Brakes Explained

Calliper brakes - Found on nearly all road bikes, they are cable operated, light and fairly powerful. They do not need to be especially powerful because the thin tyres on road bikes only provide a limited amount of grip.















Cantilever brakes - Usually seen on cyclocross bikes, these brakes offer greater mud clearance and increased modulation compared to calliper brakes. They have a central cable which splits into two, pulling each brake arm separately.

V-brakes - The standard kit on entry-level mountain bikes and hybrids. They are a simple and very powerful cable-operated rim brake.

Hub-brakes - Relatively rare, hub or roller brakes are occasionally found on hybrids. They are low maintenance and offer high performance regardless of conditions. However they are fairly heavy and complicated.

Cable operated disc brakes - Found mostly on mid-range mountain bikes, cable operated discs offer big advantages in mud or wet weather. This is because the disc is kept out of the mud. Disc brakes also prevent rim wear and any drag that could occur from a buckled wheel.

Hydraulic rim brakes - Usually used by trials riders but popular with some commuters due to low maintenance and huge power. Hydraulic brakes use a sealed system of tubes containing fluid that is compressed to actuate the brake. This creates a low maintenance system with none of the disadvantages of worn or dirty cables. However, as with all rim brakes, performance will suffer in wet conditions as the rim becomes dirty.


Hydraulic disc brakes - The peak of brake technology, found on the highest-level mountain bikes and hybrids. Low maintenance with masses of power and great modulation, these brakes are not cheap but are worth every penny. As with cable disc brakes, rim wear is prevented. Disc brakes will also be found on cyclocross bikes in the future as the UCI (cycling’s governing body) have changed regulations to allow their use in competition.

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