Shimano disc brake pad types and compatibility

Posted at: Feb 13, 2023

This section summarizes the types of Shimano disc brake pads, the differences between models, and compatible brake calipers.

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How to read the model number of Shimano disc brake pads

The model number of Shimano disc brake pads is based on the rule “[pad shape][generation][plate material]-[pad material]”.

For example, “K04Ti-MX” would be as follows

  1. the “Narrow Type K” shape pad
  2. the 4th generation
  3. titanium back plate
  4. metal pad

Pad shapes include “Narrow Type K”, “Narrow Type L”, “Narrow Type G”, and “Narrow Type J”, where the standard on the brake caliper side determines the pad shape.

As for the generation, the newer the generation, the higher the wear resistance tends to be.

For the back plate, there are “Ti (titanium),” “C (composite = composite material),” “S (stainless steel),” “A (aluminum),” etc., which affect the weight and heat dissipation performance.

As for pad materials, “M (metal)” or “R (resin)” is basically used, but “RF (resin friction)” is also available in the new generation. If the pad itself has radiator fins, “F (Fin)” is added at the end, but there are also finned pads without -F.

If the model number does not include a hyphen, it is basically a resin pad.

Shimano disc brake calipers for road use and corresponding disc pad model numbers

Disc pads for Shimano’s road-oriented disc brake calipers are available in three types: “Narrow Type K,” “Narrow Type L,” and “Narrow Type G” for each type.

The current generation has two choices: “Narrow Type K (without fins)” or “Narrow Type L (with fins).” “Narrow Type K (without fins)” or “Narrow Type L (with fins)” are interchangeable only with or without fins.

The “Narrow Type G” is for older generation disc brakes.

Model number Material Pad shape Piston type Fin BR-R9170 BR-R8070 BR-R7070 BR-4770 BR-RS805 BR-RS505 BR-RS405 BR-RS305 BR-RX810 BR-RX400 BR-CX77 BR-RS785 BR-R785 BR-R517 BR-R317
K05Ti-RX Resin NarrowK 2 piston
K04Ti-MX Metal NarrowK 2 piston
K04S-MX Metal NarrowK 2 piston
K03S Resin NarrowK 2 piston
K03Ti Resin NarrowK 2 piston
L05A-RF Resin NarrowL 2 piston
L04C-MF Metal NarrowL 2 piston
L03A Resin NarrowL 2 piston
G04Ti-MX Metal NarrowG 2 piston
G04S-MX Metal NarrowG 2 piston
G03A Resin NarrowG 2 piston
G03S Resin NarrowG 2 piston

The choice would be whether to select the L series with radiator fins or the K series without. Next, the material of the back plate and padding will determine which model you choose.

When replacing pads, pay attention to the pads that are compatible with the disc rotors.

In Shimano’s disc brake system, the choice of rotors depends on whether the caliper side has narrow or wide pads. This is because if the calipers are compatible with wide pads, rotors for narrow pads cannot be used.

Also, some rotors may have “resin only” compatible pads, so if you are using resin only rotors and replace them with metal pads, you will need to replace the rotors with metal compatible rotors as well.

Keep in mind that which pads you choose will also affect the rotors.

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