If you're a bike lover, you can attest that there's no better way to enjoy cycling than with a good set of brakes. But what makes one set of brakes better than another? And which ones should you get? The answer depends on your riding style, budget, and personal preference. With that in mind, this article seeks to shed light on everything about bike brakes.

types of bike brake

What is bike brakes and how does it work? 

Bike brakes are a system designed to slow down or stop a bicycle by applying pressure against the wheel rim. They do so either through friction (as with cantilever brakes) or by pushing the rim inward (as with caliper brakes).

How does it work? 

Each cycle brake is tailored to its specific purpose around a brake pad. When the brake pads come into contact with the rims, they create friction between them. This friction slows down the rotation of the wheels, thus stopping the bike. In addition, the braking force is proportional to the amount of pressure applied. 

The good thing about brake systems is that they're helpful when going downhill because they help reduce speed. However, they also have their disadvantages. For example, if you apply too much pressure, the brake pads may be damaged. Also, if you don't use the brakes properly, you might not be able to control the bike at all. They're also important safety devices. If you don't know how to use them, you could end up crashing and hurting yourself.

Different types of bike brakes explained 

There are three types of bike brakes, including disc brakes, rim brakes, and drum brakes.

1. Disc brakes 

This brake system often employs a metal disc or rotor as the primary disc brake component. The idea behind disc brakes is simple: the two brake pads apply pressure onto the rotating disc, causing friction and slowing down the rotation of the wheel. 

The amazing thing about disc brakes is that it provides high reliability, incredible braking power, and exceptional functioning temperature range. It also has an advantage over other brake systems because it doesn't require any maintenance.

2. Rim brakes

Rim brakes use friction generated from the contact between the inner surface of the wheel and the brake pads. As the wheel rotates, the brake pads push the wheel rim inward. This creates friction and causes the wheel to slow down.

Types of RIM brakes 

(a) Caliper Brake 

Being a cable-activated brake, it uses cables to connect the brake levers to the brake calipers. The idea behind caliper brakes is simple: when the brake lever is pulled, the brake caliper will move toward the rear wheel until it contacts the brake pads. Once the brake pads touch the rim, friction occurs and the wheel slows down. 

(b) Cantilever Brakes 

It uses a spring to activate the brake pads. The brake pads are attached to the frame using springs. When the brake lever is pushed, the spring pushes the brake pads away from the rim, creating friction and slowing down the wheel. 

(c) U-brake

A U-shaped brake lever is used to activate the brake pads via a cable mechanism. The brake pads are connected to the frame using a cable. When the brake lever moves up, the brake pads are moved away from the rim, allowing the wheel to rotate freely. When the brake lever goes back down, the brake pads hit the rim, causing friction and slowing the wheel down.

(d) V-brakes

V-brakes have a similar function to U-brakes but differ in their design. Instead of having a straight lever, v-brakes have a curved shape. Because of the curve, the brake pads cannot be directly activated by the brake lever. Instead, the brake lever must first go through a linkage before activating the brake pads.

3. Roller Brake

A roller brake is a type of bike brake that operates by applying pressure to the inside of a rotating drum. It is commonly found on commuter bikes, city bikes, and some electric bikes. The brake mechanism consists of a series of brake shoes or pads that press against the inner surface of the drum when the brake lever is activated.

Roller brakes are generally durable and have low maintenance requirements. However, it's important to note that they may generate more heat during prolonged braking, which can lead to a decrease in braking efficiency. Therefore, it's recommended to use them primarily for normal commuting and moderate-speed riding rather than intense downhill or high-speed applications.

4. Drum brakes

Unlike the others, which all rely on friction to generate braking forces, drum brakes use mechanical action to produce braking forces. In order to do so, the brake shoes are pressed against the inside of the drums, which then roll against the outside of the wheel's rim. This generates friction and slows down the wheel.

These three types of brakes can be found on most bicycles today. However, there are some differences among them. You should know what each one does and how they work.

Types of bike brakes lever explained

There exist two main categories of bicycle brake levers. They include flat bar brake levers and drop bars.

1. Flat bar brake lever

Flat bar brake levers are commonly found on mountain bikes. Most mountain bikers prefer these brake levers because they provide more control than drop bar brake levers. This is because most mountain bikers ride with one hand on the handlebar while the other hand holds the brake lever.

2. Drop Bar brake lever

Drop bar brake levers are commonly used on road bicycles. These brake levers are usually found on racing bicycles. Road cyclists tend to favor them because they can easily reach both sides of the handlebars. However, some riders find it difficult to operate due to the fact that the brake lever is located at the bottom of the handlebar.

What type of bike brake is suitable for you

The different types of bike brakes are suitable depending on your riding style. If you ride mainly off-road, you should choose a cantilever brake. If you ride mostly on roads, you can opt for a disc brake. For those who like to take long rides, a drum brake would be best. If you ride only short distances, a v-brake would work fine. Alternatively, if you want to save money, you can buy a set of cheap cantilever brakes that are good enough for commuting.


Brakes play an important role in maintaining safety during cycling. It helps riders maintain speed and avoid accidents. There are many types of bike brakes available today. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Before purchasing a new set of bike brakes, make sure you know what type of bike brakes suits your needs.

Latest Stories

This section doesn’t currently include any content. Add content to this section using the sidebar.