Mountain Bike Brakes
Sometimes You Just Need to Stop

Strength to Ride and Power to Stop come Together
Bicycle Brakes are the Topic of this Article

"Don’t be Unstoppable…”

You have probably noticed that I never push you to choose one or another particular type of bike parts. The same goes with mountain bike brakes.

In general, there are three different types of bike brakes and millions of opinions.

But before we start…

Brake Pads

If you feel unstoppable, don’t hurry to blame your brake system. Check your brake pads.

If you find them worn out or lop-sided, no surprise your brakes don’t work. Don’t wait until you hear that “metal-on-metal” sound…

Most likely you will buy brake pads together with brake shoes (funny name of a metal part on which rubber pad is fixed). Brake pads are easily replaceable. And this can be very effective.

You would also like improved front brake power if you like that “look-at-me-standing-on-my-front-wheel” trick.

And I know you do.

Cantilever Brakes – Classic

Many of us have started with cantilever brakes system. And I still like that classic look. Cantilever system lets you change your wheels (or tires) more comfortable as it opens very wide after the cable is unplugged.

Mountain bike brakes

For the average price of 30 USD (unless you are looking for magnesium or carbon construction canti brakes) you may find very decent cantilever brakes. And they will do their job.

Still feel unstoppable?

Again, try to change brake pads. Most likely you will be surprised what influence on your braking power good quality brake pads may have. Or…

Be creative. Use disc brake on your front wheel. Leave cantilever on rear.

Need more? Okey, it’s time for upgrade.

V-Brakes – New Age

Most popular among bikers. Also known as linear pull brakes. Consider these mountain bike brakes as a middle way between new and old brakes

Mountain bike brakes

systems. Keep in mind compatibility issues if you are upgrading form cantilever to v-system. Check your frame and fork for compatible mounting elements.

Also read product characteristics (I know, boring…) when you buy online.

However, do we use V-brakes only for more modern looks?

No. With all due respect to good old cantilever brakes, V-system is more powerful. Upgrade (may I say “go V”?) if you like more aggressive riding style or difficult trails.

Or if you have bought low budget “unstoppable” mountain bike. Need even more power? Tired from that squeaking sound when you brake harder and brake pads rub the rim tight?

The next step…

Disc Brakes – Modern

What makes mountain bike disc brakes modern?

What fits your car should also work on your bike. Taken form automobile industry disc brakes have been adapted for mountain bikes using hi-end technologies.

Mountain bike brake

How do they work?

Mountain bike disc brakes make you stop while special brake pads compress rotors (see those steel circles which are fixed on the hubs of bike wheels ?).

Brake force from your hands may be transmitted via usual steel cable or using hydraulic fluid.


This type of mountain bike brakes gives you more power. Most, actually. Because disc brakes are currently the best braking system you can install on your bike. More…

Since there are no usual brake pads (and brake shoes…) the rims are no longer used for braking. So, you can use stronger and lighter rims.

Possibilities and expenditures never end, as you see.

One last thing. Compatibility. Make sure (inspect your bike and read that users manual, again…) your mountain bike frame and fork have “disc brakes friendly” attaching holes.

Finally, you probably won’t be surprised that disc brakes are most expensive choice compared with cantilever and v-brakes.

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