Absolute Black Graphen Pads 2023 Mountain Bike Review

Absolute Black Graphen Pads 2023

Reviews / Brakes

Absolute Black 430,671

At a glance

Ceramic GRAPHEN pads are a new benchmark for the braking pad industry thanks to the unique approach to the design of backplate cooling fins, bespoke backplate coating with graphene as well as a completely new friction compound, which uses specially modified graphene instead of toxic copper. Price: From 49,95 EUR

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The product

Absoluteblack don’t mess around when they make new products. They always aim to do something groundbreaking and boy, do these pads look funky. They spent 3 years on product development and managed to create a pad that not only looks amazing but also reduced friction heat up to 35% compared to the competition. That’s big. Mainly because head build up is the number one cause for your brakes to fade on long descents and with brakes you want something to count on, not something that changes in feel halfway through the descent.

First thing you notice is the backplate that morphs into cooling fins. These backing plates are coated in a graphene coating that dissipates heat much faster than conventional steel or alloy. 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. Otherwise the pads would be like an on off switch when applying the brakes.

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, AbsoluteBlack created a one-of-a-kind friction material that delivers extraordinary performance.

The pads are made within the EU (while most other pads come from a single factory in Taiwan) and available for all popular brake models.

Out on the trail

After bedding in the brake pads (a very important thing to do if you’re looking for maximum performance) we headed out to do some laps on our local hill. Some of the first things we noticed were how silent these pads were. Sometimes you notice immediately that, although a certain pad brings a lot of power, you hear that nasty metallic dragging noise or even worse, squeaking. Even with some of the higher end ones like Shimano, Galfer or EBC’s I have noticed they become noisy especially when hot or in wet conditions.

The Graphen pads however stayed quiet, even when riding in the rain and on longer descents.

Next thing is of course the power. And yes, they are powerful. But not the most powerful pads I’ve ever tried though. They have a good modulation and when you grip the lever firmly they definitely have some bite to them. Where they really shine though is on long downhills.

We tried out various descents with some up to 1000m of descending in a single go, and could not get these pads to fade. No matter how much we tried, the bite point stayed firm and predictable. Also there was no need to squeeze harder once pad and disc temperatures were rising. This resulted in less fatigue in hands and arms, a definitive bonus when you’re trying to stay in control.


Let’s not beat around the bush, 50 bucks for a pair of brake pads is definitely on the spicy side when it comes to something that wears out relatively quickly. I’m well aware these pads are not for everyone but when you are looking for that extra edge in performance the Absolute Black pads definitely deliver. Performance aside, they look really trick, and might just be that finishing touch to make your custom build ultra bling!

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This review was in Issue 74 of IMB.

For more information visit Absolute Black


By Jarno Hoogland
Jarno's life has revolved around two wheels ever since he swung a leg over his first BMX at age 4. After a BMX and DH racing career, he moved on to work for bike shops, distributors and brands before ending up in the editors seat at IMB. Based in the ultimate testing ground in the Swiss mountains, he runs his guiding operation and makes sure every IMB issue is filled with top notch content.

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