DP Brakes

Story by Glenn Roberts // Photos by Glenn Roberts & Tom Henry
October 13 2020

When brake pad replacement looms, definitely consider these advanced sintered pads.

When a friend of mine needed new brakes on his 2008 Harley-Davidson FLHX Street Glide with 160,000 km on the clock, he asked me what brand I’d recommend. Tom has owned his bike since new, so obviously he’s quite familiar with OEM brakes but thought he’d like to try something different.

DP Brakes are well known in the motorcycle industry, and its pads are original equipment on all Performance Machine, Arlen Ness and HHI calipers. In addition, DP Brakes produces sintered brake pads for practically every make and model of motorcycle on the road, some of which date back several decades. The Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster and FLH listings go back to 1973, and some Hondas and Suzukis back to ’71, for example. The company also makes pads for ATVs, snowmobiles, scooters and even mountain bikes.

DP Brakes’ advanced, long-lasting sintered brake pads are asbestos-free and made from a mix of metallic powders (absorbs heat), refractory material (provides friction), friction modifiers (better feel) and graphite (eliminates noise); these materials are accurately and evenly mixed together, pressed and formed to the appropriately shaped pad, then fused at high temperature and under high pressure. 

DP Brakes is unique in the industry and claims to be the only aftermarket manufacturer that focuses 100 per cent of its resources on developing and producing sintered metal pads.

Installation into Tom’s Street Glide was a cinch, as the replacement DP Brakes’ pads were an exact match – as you would expect for OEM replacement parts. The original rotors were slightly grooved from many years of use, dirt and grime, and by rights should have been machined or replaced. 

After installation, I went for a ride first, then handed the bike off to Tom. I spoke with him a few days later, after the pads were “seated in,” and he said he noticed a marked difference in braking performance and a solid feel compared with his OEM pads.

This test period took place over 3,500 km of combined city and highway riding. Tom noticed that the sintered pads left no residue or dust on his wheels over the course of the test. Anyone who has ever had whitewall tires knows the frustration of having brake dust sully their whitewalls. The pads also worked better and had a consistent firmer feel in the rain, whereas braking tended to fade in the wet with OEM pads.

Tom also didn’t hear any squealing during the test period. The pads were lubricated at the critical contact points upon installation, which will help reduce noise, but also the content of the pad actually can cause squealing. DP Brakes ensures proper distribution of its granular graphite to ensure the pad surface doesn’t squeal throughout its life span. 

Brake fade occurs when heat is transferred from the pad through the backing plate and to the caliper’s piston, which then heats up the piston seals and the brake fluid inside the caliper. OEM brakes use a stainless-steel radiator of sorts to pull heat away from the brakes because this is the least expensive way to dissipate heat. DP Brakes bonds its sintered pad material to the backing plate with a layer of ceramic (think: the space shuttle’s ceramic tiles), which is the best way to stop heat from transferring to the backing plate, and therefore not heat the fluid. Sintered pads like to be hot and fluid likes to be cool, and that prevents brake fade. That is a comforting feeling when persistent, heavy braking is needed, such as in heavy traffic or on twisty mountain roads.

After 3,500 km, we removed Tom’s brake pads for inspection and measuring – his brake pads’ wear measured only 0.02 mm. As an unexpected bonus, he noticed shortly after installation that the high spots of the grooves on his rotors seemed to be diminished. The pads had helped to slightly smooth out his rough rotors. (As mentioned earlier, the rotors should have been machined. If they had been, I suspect the pad wear may have been even less.)

DP Brakes’ website claims its pads last three times longer than most other pads. I can’t attest to that without testing other pads side-by-side. But I can say that the wear on Tom’s brake pads was negligible. The bottom line is that he said wholeheartedly that he’d buy pads from DP Brakes again.

Check them out at dp-brakes.com. Prices vary depending on make and model. DP Brakes are available from any motorcycle shop that sells parts from Parts Canada or Drag Specialties. DP Brakes also manufactures complete clutch kits for many makes and models, as well as brake rotors for certain models.

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