As you’ve possibly known, disc brakes are of two types: hydraulic or mechanical. Mechanical brakes a cable pull system, like rim brakes, just arranged in a different way, where hydraulic systems use fluid to transfer the force from lever to calliper. In this article, we will discuss Hydraulic vs Mechanical disc brakes.
Before discussing the differences of Hydraulic vs Mechanical disc brakes, let us first know about their basic concepts. We will start with Hydraulic disc brakes.
What Are Hydraulic Disc Brakes?
Hydraulic disc brakes are a type of disc brake in which hydraulic fluid is used instead of wires in a fully sealed line.
Construction Of Hydraulic Disc Brakes
The most common arrangement of hydraulic disc brakes for rider vehicles, motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds, consists of the following:
- Foot pedal or lever
- A pushrod (also known as associate degree activating rod)
- A brake cylinder assembly containing a piston assembly (made from either one or 2 pistons, a come spring, a series of gaskets/ O-rings and a fluid reservoir)
- Reinforced hydraulic lines
Brake calliper assembly sometimes consisting of 1 or 2 hollow metal or chrome-plated steel pistons (called calliper pistons), a group of thermally conductive restraint associate degreed a rotor (also known as a brake disc) or drum hooked up to the shaft.
The system is typically full of a glycol-ether primarily based brake fluid (other fluids may additionally be used).
Advantages Of Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- No adjustment needed. So, no maintenance.
- Better stopping performance
- Fade-free braking altogether conditions. So, no attenuation of brakes.
- Can check wear while not activity the unit
- Easy to replacement of pads compared to Drum brakes.
- More stopping
- Reach adjustment.
Disadvantages Of Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- High braking force required compared to hydraulic brake
- A low lifetime of restraint compared to brake shoes
- Need separate hand-brake mechanism once fitted to rear wheels.
What Are Mechanical Disc Brakes?
Mechanical disc brake systems use a cable to actuate a lever arm on the calliper. The calliper then engages the brake pad, which moves towards the rotor to stop its rotation completely or to it slow down.
Construction Of Mechanical Disc Brakes
Mechanical disc brakes of following parts:
- BRAKE LEVER: The brake is actuated by a brake lever at the handlebars.
- CABLE & HOUSING: In a mechanical disc braking system, the brake lever drags a cable, which runs through housing down to the brake calliper.
- BARREL ADJUSTER: The housing can effectively be lengthened or shortened with the twist of a barrel adjuster, which may be found at the lever and/or the calliper.
- LEVER ARM: The brake cable actuates a lever arm. In most mechanical disc designs calliper has 1 lever arm that moves only the outer brake pad when actuated. The rotor then rotates over into contact with the innermost pad. There are also designs that consists of two lever arms. On these callipers, both pads move evenly into the rotor.
- PINCH BOLT: The cable is insulated to the lever arm using the pinch bolt.
- PADS: The lever arm squeezes the brake pads to the rotor, causing friction to stop or slow the bike. Brake pads consist of a braking compound bonded to a backing plate.
- ADJUSTERS: Calipers are provided with pad adjusters that move the brake pads in or out from the rotor. Some callipers have only one adjuster that moves the inner pad, while other callipers have both an inner and outer pad adjuster.
- MOUNTING HOLES: Disc brake systems are provided with wide holes that allow for lateral movement relative to the rotor. These can be found on the calliper body (post mount), the frame (rear flat mount), or the calliper adaptor (front flat mount).
Advantages Of Mechanical Disc Brakes
- Simple in construction and maintenance.
- Less expensive compared to hydraulic brake.
- They are good for emergency and parking brakes.
Disadvantages Of Mechanical Disc Brakes
- Wear and tear at brake surfaces.
- Heat dissipation is not uniform.
- They are less effective compared to hydraulic.
- Dirt and debris can easily get into the braking system.
- More friction within the housing.
The capacity of Mechanical disc brakes depends on the following factors:
- The ability to brake to dissipate heat.
- Coefficient of friction.
- The radius of the brake drum.
- Contacting area of braking surfaces.
- Unit pressure between braking.
Difference Between Hydraulic vs Mechanical Disc Brakes
- The main difference between Hydraulic vs Mechanical disc brakes is efficiency. Even though mechanical disc brakes will be better than rim brakes (especially in the wet), they simply can’t match the efficiency of hydraulic systems. So you need to apply more pressure at the lever for an equal level of braking power. This means you get less modulation.
- Mechanical disc brakes tend to be cheaper than hydraulic disc brakes.
- A hydraulic system is sealed so no contaminants can get in to affect braking performance, and complicated internal cable routing isn’t a problem, whereas it can add friction to a cable setup.
- Most mechanical disc brake systems work by operating one pad only and squeezing the rotor onto a stationary pad. This means that as the pad wears down, you typically have to wind in the moving pad (usually the outside one) to keep the right bite point. Hydraulic systems have opposing pads that self adjust for inner alignment and also as the pads deteriorate.
- Mechanical disc brakes have the disadvantage of friction that the hydraulics virtually eliminate.
- Mechanical brakes uses cables as brake medium, on the other hand, hydraulic disc brakes use fluids.
- Mechanical disc brakes brake performance is less sensitive compared to the hydraulic disc brakes.
- Mechanical disc brakes needs more maintenance but it is easier to do. But hydraulic disc brakes needs less maintenance but it is complex to do.
Hydraulic vs Mechanical disc brakes, which one is better? I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, they are both disc brakes. One uses cables and the other uses fluid in its simplest terms.
When choosing which disc braking system to have for your bike think about what you are willing to live with and what you are willing to live without for each system.
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