absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads graphene-infused disc brake pads promise fade-free performance

The new absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads disc brake pads use an all-new combination of graphene-coated-and-finned back plates and graphene-infused pad compounds to reduce heat and prevent brake fade.

After three years of development and testing, they say these new brake pads offer up to 35% better braking performance by keeping them much cooler during prolonged descents. Their research showed that heat buildup was the number one reason for reduced braking performance, so the combination of materials and design promise to keep initial bite and power modulation consistent even in heavy use.

absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads disc brake pads for Shimano Dura-Ace

GRAPHENpads for Shimano Dura-Ace brake calipers. The angle of the cuts produces the illusion that they’re very thin when viewed from the right angle.

The pad compound uses a “specially modified graphene” which offers good friction and durability while also transferring heat to the backing plates more efficiently. And, it’s free of copper, which they note becomes dust during braking, and that dust is toxic to marine life and will be banned in California starting in 2025. It’s also quiet.

absoluteBLACK developed and is manufacturing their pads and compounds in Europe, drawing on automotive tech that’s already seeing graphene used as a higher-performance copper alternative.

absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads disc brake pads for SRAM AXS road and gravel brakes

absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads disc brake pads for SRAM AXS road and gravel brake calipers.

The graphene-coated steel backing plates use a patented angled cut on the finned radiators to pull heat up and away from the pads and calipers. The shapes and designs of the fins vary by model and come on all versions except for Shimano Deore brakes.

As they explain further down, air flow is key to temperature regulation, but they say graphene’s extremely high thermal conductivity is what pulls so much more heat away from the pads and up to the fins for quicker, more complete cooling.

GRAPHENpad models & pricing

absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads disc brake pads for SRAM G2 mountain bike brakes

GRAPHENpads for SRAM G2 mountain bike brakes. These and the XTR pads below use straight cuts, not angled, so they look thin when viewed straight on.

The absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads brake pads will be offered in five versions, all prices are per wheel:

  • Disc 34 – For Shimano Dura-Ace ($62.99 / £49.99 / €59.99)
  • Disc 35 – For SRAM eTap AXS ($62.99 / £49.99 / €59.99)
  • Disc 27 – For Shimano XTR ($49.99 / £39.99 / €47.99)
  • Disc 31 – For SRAM G2 ($49.99 / £39.99 / €47.99)
  • Disc 15 – For Shimano Deore ($37.99 / £29.99 / €35.99)
absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads disc brake pads for Shimano XTR mountain bike brakes

GRAPHENpads for Shimano XTR mountain bike brakes.

The 34/35 models use a performance road compound, while the others use an endurance mountain bike compound. All pads will fit any caliper with a compatible pad size and shape (i.e. SRAM AXS pads fit any of their current 2-piston road calipers for RED, Force, Rival, etc.).

absoluteBLACK GRAPHENpads disc brake pads for Shimano Deore mountain bike brakes

The Deore-compatible pads do not get fins because of fitment constraints.

Lab testing graphene brake pads for cycling

absoluteBLACK provided us with their testing data, which we’re posting below unedited for your information only. The big takeaway is that heat is bad for braking performance, and keeping pad temps under 400ºC  maintains power and modulation without brake fade. And their new compound and design seems to do that. They also conducted a Progressive Braking Test, with results posted on the product pages for each brake pad.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The GRAPHENpads are a self-described “ceramic organic” pad compound. The Shimano and SwissStop pads are organic, and the Kogel pads are Sintered, which were included to provide perspective on the different compound’s braking properties. So, this is NOT and apples-to-apples test in that regard and the results should evaluated in context.

From absoluteBLACK:

chart showing heat buildup on graphenpads brake pads during friction testing

Descending test
In this testing sequence lasting 600s (10 min) and using a one-of-a-kind machine, we performed a simulation of a long descent on a road bike, with a constant force of 10N on the brake lever and slope angle of 12,5%. Velocity was 25km/h (15.5mph) with air blowing on the braking system at the same speed. Key parameters were recorded at 0.1s interval (6000 points per test). We used Dura-Ace Icetech rotors. This test helps us to understand how the brake system and friction material behaves during longer periods of braking and when the brake is subjected to fading.

