If Ever There Was a No-Brainer

If ever there was a no-brainer, this is it. I just replaced the stock Tektro pads on my LHT with Kool Stop salmon pads and the improvement in braking was almost startling. If you have anything other than high-end racing calipers or boutique brakes that come stock with high-quality pads (in other words, if you’re riding almost any off-the-shelf commuter with cantilever, linear-pull, or dual-pivot brakes), do yourself a favor and go out and buy yourself a set of Kool Stop salmon pads ASAP. Replacing your stock brake pads with Kool Stop salmons is one of the best bang-for-the-buck modifications you can make to any bike (particularly if your stock pads are worn).

I buy my Kool Stops at Gold Country Cyclery. Harris Cyclery stocks a good selection too. Both shops do mail order if you can’t find them at your local bike shop (not too likely).

Kool Stop

22 Responses to “If Ever There Was a No-Brainer”

  • Rick Steele says:

    Not only are they better brake shoes/pads with better performance, but won’t eat the rim brake surface. I only stock Kool Stops as I believe they are the best quality.

    Kool Stops have Dura-type and Campy pads as well and they do work well with road calipers. Shimano has improved their road pads some, but have been known to grind down rims.

    Happy the pad change was worth it.

    Gold Country Cyclery

  • ksteinhoff says:

    Was it a direct replacement for the stock LHT pads or did you have to order anything else? Do you have a part, stock or model number?

    Down here in flat FL, just about anything will stop you, but I noticed that I had slightly more difficulty stopping when I was riding in hills.

  • Alan says:

    Hey Ken,

    For the LHT you want Kool Stop part no. “KS-MTTSA Mountain Salmon Threaded”. The KS-MTTSA is a straight bolt-on replacement, no additional parts are necessary. Of course, others will need to choose the model that’s a direct replacement for the stock pads on their particular bikes.


    PS – You’ll notice the most difference with these pads in wet conditions.

  • Ows says:


    I hope to God Kool Stop are paying you for that, because you write GREAT ad copy!!
    I want a set now!!



  • Aaron says:

    Do the Kool Stop pads generate any dust? I’ve got Avid Shorty 4’s on my Cross Check, and they get everything nasty with dust. The rim, tire, even the fork is just covered in this grimy black stuff. If you touch it you get it on your hands and its hard to wash off.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    My husband got those on his roadbike and never looked back; I am about to install them on mine as well.

  • Alan says:


    That “dust” is probably metal – it sounds like your pads are eating your rims. As Rick mentioned above, Kool Stops are easier on rims than most other pads, so you should see a reduction in the amount of black gunk coming from your brakes.


  • Aaron says:

    Yikes! I guess I’d better get rid of those Avid pads asap then. The wheels are Mavic A719’s w/ XT hubs built by Peter White. Be an awful waste to have them burned out by some cheap brakes.

  • Johnny says:

    Amen, Alan. I waited two weeks after getting my new Jamis to order my KSs, and three of the four braking surfaces got galls in them in the meantime. I usually prefer the black because they’re a little quieter, but I think I’ll go back to salmon for the winter. With their better stopping power, better materials to not grind down your rims, you’d think they’d be expensive. But, in my experience, they’re no more expensive than the crap Tektro puts on there.

  • donald stewart says:

    In the soggy northwest we are always looking for something that will stop us a little faster since both the rims and the road surfaces are always wet and often oily. The pads won’t solve either of those problems but if they just do a good job of what they are supposed to do it is bond to help.


  • Dave says:

    I bought Kool Stop pads when I was building my latest bike, but I didn’t get the salmon pads because they were packaged as being wet whether pads. I got the black, dry weather pads. They also have pads that are 50/50 black/salmon. So was I mislead about the salmon pads? Are they ok for dry weather? They won’t get chewed up?

  • Alan says:

    Salmons are grabbier. Because they’re so grabby, they can cause some brakes to squeal if not set up just right. That’s the only situation I’m aware of that would indicate the use of the black compound over the salmon. This is what Sheldon Brown said about the Kool Stop salmon formula:

    “Despite the superior design of Kool Stopbrake shoes, for years, Scott-Mathauser brake shoes were the finest available, due to their patented salmon-colored rubber formula. (The “secret ingredient” is iron oxide, a.k.a. “rust”, which is what gave them their distinctive color.
    Even though they were ugly and had crude hardware, they were favorites of knowledgeable cyclists for their superior stopping power and durability.

