Than Hydraulic Brakes Are Better Than Mechanical Brakes On A Bicycle

Design and principle of operation

The principle of operation of mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes on a bicycle is basically the same. By pressing the brake lever, the brake pads are set in motion, which compress the rotor. As a result, braking occurs due to the conversion of kinetic energy into heat due to the frictional force. The main difference lies in the method of transferring the pressing force of the brake lever to the brake pads. Mechanical disc brakes use a cable. When you press the handle, its tension occurs, which leads to displacement of the movable block.

In hydraulic disc brakes, its role is played by the piston system and hydraulic fluid. By pressing the handle on the hydraulics, the piston of the master cylinder is moved. It pushes the hydraulic fluid, which drives the pistons into the caliper, compressing the pads.

Bicycle disc brakes: hydraulic or mechanical?

Very often, when choosing a bicycle or buying new brakes for it, the question arises: “Which brakes are better, hydraulic disc or mechanical disc brakes?” The question is very relevant, because they differ significantly in price, quality and other equally important parameters. Therefore, in this comparison, we tried to tell as succinctly and clearly as possible how hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes of a bicycle differ in design, principle of operation, braking performance, adjustment and maintenance, as well as maintainability and price.

Braking

The braking quality of disc hydraulic and mechanical brakes is practically NOT different (taking into account that disc Mechanics are the cheapest). Both one and the second do an excellent job with their tasks. Braking is more influenced by the material of the brake pads, their size, as well as the rotor diameter. The larger the contact surface of the pads with the rotor, the better the braking quality. The material of the brake pads should also be noted. There are currently two types on the bicycle market: metallized (Sintered), which are better suited for muddy trails, and organic (Resin), which prevent overheating of the caliper.

Than Hydraulic Brakes Are Better Than Mechanical Brakes On A Bicycle

There is still a difference in braking between hydraulic and mechanical brakes, though. It is expressed more in the comfort of use. On hydraulics, due to the fact that there is no cable, which rubs against the shirt, the brake lever travel is easier. The second advantage is a more precise control of the braking force (modulation). In other words, it’s easier for you to figure out how hard you should push the handle in a given situation. Although this parameter also depends on the level of hydraulic brakes, namely on the number of pistons.

Customization and maintenance

While the braking performance of hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes is almost the same, the difference in setup and maintenance is much more noticeable. The clear favorite here is hydraulics. It does not need to be adjusted as often as a mechanic, and the adjustment itself is made during the first installation or when replacing brake pads. Although this rule does not apply to single-piston hydraulic brakes, which, like the mechanics, need periodic adjustment. Adjustment of mechanical brakes is necessary after each removal of the wheel and periodically, according to the degree of wear of the pads and stretching of the cable. Also, the disadvantages of mechanics include the need for periodic maintenance of the cable, namely keeping it clean and lubricated.

Maintainability

But in terms of maintainability, disc mechanics wins, which can be easily repaired in the field. In the event of a cable breakdown, it can be easily replaced on the spot, given that you have a spare. What you can’t do with hydraulics. If you caught on a branch and damaged the hydraulic line, it is unlikely that you will be able to install a new one, fill in oil and pump the system without special equipment. Plus, finding replacement parts for bicycle hydraulic disc brakes is much more difficult than for mechanical ones.

Another point where mechanics win is price. Good hydraulic brakes are more expensive than mechanical ones of the same level.

Particular questions on mechanics. How to pull

Proceed in the reverse order of loosening the cable and get the desired result.

Working with a caliper

Adjusting mechanical disc brakes on a mountain bike is a two-step process: caliper adjustments and brake lever adjustments. To adjust the caliper means to align the pads symmetrically with the disc, while the gaps should be minimal.

