Mechanical Vs Hydraulic Disc Brakes-Differences Explained!

Last Updated on December 4 2022 by Sam

Which Type Of Disc Brake Is Better For You: Mechanical Or Hydraulic?

Mechanical disc brakes work by transferring the braking force from the lever to the rotor via cables and levers. These types of brakes are generally found on older bicycles.

Hydraulic disc brakes operate differently. Instead of relying on cables and levers, they rely on pressurized fluid to move the brake arms and push against the rotors. These brakes are typically found on newer road bikes.

There are pros and cons to both styles of disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes tend to be less expensive and easier to maintain. However, they require regular maintenance and may not provide the same stopping power as hydraulic discs. On the flip side, hydraulic disc brakes are usually more powerful and reliable. But they cost more and require periodic maintenance.

So which style of disc brake is better for you?

Mechanical Disc Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes are great if you want to keep costs down. They are simple, reliable, and require no maintenance. However, they only work well on rims that are made out of metal. Rims made out of plastic won't work with mechanical disc brakes. They require more frequent maintenance. 

Hydraulic disc brakes are usually found on high-end vehicles, such as luxury cars. These types of brakes are very expensive, but they provide superior performance. They are also easier to maintain and repair than mechanical disc brakes.

There are pros and cons to both types of disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes are cheaper, but they may not perform as well as hydraulic disc brakes. On the flip side, hydraulic disc brakes are more expensive, but they are easier to maintain and repair.

You'll find that there are plenty of options available for both types of disc brakes, including aftermarket parts. So, whichever type of disc brake you decide to purchase, you should be able to find a quality part at a reasonable price.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Hydraulic disk brakes are the undisputed champions when it comes to performance. They not only provide greater braking force than their mechanical counterparts, but they also give you a better brake feel and are generally lighter. Hydraulic disc brakes don't require frequent maintenance.

Hydraulic hoses don't create friction as brake cables and housings do, and they're far more tolerant of tight curves than cables and housings. Open hydraulic system: plus, most hydraulic lift platforms use automatic adjustment mechanisms, so after initial installation, these are essentially fixed-position devices that don't need much if any ongoing upkeep.

All of our test riders at this year's Field Test agreed that hydraulic disc brakes provide better stopping power than mechanical disc brakes. They're easier to use, they feel more powerful, and they give you greater confidence when riding.

Because hydraulic hoses don't generate friction like steel cables, they're also far more tolerant of tight curves. Plus, open hydraulic systems automatically adjust for pad wear, which means they'll work well even after years of hard riding.

The Differences Between Mechanical And Hydraulic Disc Brakes

There are many similarities between mechanical and hydraulic disk braking systems. Both types of braking systems are generally less expensive than their counterparts. You can install either type of braking system onto any bike that is compatible with that particular type of braking system.

Hydraulic disc brakes are far more complicated than mechanical disc brakes. They require specialized levers and hoses that must be cut and bled if fitted to a bike with internal wiring.

Hydraulic discs are far more efficient than mechanical discs. There is less friction created by using a cable instead of a metal rod.

Mechanical disc brakes are harder to maintain than hydraulic disc brakes. Mud and dirt can easily enter the mechanism and cause problems.

Hydraulic brakes are more reliable than mechanical brakes. Because the fluid is sealed within the housing, it doesn't leak out and contaminates the surrounding environment.

Hydraulic brake systems are more complex than mechanical brake systems. A lot of knowledge and experience are required to properly service and adjust a hydraulic brake system.

Hybrid systems are available that combine mechanical levers with a hydraulic system. These are great for those who want to retain their current mechanical levers but gain additional braking power. Hybrid systems are not as powerful as true hydraulic brakes but provide a good compromise.

1. Hydraulic Disc Brakes

There are two main types of brakes available for bikes: mechanical and hydraulic. Both work well, but they might have advantages and disadvantages associated with them.

Mechanical disc brakes are simple and inexpensive. However, they require regular maintenance and are not very reliable. On the flip side, they provide the excellent stopping power and are easier to repair.

Hydraulic disc brakes are more complex and costly. They are also less reliable than mechanical disc brakes. However, they are capable of providing superior braking power and are far more durable.

Both types of disc brakes are great options for riders who prefer to keep their touring bike simple and affordable. Choose whichever option works best for you!


