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A guide to bicycle disc brakes

A guide to bicycle disc brakes

The disc brakes that were once a must-have for mountain bikes have become the new standard. From different types to maintenance, here is everything you need to know.

It’s no longer weird to see disc brake bikes—from training and training at the Hardcore Road World Championships, to weekly store rides, to small town pub crawls—brakes that were once a staple of mountain bikes have become new. Things standards. Even better, almost every price can now provide a strong braking force. Although disc brakes can have a huge impact on your riding, they can be heavier and sometimes more challenging to maintain. So whether you are persevering or already swaying, here are basic guidelines on disc brakes and how to make the most of them.

disc brake

Types of bicycle disc brakes

There are two main types of disc brakes: mechanical, which uses cables (just like rim brakes) and hydraulic, which uses hydraulic oil instead of cables in a completely sealed pipeline. When braking, pressure forces fluid into the caliper, pressing the brake pads on the brake disc.

If you are interested in buying a bicycle with disc brakes for less than $1,000, then you might end up choosing mechanical brakes. This lower cost option will allow you to spend less money and still own a bicycle with reliable, all-weather braking power. In addition to price, some riders prefer cable disc brakes because they are easier to operate at home and are compatible with most mechanical brake levers. But more and more bicycles are equipped with hydraulic disc brakes. For home mechanics, this more expensive option is usually more difficult to maintain.

We recommend letting a workshop mechanic deflate your brakes (the old hydraulic oil is flushed and replaced with fresh oil), because you need to use the correct oil, which matches your brakes for proper thermal management . Although this is more costly than replacing the cable, it only needs to be done once every six months.

Disc brake calipers

The brake lever is connected to the calipers on the front and rear brake discs through the brake pipeline. The caliper contains opposing pistons on either side of the rotor; pressure from the brake lines engages these pistons, pushing the brake pads inward to contact the brake disc. The resulting friction will slow down the speed of the bicycle.

Disc brake caliper maintenance

If your rotor can’t spin freely, you know-the friction, grinding, and screams that result will drive you crazy-it may consume some of your power. Usually, the calipers are not aligned.
Solve this problem by loosening the two bolts that connect the caliper to the frame or front fork so that the caliper can move left and right. Swing the caliper to ensure that it moves freely, and then pull the corresponding brake lever firmly. This will clamp the caliper to the rotor. While holding down the brake lever to hold the caliper in place, tighten the top and bottom bolts until they are snug. Then re-tighten the top bolt to the torque specification, and then tighten the bottom bolt.
If you have adjusted the calipers but still hear the friction sound, check your rotors-sometimes they will deform due to impact or overheating.

Disc brake rotor

The rotor diameter is as small as 140 mm, suitable for road and off-road motorcycle applications, and the maximum diameter is up to 205 mm, suitable for mountain bike downhill. Generally speaking, 140 to 160 mm is used for road and cross-country bikes, 160 mm is used for XC mountain bikes, 160 to 180 mm is used for cross-country riding (sometimes mixed, with larger rotors in the front), 180 mm is used for endurance races, DH Use 200 to 205 mm. Larger rotors can dissipate heat over a larger surface area, but are heavier, so you need the smallest rotor to fit the type of riding you usually do.

disc brake

Disc brake rotor maintenance

If you have adjusted the calipers but still hear friction, check your rotors: sometimes, they can deform due to impact or even overheating. To determine if your rotor is deformed, place the bicycle on the stand or turn it over so that the wheels can spin freely. Check to see if there is a swing between the mats, or the gap opens and closes. If you see any of them, the rotor is incorrect.
Usually, but not always, a warped rotor can be simply bent back using a rotor dressing tool. Pay attention to the part that needs to be trimmed and rotate it away from the caliper. Gently use a tool to straighten it around the rotor of this part. This only works when the rotor is rubbing at a specific location. If you are not sure whether it is a rotor or a brake, it is best to hand the bicycle to a professional to complete it correctly. The rotor is a strong plug, but it is very fragile on the left and right sides. If you try it yourself, be very gentle.
If there are signs of physical damage such as gouges or warping that cannot be straightened, it is time to replace the rotor. When the total thickness of the braking surface is less than 1.5mm, the rotor also needs to be replaced. If your rotor has been used for a while or you suspect that it has become thinner, please use a set of vernier calipers to measure it, or ask your store to measure it.
 

Disc brake pads

The brake pads are located in the calipers. They are designed to clamp the rotor at high speed, which means that their main job (other than stopping your bike) is to withstand heat and friction.

disc brake

Disc brake pad maintenance:

If you have checked the calipers and rotor, but still hear terrible screams when braking, it may mean that the braking surface (including the brake pads and/or rotor) is contaminated and needs to be cleaned.
Remove the wheels and wipe the rotor with isopropyl alcohol on a clean cloth, then remove the gaskets and clean them. Wearing disposable latex gloves is also a good idea; you are trying to remove dirt and oil from the brake surface instead of adding more. Make sure to let the pad dry completely before reinstalling. 

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