Mike Blewitt puts AMP's brake pads to the test.
Photos: Mike Blewitt
As Ben Morrison discussed in his Galfer rotors and brake pads review, there is a lot of performance to be gained in choosing the right disc brake pad and rotor to suit your riding, your trails and your braking system. These days, stock brake pads are pretty good. Actually, for the big brands they are really good. But just like for every part of your bike, if you're chasing a little more performance, there are options out there that can deliver a bit more of what you're after.
All Mountain Project (AMP) is the vision of two composite engineers from France. They wanted better performance, and felt the use of carbon fiber for brake backing plates may be part of it. The benefits include a lower weight, better heat regulation (and less transfer into the piston and oil) and even a stiffer pad for better performance. AMP's website states that there is “no heat, no vibrations. Silence.”
To me, that's a big claim. I was sent a pair of the organic compound and one of the ceramic compound from the Australian distributor, Full Beam Australia, to test them out. Pads are available for Shimano Deore, SLX, XT and XTR models, SRAM Level, SRAM Level Ultimates, Magura MT2, MT4, MT6 and MT8, and Formula Cura, Mega and The One.
The pads don't come in a flashy vacuum sealed package, it's just unpainted cardboard, folded to house the two pads and return spring. It's neat, light, functional – and easily recyclable. And that's important to AMP, who are also working to provide brake pad recycling options wherever their pads are sold. In France, their pads come with a prepaid postage label, so you can post them back to be recycled.
The pads are a little lighter than stock brake pads with weight, with claimed weights as low as 13.7g. But unless you're really counting grams, that's not the reason to invest in these brake pads. These will clearly be lighter than something like a Shimano IceTech pad with cooling fins, but you're not quite comparing apples with apples in that case.
With a minimal bedding in process, both brake pads felt good on the first rides. I really liked how the Organic compound had improved modulation over the stock brake pads. Obviously it is difficult to match the exact braking scenarios, but the lever feel was more positive both at initial pad contact, and further into the stroke. I didn't get any vibrations or severe noise – but I didn't on the stock pads either. In the wet, the organic pads were possibly a little quieter than stock, but not silent.
The Ceramic compound took a tiny bit longer to bed in than the Organic, but not much. It does have a different lever feel, but in the same way that most sintered brake pads too. These ones really did improve the brake feel. I had noticeably more power and no less modulation – although the initial grab of this pad is greater than the Organic compound. While here in south-east Queensland, brake fad isn't much of a thing unless you're silly enough to see what lies beyond some old fire breaks, I did have more consistent braking on longer descents. I suspect this is based on better lever feel and a more positive response overall. But the result for me as a rider was that I had greater confidence in the brakes, despite being a very light two piston brake set.
There are no finned options like a Shimano IceTech system, and while AMP's graphs show excellent cooling, I didn't test these on a demanding alpine descent to quantify how their heat dissipation works – but I never had any brake fade, even on descents around the 6-7 minute mark. Still, given brake pads are a consumable, if you're interested in finding better performance, I'd certainly recommend these as an upgrade next time you're due new pads. I was really impressed by the brake feel and overall performance.
- Great lever feel
- Excellent modulation
- Increased power
- Slightly premium pricing
- No finned options
Price: $44.95 for Organic, $59.95 for Ceramic
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