2. Mechanical Disc Brakes

There are two main types of disk brakes: mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical disk brakes work similarly to traditional rims brakes, but instead of relying on cable systems to press the pads against the rotators, they use metal plates called calipers which squeeze the pads against the rotor.

Mechanical disc brakes are great if you prefer to keep your bike simple and basic. However, they require regular maintenance and lubrication, which can be costly. On the flip side, they are very reliable and durable.

Hydraulic disc brakes are far superior to mechanical disc brake setups. They provide greater stopping power and control, making them ideal for mountain biking. They also come with fewer moving parts, which makes them less prone to failure.

Hydraulic discs are also easier to maintain and repair. Because there are fewer components, they are simpler to clean and inspect. They also tend to last longer than mechanical disc brakes.

While mechanical disc brakes are still used today, they are not recommended for most bikes. Instead, consider upgrading to a hydraulic disc brake system.


3. Efficiency

Hydraulic disc brakes are far superior to mechanical disc brakes. The main difference between disc is that not only does a hydraulic disc brake reduces the friction between the pads and rotor, but it also eliminates the friction caused by air trapped inside the caliper. As a result, a hydraulic disc brake delivers more consistent stopping power and greater control.

Mechanical disc brakes are great if you're riding uphill or on dry pavement. But when you're descending, especially in rainy conditions, a hydraulic disc brake upgrade is the way to go. You'll enjoy more reliable and responsive braking, plus less wear and tear on your bike.

This is probably the only major difference in efficiency and performance.

So if you're looking for a high-performance brake system, consider getting yourself a hydraulic disc brake!


4. Maintenance

Hydraulic brakes are maintenance-free, but they require regular servicing. Mechanical brakes, however, can get dirty and clogged with grime, which affects braking performance and makes them less efficient.

That being said, if you're already familiar with how to clean traditional mechanical rim brakes, then you should feel comfortable using mechanical disc brakes. And if hydraulic brakes leak, then they are far more complicated and expensive to repair. Specialty tools are required for this job.


5. Design

Disc brake styles are great for road riding bikes, but they've also revolutionized mountain biking. Mountain bikers have long had problems with braking performance on steep descents. Disc brakes solve those issues.

With disc brakes, you no longer need to worry about how wide your tire is or where your brakes are located. You can simply mount your disc brake rotors bolt directly onto the rims of your mountain bike. And since the discs are mounted directly onto the rims, you won't have to worry about any rubbing between the rim and the disc brake pads.

Mountain bikers can enjoy the benefits of disc brakes without worrying about the drawbacks.


6. Stopping Power

There are two types of disc brakes: mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical disc brakes are less expensive and easier to maintain, but they only provide moderate stopping power. On the other hand, hydraulic disc brakes are more powerful and require less maintenance, but they cost more.

Mechanical disc brakes work by pushing the brake pad against the rotor. As the brake pad pushes against the rotor, the rotor spins faster until it stops. Because there isn't any hydraulic pressure involved, mechanical disc brakes are less efficient than hydraulic ones.

Hydraulic disc brakes work by forcing pressurized fluid between the piston and the caliper. The fluid forces the caliper towards the rotor, causing the rotor to spin faster until it stops. Since there is no mechanical connection between the brake pedal and the caliper, hydraulic disc brakes are much more efficient than mechanical ones. It has higher-end disc brake systems.

So if you're looking for a high-performance brake system, consider getting a hydraulic disc brake.


7. Modulation And Precision Of Braking Force

Mechanical disc brakes are great if you want to be able to quickly and precisely modulate the braking force. But if you want to be precise, you might prefer hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes are easier to control since you only need to lightly squeeze the lever to apply the braking force.

This means that you can easily control how much braking force you want to apply. You can also stop the bike more efficiently since you won't lose any speed or momentum. Mechanical disc brakes are great for riding fast downhill sections where you want to maintain speed but don't want to slow down too much.

But if you're trying to avoid locking up the wheels, you may want to consider getting a hydraulic disc brake instead. Mechanical disc brakes are less efficient at stopping the bike since you have to exert more force to apply the brakes. This makes it harder to control the braking forces, and you can end up losing speed or momentum.

