Once you have decided to purchase a mountain bike, you will join an increasingly widening fanbase composed of people discovering how much a bicycle and the great outdoors can offer when paired together. A mountain bike can offer hours of fun when paired with a rider looking for adventure and a trail that just seems to go on and on. Experienced mountain bikers will tell you that the thrill of a good ride can carry you through a bad week and leave you with energy to spare. A new rider, however, may not be thinking as far ahead as next week. In fact, if you do not have much experience with mountain bikes, it is likely that one of your primary concerns will be over whether or not you can stop your bike when you need to. Even if you have more experience with mountain biking, you may still find yourself at a loss when it comes to understanding the intimate details of your braking system. However, the brakes are arguably one of the most important parts of your mountain bike to understand, and they are certainly one of the most important parts to know how to use when it comes to avoiding obstacles, people, and animals that appear unexpectedly while you are out in the woods blasting through the trails. This article will provide information on the two main types of mountain bike brakes to help you decide which kind may work best for you on your bike.
There are two basic types of brakes commonly used on mountain bikes: disk brakes and rim brakes. There is not much debate among most mountain bikers with experience over which is better, but less experienced mountain bikers may find themselves wondering what the advantages and disadvantages are of each. Generally, if you are looking for brake performance that is not only better but is also more consistent in a variety of conditions, such as in mud, dirt, rain, snow, and pretty much anything else you can expect to come across on a trail, you are better off choosing disk brakes instead of rim brakes, as long as you are okay with your disk brakes costing slightly more money and weighing slightly more in pounds. However, if you are looking for the lightest possible setup you can manage on your mountain bike and are okay with dealing with small variations in the amount of brake strength and overall brake performance you will receive under different riding conditions, then you will be better off with rim brakes over disk brakes.
The disadvantages of rim brakes are that they require rims that are straight and without distortions, warping, or damage to work the best. Additionally, whenever conditions on the track or in the weather deviate from the ideal dry and sunny conditions that never seem to exist when you are on the trail, then your rim brakes will probably perform poorly, at least in comparison to disk brakes. Rim brakes are not the best option when the conditions are muddy or wet, which they often are when you are mountain biking. Additionally, it is possible for a rim brake to wear through the side of a rim over time and result in a blow off of the side of the rim. This is not a situation you want to deal with while you are on your bike.
Disk brakes, on the other hand, will perform significantly better than rim brakes once the weather changes from blue skies to raindrops. Additionally, you typically will need less force in your fingers to apply an equivalent amount of pressure with disk brakes than you will with rim brakes, which means you have more control when you are riding and can brake harder with less effort. Furthermore, disk brakes are generally not affected by the conditions of your rims and wheels, which can be a wonderful asset in poor weather. The primary disadvantage of disk brakes is that they weigh more than rim brakes. The exact amount of additional weight compared to a rim brake system will depend on the specific configuration you purchase and set up on your bike, but you can expect a few extra ounces.