Difference between hydraulic and mechanical brakes

Which braking system is right for my bike?

April 03, 2018 - Written by: Andreas

Rim or disc brakes: choose the right braking system

The braking system is the most important component in terms of the safety of your bike and driving. Therefore, special attention is paid to the functionality and the different systems in this text. When it comes to braking systems, a distinction is primarily made between rim and disc brakes. In both forms of the brake there are further specifications and differences in design.

1. The rim brakes: functionality and differences

Rim brakes basically use a cable pull system that presses two rubber brake pads against the specially designed side flanks of the rim and thus brakes it.

Calliper brakes

Calliper brakes are ideally used in racing bikes. They are light, easy to use and designed for gradual braking. The concept of this brake is not designed for powerful and powerful braking.


This system is the actual successor of the Calliper brake, which has settled in the trekking / city bike area. The V-Brakes are slightly stronger than the Calliper brakes and are similar to its predecessor in terms of handling.

Hydraulic rim brakes

Hydraulic rim brakes are the exception to the above definition of rim brakes. The functional principle of the hydraulic rim brake is based on a non-compressible oil, which is fed through the lever to the brake piston. When the lever is pulled, the oil is pushed through the lines and the resulting pressure causes the brake pads to extend and brake the rim. This system is considered to be very direct and powerful compared to other rim brakes.

Cantilever brakes

This is an older braking system in which the brake cable splits and goes to the respective brake side. As a result, however, the adjustment of the brake is very time-consuming. The braking force can be compared with the Calliper brake.

2. The disc brakes: how they work and how they differ

Instead of braking on the rim, disc brakes use an additional disc mounted on the hub, which is used specifically for braking. This creates a higher braking force and does not wear out the rims. A distinction is made between mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes. For assembly, special sockets are required to hold the brake disc / caliper on the hubs and on the frame and fork.

Mechanical disc brake

Mechanical disc brakes have a cable pull system which, similar to rim brakes, runs from the brake lever to the brake caliper. The wire is fastened in the brake calliper with a screw and ensures that the brake pistons extend and the brake pads are pressed against the brake disc when the brake lever is pulled. This system has the advantage that very high braking forces are possible and therefore powerful braking is not a problem.

Hydraulic disc brakes

A hydraulic disc brake is based on a similar system to the hydraulic rim brake. The only difference in how it works is braking on the brake disc instead of the rim. Compared to mechanical disc brakes, this system offers even stronger braking forces and can therefore also be found on sporty bikes such as downhill or dirt bikes.

You can buy rim and disc brakes cheaply in our shop

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