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
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
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.
Return to our commuter guides.