Disc brakes have taken over the market dominated by the bicycle brake variety. It is well known that the best mountain bike brakes are disc brakes, even the cheap ones. Today you can find disc brakes on any type of bike, from hybrid and road bikes to urban recreational bikes. Mountain bikes were early adopters of this new technology, paving the way for it, but now it seems that disc brakes permeate every aspect of cycling, from casual commuter travel vehicles to the Tour de France.
However, not all disc brakes are made in the same way, and there are more factors than just differences in size, use and manufacturer. There are two main types of disc brakes in cycling - mechanical and hydraulic. While the differences are irrelevant to some, there are a number of important qualities that separate one type of disc brake from the other.
Mechanical Disc Brakes
Mechanical disc brakes use the tension generated by clamping the brake lever to pull tight on the wire connecting the lever to the brake caliper, acting on the brake caliper. This causes the brake pads to clamp onto the brake discs, ultimately producing braking force. It is a relatively simple process to work with, but it can achieve considerable braking effect.
It is easy to find that hydraulic disc brake e-bikes have a small hydraulic fluid tank on the brake lever to store mineral oil. When you squeeze the brake lever, the force generated by your hand acts on the piston inside, compressing the fluid (i.e. the mineral oil). The fluid is squeezed and flows through the oil pipe to the caliper, which then pushes the piston inside the caliper, driving the brake pads to clamp the disc and finally creating a braking action that stops the machine in motion. This is the principle of operation of hydraulic disc brakes.
Mechanical Disc Brakes: Pros and Cons
- More affordable price.
- Easier to repair and maintain as they are simpler
- Replacement parts are easier to find worldwide, as they use the same cables and levers as the rim brakes
- Low braking force/low efficiency
- As cables stretch, they need to be adjusted more frequently
- More difficult to adjust braking force
- Friction in the brake lines can make them feel less smooth and consistent in operation
- You have to clean them more frequently as the brake lines can become contaminated with dirt or debris
Hydraulic Disc Brakes: Pros and Cons
- More braking power / more efficient
- Smoother operation, as there is less friction in the system.
- Able to produce considerable braking with less force
- Less frequent maintenance and adjustment as the brake is self-adjusting.
- More expensive
- More difficult to service in the field as they are more complex
- More difficult to maintain as you have to bleed the brake lines occasionally
Differences Between Mechanical and Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Although both brakes ensure that your e-bike stops quickly, they have their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Braking power
Hydraulic disc brakes tend to produce better braking power than mechanical brakes. This is due to their increased efficiency. Hydraulic brakes increase the amount of force you apply to squeeze the lever. This means that hydraulic bicycle brakes produce more braking power than you can put into the system. In addition, the brake fluid in these disc brakes creates very little friction. As a result, there is much less energy loss in the system.
Mechanical brakes are cheaper than hydraulic disc brakes. It also costs considerably less to maintain. Cables only cost a few dollars. In addition, you only need to know the basic bike tools to carry out any necessary repairs or maintenance.
It is more expensive to buy hydraulic disc brakes or a bike that uses them. It is also more expensive to maintain hydraulic disc brakes. You need to bleed the brakes and change the fluid, which requires high-end tools or a trip to the bike shop to do so, which can add to the cost.
- Braking force control and precision
Hydraulic disc brakes ensure that you have better control over the braking force of your bicycle. This advantage is due to the small amount of force required to apply the brake. All you need to do is gently squeeze the lever to obtain the required braking force. However, mechanical disc brakes require more brake lever pull, which makes controlling the braking force a little more difficult. You will need to keep squeezing the lever hard, making it difficult to remove your hand.
- Parts availability
Spare mechanical brake parts are more readily available than hydraulic brake parts. This is because mechanical disc brakes use the same levers and cables as conventional rim brakes. You can find them with levers and cables in almost any bike shop near you, including those in remote areas.
Spare parts for hydraulic bicycle brakes, on the other hand, are much harder to come by. Finding replacement calipers, levers, brake fluid, brake lines or maintenance tools can be difficult. For riders living in remote areas, this may even be impossible. You may have to visit a high-end bike shop before you can obtain the necessary parts.
- Operation Smoothness and braking consistency
The hydraulic disc brakes operate more smoothly. Nothing hangs or jams in the hydraulic braking system. As a result, whenever you squeeze the lever, it always feels smooth. In addition, the closed system is virtually immune to dirt or debris. As a result, you can determine a more predictable and consistent braking force.
Some form of friction occurs when the cable of a mechanical disc brake passes through the housing. Because it is an open system, the housing is more likely to become contaminated with dirt, which will create more resistance and the brakes may feel less smooth. Trying to overcome this resistance requires you to apply more force than usual. As a result, the braking is less consistent.But when you have clean and well-set mechanical disc brakes, their operation will also be very smooth and consistent. This will require more effort on your part.
How to choose Disc Brakes
We know that your main concerns are braking distance and performance. But we'd like to point out that both types of braking system have their merits. Hydraulic disc brakes will be better, but in fact both will lock your bike wheels well to produce powerful braking to ensure the safety of the rider. We recommend that you choose which braking system to purchase depending on your needs and budget.
When your bike converted by esoulbike kits to an e-bike, you don't have to worry about going too fast to stop quickly. eouslbike offers two break sensors to match both types of brakes for this purpose. MS-1R for mechanical disc brakes and MS-2R for hydraulic disc brakes.