Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Buyer's guide - Mountain bike disc brakes explained

Mountain bike hydraulic disc brakes are very simple in principle. There is a lever attached to a master cylinder at one end, a hose in the middle and finally a calliper pushing some pads on to a metal disc bolted to your wheel hub. Tiny changes to the brake system can make a noticeable difference to how well it performs, so let´s see which are the main parts of your mountain bike disc brake system.

Lever/master cylinder
All disc brakes have a master cylinder (brake lever body) with a piston inside pushed by the brake lever, but on some brakes the piston is parallel to the handlebar (e.g. Shimano Deore), while on others like in Formula´s it’s perpendicular to it. The master cylinder contains the brake fluid reservoir allowing to automatically adjusting for pad wear and heat expansion of braking fluid. Brake levers can be very different in shape and material (aluminium, carbon fibre) and designed for one finger use, two fingers or more. Potential adjustments include reach, leverage ratio and bite point.

Mountain bike brake parts
Mountain bike lever/master cylinder parts - Hope Tech3 V4