When it comes to outfitting your eBike with the best braking system possible, you have two main options you’ll find on most electric bikes: hydraulic disc brakes and mechanical disc brakes.
Both types of brakes offer their own unique advantages, so it’s important to understand the key differences between them before making a decision. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes for eBikes, comparing and contrasting their pros and cons.
Read our ultimate eBike Guide for more information on the best eBikes.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes: Advantages and Disadvantages
Hydraulic disc brakes are widely regarded as the best type of brake for eBikes, thanks to their impressive stopping power and sealed design. Because hydraulic brakes are sealed, they’re less likely to be affected by contamination from dirt, water, or grime— making them the ideal choice for off-road riding or in wet weather conditions.
This is especially important when riding on uneven or wet terrain, as it can help you avoid skidding or losing control of your bike. In addition, hydraulic disc brakes are less likely to overheat, making them ideal for use in stop-and-go traffic or during extended downhill stretches.
Whether you’re an experienced eBiker or just getting started, hydraulic disc brakes (and the brake pads that go with it) are the best option for ensuring a safe and enjoyable ride.
Additionally, hydraulic brakes are self-adjusting, meaning that they don’t require nearly as much maintenance as mechanical disc brakes. They automatically “grip” the brake without tuning, at least in most cases.
While hydraulic disc brakes offer some clear advantages, they’re not without their drawbacks. One of the biggest problems with hydraulic calipers is that they can be prone to contamination and leaking — which can lead to sticky pistons and reduced performance over time. Additionally, because they’re sealed units, it can be very difficult (and expensive) to repair hydraulic brakes if something goes wrong.
What ebikes come with hydraulic disc brakes?
More and more electric bikes are coming standard with hydraulic disc brakes these days, as the price has come down recently. Some of the most notable are the RadRover 6 (read our RadRover 6 Review), Aventon Aventure and the Cyrusher XF900 (read our Cyrusher Review, too).
Mechanical Disc Brakes: Advantages and Disadvantages
Mechanical disc brakes are the other main type of brake available for eBikes. Unlike hydraulic disc brakes, mechanical disc brakes are not sealed units—which means that they’re much easier (and less expensive) to repair if something goes wrong. Additionally, mechanical disc brakes don’t rely on hydraulics for operation, which makes them simpler overall and easier for most people to understand.
The biggest advantage: price
Most of all, the main advantage to mechanical disc brakes are very straightforward: the price. Mechanical disc brakes are typically much less expensive than hydraulic disc brakes, making them a great option for budget-minded riders.
The biggest downside to mechanical disc brakes is that they can lack the consistent stopping power and lever feel of hydraulic brakes. They also take some time to “break in” – you’ll notice squeaking for the first 30 or so miles.
However, because mechanical disc brakes are not sealed, they’re more vulnerable to contamination from dirt, water, and grime— making them less ideal for off-road riding or in wet weather conditions. Additionally, mechanical disc brakes require more frequent adjustment than hydraulic models— meaning that you’ll have to spend more time maintaining them over time.
Which ebikes have mechanical disc brakes?
Most of the eBikes that we’ve tested have mechanical disc brakes. Some of the most notable ones are the RadWagon 4 (read our Radwagon 4 Review) and the Velotric Discovery (read our Velotric Review, too).
Which brake is right for you?
So, which type of brake is right for you? That ultimately depends on your riding habits and preferences.
If you’re looking for a brake that’s powerful and low-maintenance, then a hydraulic disc brake is probably your best bet. However, if you’re looking for a brake that’s simple and easy to repair, then a mechanical disc brake might be a better option for you. Whichever type of brake you choose, make sure that you understand the pros and cons before making your final decision.
The biggest decision, for me, is budget. If you can afford hydraulic disc brakes on the bike you’re considering, go with the hydraulic disc brakes.
Check out the RadRover 6 (and read our Rad Power Bikes Review) for a great bike with hydraulic disc brakes and get a great deal using our Velotric Promo Code to save money on a bike with mechanical disc brakes.