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Mechanical Disc Brakes Vs Hydraulic Disc Brakes

As a Cyclist, the one thing you cannot escape is the development of technology within the Cycling World. Over the years the Bicycle has evolved, and choosing the right Bicycle today is more challenging than ever. If you select the Disc Brake over the Rim Brake, you must also choose between the Mechanical and Hydraulic Brakes. The best brake depends on your needs, preferences, and budget.


Bicycle Brakes; in general operate by a universal principle. The only difference is that while Mechanical Disc brakes are run by cables, a Hydraulic Disc system is run via a fluid. This fluid, however, operates in the same manner as a cable.

Let’s break down the common aspects of these two brake types.

With Hydraulic Disc brakes, fluid is used to push the braking pads against the rotor, and this brings the bicycle to a halt.

Mechanical Disc brakes, on the other hand uses a cable to pull the caliper down and this forces the pads against the rotor making the bicycle to stop.

Mechanical Disc Brakes Vs Hydraulic Disc Brakes - 1
Mechanical Disc Brakes Vs Hydraulic Disc Brakes - 2


Benefits of Mechanical Brakes:

The most notable benefit of Mechanical Disc brakes is that maintenance is easy. These brakes are also less expensive, and you only need to get the cables and pads replaced. In case an issue arises while on the road, you can fix it with ease as long as you have your Allen key. It is worth mentioning that Mechanical Disc brakes function more efficiently. A tension steel cable gets the pistons activated, and this compresses the brake pads against the rotor.

Mechanical Disc brakes offer lesser modulation, especially when riding in poor conditions. There is more friction within the brakes housing, and this, coupled with the fact that the system is exposed to dirt and debris, can cause untimely breakdowns. You may also want to know that the cables stretch over time.

Benefits of Hydraulic Brakes:

The modulation of Hydraulic Disc brakes is without debate impressive. Cyclists are in total control of their stopping speed, and this promotes safety irrespective of the terrain or weather conditions. Additionally, less effort is needed to stop, and all you need to do is use a finger to squeeze the brake lever. Hydraulic brake systems are fully enclosed, and this reduces exposure to elements that can mess with their longevity.

On the downside, fixing failed brakes on the go is nearly impossible. Hydraulic brakes also tend to be more expensive than their Mechanical counterparts. Moreover, maintenance of Hydraulic Disc brakes is technical and messy.


When it comes to maintenance, Hydraulic Disc brakes are less demanding. You need to bleed your Bicycle brake oil once or twice a year, depending on how frequently it is in use. On the downside, maintenance can get a little frustrating because even a slight incorrect move can leave your rotors and brake pads ruined by brake fluid. Bleeding the brakes is also an expensive affair if you hire a mechanic.

Mechanical Brakes need more frequent cleaning and maintenance, although the process is fortunately easy and fast. All you need to get the job done is an Allen key. Unfortunately, you will not be able to fully use your brake pads if you fail to tweak and adjust your brakes regularly.

Mechanical Disc Brakes Vs Hydraulic Disc Brakes - 3

So which is the better option? Both are Disc brakes only that one uses fluid and the other one uses cables. Their pros and cons balance, so it’s a trade-off. From my point of view, you need to consider your mountain biking preferences and of course your financial means.

The advancements in both Mechanical and Hydraulic brakes have brought forth more benefits for Cyclists. Now that you understand how Hydraulic brakes differ from Mechanical brakes, it should be easier to decide on the braking solution that best suits your cycling needs.


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