When adjusting the caliper, it is important to follow the sequence of actions:

  • Center the clipper. Loosen the bolts securing the caliper to the adapter and, move the caliper, find such a position in which the pads are equidistant from the disc and completely parallel to it. After centering the machine, pull it to the adapter, observing the rule of uniform tightening: turn one bolt ¼ turn, then the other also ¼, and repeat the described procedure again with the first and second fasteners.
  • Align the clearance between the fixed pad and the disc. All mechanical disc brake calipers have a bolt or adjusting wheel to move the fixed pad closer / away from the disc. Here the task is to use this adjustment in order to bring the block as close as possible to the rotor, observing the clearance. The easiest way to do this is to move the friction pad close to the disc, but so that it does not bend it, and loosen the bolt a little to get a small gap.
  • Adjust the clearance between the moving shoe and the rotor. On serious kits, a special adjustment is provided for this. a bolt that moves the block, regardless of the tension of the cable. On cheap bikes, this setting is combined with the cable tension. The task is to set the same gap as between the fixed friction lining and the disc.
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Note. Caliper centering can be skipped if this operation was performed earlier and the wheel was not removed.

Checking the readiness of the system for adjustment

So, first you need to make sure that:

  • The adapter to which the caliper is attached is well secured to the frame or fork (bolts are tight).
  • The already tested rotor is securely fixed with screws on the hub.
  • The wheel is installed on the bike, the eccentric / nuts are tightened.
  • The lamb for adjusting the cable tension has been unscrewed by no more than 1.5 turns (located next to the handle or caliper).
  • The cable is fixed on the movable arm of the machine.

How to make the brakes brake well

Use high-quality pads and in a timely manner Centers the caliper of the rotor so that the disc bends as little as possible.

How to adjust disc mechanical disc brakes on a mountain bike

Mechanics are gradually becoming history. Now it can still be seen in the budget line of Russian Stels, Forward and Stern. Considering the price, it is not necessary to say that the parts of the brake system belong to such global brands as Shimano and Sram. Usually this is some kind of noname kit, which has a minimum of settings.

Another nail in the list of disadvantages of mechanical disc brakes is that they need adjustment more often. This is because one of the pads is motionless. As it is erased, the distance between it and the disc automatically increases. Meanwhile, fluctuations in the values ​​of this gap should be insignificant, otherwise the friction linings will wear unevenly, the quality of deceleration suffers.

Adjusting the brake lever travel

This adjustment allows you to adjust the position of the handle when the brake engages. There are specific recommendations on this matter. Someone finds it more convenient that the bike slows down at the slightest pressure on the handle, someone more likes the presence of a small idle and a dead grip in the middle of the lever path.

This adjustment is carried out using a screw located in the brake lever housing. The final adjustment of the severity of the brake seizure is made by the lamb of the cable tension.

Before adjusting: preparing for tuning

The decision to adjust disc brakes on a mountain or road bike will only be successful if the brake system is diagnosed. By the way, the diagnostic measures for hydraulics and mechanics will be different. How hydraulic brakes differ from mechanical ones. We already had a conversation.

In short, in the hydraulic circuit, both pads push the fluid, acting on the caliper pistons, which results in clear modulation and easy handle travel. And in the mechanics of the movable there is only one friction lining. It is brought to the disc by pulling the cable with the brake lever.

However, whatever the brake drive is, it is worth checking:

  • Rotor for deformation. For 100% confidence in the flatness of the disc, it is better to unscrew it and put it on a flat surface. A rough estimate can be made while on the bike by spinning the wheel and estimating the distance to both pads through the notch in the caliper. Friction linings Must be equidistant from the disc in any position.
  • Brake pad wear and integrity. Remove the pads by removing the Cotter Pin and evaluate the residual thickness of the friction material. On the surface in contact with the disc, there must be no shells and notches.
  • Cleanliness of pads and rotor. The presence of oil traces and accumulations of dirt on their working surfaces is not allowed. To clean them, you can use fine sandpaper (for example, “zero”) and rags dipped in any cleaner (acetone, ammonia.).
  • Wheel hub location in frame / fork dropouts. The bushing should fit freely into the seat and abut against the mating surface of the frame or fork. Distortions in the installation cannot be avoided, but they should be minimal, practically invisible. Micron skewing is immediately audible on the brakes in the form of rotor shuffling. This is why disc brake adjustments are required after re-mounting the wheel.

