People who know me, know I owned a cycle shop for a number of years and I was a big fan of BBB products during that time. For years I advocated every customer should use their brake pads, particularly the triple compound Techstop as I thought they were the simply the best I’d ever used. Regularly, customers were converted to them or convinced to try them and I’d say they’d never went back once they had tasted something other than Shimano!
When I closed the shop, I had a set of these knocking about, the BBS-22HP, their top of the line brake pad set. They boasted 30% better braking performance and with their blingy white and blue, I nabbed them for spares for some point down the line.
Fast forward to last week and I was getting my bike ready for my Alps trip and I wanted good braking. New pads needed then! I remembered I had these so I retrieved them from the post-shop stash I have.
Fitting them was simple enough. They are Shimano compatible so it was a case of undoing each grub screw that helps retain the pads in their shoes. I slipped the original Dura-Ace pads out and popped the BBB pads in. They are directional, each pad indicates this for simplicity. Pads in, a 2mm allen key to do the grub screws up and that was that. Wheels in, check alignment, done. It took 5 minutes.
TIP: its so much easier to swap pads if you leave the shoes on the brake calipers and just take the wheels out to access them and don’t undo the grub screws completely
Before I left for the Alps, I’d planned at least a quick spin to try the bike and the new pads but weather, work and other commitments didn’t give me the chance. The bike was bagged and the next time I was reunited with it was building it in the basement of my hotel.
If you read my blog of Day 1 in Les Gets, you’ll have read I decided to ascend Mont Chery on my first day. This climb boasts a significant portion of 20% gradient which although lung-bustingly hard going up proved equally tough coming down.
My first taste of the pads was on the descent, I feathered the brakes for the first hairpin and immediately I noticed the stopping power or the grip applied to the rim was substantial, border line incredible actually. As the descent steepened midway, I gained a lot more speed and applied the brakes for longer and progressively harder as the next hairpin approached. No snatch, just linear braking power applied with great feel through the lever. I was happy.
Back down I popped up the otherside of the valley to a dead end but the road back down was more traditional. Flatter hairpins, wider road and a reasonable 8% approx. gradient. This allowed me to open up the taps a bit on the descent and again the pads proved an asset. Even when I was looking like over-cooking a bend and needed to drift (not closed roads) out, a bit more pressure and my speed was simply corrected, no fuss or threat of a skid. I was quickly gaining confidence. This was tested to the full when I descended the Col de la Ramaz just yesterday. I billed it as my favourite descent of the week so far. So confident was I with my braking, I whisked down the descent touching the brakes singing AC/DC to myself. Just perfect. Were these the best pads I have ever used? Are they better than my beloved triple compounds the BBS-22T’s?
One stand-out fact about the BBS-22T’s I love and tell everyone is how well they wear in all conditions. Particularly cyclo-cross. Some pads will disappear in just one muddy cross race, the BBB’s last. Now I don’t intend to use these for cross but having descended 8500m on them in the last few days, I can say the rate of wear is right up there. The only feature of them to note is your rims will gain a line of blue dust as a result of pad wear but I’m not even complaining about that, they look just great.
After a very unscientific road test I conclude, for road use only, these are the best pads I have ever used. The 30% gain in braking power I can’t quantify other than say it is significant. They wear well and the blingy white and blue look do stand out if you want sexy brake pads to complement your steed. For me, braking on descents peppered with 180 degree hairpin bends and remaining safe were the most important things this week and they did that. They have boosted my confidence going downhill after so many years away from the Alps. Just an awesome upgrade. Highly recommended.
Now go and buy a set and see for yourself.