top of page

The Disco Brakes Semi Metallic Pads 31g £9.89 & 160mm Dual Colour Wavey Disc Rotor 139g £10.70

The Disco Brakes Semi-Metallic Pads and 160mm Dual Colour Silver Wavey Disc Rotor have proven themselves excellent, wallet-friendly replacements for my stock TRP Spyre/SLC sets. Tested for eight weeks and through some filthy, muddy and generally wintry conditions, braking has been progressive noise and judder free. 

Pros: Progressive stopping prowess, minimal noise. durable.

Cons: Minor point, but only 6 bolts, centre lock require an adaptor. 

Specification 

The Rotor is made from a “high-friction” toughened stainless steel and is manufactured to a tolerance within 0.8mm (about 0.03 in). Before we go any further, the colour part is a nice aesthetic, it doesn’t hold any technical/performance enhancing properties. IS 6 bolt fit means it’ll slot straight on many hubs and besides, decent adaptors are plentiful these days. As a side note, when mounting add some thread lock to the screws. This prevents them vibrating loose and, at the other extreme, protects against corrosion induced stripping. 

Our rotors were silver, 160mm but black Gold, Green, Orange, Purple, Red are the alternatives and should complement or contrast with your bike’s colour scheme. Now “wavey” designs divide opinion in both motorcycle and bicycle communities. Some suggest they are little more than a fad. 

cycling bike disc brake rotor

Looking “trick” but not offering anything in the way of real-world benefit. Now I’ve started a fight, I’ll quietly distance myself. Theory goes “wavey” designs dissipate heat faster, thus cutting fade and the design also shifts mud and grime more effectively. On paper at least, obvious choices for cyclo cross, gravel, mountain biking and winter mounts.

Pads

I’ve gone for the semi-sintered (semi metallic by another name) which are another best of both world's concept, offering uprated bite over traditional resin pads, without the longer lead up and increased noise of a fully metallic/sintered set. Ours were medium density, supposedly optimised for wet and dry conditions. 

Pad Types & Their Pros/Cons

A quick word about pad material, while I’m here. Organic pads (sometimes referred to as resin pads) have a lot in their favour. 

Commonly made from a blend of Kevlar, Rubber and Silica with a resin bonding, they are quiet, offer sharper braking and bed in easily. The compound offers excellent insulation against heat build-up, too, although conversely, are more predisposed to fade. 

That's a minor, if not moot point on a lightweight bike and rider. However, a definite consideration on a touring tandem, or recumbent for example. They also wear relatively quickly in harsh, or mucky conditions, so might not be the best options for winter riding, especially off road. Sintered, sometimes referred to as metallic pads are made from bonded metal particles. In theory, these will last longer than their organic counterparts, especially in wet, muddy, gritty contexts. They are less prone to fade, so will also work better on those long descents. 

However, compared with organic types they need to “warm up” before reaching optimum “bite”, take longer to bed in and can be noisier. Now, though not relevant on a cable operated setup, such as mine, the metal components will transfer greater heat to hydraulic fluids, than an organic variant. 

Then again, they’re much less prone to glazing over and last longer. I’ve gone the semi-sintered route. On paper, these should be the best of both worlds, hence my decision. As the name might imply, these are a mix of organic and metal, so take less time to reach performance, shouldn’t fade on long descents and last better than organic pads in grotty contexts. I’ve never had any issues with pad glaze, but this can be an issue with organic and semi-metallic models, so we’ll see.

Test Bike(s) & Contexts

Both Ursula and my fixed gear winter/trainer serve four seasons’ round. Both also sport TRP Spyre SLC callipers. After 9 months, both had exhausted their original TRP pads (which is good going, given the mileage and service).

trp spyre disc brake pads cycling worn

This also coincided with a more comprehensive overhaul of the fixed’s braking. After 8 years, the Cane Creek SC5 lever’s cable tunnel had distorted, meaning the nipple was pulling through. I switched this for a Tektro RL520, added a new inner wire and gave both bikes’ Spyre SLC callipers a deep, solvent clean. 

Prising the Disco Brake Pads from their packaging, the first thing that struck me was how refreshingly solid the pad springs felt. Some patterns around this price point had very weak springs, meaning they’d splay and in some cases fail very quickly. This narrative continued as I slid them into the callipers, checked alignment, then snugged the retaining bolts down.

Performance 4/5

Coming from my fixed’s tired setup, little surprise everything felt razor sharp when I spun the wheel and engaged the brake. However, I was astonished to find bedding in was as painless. Everyone has their chosen technique. Mine is to pull the brake until I can feel it gently drag the rotor-5-7 seconds, then gradually increasing the pressure until it stops. 

cycle bicycle forks disc brake

Coming from my fixed’s tired setup, little surprise everything felt razor sharp when I spun the wheel and engaged the brake. However, I was astonished to find bedding in was as painless. Everyone has their chosen technique. Mine is to pull the brake until I can feel it gently drag the rotor-5-7 seconds, then gradually increasing the pressure until it stops. 