It is not superfluous to look at the status of the drive. When using cable disc brakes, check the cable integrity. The end must NOT be unwoven and the service life must not exceed 3 years. When replacing the cable, change the shirts. It is not necessary to lubricate it, but if you decide, then do it only with a special lubricant, and not attracting dust.

There should be no leaks on the hydraulics. Weaknesses are connections:

  • Master cylinder. brake line.
  • Brake Lever. Master Cylinder.
  • Brake caliper.M

These joints received a weak status due to the use of cuffs, which dry out over time and leak.

How to adjust disc brakes on a bicycle: techniques for hydraulics and mechanics

Normally, the disc brake stops the wheel as quickly as possible, allowing the force to be dosed on the verge of blocking the rotor. Deviations appear after replacing the cable, pads and overhaul. However, the settings are violated during long-term use, as well as after removing the wheel, for example, in order to glue the bicycle camera at home. How to avoid the famous shuffling of the rotor, how to eliminate braking, and, in the end, how to restore the factory braking character. these and other questions are answered by the editors of Autobann magazine.

Which disc brakes on a bicycle are better: hydraulic or mechanical

In the list of bike characteristics, the “brakes” column raises no less questions than the “rear derailleur” line. Seven years ago, there was a lot of controversy around retardation systems, since the V-Brake design competed with disc mechanics. Nowadays, mechanical “discs” have already supplanted the double-lever scheme in the budget segment, and hydraulics are offered as a standard. Is it worth overpaying for it? What is safer and what is more comfortable? And, in the end, which configuration slows down better?

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Comfort

It is much more pleasant to press the hydraulic brake lever. At least due to the fact that this can be done with one or two fingers without much overexertion. The cheap mechanics are quite tight, and the grip is clamped all the way to the stop, almost with the whole brush.

Delving deeper into the nature of the sensations of operating disc brakes, it is appropriate to talk about modulation.

  • Four-piston hydraulics on a premium bike (over 50,000 rubles). Minimum handle effort (free movement with one finger), maximum transparent feedback.
  • Hydraulic deceleration system with two pistons (20,000-50,000 rubles). Two-finger control, “return” is present, but not intelligible enough.
  • Cheap mechanics with one moveable shoe. When replacing even with budget hydraulics, a low level of modulation is felt. In fact, it does not exist, but there are two positions. it slows down and does NOT slow down the command to slow down the cable drive is NOT capable of handling.

Maintainability

Let’s start with an explanation of the fear that roams the cycling community about using hydraulic brakes on a bicycle. Its essence is that, say, as a result of a fall, a damaged hydraulic line is almost impossible to repair in the field.

So it is: equipment for pumping and brake fluid or mineral oil is expensive to carry. But modern kits from Shimano and Avid are of high quality and are hard to damage. This time. Two. in tough freeride disciplines, oddly enough, hydraulics are used, although falling there is supposed to be almost by definition. Besides:

  • NOT everyone carry a spare cable with them, which means that it will NOT work to repair the mechanical brake either.
  • The bike has two brakes and both of them fail at once. a very rare phenomenon.

Of course, if there is a brake cable in the spare kit, it will take five minutes to repair the mechanics. Maintenance of hydraulics requires an order of magnitude more time and expensive equipment, but you also have to look into it less often.

If every gram counts, then your choice is Hydraulic.

Efficiency

Braking performance does NOT depend on how the caliper and handle are connected. The material and size of the rubbing parts play a role here:

  • Rotor diameter.
  • Pads dimensions.
  • Friction pad material.

