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Mountain Bike Disc vs Rim Brakes (Differences? Similarities? What’s Best?)

Breaks on mountain biking play an important role, especially in our safety. This article discusses two kinds of brakes and their pros and cons.

A person with mountain bike in full gear.

Mountain bikes are meant for cycling on rugged terrain. It is important to be able to stop properly and safely on these kinds of surfaces. Just like any other form of transport, mountain bikes have specific types of brakes.

With brakes, you may assume one-size-fits-all, but that is not the case here.

There are two main types of brakes used for mountain bikes, disc brakes and rim brakes.

Each type has its own unique set of features, benefits, and drawbacks. We will go deeper into the differences and similarities between these two types of brakes.

What Are Mountain Bike Disc Brakes?

Mountain bike rear disc brake.

Mountain bike disc brakes are a type of brake that uses a disc, or rotor, to stop the wheel from spinning.

The disc is attached to the wheel and spins along with it. When you pull the lever, a caliper squeezes the pads against the rotor, slowing down the wheel.

Disc brakes are the more modern type of brake and they work by using a hydraulic system to slow the bike down. Disc brakes are more effective than rim brakes, especially in wet or muddy conditions.

They are also less likely to overheat on long descents. However, they are more expensive and require more maintenance than rim brakes.

What Are Mountain Bike Rim Brakes?

Mountain bike rim brakes are a type of brake that uses two pads to grip the sides of the wheel’s rim to slow it down or stop it.

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The pads are mounted on a caliper which is attached to the frame or fork. When you pull the lever, the caliper squeezes the pads against the rim, slowing down the wheel.

How Do These Two Brakes Differ?

Mountain bike fork and disc brake.

Let’s take a closer look at how these two brakes differ.

Materials

The first difference between these two brakes is the materials they are made of.

Disc brakes are made of metal, typically stainless steel or aluminum. Steel brakes are more durable but also heavier. Aluminum brakes are lighter but not as strong.

Rim brakes are made of rubber or synthetic materials. Rubber brakes are cheaper but don’t last as long. Synthetic brakes are more expensive but last longer.

Design Features

Disc brakes have a few design features that set them apart from rim brakes.

First, they have a rotor, which is a disc that attaches to the wheel and spins along with it.

They have a caliper, which is a device that holds the brake pads and squeezes them against the rotor to slow down or stop the wheel.

Rim brakes do not have a rotor or a caliper. they have two pads that grip the sides of the wheel’s rim.

Durability

Disc brakes are generally more durable than rim brakes. This is because they don’t wear out as quickly and they are less affected by weather and road conditions.

Rim brakes can wear out quickly if they are used in wet or muddy conditions. They can also be damaged by rocks or other debris on the trail.

Cost Differences

Disc brakes are typically more expensive than rim brakes. This is because they are made of more expensive materials and require more maintenance.

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The average price range is about $50 to $200 per wheel but used ones can be as low as $30 per wheel.

Rim brakes are less expensive because they are made of less expensive materials such as rubber or synthetic materials. They also require less maintenance because they don’t wear out as quickly.

Benefits of Each Type of Brake

A person repairing his rim brake.

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes have a few benefits over rim brakes. First, they offer more stopping power, which is important for mountain biking.

Second, they are less affected by weather and trail conditions, so they are more reliable in all conditions.

Rim Brakes

When it comes to pricing, Rim brakes have the advantage over disc brakes. They are less expensive as they tend to cost less to manufacture. This puts less of a financial burden on the consumer.

Rim brakes also tend to be lighter in weight, so they are ideal for riders who are looking to save weight where possible. When it comes to mountain biking, not being weighed down can improve the experience.

Brief History of Each Type of Brake

Disc brakes were first used on cars in the early 1900s. In the 1950s, they began to be used on motorcycles. It wasn’t until the 1990s that disc brakes were introduced on mountain bikes.

Rim brakes have been used on bicycles since the 1800s. They were the only type of brake available for many years. It wasn’t until the 1990s that disc brakes were introduced on mountain bikes.

Other Considerations

A repair man holding a disc break on bike shop.

There are a few other things to consider when choosing between disc brakes and rim brakes.

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Disc brakes require more regular maintenance than rim brakes. This is because they have more parts that can wear out or become damaged.

Another consideration is weight. Disc brakes are typically heavier than rim brakes. This is because they are made of more sturdy materials such as steel or aluminum.

Lastly, the cost is a consideration. Disc brakes are typically more expensive than rim brakes. This is because they require more expensive materials and more regular maintenance.

How Long Do These Brakes Last?

Disc brakes typically last longer than rim brakes. This is because they are made of more durable materials and don’t wear out as quickly. In terms of miles, disc brakes can last for up to 2,000 miles before they need to be replaced.

Rim brakes typically need to be replaced after 1,000 miles. This is because they are made of less durable materials and tend to wear out more quickly.

Final Thoughts About Rim and Disc Brakes

A sales person at the counter of a bike store.

In conclusion, disc brakes are more durable, offer more stopping power, and are less affected by weather conditions. However, they require more maintenance.

Rim brakes are less expensive, require less maintenance, and are lighter in weight. However, they don’t offer as much stopping power and can be damaged by debris on the trail.

When choosing between disc brakes and rim brakes, it is important to consider all of these factors. only then can you decide which type of brake is right for you. Overall, most people seem to prefer disc brakes. While these discs are more expensive, it is worth it thanks to their durability, stopping power, and weather-resistance.

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