Best Brake Pads for Carbon Wheels

Best Brake Pads for Caarbon Wheels

A carbon wheel will have a special carbonized braking surface that requires a carbon-specific brake pad. I was recently in the market to purchase a new set of carbon brake pads because I wore out my current ones. They were not breaking as well as they should, and the problem became worse every time it rained.

When I took them out to examine them, I realized that the brake pad markers were all but invisible now, and hard particles of dirt had made a home in the braking surface of the pads.

I did a bit of searching around to find the best brake pads for carbon wheels that I could use in my commuter bike. Here is what I found.

If you are here only for my top recommendation, I suggest buying Swiss Stop. Almost every forum and cycling expert would tell you that these are the best brake pads out there for any kind of wheel. They give you significantly more linear braking and better feathering too. The deep groves give you a lot of traction on slippery surfaces and wet conditions, which was my original problem.

Best Brake Pads for Carbon Wheels

#1 Swiss Stop

SwissStop Black is my recommendation to buy if you are not bothered about money. I have been using these brake pads for over a year and have found that they give me excellent modulation and their performance on wet roads is simply amazing. Not once have I felt a lack of braking power when riding in the rain. When I was installing, I saw that the brake pads have much deeper grooves in them, which is why they do so well on slippery surfaces.


  • Bolt-Ons
  • High modulation
  • Deep Grooves
  • Easier to apply brakes

Carbon Rims: Be sure to buy the carbon specific (black ones) for your carbon wheels. These can fit with all rimmed carbon wheels.

Linear Braking: Due to the high linear braking of these carbon rim pads, you won’t need to press too hard on your braking levers to get the desired output. The rim pads are better at translating braking power from the lever than most other pads I have worked with.

Better Feathering: Since the force required to slow the cycle is lower, it is easier to feather the brakes. Feathering is when brakes are applied and released rapidly and very lightly, ensuring that you do not lock the wheel while braking.

Fitment: The brake pads will fit both the Shimano and Sram style of wheels.


  • Better linear braking
  • Better feathering
  • It fits both Shimano and SRAM
  • Deeper grooves for better friction
  • Very little squeaking


  • The mileage of the pads is a bit lower than you might expect

If you are looking for the best brake pads for carbon wheels, look no further. The kind of braking control that these pads give, coupled with their deeper grooves which hold the wheels even in wet and slippery conditions, is amazing. The only reason why you might not want to buy them is that they do cost a bit high.

#2 VeloChampion Carbon Rim Brake Pads

If you think that the Swiss Stop brake pads that I suggested above are priced outside your budget, then VeloChampion has a great set of brake pads for carbon-rimmed cycles that are price sensitive and still high performing.


  • Composite Polymer composition
  • Compatible with tubular or clincher rims
  • Compatible with Shimano Dura-Ace, 105 and Ultegra and all SRAM’s

Composite Polymer: The problem with carbon fiber rims is that they generate a lot of heat while braking. That is why braking pads need to be compatible with that level of heat. Composite polymer helps the pads to withstand the heat.

Tubular and clincher Rims: Clincher rims are tubeless, whereas, as the name suggests, tubular rims require an inflated tube to operate. Nonetheless, these brake pads are compatible with both types of tires.

Shimano/SRAM: If you are worried about compatibility with your bike, these brake pads are compatible with both the Shimano and SRAM configuration.


  • High Heat Resistant
  • Compatible with all types of wheels


  • There is a bit of squeaking that you will observe when you install them, but it goes away with a bit of time.

This is an amazing option for those looking for a good value-for-money product. They last almost as long as the Swiss Stops but are nearly one-fourth the price, and if you don’t use your carbon fiber wheels as much, they are a surefire bargain.

#3 PPINA Brake Pads

Suppose your primary concern is wet weather and braking failure due to water. In that case, this braking pad offers a ceramic fiber compound-based material that is excellent at holding traction even when water acts as a lubricant on your wheel.


  • Ceramic Fiber Compound
  • High Heat resistance
  • Compatible with Shimano

Heat Resistant: We discussed Composite polymer earlier in the article. Another good material that manufacturers use for brake pads is ceramic fiber compound. This material is also very good at handling the high heat offered by carbon rim tires.

Better Protection Against Water: In rainy weather, your tires start to slip due to lack of resistance. The same thing happens to brake pads. Also, they start to slip when you apply brakes to the rim. These brake pads are designed with a special compound that is water-resistant, thereby giving you a superior grip in rainy weather.

Shimano Compatible: These brake pads are great for Shimano-style brake pad holders; they may not work with other models, so be careful before purchasing.


  • High Heat Resistant
  • Better braking during rainy weather
  • Compatible with all Shimano Models
  • Inexpensive


  • They are a bit harder, so they wear out quicker than superior brands like Swiss Stop.

This is yet another low-priced option to a Swiss Stop for your Shimano-style carbon-rimmed wheels. They are great at wet handling conditions, and the special ceramic fiber compound used to produce them is resistant to high heat.

