Shimano disc brake pads: recommendations

I have 5800-series Shimano disc brakes on my road bikes and my pads don’t have much meat on them anymore. So I had a quick peek at Shimano’s website (for the R7000-series, but I figure they the pads are compatible) and they offer no less than 5. I know the difference between resin and metal pads, but it seems there are 5 different resin pads and 2 kinds of metal pads. What’s the difference between them?

(Currently, I have L02A resin pads on my road bike.)

Are they mechanical disc brakes? I don’t think 105 had hydraulic disc until the latest 7000 series.

If that is the case then I would see what kind of calipers you have and then finding the compatible pads.

Well, technically you are right. But they are 105-equivalent, even though Shimano did not brand them 105. (My groupset is a mix of 105 and 6800-series Ultegra components.)

The L02A pads that I currently have on my bike are listed as compatible with the R7000-series brakes, too, so I assume all of them will work.

I’ve always purchased the L03A resin pads and they are good, recommended by my LBS. I have the R8070 series tho. A quick Google search shows the 5800 series is not hydraulic disc, do you maybe have a different groupset? Having said that Shimano makes it very difficult to figure out which pads you need.


Yes, I am sure. Neither the STI levers nor the calipers are marked 105 (technically, they are BR-RS505), but as you can see from the web page, Shimano lists it part of its 5800-series. In any way (price, performance, etc.) they are 105-level parts. And they seem to accept the same brake pads as Shimano’s current generation of calipers.

Most pads will show what they are compatible with. Resin will be quieter and modulate a bit better whereas metal will last longer. As for the different resin pads :man_shrugging: I guess I never knew there were multiple resin pads. Are you saying it shows different resin for one particular brake pad or are you saying there are multiple resin and metal pads and wondering which ones go with your calipers?

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I’m not sure if this is the case here, but I know SRAM has multiple resin pads with the only difference being the material used for the plate the braking surface is bound to.

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There are 2 types of metal pads and 5 kinds of resin pads. I want to know how eg the 5 resin pads differ from one another.

My understanding is that while resin pads may offer better performance in dry conditions, metallic offer superior “all-around” braking (including the wet) and also last longer.

Someone correct me if I am wrong, but seem to remember reading that in the past.

This is on the chart on their website:


I don’t know if you have already seen this though.

The L02A pads are resin with the heat dissipating fins
The L04C pads are metallic with the fins
The K02S pads are resin without the fins
The K04S pads are metallic without the fins.

In general metallic pads have better stopping power at the cost of modulation and noise while resin will give up some raw stopping power for better modulation and are quieter. Resin will also wear much faster in wet and muddy conditions. I think resin pads are generally the norm in road application while metallic are more common in MTB and cross.

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There was a cycling tips podcast episode about disc brake pads quite recently … interesting stuff. Several takeaways:

  1. Road riders should almost always use resin pads. Metal pads can deal better with heat and are therefore much better on long descents with lots of braking… The downside is, their brake performance is worse than resin if they are cold, which is basically always except long descents.

  2. Bedding in of new brake pads is REALLY important. it improves brake performance and extends the lifespan of the pads 3-5 fold.

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I use L03A on mine and never had any issues. I’ve done long mountain descents in both freezing rain and scorching heat with no issues (and no squealing!)

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If using resin and not just doing flat riding get the ones with heat sinks. Heat makes braking worse and wears out the pads a bit faster. The heat sinks help with that. The effect might be minor but the price difference in minor too. (metal pads don’t do as well cold and handle heat better so heat sinks are a bit less important)

Mine squeal so bad!! Sometimes it sounds like metal on metal. I replace them often but to no avail. How long do rotors last? I’ve cleaned thinking it contaminated my new rotors but it still didn’t help. :man_shrugging:

Thanks, that answers my question. I guess the L03A are newer versions of the L02A. On (Japan) I couldn’t find the L02As anymore, so I ordered L03As.

I think there’s a lot of variables when it comes to how long rotors last. Mainly the conditions that you ride in. My disc bike is my Summer bike, so unless I get caught in a rain shower (I’m in the UK, so that’s a frequent occurrence) it’s mostly used for dry miles. I’ve had my rotors 2 year and they’re still going strong after around 3000 miles

Are your brakes squealing all the time or only in the wet? Mine aren’t silent in the wet, as they make a bit of noise when initially clearing the water from the rotor. But they’re definitely not as bad as some that I’ve heard. One of my buddies had some last year that sounded like someone was murdering a goose every time he had to stop!

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When you regularly clean your brake pads an eternity. On my almost 8-year-old mountain bike with 15,000+ km on it (I would estimate), I am still on my first pair. They can get damaged if stone, sand or mud gets lodged in between, which then act as an abrasive. Under normal circumstances, your brake pads are the sacrificial part. I reckon it is much more common to have to replace a rotor after a crash where the rotor gets bent out of shape.

Squealing is usually a sign of dirty pads and rotors. You should clean both regularly with alcohol. If you haven’t cleaned them in a very long time they might also be contaminated, and you may have to replace them. (Pads are porous, so they soak up oil and grime like a sponge.) Or they have overheated and become glassy. Although I wouldn’t expect that to happen on a road bike very often.

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This is what I was thinking. Get new pads and be more diligent about cleaning them and my rotors regularly.

I live in a hilly area so long descents cause them to start squealing and a lot of brake fade, bra I’m in Ultegra 8070 Disc. It’s interesting because my GRX brakes have been phenomenal, no noise and awesome stopping power.

Are they using the same type of pads (perhaps the GRX brakes come with metal pads as standard)? Even if it is hilly (I think the region I live in would also qualify, within a 100–150 km bike ride, I can do about 2,000–3,000 m of elevation if I wanted to), but even then, I would be surprised if your road bike brakes heat up to the same degree as MTB brakes.

Nevertheless, I guess it could happen, but probably contamination is more likely. You could try to clean your pads from the contamination, you’ll need alcohol, sand paper and shop towels, but since pads are porous, it is not a given that you will be able to salvage them. (Search on youtube if you are interested in the procedure.)