Usually, the pads are proportional to the overall diameter of the discs, of which there are only two running gear:

  • 160 mm. light cross-country (forest paths, not long descents).
  • 185 mm. active driving on mountain roads.

Difference between disc hydraulics and mechanics

It is difficult for an inexperienced eye to determine which brakes are installed on a bicycle. hydraulic or mechanical, which is why the concepts of what is better and what is worse are unlikely to succeed. And there, and there you will find a handle, a rotor and a brake caliper (a mechanism that presses the pads against the disc). And they have the same principle of operation. they clamped the handle on the steering wheel, the pads stopped the rotor.

The global difference lies in the way they work, or rather, in the style of command transmission from the handle to the caliper:

  • Cable. Its tension leads to displacement of one block. The second is constantly motionless. This is how mechanics work.
  • Brake fluid or mineral oil. When you press the handle, the piston moves inside it, putting pressure on the liquid substance in the hydraulic line. Since the fluid is incompressible, through it, the force is transmitted to the pistons in the brake caliper (the mechanism that presses the pads against the rotor). Both friction linings move in the hydraulic circuit.

Which brakes on a bicycle are better: hydraulic or mechanical

If we strictly assess the question, then it is posed incorrectly. Firstly, you only meet a mechanic on bicycles for 30,000 rubles. Everything above this psychological mark comes with hydraulics.

Secondly, the budget segment differs in economy on everything, and on cable “discs” too: the Chinese noname kit slows down even worse than the V-Brake retro design, but, alas, they are displaced by 95%. The hydraulic circuit in this price category is also NOT ideal, but since, we repeat, there are no vibracks anymore, then the primacy belongs to it.

If you look at the ranking of the best mountain bikes for price and quality. That mechanical brakes compete with hydraulic only in a very narrow price range: 20,000-30,000 rubles. But he is also one of the most popular. A complete set with hydraulics is usually 3,000-5,000 rubles more expensive than a Mechanical Disc. Therefore, the target audience of the question is those buyers who want to save this money, and there is a reasonable grain in this.

The comparison focuses on characteristics such as:

  • The convenience of use.
  • Braking performance.
  • Difficulty of service at home and in the field.
  • The weight.
  • The difference in price we have already discussed.

What to choose as a result

Let’s take an analogy with the transmission question: finding the best rear derailleurs for your bike. You start from the nature of the ride. That is, no one puts the expensive and ultralight Shimano Deore XTR system on a hiking bike, because on asphalt and light primer, a regular Deore is enough.

In a serious application, comments are unnecessary. For cycling tourism, you simply will not buy a bike for less than 30,000 rubles, since the concept of “reliability” correlates with an amount of at least 500 Therefore, here, as in the case of a serious cross-country direction, the hydraulic brake is a monopolist.

Maintainability

Let’s start with an explanation of the fear that roams the cycling community about using hydraulic brakes on a bicycle. Its essence is that, say, as a result of a fall, the damaged hydraulic line is almost impossible to repair in the field.

So it is: equipment for pumping and brake fluid or mineral oil is expensive to carry. But modern kits from Shimano and Avid are of high quality and are hard to damage. This time. Two. in tough freeride disciplines, oddly enough, hydraulics are used, although falling there is supposed to be almost by definition. Besides:

  • Not everyone carry a spare cable with them, which means that the mechanical brake cannot be repaired either.
  • The bike has two brakes and both of them fail at once. a very rare phenomenon.
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Of course, if there is a brake cable in the spare kit, it will take five minutes to repair the mechanics. Maintenance of hydraulics requires an order of magnitude more time and expensive equipment, but you also have to look into it less often.

If every gram counts, then your choice is Hydraulic.

Assembled system weight

There is not even much to discuss here. the hydraulic brake is always easier.

