Coaster brakes

Coaster brakes are usually seen exclusively in cruiser or children’s bicycles and operate when a bike rider pedals backwards. Coaster brakes are located on the hub of rear wheel and activated by rotating the pedals in reverse which ignites the brakes.

Rim brakes

Rim brakes are the traditional style brakes found on most bikes and can work very well when setup and used correctly. They do not need constant adjustment and the brake pads, when needed, are reasonable in price (~20.00). Rim brakes become less efficient in wet or dirty conditions but are still the most common brakes seen on the market today.

Disc brakes

These brakes offer reliable stopping power in all conditions. This means you can control how much stopping power you are giving the brake easily. Disc brakes offer assured stopping no matter what gets on your brakes or if they get wet and they last a long time. On the other hand, disc brake pads can become contaminated with oils or grit and lose power. It is important to remember to NOT touch the disc rotors with your hands; the oil on your skin corrupts disc brake pads. The discs can also become bent or warped, but that can be fixed by a bike mechanic. Disc brakes are becoming far more common and are a great option for any rider as they perform reliably in all conditions.

  • Hydraulic disc brakes use either mineral oil or DOT fluid to operate a piston which clamps brake pads down onto a disc, like a car or motorcycle brake. Hydraulic disc brakes do require more maintenance than mechanical disc brakes since you should add new fluid once a year or so, but they modulate better in wet conditions and provide overall better stopping power.
  • Mechanical disc brakes work along the same principles that hydraulic disc brakes do; they use two pads that clamp down onto a disc rotor that is connected to each wheel respectively. The main difference is that instead of a piston being activated by hydraulic fluid, the pads are controlled and actuated by a cable. The main advantage of mechanical disc brakes is less maintenance and easier adjustments. The disadvantage is that although they do provide more reliable braking than standard v-brakes, they do not provide the modulation or braking power that hydraulic brakes do.

See more bike anatomy