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Are All bike brake pads Universal (Quick Answer)

Brakes are the most essential part of a bike and so are all the components of it as well some components need replacement more often than others and those are the pads but every time you may change your pads there are always lingering thoughts in your mind that are all the pads same and why do need the specific pads for your bike

Almost all the bikes run on the disk brakes so the pads should be the same as well these are all the questions that I have asked myself quite often as well so I did some research on it to save your time and money as well

So the simple answer to “are all the bike pads universal?” is

NO, all bike pads are not universal same series pads are the same that also depends on how many piston brakes you are using 2 or 4 pistons, Also you cannot use different brand pads on different brakes unless you sit down to make them match or get them by making calculations beforehand

Brake pads are of different shapes and sizes and if you had like them to work with a certain rotor we have to see if those pads dont fall in the rotor gaps that can bend or deform the rotors but that kind of thing rarely happens.

The problem with the pads is the shape, and size of the pads are almost always the same no matter which brand they are from for example if you compare the Shimano and SRAM pads they would be the same in size for a given caliper size (two pistons or 4 pistons)

4-piston pads that are usually used in mountain biking and for heavy-duty braking like in downhill mountain biking their pads are bigger than normally used 2-piston brake pads this will cause problems with the calipers, calipers won’t accept the smaller or bigger pads because they will move around too much damaging the rotors.

that being said things are not hopeless and you can use the same series pads for the different models of brakes to break it down for you and to understand it better let me break it down for you to understand better

Is there any way to know which brake pads will work with your brakes :

Brake pads change in design from series to series and from year to year as well the best way of finding the pads that will work with your brakes is to start from your series

For example, if you have Shimano XL brakes the best chance of finding the brake pads will be around in the XL series, SLX series pads may or may not work with your brake model for 2 reasons

  1. The rotors designs are different
  2. pads design may differ depending on the rotor design

And as I have mentioned above as well brake pads will also differ depending on if they are 2-piston brakes (normally on XC  bikes) or 4-piston brakes (Normally for heavy-duty work on DH or enduro bikes) so even if you are looking into buying pads of the same series you have to look into how many piston brakes you have on your bike

There are instances where the brake pads are even quite different from the other series brakes as well so you have to be careful not to buy pads that may or may not fit your brakes

So the condensed answer is that,

There’s no actual way to tell online which brake pads may fit your brakes for this you will have to first check with your Local bike shop and once you know what works with your brakes then you may try ordering online further on other than that you can end up with pads that might not be compatible with your brakes

But if are consistent in doing it then you can use the following methods and try to get as close as you can to your brake-specific pads but I would advise you not to force it, if you dont understand things then it’s better to get it done by the professionals.

How to Tell which brake model and pads are you using :

If it’s your first time looking for replaceable brake parts and you dont know what model is or you have forgotten where they are here are some of the ways to do it

  1. Brakes are branded by their model (Like XT) on the back of the lever
  2. If you dont know which pads you are using then unmount the brakes and See what’s written on the back of the pads
  3. you can also use your manual to check which brake model you have
  4. you can also ask your manufacturer as well which brake model you might be using and how you can perform the checks

If in case you bought your bike from someone else by other means then always at somewhere on the brakes behind the pads or on the adapters or your brake lever you can always find some kind of serial number or the brand and model name that your brakes might have.

Will different brand brake pads work with different brand brakes :

Different brake brands make their own pads and usually, they would specifically point out that you should use their own brake pads or adapters or levers as replacements and not use others

But that is not true you can use all kinds of different brands combinations for your brakes the most famous combination is the Shimano levers and hoses/cables with SRAM rotors and Magura adaptors and this combination is very well known among people who have some history in mountain biking or road biking but if you would like to try something like this or you had like to use other brand brake pads on different brand brakes

Then you have to do some research on it beforehand the easier way of doing is to go to your local bike shop and ask them for the pads online you will not be able to find such things and you might end up buying pads that may not be compatible with your brakes even though they might look very similar to the pads you are using.

So yeah you can combine and use different brands of brake parts including pads as well but you have to research it a little bit beforehand.

Why it’s necessary to use your own model-specific pads and not others :

Most of you guys might have this question “If other brake pads look the same and there are minor differences then why you are forced to use your brake model-specific pads and not others” that’s what I thought as well and here’s an easy-to-digest answer to that question

Pads come in all different shapes and thicknesses and all kinds of materials as well (organic, metallic,semi-metallic) the problem with using different types of pads that might look the same as yours are as follows

  • pads may rub on rotors unnecessarily
  • Brakes locking in
  • Pads may be too thin to provide any braking
  • pads may have a shorter or wider area of contact that can have negative effects on the rotor like brakes heating too often
  • pads may not clutch in firmly on the rotor

There are other tons of problems that can occur due to a wrong pad match and in most cases, this is the reason that they chew out the rotor or the braking power is too little.

Can you use metallic/semi-metallic pads in resin pads place or vice versa :

This is the most common mistake that people make when they are changing their pads or when a new season starts like the rainy season or snow season they start experimenting with their pads which is completely wrong

The perception that any pads can be used or replaced on bikes also falls in this perspective as well like whether or not you can use other material pads instead of what they came in with and the simple answer to this is

No, it’s not recommended to use other material pads instead of what the brakes came with for example if the brakes came with resins pads it just goes to show that they are resin pads compatible only unless the manufacturers have mentioned it in their instructions that you can use metallic or semi-metallic pads as well

this is quite common among bikers that they do these kinds of things and this is really bad for your brakes if a rotor is only resin pad compatible and you put metallic or semi-metallic pads on them they will chew out the rotor or they will bend the rotor too quickly this is especially true when you are using thin rotors like 1.5mm rotors

Your brakes will take no time chewing and bending that rotor on the other hand usually rotors are 1.8 mm thick and Magura makes 2mm thick rotors I think those rotors can stand that kind of pads so make sure that you read the instructions on your brakes before you equip them with pads that might not work with your brakes model

Conclusion :

Even though pads are different for each brake type and brand but if there isn’t something available on the internet that can fit your bike you should always ask your local bike shop or a mechanic for instructions if you are trying to buy pads on your own buying them online isn’t very suitable for the very first time and you may not find what’s compatible with your brakes model as well

So try not to do this online you will be wasting your money the other thing as I mentioned always make sure that you read your brake manual and if you dont have one read about them online on the manufacturer’s site if your brake models support other pads other than resins pads or not and make your purchases according to those specifications