This is basically so I transfer some to the rotor, bonding the two components. Typically, getting everything bang on-in terms of power and modulation takes twenty cycles but in this instance 8-10 and I certainly wasn’t rushing things. November has seen rains of biblical proportions, flushing mud from fields and meaning lanes resembled cyclo cross courses. Perfect for seeing how the pairing would last, faced with wet, gritty and component chomping stuff. It wasn’t long before mischievous red and muntjac deer got in on the act, springing from dark corners and standing defiantly in my path. Even at 20mph, downhill and with trailer en tow, a controlled squeeze of Ursula’s right lever brought us to a dignified, silent halt. 

Ok, so Bambi & co induced a few emergency stops, but these were progressive, powerful and silent, without inducing skids, locking wheels, or agricultural language. Same story through winding, muddy bridle path and farm tracks. The fixed was literally transformed, encouraging me to let rip, carve into sweeping descents as fast as my legs and gearing allowed. 

The stock resin Spyres were very dependable but in comparable contexts, the Disco Brakes Semi Metallic mix brought a little more bite. In terms of the rotor, there was some small but palpable flex under hard braking, compared with the Swiss Stop Catalyst Disc Rotor and if I was regularly riding in hilly regions with a heavily laden tourer, tandem, or cargo bike, I’d go the Swiss Stop route. However, no less than I’d expect, given the price differential. All told, rigidity and heat dispersal were a much closer match for the OEM TRP Spyre, which I’ve found exceptionally reliable on a moderately laden solo. 

Continuing this theme, alternating between the Swiss Stop and Disco Brake rotors confirmed that the former had an edge on the mud and grit shedding front. Again, the Disco Brakes Rotors still impressed me on this front. Given the rains, some stretches of lane resembled Paris-Roubaix, such was the depth of slimy gloop. There was some audible gritty, metallic tinkling for a few seconds, post braking but this vanished almost as suddenly as it arrived. I was also genuinely surprised by how clean the rotors were afterward.

Out on the fixed and along less adventurous lanes, I was surprised to discover the rotor had accumulated something black and caustic during a two-hour blast. Consensus suggested it was an agricultural chemical, resulting in a nasty looking tar-like tide mark, which took the edge off. 

Durability/Care 3.75/5

For the most part, I’ve left ours to their own devices-save for blasting away muddy/gritty stuff on cleaning day. 

 

Dinner plate pristine discs aren’t desirable, but I removed the lion’s share with a drop of Green Oil Clean Chain Degreaser Jelly, a stiff brush and thorough freshwater rinse. 800 harsh miles down the line, rotors and pads have plenty of life. Both sets of rotors are in similarly good health. 

cycle bicycle fork disc brake rotor

That agricultural calling card hasn’t completely shifted, but hasn’t marred modulation, or progressive stopping as the miles racked up.

Value 4/5

£9.89 for semi metallic pads is favourable £10.79 for the rota is very good value. In terms of pads, Jagwire Semi Metallic Disc Brake Pads retail at £13.99 (although we’ve seen them discounted online). Swiss Stop Organic Disc Brake Pads come at £21.99, Decathlon offer semi-sintered pads for £7.99, and advertise a two-year warrantee.  Clarks also offer a range of pads from organic to sintered (£8.99-£11.99) and for a wealth of different systems.  EBC Brakes X Country Mountain Bike Brake Pads are a soft compound resin design, intended for less extreme riding contexts £6.70 inc VAT.

At the other extreme, some store brands start at £3.99 but in my experience, these can be of variable quality- pad springs being a weak spot in some instances.  In terms of rotors a TRP-29 6 bolt, stainless steel rotor will set you back £22. I’ve run one up to very high mileages and in foul weathers with no problems and it’s difficult to say at this stage how our disco brakes compare on the durability front.

Shimano RT66 160mm Disc Brake Rotor is another stainless-steel model, which is also available in 180 and 203mm sizes and retails at £22.99. EBC Brakes VR Series Vee Rotor is heat-treated stainless steel with a diamond ground finish- £16.01 Lifeline One-Piece Stainless Steel Disc Rotor is also available in 160mm and compatible with organic and sintered brake pads- slightly cheaper at £9.99.

Summary

To some extent, you can almost spend as much, or as little as you like on rotors and pads, but this is missing the point somewhat. Compared with OEM rotors and pads, the Disco Brakes offer quiet and reliable braking for not a lot of money and are a good, cost conscious, dare I say, upgrade to OEM fare.  I’d spend at little more on a cargo bike, tandem, or similarly specialist build but hard to fault as staples for XC mountain bikes, cyclo-cross and other solos.

Verdict: 4/5 Great value staples for solo bikes.

 

Michael Stenning

 

DiscoBrakes.Com :: Shop :: DiscoBrakes Shop

PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2022

FANCY A REMORP FOR YOUR ORP? $5 DISCOUNT CODE HERE FOR 7DC READERS

BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES

Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH

cycleframes@hotmail.com

30% DISCOUNT CODE ON ALL TITLES FROM PM

IMG_4241.JPG