In simple words we simulate a 100kg (220lbs) rider+bike gently dragging their brakes all the way down the descent. It is a typical behaviour for unexperienced riders when descending in alpine terrain.

chart showing heat buildup on Shimano brake pads during friction testing

We have compared GRAPHENpads to Shimano K-Type L03A (Dura-Ace), Swissstop Disc 34 RS and Kogel R9100 BIA pads. In every brake pad test we have used a new Dura-Ace rotor, new 105 caliper and new brake oil. Those control measures are important as once the caliper reaches over 450C, its seals sustain permanent damage and decomposition of braking fluid can occur.

chart showing heat buildup on kogel brake pads during friction testing

When temperature of the caliper goes above 500C, aluminium core in the rotor starts to soften, causing permanent deformation of the braking surface. Each test was conducted following a standardised bedding-in process of the brake pad-rotor pair, with automated cycle of 100 braking events in dry, 30 in wet, 30 in dry conditions and various, pre-set intensities. Then we let the system to cool down to ambient temperature and dry out before main test.

chart showing heat buildup on swissstop brake pads during friction testing

Our machine tests and thermal imaging show that with GRAPHENpads® (Graph 1), it is possible to reduce disc pad and rotor temperature by up to 35% vs competitors and completely eliminate brake fading. It is also worth noting that friction coefficient remains very stable, which translates to very predictable and consistent braking performance.

thermal images of brake caliper after testing and cooling

From thermal imaging we can observe that GRAPHENpads were able to significantly reduce brake caliper temperature vs other brake pads, which translates to increased performance and prolonged life of caliper seals and braking fluid. (On images dark violet represents temperatures of around 27ºC and “white” represents over 400ºC)

thermal imaging for brake calipers after cooling periods with and without wind

Why cooling fins are the critical part of brake cooling ability

In order to explain how important the disc pad fins are to overall disc brake cooling abilities, first we need to understand what is the most important factor that helps the brake caliper, rotor, and pads to cool down. Air moving past all braking elements during the ride, plays this crucial role. Increasing the surface of disc pad backplate enables more exposure to wind hence improves cooling. The cooler the pads, rotor and caliper, the better the braking performance.

In the thermal images above, you can see GRAPHENpads tested with and without air blowing on the test setup. It is clear that without the wind, even the best brake pads start overheating very fast, showing how significant the role cooling fins play in overall temperature management and braking performance.

But graphene is used in super low friction lubricant… 

In order to understand why graphene is such a good material for friction compound, one needs to understand how friction compound is made. Typical organic friction compound includes five classes of components: a fibrous material made from inorganic/organic/metallic fibers (like copper), a binder (like thermosetting polymer), a “filler” (various soft ceramic powders), one or more lubricants/friction modifiers (like graphite, copper), one or more abrasives (hard ceramic powders).

The binder, which is typically a phenolic resin that bonds all components together, has a very high friction coefficient, therefore it is necessary to add friction modifiers/lubricants to lower the friction coefficient and allow braking modulation. Copper is a great example of a material that not only acts as fibrous material but it is also a lubricant and conductor of heat to the backplate.

Graphene on the other hand is several times stronger than copper, conducts heat 3-6 times better, and its coefficient of friction is several orders of magnitude lower. By eliminating copper and finding the right balance of graphene and other components, we created one-of-a-kind friction material that delivers extraordinary performance.

absoluteBLACK.cc

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32 Comments
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Hexsense
Hexsense
20 days ago

I’m not surprised with Swisstop Disc RS result.
That pad is silence in rain. But loud when hot.
It’s my preferred pads for flat wet terrain.
Just don’t torture it on high mountain.

Dinger
Dinger
19 days ago
Reply to  Hexsense

These (and their rotors) are what Chris Froome used when he decided that disc brakes weren’t ready for prime time.

Dingo
Dingo
20 days ago

They suck! I’ve never used them but I know that they suck because I just know, without evidence, that they suck just by looking at them.

And if they don’t suck I’ll never know because the price sucks and therefore they suck!

David
David
19 days ago
Reply to  Dingo
Jon
Jon
20 days ago

Would love to see some saint compatible pads – these look good

steve
steve
19 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Really interesting that Shimano and SRAM with all of their R&D budget have not thought of this when the marketing machine that is Absolute Black did?

Also strange that SRAM and Shimano don’t use the equally snake oil OSP design AB roll out with equally hilarious claims and dodgy advertising language.

Josh
Josh
19 days ago
Reply to  steve

Sram, Swissstop and many others buy their off the shelf pads from A2Z in Taiwan. They are all the same just different paint color.

Dinger
Dinger
9 days ago
Reply to  Josh

Some years back this was pretty much the case with Kool-Stop. They made virtually all aftermarket rim brake pads.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
19 days ago

Well, they certainly know how to set up a non-realistic simulation to show how well their “radiator” works.

And they’re so all-in on nonsense claims of graphene’s capabilities (in the way it can actually be produced now, not the theoretical future) it’s hard to take them seriously. No copper is great. But graphene dust isn’t any better for the environment.

AB does marketing better than anyone else. If only their products lived up to the claims…

Josh
Josh
19 days ago
Reply to  Roger Pedacter

On their website they show more tests that are very realistic to me.