#4 Aurora Racing Brake Pads

Suppose your primary concern is wet weather and braking failure due to water. In that case, this braking pad offers a ceramic fiber compound-based material that is excellent at holding traction even when water acts as a lubricant on your wheel.


  • Composite Polymer pads
  • High Heat resistance
  • Compatible with all tubular and clincher wheels

Heat Resistant: The brake pads are extremely effective in the high heat conditions generated in a carbon rim.

Compatibility: They can work well with all tubular and clincher types of tires.

Reduced glazing: Glazing is the formation of a layer of snow under the pads due to intense heat generated by carbon fiber. Glazing can cause the brake pads not to function properly. These brake pads are resistant to glazing because they are resistant to heat.

Easy installation: Installing these brake pads is a breeze. You just need to unscrew the fixing screw, push out the old pads, install these and close the screw.


  • High Heat Resistant
  • Prevents glazing
  • Compatible with all tires
  • Easy installation
  • Low squeaking


  • The braking power is slightly lower than a high-quality brand like Swiss Stop.

If you live in areas that receive a bit of snowfall in the winter months, these brake pads might be perfect for you. They are compatible with all types of tires and can easily be installed with the four-step process mentioned earlier.

#5 Gray Road Bike Brake Pads

If you are looking for a brake pad that can give you a lot of mileage, Gray road is a good option. As per some reviewers, this product can last even more than the Swiss Stops that I think are the best in the market.


  • Two sets of brake pads (both front and rear)
  • High Heat resistance
  • Low wear and tear
  • Compatible with Campagnolo, SRAM, and Shimano road bikes

Heat Resistant: The brake pads are very effective in high heat conditions of a carbon rim wheel.

Compatibility: They can work well with road bikes of Campagnolo, SRAM, and Shimano

Longer Life: The soft material of these brake pads is light on your bike wheels. Remember, the softer the brake pad, the easier the brake, and therefore less damage to the carbon rim wheel.


  • High Heat Resistant
  • Long life
  • Easy installation


  • They can be a bit noisy, at least initially.

As I mentioned earlier, these are very soft brake pads. You can expect them to work longer for you than normal braking pads; however, remember that the softness compromises the braking power. So these may not be great for mountain bikes.

Buyer’s Guide: Best Brake Pads for Carbon Wheels

Material Used

Carbon brake pads have to be highly resistant to heat because carbon fiber rims generate a lot of heat in their operation. Two materials are generally preferred: composite polymer and ceramic fiber. Brake pads made from these materials are generally good at handling heat.

5 Best Brake Pads for Carbon Wheels


All brake pads are not compatible with all bikes. Check whether your bike needs Shimano-style brake pads or SRAM style. Also, check if the tires are clinchers or tubular tires. Some brake pads may not work with tubular tires.

Water Resistance

Water on the road can be a major problem. It can reduce the friction between the brake pad and the rim, making it difficult to brake the bike. Always look for brake pads that have a high water resistance so that they can work well in rainy conditions.

If you live in a place that gets a lot of snow, you should also check the performance of the brake pad concerning glazing.


Squeaking is the sound that you get when you apply your brakes. To be fair, no brake pad can completely do away with squeaking, but some are more adept at reducing the noise rather than others. If you are bothered with jarring noises, you should check how squeaky a brake pad is from online reviews.

Frequently Asked Questions: Best Brake Pads for Carbon Wheels

Can I Use Carbon Brake Pads on Alloy Rims?

The short answer is no. When used with aluminum rims, carbon brake pads tend to pick up small bits of aluminum shards, which can damage your carbon rim, causing them to wear and reduce their longevity.

Buying Guide for Best Brake Pads for Carbon Wheels

How Do I Reduce the Squealing Noise During Braking?

Your brake pads might be squealing when braking because there is a bit of friction between the brake pad and the rim. There are many ways to solve this problem:

  • You can apply a bit of grease to the surface of the pad
  • You can use brake pad shims to ensure that the brake pad cannot move while braking. Shims will also have a thin layer of rubber on them to absorb any noise
  • Sometimes the pads are misaligned, which you can correct manually by taking them out and then correcting the pad holders
  • Lastly, one option could be to change the pads simply. There might be a bit of dirt or metal residue on the pads that could be causing the noise.

How Long Do Carbon Rims Last With Rim Brakes?

Most of us grew up expecting an alloy rim wheel to last at least three to five years. Carbon fiber rims are different. They can last as long as there is no permanent damage to the resin and carbon fiber bonding. Carbon is durable and does not wear out like aluminum.

Wrap Up

This article has selected the five best brake pads for carbon wheels based on my personal experiences, reviews, and ratings online.

In my opinion, Swiss Stop is the best braking pad because of its high heat and water resistance and longevity.

VeloChampion brake pads are another excellent choice. They are also resistant to heat and compatible with most types of bikes.

If you are looking for a value for money option, you can also consider the Aurora Racing brake pads, which offer a great deal and features at a very reasonable price point.

Written by Lee Hill

Best Rain Pants for Bike Commuting

Best Rain Pants for Bike Commuting

Best Bike Helmet Covers for Rain

Best Bike Helmet Covers for Rain