20 July 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: SwissStop Green High Performance Flash brake pads

What can one say about brake pads? Especially when it comes to road calipers and aluminum rims, the technology is pretty mature, and it'd be a surprise to pick up a set of replacement pads that worked poorly. Still, many companies feel that they have something to offer, either performance- or price-wise, over Shimano, Campagnolo or SRAM's stock pads, and there are a fair few from which to choose.

SwissStop are best known for their carbon-specific Yellow King replacement pads. When it comes to consistent wet and dry performance with carbon rims, SwissStop's are widely considered to be some of the best pads available. Given their reputation in the road world and Charlie's endorsement of the company's disc pads, I grabbed a pair of the company's Green High Performance Flash pads for my road bike last fall. Since then, they have reliably and quietly stopped my road bike in wet and dry conditions, from below freezing to over 90 degrees. If nothing else, when combined with SRAM's excellent RED calipers, they've been consistent and powerful.

Given their green color (and lack of carbon black, which is what is usually added to rubber to improve wear characteristics), I somehow expected a cleaner braking experience. While they seem to produce a bit less dust than other pads I've used, it does still accumulate on my rims and calipers, especially when wet. The Flash's seem to be less prone to attracting little shards of aluminum or other debris than Shimano's pads, but I have had to get the pick out to remove a few little rim-eaters a couple of times (generally when my braking sounds a bit gritty).

Overall, I can't complain. While far from ground-breaking, SwissStop's green Flash pads are good solid performers. They haven't worn noticeably over the past 9 months and were a good value at $25-30 for a whole-bike (2 brake, 4 pad) set. While not worth ditching your existing pads for, when it comes time for replacements, the SwissStop's are certainly worth a look.



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