Ultegra Pads are rubbish in the wet

by Sensible   October 22, 2013  

I have a Giant TCR advanced with full Ultegra kit and Gian P-SL1 wheels. My only complaint is that the Ultegra brakes are rubbish in the wet. Is it possible to replace the pads for something better. If so, do you have any suggestions.

17 user comments

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I've descended off of Pyrenean climbs in horrendous conditions (ref: Vuelta stage this year) with no problems, have you been keeping the rims clean? Any amount of grime from the road surface won't help things when it dries on.

posted by mb429 [75 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 16:47

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Swiss Stops. Green or Salmon. About £30 a set iirc though. Mine (green) have lasted ages so far tbh, 6 months limited wear on pads.

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posted by downfader [204 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 16:52

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mb429 wrote:
I've descended off of Pyrenean climbs in horrendous conditions (ref: Vuelta stage this year) with no problems, have you been keeping the rims clean? Any amount of grime from the road surface won't help things when it dries on.

A good point.

A little detergent (FS10 or Citrus wash) on a cloth or paper towel is my prefered method. Wipe the whole rim around as sometimes you can pick up a little oil off the road, as well as the usual grit and brake dust.

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posted by downfader [204 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 16:54

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downfader wrote:
Swiss Stops. Green or Salmon. About £30 a set iirc though. Mine (green) have lasted ages so far tbh, 6 months limited wear on pads.

Will have a look at them..thanks.

posted by Sensible [60 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 19:38

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mb429 wrote:
I've descended off of Pyrenean climbs in horrendous conditions (ref: Vuelta stage this year) with no problems, have you been keeping the rims clean? Any amount of grime from the road surface won't help things when it dries on.

It can't be that, I am quite meticulous about keeping my bike clean, including the rims. I had wondered if Ultegra pads were too hard and a softer set would grip the wheel better. Has anyone else had a problem in the wet or is it just me.

posted by Sensible [60 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 19:40

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I'm with mb429. I have had Ultegra brake pad on my commute bike since new and the only time I have had problems with them is when the wheels are caked in old brake grime and dirt etc and its REALLY wet. I find they work really well wet or dry if the contact area is clean

As it sounds like you keep you bike in good working order I am guessing the brakes pads are well aligned on the contact area? Certainly a weird one for you to have problems and a couple of us not.

Hope you either work out whats wrong or find some that work for you.

posted by Tinternet_tim [85 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 20:33

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My experience is that Shimano pads don't work very well in the wet and they wear away quickly. I have heard rumours they are abrasive and wear rims prematurely as well. I swap them for Swiss Stop and braking seems better.

posted by earth [104 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 20:40

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I had massive problems in the wet with my Bianchi rims. Put some Swiss Greens on and it helped a bit. I bought some Fulcrum 5's and the bike stops loads better. I found it a bit too late but there is some brake putty that takes the dirt and muc off the rims. I also found moving the brakes shoes around on the rim helped as did giving them a sand. One bike mechanic told me to put one shoe slightly up and one down - makes the shoes bite more evenly on cantilever brakes - apparently pro riders do this - however I cant remember what side goes upwards!

posted by dunnoh [176 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 20:43

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The SwissStop rim rubber is ideal for cleaning alloy rims, and is esp effective used in conjunction with SwissStop brake pads. Also very useful is the Tacx brake-shoe alignment jig, which assures perfect toe-in.

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posted by harman_mogul [148 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 21:12

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Kool-Stop Dura 2 dual compound salmon & black. Excellent and about £9/pair.

Park Tool and many others recommend using a rubber band for setting toe-in, it's a lot cheaper than a special tool.

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posted by Simon E [2031 posts]
23rd October 2013 - 10:20

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downfader wrote:
Swiss Stops. Green or Salmon. About £30 a set iirc though. Mine (green) have lasted ages so far tbh, 6 months limited wear on pads.

A little cheaper (even with postage) here.
(Anecdotal data point - no problems with Ultegra pads on Fulcrum rims in 2 years)

posted by Dr_Lex [151 posts]
23rd October 2013 - 12:28

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Have a look at Disco brakes , I've been using them for several years with no problems and they are fairly cheap. I like the red ones.

http://www.discobrakes.com/?s=0&t=2&c=52&p=283&

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [309 posts]
23rd October 2013 - 14:20

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I've got Ultegra on a winter bike, the brakes were always fairly unimpressive in the wet compared to my 'proper' bike with Campagnolo on it...I had always just assumed this was one of those shimano things.

The pads were wearing out so getting the bike ready for winter I have replaced them with (don't laugh) Clarks and the power and modulation I got from them is a bit of revelation (on the one ride so far), it certainly inspired confidence coming down Mamhead in the wet the other night.

They came at a fraction of the cost of the swisstop ones, the only thing time will tell is their longevity.

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posted by William Black [196 posts]
23rd October 2013 - 18:37

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I had some Disco brake blocks in the past, not bad, but I got a better winter bike and was similarly disappointed by the stock Ultegra pads. After reading a lot of recommendations from others I put Swisstop Greens on it. Since then I have done over 2000km in all sorts of weather and they have hardly worn, nor have the rims. I'm really not sure how they do that! Impressive bite even in the rain.

I also clean the rims every time I ride in the wet, and occasionally with a tissue dampened with vinegar, which does an excellent job. And sand the pads with a nail file, perfect.

I use an old ski pass card (a credit card also works) to get the required 0.5mm toe-in. It's easy once you get used to it.

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posted by drmatthewhardy [382 posts]
23rd October 2013 - 18:53

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Good advice from you all....may well look at getting some Swiss Stop pads.

This morning I had my wheels off ti change my tyres (Conti GP 4000S) so had a good look at my pads. I saw that there were bits of aluminium swarf embedded into the surface of the pads. Dont know exactly where that has come from as my rims dont look warn or damaged. Maybe it was out of the rim wear indicator holes.

Anyway, I have prised the bits out of the pads and roughed them slightly with some fine emery cloth abd will see if that makes any difference.

posted by Sensible [60 posts]
26th October 2013 - 15:05

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Swissstop BXP (BLUE) for Allow rims... Used all summer on Campags and now in serious rain on a club run last weekend with some cheaper wheels that came with my bike at purchase .. they work.

I also found alloy particles in my old brake blocks.. not finding them in the Swisstops yet.

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posted by willdeath [28 posts]
26th October 2013 - 23:11

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+1 for Swiss Stop green, although I had to use their standard (blue or black) compound on the rear to get rid of a nasty squeal.

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posted by Gasman Jim [63 posts]
27th October 2013 - 8:04

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