Braking

The braking quality of disc hydraulic and mechanical brakes is practically NOT different (taking into account that disc Mechanics are the cheapest). Both one and the second do an excellent job with their tasks. Braking is more influenced by the material of the brake pads, their size, as well as the rotor diameter. The larger the contact surface of the pads with the rotor, the better the braking quality. The material of the brake pads should also be noted. There are currently two types on the bicycle market: metallized (Sintered), which are better suited for muddy trails, and organic (Resin), which prevent overheating of the caliper.

There is still a difference in braking between hydraulic and mechanical brakes, though. It is expressed more in the comfort of use. On hydraulics, due to the fact that there is no cable, which rubs against the shirt, the brake lever travel is easier. The second advantage is a more precise control of the braking force (modulation). In other words, it’s easier for you to figure out how hard you should push the handle in a given situation. Although this parameter also depends on the level of hydraulic brakes, namely on the number of pistons.

Design and principle of operation

The principle of operation of mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes on a bicycle is basically the same. By pressing the brake lever, the brake pads are set in motion, which compress the rotor. As a result, braking occurs due to the conversion of kinetic energy into heat due to the frictional force. The main difference lies in the method of transferring the pressing force of the brake lever to the brake pads. Mechanical disc brakes use a cable. When you press the handle, its tension occurs, which leads to displacement of the movable block.

In hydraulic disc brakes, its role is played by the piston system and hydraulic fluid. By pressing the handle on the hydraulics, the piston of the master cylinder is moved. It pushes the hydraulic fluid, which drives the pistons into the caliper, compressing the pads.

Bicycle disc brakes: hydraulic or mechanical?

Very often, when choosing a bicycle or buying new brakes for it, the question arises: “Which brakes are better, hydraulic disc or mechanical disc brakes?” The question is very relevant, because they differ significantly in price, quality and other equally important parameters. Therefore, in this comparison, we tried to tell as succinctly and clearly as possible how hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes of a bicycle differ in design, principle of operation, braking performance, adjustment and maintenance, as well as maintainability and price.

Resource

Hydraulic brakes have more uptime.

How mechanical and hydraulic bike brakes differ

In a mechanical brake, the handle on the handlebars is connected to the caliper, which can move the pads using the most common cable. Press the handle and the pads like a string move to the router. This is a classic technology. It has been used for many years and is used, for example, in the hand brake of a car.

In hydraulic brakes, the role of a cable, which presses the pads to the disc, performs the hydraulic line. The very same brake machine is adapted for use with liquid. The technology is also far from new, but it has recently been used in the cycling environment.

A brake line is a normal tube containing any type of brake fluid. On one side of this brake line is a brake lever that the cyclist presses. A system of pistons is organized in the handle, which begins to squeeze liquid through the tube.

On the reverse side of the tube there is a brake machine equipped with a piston system. It “accepts” the movement of fluid and transfers pressure to the pads, squeezing them. The effect can be achieved due to the fact that the liquid is incompressible.

Service complexity and reliability

There is one bad quality in disk hydraulics. the hydraulic line can break, the fluid can leak out. Oil seals tend to leak and snot. Air bubbles may appear, reducing efficiency. True, this happens on good models every three to four years or less.

If you are going on a long hike or do not want to waste energy / time on complex hydra repairs, then you can stop at mechanics. Given that the effectiveness of mechanics is enough for you. Mechanical brake is always easier to maintain.

Field repair of a hydraulic brake is nearly impossible, whereas a mechanical brake can be repaired with just a piece of the brake jacket and a cable.

However, a good quality hydraulic brake rarely breaks and lacks such pleasures as constantly adjusting the position of the pads, stretching the cable or turning the cable into a washcloth. With wear, the hydraulic line does NOT start to interfere with the movement of the fluid and the hydraulics always work stably, but the mechanics after a couple of years of use starts to noticeably junk and require the application of a hand.

Spare parts

On the market, you can easily find spare parts for both one type and the second. The main thing is not to get carried away with non-name brands.