There are pros
and cons to all mountain bike brakes. In this feature we present the
case for each system, offer tips and give opinions on some of the best brakes in
A clever, evolutionary leap from the dreadful old ‘short arm
cantilever’ designs. V-brakes were first seen on mountain bikes as
early as 1992 with the Cheap Trick design from Ben Capron. Their
longer levers require more cable to be pulled and a close spacing
between pads and rims to perform properly. This meant a change of
lever for most people, but the extra power was well worth it.
Shimano designed the pads quite thin, this was to avoid the
‘spongy’ feeling of thicker pads and also to help stop
‘squealing’ which is more common with a thicker and therefore
more flexible pad.
The advantages of V-brakes are:
*Good modulation and power when properly adjusted and with fresh
*Rims wear out.
*Not powerful enough in the wet for full on riding.
*Rims are always in the mud/water.
*Buckled rims affect braking.
*Cables subject to rust and sticking if not regularly greased (after
every wet ride).
*Need frequent balancing.
*Need frequent adjustment to keep pads close to the rim as pads wear.
The Top V-Brake Tips are:
1. The end of the noodle should only just stretch in to the cradle to give best performance.
Picture and More.
2. The brakes can be balanced and more spring tension added quickly by: un-hooking the spring and bending it outwards. The brake will move over towards that side.
3. The thin pads wear out quickly, take a spare pair on long wet rides.
4. Cartridge pad holders are a neat upgrade (for V-brakes without them), they make changing pads easier and the brake shoes never need adjusting again.
Magura Hydraulic Rim Brakes
These get rid of the dreaded wire cables which is a good thing. After a difficult set-up they're very powerful and suffer only from the usual problems with buckled rims and rim wear. In common with all rim brakes
their performance suffers in the wet, get the green pads for the winter even though these wear much faster. Magura rim brakes are the only way to go if you want more power than V’s and haven’t got the fixing points for disks. Most have less modulation than V’s, try before you buy. Some people think this is an advantage (especially trials riders) but you might just hate it…
Cable Disk Brakes
The main reason for the existence of cable disk brakes is that they don’t need a special lever. Manufacturers have designed them to work with the cable pull found on V-brake levers so they’re cheaper. They’re not simpler or more reliable though. Most require meticulous set-up and frequent cable maintenance in wet weather to equal an average hydraulic disk.
Cable Disk Advantages:
*Half the price and much of the performance of hydraulic disks.
*You can keep your existing V-brake lever (hence the lower price).
*No fiddly bleeding.
Cable Disk Disadvantages
*Suffer from cable contamination and drag resulting in poor performance.
*Rear disk has the worst cable problem due to longer cable length (but
the rear brake doesn’t need super high power anyway).
*Oil or grease on disks/calliper can cause a drastic loss of power, after which the pads must be replaced.
The front runners are:
Avid Ball Bearing Disk MTN
The original cable disk that actually works. Very few problems with these, take care not to lose the pads when you remove your wheels. Being held in by small magnets they can easily fall out. To keep them in place install a spacer e.g. a piece of rubber car mat, then hold this with an elastic band whilst transporting. Some squealing when wet, as with other disks keep oil off the rotors.
Hayes Mechanical Disk
This disk calliper is the one to get if you have Hayes post type mounts and can’t afford hydraulics. They can be difficult to set-up and are more prone to the dreaded squeal than some, but once working properly they’re pretty good.
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whole feature in text only form.