The different types of bicycle brakes fall down into two categories; rim brakes and disc brakes. Brakes are one of the main considerations riders have to think carefully about. This blog post tackles these two main types of bicycle brakes to make decision-making easier.
There are several types of rim brakes, including v-brakes, calipers, and cantilever. Rim brakes exist everywhere on everything — hybrid bikes, road bikes, and commuter bikes. Their popularity can be credited mainly from their ease of use and affordability. A rider simply has to squeeze the brake levers and two rubber friction pads clasp the rim and stops the bike.
Caliper brakes are first found on road bikes. As technology advances, these brakes have become lighter and their stopping power continues to develop. The price for these brakes also increases.
They are also known as dual pivot side-pull caliper bicycle brakes and they’re not very common on commuter bikes due to the tight wheel clearance.
A more adjustable bicycle brake for different tires is the cantilever. It is found on cyclocross bicycles, providing excellent clearance in muddy riding conditions. They are also found on some touring bikes and low-end mountain bikes without suspension. They can be difficult to set up properly but they’re easy to maintain.
Another type of rim brake are the V-brakes. They were created to enhance the shortcomings of the cantilevers. Their top advantages are that they are a lot easier to set up and adjust, they have good clearance and are suitable for bicycles with suspension. They are often used for commuter bikes and are reliable especially when riding on dry conditions.
Rim brakes’ stopping power is significantly decreased on wet conditions. Also, the grime, tiny pieces of metal or grains of sand that accumulate in the brake pads not only wear down the rubber pads, but also scratch and damage the rims. This creates a physical groove in the wheel, and will eventually require replacement.
So, if you don’t often ride in wet conditions or only do short rides, rim brakes are generally okay.
For those who want to ensure high stopping power regardless of the weather or road conditions, then disc brakes are the only option. Now very common on mountain bikes, disc brakes make use of metal disc or rotor that is attached at the hub of the wheel. For excellent stopping power, simply squeeze the brake lever and caliper on the bike frame and fork.
Disc brakes are available in hydraulic or mechanical. Most bike commuters will the mechanical type (using a traditional brake cable) is easier to set up and maintain and give plenty of stopping power. But for optimum stopping power, hydraulic disc brakes will never fail and fade. With this type of bicycle brake, you’ll surely stop on a dime.
Disc brakes need wheel mounts and special frame and they are a little heavier than most rim brakes. Some mechanical discs require longer pull brake levers. But there’s absolutely no wear to the rims.