Review: SwissStop Disc 17 C brake pads
Smooth power, low noise. That’s the description SwissStop gives to these organic pads, and it’s one that’s hard to argue with.
I fitted them to the Avid BB7 callipers of my mountain bike. Even though these are ‘only’ mechanical brakes, their stopping performance is already excellent thanks to big rotors (203mm front, 180mm rear) and compressionless cable housing. So I wasn’t expecting much improvement.
Yet there was a clear difference, especially when it came to the less powerful rear brake. There were no banshee squeals in the wet, which you sometimes get with sintered pads. And the braking feel was better, with a more immediate initial bite and smoother modulation throughout the lever squeeze.
This was most noticeable as I slowly picked my way down a very steep descent where I’d forcibly dismounted the week before. The tactile braking allowed inch-perfect positioning – no wheel locking, no panic-inducing delay in power application.
SwissStop’s Disc C compound is a composite that includes Kevlar, ceramic and brass particles as well as resin. This should improve pad longevity. The test samples show little wear after a couple of months of use in grim conditions, but I wouldn’t expect them to last as long as sintered pads.
I’d still pick sintered ones for bashing out the miles on a year-round commuter or (if I did that kind of riding) for downhilling through the grinding paste of an off-road winter. Sintered pads will also work out cheaper for just-riding-along miles, where the nuances of braking performance matter much less.
Where I think the SwissStop Disc C pads will work better is for more measured mountain biking, where you’re noodling through technical terrain trying not to put a foot down, and for less downhill-orientated mountain biking in general.
They would also suit year-round road cycling in the UK: they work equally well in the wet and the dry, and the superior modulation means you’re less likely to lock up a wheel ahead of a tight or greasy corner. The fact that they don’t squeal is particularly nice on group rides.
SwissStop Disc C pads are available to fit the majority of callipers. The number in the name relates to the models of brake that it will fit – 17 is for Avid’s BB7 and Juicy callipers. Check the SwissStop website to see which ones you need.
A worthwhile upgrade for disc brakes that lack fine modulation (such as Avid BB7) or outright power (such as Tektro Spyre). They won’t last as long as sintered pads but they’re much quieter and have a nicer feel, with a smoothly progressive bite. Best suited to UK-style road riding and less abrasive kinds of mountain biking.
Organic pads on an aluminium backing plate, which saves a tiny bit of weight over the cheaper steel KS-D270 version (coloured red).