pads I took off the old Trek 1200 were pretty worn, the Kool Stop brake pads allow me to stop in about half the distance as before.
If you have never replaced a pair of brake pads on your bike before you might wonder how difficult a job it is. There is no reason to have the local bike shop put these pads on for you—a total amateur can put on a set of these brake pads in under 15 minutes, and the second set will probably go on in 10 minutes.
Kool Stop Bicycle Brake Pads with X Pad (Dura-Ace/Ultegra) retail for $23 a pair and you should be able to find them at your local bike shop. These brake pads are nearly twice the price of other brake pads, but they are worth it (if you value your life).