What Are Sintered Brake Pads? The Quick and Dirty Guide

Finding the right brake pads for used motorcycles or new bikes is one of the most important purchases you’ll make in your riding life. All the systems in your bike are crucial, but your brakes are vital.

To make an informed buy, here’s what you need to know about what sintered brake pads are, how they work, how they differ from ceramic ones — and so much more.

What Do Brake Pads Do?

If you’re somewhat unclear on how brake pads work, here’s what you need to know about your 3 wheel motorcycle or 2-wheeler’s system. When you press on the brake lever or your bike pedal (assuming your motorcycle features a disc brake), the brake master cylinder activates the system. The pressure transmits more hydraulic pressure to the wheels’ brake calipers.

These calipers have one or multiple pistons which move against the metal backing featured on your bike’s brake pads. When the brake pads close against the spinning rotor, this creates a certain level of friction. The friction converts kinetic energy that has been building up in your motorcycle, transforming it from speed directly into heat energy.

The heat transmits into the pads, calipers, and brake rotors, before hitting the air.

The brake pads themselves are friction surfaces that touch the brake discs, also known as brake rotors. The brake discs are an integral part of your bike’s disc brake system. Brake pads feature designs comprised of different materials connected to a steel backing plate.

In the olden days, brake linings had asbestos materials. Once the health hazards of these components were clear, manufacturers replaced asbestos with more advanced tech elements


What Are Sintered Brake Pads?

The quick and dirty answer to what are sintered brake pads is that these are among the most popular types of linings in production today. Sintered brake pads feature as original equipment on the majority of motorcycles on the market. They can stand up against an array of conditions. During the sintering process, metallic particles fuse under pressure and heat to become a friction material highly resistant to wear and tear.

Sintered brake linings are an ideal choice for everyone from city riders to racers. These types of brake pads also do very well on steep riding terrain. They offer a sturdy friction coefficient and resist heat well. These brake pads even perform exceptionally well in mud and rain.

There are a few disadvantages to sintered brake pads to take into account before you purchase.

  • They generate more rotor wear
  • When the rotors wear out they can be expensive to replace (a single rotor can run upwards of $75)
  • Sintered pads are noisier than other types of brake pads when you apply the brakes
  • Sintered brake pads could be on the more expensive side (around $40 and up for a set)

What About Semi-Sintered Brake Pads?

Semi-sintered brake pads are a nice alternative to traditional sintered brake pads, because they have organic linings for enhanced durability with the excellent features of sintered linings. Semi-sintered brake pads are a nice hybrid that provides low rotor wear and tear and the high tech organic feel.

Semi-sintered pads feature 30 percent copper in a specialized design that offers increased performance at a more cost-effective price. You can easily purchase semi-sintered brake pads for around $30.


What Are Ceramic Brake Pads?

Ceramic brake pads feature highly durable ceramic fibers and filaments made with non-ferrous metal. These components are bonded at high temperatures and pressures. The result is ductile metal-filaments with excellent friction components and moderate base friction coefficient.

Ceramic brake pads also feature polymeric binders and ceramic fibers that are highly resistant to heat and decomposition. Another huge plus for ceramic brake pads is that they are quiet while producing sturdy brake performance in a wide range of weather conditions.

You can rely on ceramic brake pad in both warm and cold temperatures for quality stopping power. The non-ferrous metal filament elements generate excellent conductivity that transmits heat from the pad-rotor for a quicker thermal recovery. The main downside with these kinds of pads is that they are not manufactured for all motorcycle models.

Ceramic brake pads are among the most cost-effective, starting at around $20 per pair.


How to Choose

Are you on the fence as to whether sintered brake pads are right for you? Here are a few guidelines to help you select the right brake pads for your riding needs.

First, check out your bike’s operator manual. The manual will tell you precisely what kind of brakes your bike came with originally from the factory. If you’re already pleased with how your current brake pads perform, you can re-order those pads again.

Next, consider the cost involved. Sintered brake pads are one of the most expensive options, with semi-sintered close behind. Ceramic brake pads are the most cost-effective selection and offer much of the increased performance and durability that sintered brake pads do.

If exceptional stopping power is your main aim, it’s hard to beat the performance and longevity of sintered brake pads. The pad does an excellent job of transmitting energy without letting excess heat buildup. The extra layer of protection on the outside of sintered pads further helps to contain heat which could otherwise cause the brakes to experience premature wear and tear

If you’re concerned about prolonging the life of your current brakes, sintered brake pads could be the solution. While sintered brake pads are one of the more expensive options on the list, shopping clearance and keeping an eye out for deals could help you save on your purchase.

Installing or switching out sintered brake pads doesn’t have to be an ordeal either. Just look at your manufacturer's manual for clear instructions to get the job done. Components like sturdy brake pads could make also make a significant difference in motorcycle values if you want to list your bike for sale down the road.

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