Kool Stop Brake Pads
I’ve been an admirer of Kool Stop brake pads for years, using them on many vintage bikes I’ve restored. Not only have Kool Stop always provided direct replacements for classic brakes made by Mafac, Weinmann and Campagnolo, they’ve always seemed good quality and long lasting. When I suddenly realised that their workshop was in the neighbourhood where I live, I got in touch with them to ask if I could visit.
A Passion for Pads
There are no signs on the exterior of the Kool Stop building; no showy placards or fancy logos for a company that has been based in the area for over 40 years. So anonymous is their building that for a moment I wondered if I was on the right street, but as soon as I walked into their lobby I knew I was in the right place. Three beautiful penny farthing bikes take centre stage in the room, and before I could say hello, Tim Watson, the President, greeted me with the warmest welcome.
A Success Story
As soon as we began our tour, I realised Tim has as much passion and energy for Kool Stop as the day he started. It was way back in 1984 that he first began working on the factory floor, and I can see that his spirit hasn’t waned. It was if he had just started this business. He has a great story to tell, his own which begins as a student who took a job at Kool Stop and ended up running the company, weaved into the narrative of the brand which has become one of the most successful bike brake pad manufacturers in the world.
What Makes Them Different
Kool Stop make their own rubber compound, a key factor in the success of the brand and reputation. They do not import their materials, so they maintain quality control on every pad they make. So you can be assured that every Kool Stop pad you buy has been made to the same quality standards without compromise. In fact, Kool Stop make all their own tools, so essentially any custom pad could be specially made for you. Their commitment to offering their skills and services for bicycle enthusiasts is unrivalled.
The Factory Tour
I have to say, touring the Kool Stop workshop was a blast. Seeing the tools and machines in action, some of which are sturdy vintage devices which have been molding pads for many years, feeling the hot rubber just out of the mold, was impressive and inspiring. Here is the lifeline for vintage brake models from Mafac and Weinmann, Campagnolo and Modolo, so we can continue using these classic components. It was like witnessing the beating heart of the vintage bike industry which I only write about or share in pictures. It made me think “Yes! The world still loves vintage bikes!”, as boxes of freshly made vintage pads were ready for shipping.
Tim has many anecdotes of going above and beyond the expectations of his customers, and providing the best service seems an integral part of their company’s philosophy. It’s impressive, especially in light of one’s general experience in today’s impersonal and disposable global market. The Kool Stop factory experience was encouraging one, leading me to believe that there are still companies with specialised knowledge of their industry, highly skilled in what they do, providing quality products that one can depend on.
A Pad for Every Need
Kool Stop was formed in 1978 by Richard Everett, who started out making brake pads in small numbers from his garage workshop. The company now make a variety of friction components and have a diverse portfolio, from bicycle parts to dental items. They make pads for disc brakes, mountain bikes and even exercise machines, but my main interest is in their pads for vintage brake calipers. 4 dimpled pads for Weimann brakes, brake blocks for Campagnolo Delta calipers, replacements for specific Modolo and Mafac components fill boxes on their factory floor. If you need a replacement brake pad for your vintage bike, look no further than Kool Stop.
Where do I Buy Them?
Kool Stop have distributors all over the world, and you can find their pads at your local bike shop or just as easily buy them online. Brake pads are a crucial element on your bike, they are the what you depend on most when you need to stop. A high quality brake pad could save your life, as well as the life of your rims. Cheaper pads will grind on your rims, wearing them more quickly and costing you extra time and money in the end. Buying a high quality pad is the right choice for any bike, whether it has carbon fibre, disc brakes or vintage rims. Kool Stop are the brand I confidently recommend.