What Are the Different Types of Bike Brakes?

What Are the Different Types of Bike Brakes?

May 14, 2023

Cropped,Shot,Of,Cyclist,Hand,Wearing,Glove,And,Holding,AWhat Are the Different Types of Bike Brakes?

If you’re a bike enthusiast or cyclist, understanding the different types of bike brakes is critical. Your brakes are among the most critical components that keep you safe during your ride. With several brake options available, cyclists need to understand the different types to choose the best option for their riding style, terrain, and needs.

In this post, we’ll discuss the different types of bike brakes as follows:

1. Rim Brakes

Rim brakes attach to the frame or fork of the bike and work on the rim of the wheel. There are two primary types of rim brakes;

Caliper Brakes

Caliper brakes are probably the most common rim brakes to find on bikes nowadays. They consist of two arms connected by a bolt. The brake pads are installed on the arms and apply pressure against the rim when a rider pulls the brake lever. Caliper brakes are lightweight, easy to maintain, and setup.


V-brakes or linear-pull brakes have a design similar to caliper brakes in terms of how they attach to bikes’ frame/fork and how they apply stopping power. However, V-brakes have longer arms that have more leverage to increase stopping power. V-brakes are better than caliper brakes, especially for mountain biking or rough terrain, given the increased stopping power they offer.

2. Disc Brakes

Disc brakes work through a rotor attached to the bike’s hub. They come in mechanical and hydraulic brake systems. The two primary types of disc brakes are;

Mechanical Disc Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes work by applying tension from a caliper (similar to rim brakes) to press the brake pads against the rotor. The tension is orchestrated by a cable pulled from a lever. Mechanical disc brakes are less expensive to maintain than hydraulic disc brakes and have a simple mechanism that makes them easy to repair.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes function through a closed system of oil-filled brake lines that apply pressure to the brake calipers next to the wheel hub. When a rider pulls the brake lever, the fluid pressure moves the brake pads along the rotor until it slows down the wheel. Hydraulic disc brakes provide better stopping power over mechanical disc brakes, and the lever has a more consistent and modulated feel.

3. Coaster Brakes

A coaster brake, also known as a back-pedal brake, is an alternative brake system in place of using a handlebar-mounted braking system. A coaster brake is located within the bike’s rear hub and activates when the cyclist pedals backward. The pressure applied activates a brake inside the hub, slowing the bike down. Coaster brakes are an excellent alternative for riders who dislike handlebar-mounted braking systems or those with hand injuries.

4. Drum Brakes

Drum brakes are similar to coaster brakes but have a more complex internal mechanism. The braking mechanism consists of brake shoes and a drum secured to the wheel hub. Pressure is applied to the shoe by the brake lever on handlebars that create friction against the drum. Drum brakes are used by bike manufacturers in motorized bikes, cargo bikes, and other commuter bike models.

5. Hydraulic Rim Brakes

Hydraulic rim brakes work similarly to hydraulic disc brakes. Instead of using a rotor system located on the wheel hub, hydraulic rim brakes employ pads on the bike’s rim’s surface. The hydraulic braking mechanism increases pressure that’s pushed to the brake pads to provide stopping power. Hydraulic rim brakes have better stopping power than most rim brakes, and the design reduces friction on the wheel rim to avoid wear and tear.

Final Thoughts

Picking the perfect brake for a bicycle depends on several factors, including personal preference, bike type, and riding style. For bikes that require a high degree of stopping power, hydraulic disc and hydraulic rim brakes tend to offer stronger and more consistent stopping power than other brake variants. However, for commuters, city riders, or casual weekend cyclists, rim brakes or coaster brakes may be sufficient. Finally, when out shopping for a bike, it helps to know and understand the different bike brake types to choose a bike with a braking system that meets your riding needs.

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