Tim
Tim
18 days ago
Reply to  Roger Pedacter

What is unrealistic about this test? Not being sarcastic, I’m just too lazy to read the whole thing, and am unlikely to understand it, to boot.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
18 days ago
Reply to  Tim

Do you ever just drag and hold your brakes at exactly the same pressure for 10 straight minutes? I’d be impressed if you did. It’s not so much a test, but a demonstration designed to put a VERY specific amount of friction into the system to show off the cooling capabilities.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
18 days ago
Reply to  Tim

It’s unrealistic because it’s designed to put a very specific amount of thermal energy into the system. It’s not possible to hold the lever at a perfectly constant pressure for ten straight minutes. Even a beginner (as they suggested is the rider they’re simulating) is going to inadvertently vary their braking pressure over that length of time: momentarily brake harder for a corner, let go of the brakes for a bit to get back to speed, etc. It’s equivalent to holding a liter bottle of water from your fingertip for ten minutes. Not a huge amount, but also not likely. And that’s just the brake pressure… 12.5% grade for 4.2km and only 25kph? People that descent that pace don’t do the Hors Catégorie climbs to get there. So it’s definitely an unrealistic test, designed to put a measured amount of heat into the system so they can take pretty pictures.

And the “progressive tests” on their website aren’t much better. They’re using up to twice the lever pressure as the constant force test. Interesting choice. But what’s really suspect is they’re using a fan speed the same as the rotor speed. On a road bike the actual speed of the outside edge of the rotor is about 1/4th of the wheel speed (670mm vs 160mm), meaning there’s MUCH more wind in real life. As much as air is a terrible conductor, 4x the volume of it will have significant thermal effects.

They’re clearly decent pads with good bite. Not trying to say they aren’t. But their testing is so suspect and their marketing claims are so over the top that it’s hard to take them seriously.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
17 days ago
Reply to  Roger Pedacter

Edit: I’m guessing they probably just worded the rotor speed vs. wind speed description poorly and did use the correct wind speed. Doesn’t change the overall test parameters being unrealistic vs. real world usage

Chewy
Chewy
19 days ago

Absolute SNAKE OIL.

Trenton
Trenton
19 days ago

It would be cool to see them compare their pads to the kool stop finned pads that I’ve been running for the past 3 years!

steve
steve
19 days ago

Is ‘Graphene’ better for the environment than copper? Is it going to be harmful to ingest as dust?

Man absolute black have gone from bicycle parts designer / manufacturer to a pure marketing machine – the language used is just cringeworthy

Roger Pingpong Sr.
Roger Pingpong Sr.
19 days ago
Reply to  steve
Dylan
Dylan
16 days ago

Nice find. Unfortunate that they tout the use of graphene as environmentally friendlier when in fact it’s just unregulated.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
16 days ago
Reply to  Dylan

Yeah, right? And it’s not a great look for any company claiming to be innovative to pick a so-called “wonder material” and use it everywhere for everything like AB has been. Makes it much more obvious you’re marketing driven rather than engineering driven.

chris bush
chris bush
19 days ago

How about a test between the finned and non finned graphene pad?

nooner
nooner
19 days ago

Does anyone know about their US distribution plans? QBP? I’m always looking for a better mousetrap and these may be worth a try.

Seraph
Seraph
19 days ago
Reply to  nooner

QBP does seem to carry a lot of ABlack, as does BTI.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
18 days ago

What’s the over under on Absolute Black or Ceramicspeed launching an NFT or Crypto project? Since none of there products have any tangible benefits it would be a perfect fit.

Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot
18 days ago

And yes I’m aware of the grammatical mistake here and the fact I can’t edit it is definitely getting under my skin.

Dylan
Dylan
16 days ago

A NFT of the X-ray of my lung cancer caused by graphene dust would be cool.

FAS
FAS
15 days ago
Reply to  Dylan

Was thinking the same. Last time the brakepads (on cars) was great, it was asbestos all the way.

jj abrams
jj abrams
14 days ago
Reply to  Dylan

lol bruh!

Eli
Eli
17 days ago

Going by the first two charts the Shimano pads god a bit hotter but still under the limit and had stronger braking (more friction) so Shimano wins there. Going by the thermal pics the heat sink on the shimano pads got hot like it is designed to do while the absolute black heat sink stayed cooler than the calipers so poor heat sink design if that plate doesn’t conduct heat. Seems like that also helped insulate the calipers which is why the calipers look hotter for shimano while the rotor looks cooler. AB keeps the caliper cool but heats up the rotor.

Seems like Shimano is the best given the data I see

steve
steve
17 days ago
Reply to  Eli

Who would have thought a product from a company like Shimano with all of the resources and expertise would create a product that would out perform those from what is fast becoming nothing more than a marketing company.

Jake2
Jake2
16 days ago

Interesting that the pads they try to make look the worst are from a company that has a better product competing with their flagship OSP system.

I know a few people running the Kogel pads and none have had any problems with their calipers basically exploding as AB suggests. And descending the local 14s is *not* easy on brakes.