So if you're planning on doing lots of technical downhill mountain biking, you should probably opt for a hydraulic disc brake. Otherwise, you might want to consider getting a mechanical disc brake instead.


8. Weight

If you ride regularly, you might want to consider getting yourself a pair of hydraulic disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes weigh less and are easier to install than mechanical disc brakes. And if you're the kind of rider who weighs every component before installing it (like me!), then you'll probably prefer hydraulic disc brakes because they weigh less.

But if you're not the kind of rider who likes weighing components before installing them, then you should probably go ahead and get yourself a pair of mechanical disc brakes. Mechanical disc brakes weigh more than hydraulic disc brakes, but they're still pretty light. You shouldn't notice any difference between the two types of brakes once installed.

So whether you're a regular or occasional rider, you should give hydraulic disc brakes a try. They're lighter and easier to install than mechanical ones. But if you're the kind who likes weighing components before installation, you may want to opt for mechanical disc brakes instead.


9. Parts Availability

Disc brake parts are much easier and cheaper to obtain than hydraulic disc brake parts, especially if you're riding in the developing world or remote locations.

Even if you're riding in a country where there isn't a lot of demand for kinds of disc brakes, you should consider buying a pair anyway. You never know when you may need them.

In addition to being able to purchase disc brake parts easily, you can also find them everywhere. Most bike shops carry levers, steel cables, and caliper kits. And if you're planning a trip abroad, you can usually find them in any major city.

Hydraulic disc brake parts are harder to come by. You can find them in remote places, but you may have trouble getting them repaired.

If you plan to tour in a place where there isn't a big demand for disc brakes, it may be worth considering using rim brakes instead. Rim brakes are less expensive and easier to replace.

If you do decide to use disc brakes, you should probably invest in a pair of spares just in case. You never know when they might break down.


10. Repairing The Brakes In The Field

Mechanical disc brakes are easy to maintain and repair in the field. You only need a few simple tools and a few spare parts. And if you do run into any problems, you can usually fix them yourself without calling anyone else.

Hydraulic disc brakes, in contrast, are hard to repair in the field. They require special tools and knowledge to work properly. If one of your brake lines gets severed or a blown seal causes your brake fluid to leak out, you won't be able to repair them with a basic tool kit.

So if you're planning on touring or biking through remote regions, you should consider getting mechanical braking instead of hydraulic ones.

11. Speed

The majority of bikers don't notice the difference in speed. For those who compete in motocross or dirt bike racing, choosing between hydraulic and mechanical disc brake systems can be tricky. There are pros and cons to both types of discs. But if you're competing in races where you need to slow down quickly, then you should consider getting a hydraulic disc brake system.

A hydraulic disc brake system lets you stop quicker. This means you can wait longer to begin slowing down before entering turns. And since you can hold off on applying the brakes until later, you can maintain a higher average speed during competition.

Mechanical disc brakes require you to apply pressure earlier. Because they work differently than hydraulic brakes, they're less efficient at stopping you. This means you have to start braking sooner. As a result, you lose a little bit of speed.

So if you're competing in events where you need to slow quickly, then you should probably opt for a hydraulic braking system.

12. Hand Comfort

Mechanical disc brakes are the older style of disc brakes, and they require less effort to apply. But they are harder to adjust and maintain. On the other hand, hydraulic disc brakes are easier on your hands because they take very small amounts of pressure to apply and modulate, allowing you to brake with only one finger.

They are so sensitive that you could brake with one finger. And they are great for certain types of riding where you have to brake frequently. Because they are so sensitive, however, they are not recommended for downhill racing or any other type of riding where you have a lot of speed to slow down.

So if you ride mostly on flat terrain, then you should probably opt for a mechanical disc brake. But if you ride among off-road riders, then you might prefer a hydraulic disc brake.

Conclusion

Disc brakes are the future of bike technology. While rim brakes are still available on new bikes, you're more likely to find disc brakes on newer models, especially if you live somewhere where there's lots of snow or mud.

Hydraulic discs are the best option for performance. Try hurtling down a hill and braking with rim brakes versus hydraulic brakes. The biggest difference in performance is amazing.

SRAM and Shimano are leading the pack, but more and more brands are getting on board with disc brakes. And with the benefits of control and power, it's easy to see why.

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