If you're looking for a brake pad with good performance, minimal dusting and noise, and something that doesn't chew up the brake rotors in a few months, the stock OEM Mazda brake pads are hard to beat.

If you're looking for cheap, aftermarket brake pads, a good option is Axxis brake pads; these brake pads were used to be called MetalMasters before, so don't be confused when someone mentions "MetalMasters" instead of "Axxis".  Axxis brake pads can be found at almost any major auto parts chain store, and they are very popular due to their low price.

Going with the next step up in price and performance are the Hawk HPS - Hawk's street pads. Priced just a little more than the Axxis brake pads, the Hawk HPS brake pads give you a bit better performance.  Most folks won't even use the full abilities of these brake pads on the street!  Priced at about $50 per set (front or rear), they make a really attractive option for those looking for a street upgrade.  Hawk also makes an "HP+" line of brake pads that are a step up fron the HPS brake pads; the HP+ brake pads are supposed to handle street driving with the occasional driver's school throw in - I've never really heard anything better about the HP+ brake pads, so stick with the HPS brake pads for now.

Next on the list is the Performance Friction brake pads.  These cost almost twice as much as the Hawk HPS brake pads, but reportedly last 2-3 times as long.

I haven't gotten any much more experience than those listed above, but if anyone else has any experience with another brand, please drop me a note - address is listed at the bottom!

In closing, do not try and use racing brake pads on the street!  Racing brake pads were meant to be optimized under racing condition, which usually means very high brake temperatures!  It is almost impossibile to get your brakes as hot as race temperatures on the street; the racing brake pads do very little to stop the car when they are "cold" - "cold" meaning anything under race temps, which is usually at least 500F!  At the very least, running racing brake pads "cold" would just end up giving you a very eaten up brake rotor; cold racing brake pads are very abrasive until they are up to racing temps.

Just as a late update, there has been very little experience with some of the brake pads coming in from Japan.  I've heard some very favorable experiences with Endless brake pads.  Although VERY expensive (US$300 per set), these Endless brake pads are very rotor friendly and offer very high performance with an added bonus of long life!

Questions?  Comments?  Send mail to:  reted@fc3spro.com