    Scott-Mathauser brake shoes were manufactured under contract by Kool Stop, but the hardware and shoe shape was determined by Scott-Mathauser. The less expensive Scott-Mathauser shoes had rather clunky mounting hardware; the deluxe models were overpriced and featured bogus “cooling fins.” Despite these limitations, the very special Scott-Mathauser compound was so much better than anything else available, that Scott-Mathauser brake shoes were widely recognized as the best perfomers in their day…

    …but Scott-Mathauser brake shoes are no longer available!

    Now, the un-equalled Scott compound is available in the excellent Kool Stop designs. The “salmon” colored Kool Stop models are the ones made with the Scott-Mathauser material..

    The traditional Kool Stop compounds and colors remain available, but we strongly recommend the salmon-colored Scott type.”

  • Don says:

    I’ve used Kool Stop salmon brake pads for 4-5 years on all my bikes commuting year around and would highly recommend them in wet and dry conditions for their performance and durability.

  • Opus the Poet says:

    I prefer the black compound in TX because it is a touch easier on the rims in dusty conditions (which are common around here even on “paved” roads), but I agree there is nothing like the salmon compound for wet weather.

  • kit says:

    Crazy you just posted this, I just ordered a set of these for my Surly LHT yesterday, but I’ve just realized I ordered side pull holders instead of V-Brake. I’m an idiot.

  • Marc says:

    There are also salmon brake shoes available under the Yokozuna brand, which use the Scott-Mathauser compound, and have replaceable shoes:


    I recently put a set of these on my commuter. They do work very well, and seem to provide significantly better braking than the standard-issue black shoes that came on the bike, wet or dry (but especially wet).

  • kit says:

    Well, after a flurry of emails, phone calls, and web searches I ended up getting the Kool-Stop “Cross” Cartridge Dura-style Brake Pads/Shoes. I wanted to do it up right with a cartridge from a waste and simplicity standpoint, so we’ll see how they turn out on my Surly.

    Supposedly Yokozuna makes a good pair as well, but their salmon pads are sold out domestically right now.

  • Ladia says:

    Durability is other site of good brake pads. What counts is one year round cost of your pads consumed by daily biking.

  • Apertome says:

    I’m late to the conversation, but I am another Kool Stop fan. The salmon pads definitely have the most stopping power, but I’ve found the black ones are quite nice as well. The black pads are nice and firm — I switched from a black Kool Stop pad to a salmon one on my rear brake and it felt squishy for a while. I’m used to it now, but when it comes time to get new pads again, I might go back to the black ones. I used to like the soft feel of the salmon pads, but now I think the squishiness bothers me a little.

    You can’t go wrong with either pad, and both are far superior to the ones that came stock on my LHT.

  • L.J. says:

    Depends on how long the salmon pads have been sitting before being sold. In my case, I had to lightly sand the pads and bed them in like I would with disc brakes before they would even slow down the bike. Stopped great in the stand but not with somebody riding the bike at any speed. Salmons are better for wet performance. But to be honest, the inexpensive rubber compounds from Bell, Jagwire Basics, BBB, etc…although faster wearing, provide even better braking with less pressure/modulation and noise at half the price. And that’s comparing them with the various Kool Stops I’ve purchased [Eagle Claws, MTN dual compound, Supra 2, thinlines, etc in Salmon, Black, color pads (red, blue, silver, yellow), or dual combos] and on different types of bikes. Granted the Kool Stops will last longer and the pads will brake better than most OEM pads, but don’t overlook other options.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Yuba Mundo V3 says:

    […] Promax V-brakes are sufficiently stiff, though I’d suggest swapping out the brake pads for KoolStop salmon pads. Yuba offers a disc brake upgrade option ($85) that I’d highly recommend for anyone who will […]

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    Very late to the party but I have to put my vote out for Tectonic brake shoes. I think they’re a mix of the salmon compound with two others, but they work better than anything else I’ve ever tried.

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