Condensed Answer: Shimano rotors can be used with Tektro brakes. The diameter of the rotors should match the requirements of the particular brake model. The brake pad material and the rotors should be compatible too. Otherwise, the braking won’t be efficient and the parts will wear down prematurely.
Requirements For Brake Rotor Compatibility
In order for a brake rotor to be compatible with a set of calipers, it has to meet the following criteria:
If the rotor is too large, the user won’t be able to install it. Therefore, it’s necessary to determine the rotor size that the brakes are designed for.
The easiest way to find this information is to read the indication on the old rotor or search for a detailed description of the bike online.
If you want to upgrade to larger rotors, you can do so with adapters increasing the distance between the caliper’s mounting points and the caliper itself.
The adapters that you need are dependent on the brake mount that the bike uses.
There are three main disc brake mounts – International Standard, Post Mount, and Flat Mount.
International Standard (IS) is used on older forks and frames. The brake caliper attaches to the bike via bolts screwing perpendicularly to the mount.
Post Mount (PM) is found on modern bikes. The caliper attaches via bolts going straight into the mount.
If you have PM mounts designed to run 160mm rotors by default and want to upgrade to 180mm, you will need a 20mm post mount adapter.
Flat Mount (FM) is a fairly new disc mount standard found on road bikes. The caliper attaches to a flat part of the fork or frame. The goal is weight saving and simplicity.
Currently, flat mounts are limited to 160mm rotors.
Conclusion: The rotor that you’re going to use has to be of the appropriate size. If you want to go with a bigger rotor, you may need an adapter.
Tektro rotors come in found main sizes – 140mm, 160mm, 180mm and 203mm. The same applies to Shimano’s rotors. From that standpoint, the rotors of both brands are interchangeable.
Another important characteristic is the thickness of the rotors. Rotors that are too thick or thin for a set of calipers hurt the brakes’ modulation.
In simple terms, modulation describes the control that the rider has over the braking force.
When there’s too much modulation, it takes a lot of time for the brake to grab the wheel. In some cases, the brake lever may bottom out against the handlebars before the complete lockout of the wheel.
When there’s too little modulation, the brakes feel as if there’s an on/off switch. The pads grab the rotor and lock the wheel as soon as the rider engages the lever. Then, when the lever is released, the brakes are instantly free.
Thin rotors create the first problem (too much modulation) and make the brakes feel as if they’re worn down because the pads have to move further.
Thick rotors create the second problem (too little modulation) because the space between the rotors is small.
Luckily, Tektro and Shimano rotors have the same thickness – 1.8mm. Therefore, the rotors are interchangeable from that standpoint too.
Note: Some Tektro brakes are designed for e-bikes and thus use thicker rotors (2.3mm). You won’t be able to use 1.8mm Shimano rotors with those brakes.
3. Attachment System
The method used for attaching the rotor to the hub is another compatibility point.
There are two main ways to mount a disc rotor to a hub – center lock and 6-bolt.
The 6-bolt system is the most common one as it’s used on low-end and high-end set-ups. In this case, the rotor is attached to the hub via 6 bolts. For an extra secure bond, people apply a thread locking compound on the bolts’ threads.
The other option is center lock.
Center lock hubs rely on a Shimano patented technology. The rotor is mounted and secured to the hub via a lock ring similar to that of a cassette.
If you have bolt-on hubs, you will need a bolt-on rotor.
If you have a center lock hub, you have two options:
- Install center lock rotors
- Install bolt-on rotors by using an adaptor
Conclusion: If the mounting system of the hub matches the one that the rotor uses, you will be able to combine the two.
Brake Pad Overhang
The brake track is the part of the rotor that the pads grab.
A narrow brake track may result in a phenomenon known as “brake pad overhang“.
Brake pad overhang occurs when a portion of the pad doesn’t touch the rotor.
The “hanging” section of the pad does not experience any wear while the rest of the pad gets thinner over time.
If the overhang is extreme, the two unworn areas of the pads may touch each other and render the brakes useless because the slimmer sections of the pads won’t be able to grab the rotor.
To minimize the possibility of this outcome, it’s advisable to measure the brake track of the current rotors and compare it to that of the new ones.
Note: Sometimes brake pad overhang is the result of using inappropriately large brake adapters. When that happens, the caliper moves too far away from the rotors and leaves the pads “hanging”.
Brake Pad Material
Brake pads are divided into two categories:
Most rotors can operate with both types. One exception would be Shimano’s entry-level rotors which are softer and labeled as “resin only”. Using them with metal pads would cause premature wear.
If you’re going to switch from one type to the other, it’s recommended to softly sand the rotor, thoroughly clean it, and bed the pads.
Summary: What You Need To Know
Shimano rotors will operate properly with a Tektro brake when they meet the following criteria:
- The diameter of the rotors should match the one supported by the brakes. If a bigger rotor is needed, the user can install an adapter.
- The thickness of the rotors should also be compatible with the brakes. Thin rotors result in extra modulation. Thick rotors decrease modulation.
- The brake tracks of the rotors should be of similar size or else brake pad overhang might take place.
- The material that the rotors are made of should be compatible with the pads. Lower-end Shimano rotors are designed for resin pads only.