Disclosure: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.

12 Best Budget Hydraulic Disc Brakes (Reviewed Nov, 2020)

Touring, racing, commuting – no matter the cycling activity, good brakes are essential always. They can decide whether you are safe or more prone to accidents, and even a second of inadequate braking power or brake fade may lead to some serious injuries. Especially for racing, a good braking system on your bicycle is vital for balanced deceleration and reduces the strain exerted on your hands. In addition to this, the brakes that you settle for must be budget-friendly. A popular choice nowadays for all-mountain biking, XC are hydraulic disc brakes.

Typically, hydraulic disc brakes are used on “higher end” systems. However, they are easy to modulate and deliver more power to the brake pads. Therefore, for the same input – hydraulic brakes will provide more braking power than its closest counterpart mechanical disc brakes and have the brake pads retracting faster. With a sealed system, hydraulic disc brakes require very little maintenance in addition to easy installation and adjustments. Therefore, apart from buying the hydraulic disc brake, there are no additional costs. The service that hydraulic disc brakes provide will only add value to the money that is spent on them.

With all the various options available in the market today, for our “Overall Best Choice” we have selected SHIMANO Deore BR-M6100 amongst a selection of other products for our article containing some of the top budget hydraulic disc brakes. These products have made it to our list because they provide the best value for the money that they are purchased for.

SHIMANO Deore BR-M6100

Faster brake engagement; servo wave lever for better modulation; the 2-pistons design provides great control over brake | Overall Best Choice

This front post-mount, 2-piston hydraulic disc brake can offer the best braking power instantaneously and can be easily relied on. Available at a good price, a testament of its versatility is indicated by the fact that it can also be used as a rear brake. This hydraulic disk brake offers all the best attributes that a good hydraulic braking system should have – more modulation, faster pad retraction thanks to Servo Wave technology, and a wider range for lever pull that can be modified for specific sections. The lever for this hydraulic disk brake is ISPEC EV compatible as well. As a result, the shift lever has more fitting options thanks to optimized tuning. Even if the rider is braking hard, the body of the lever is braced on the handlebar offers great stability. The caliper uses two pistons and is equipped with ICE Technology from Shimano for optimum heat dissipation. All mounting parts are provided with delivery, and the hose is pre-bled. With a great metallic look, this great hydraulic disc brake justifies the money that they are available for and therefore is our overall best choice.

  • Shimano Deore BL-M6100 brake lever
  • Shimano Deore BR-M6100 disc brake caliper
  • I-Spec EV compatible
  • G03S Resin brake pads included
  • Seamless operation
  • High rigidity

 

A quick view of our list of the best budget hydraulic disc brakes for your bikes:

Disc BrakeCalipers (pistons)Our Ratings
SHIMANO Deore BR-M6100293
SRAM Code R (Front)4 (dual diameter)90
Magura MT7 Pro Disc Brake4 (one piece)89
TRP Slate G Spec487
SRAM Code R( Rear)486
SRAM G2 R485
JGbike Shimano MT200 Brake SetBRM31583
Magura MT Trail Brake Set481
SHIMANO Deore XT M8100 Disc BrakeBR0M810079
Tektro HD-M290Dual76
Magura MT5475
TRP HY/RDHydraulic72

12 best budget hydraulic disc brakes you can buy today

BrakesPreviewBrake MountBrake padsLeverCaliperApplication
Shimano Deore BR-M6100SHIMANO Deore BR-M6100 Disc BrakePost, FrontG03S Resin2 finger, with ISPEC- EV lever2 pistonAll Mountain, XC
SRAM Code R B1Sram Code R - Front 950mm Hose - Diffusion Black (Reach) (Rotor/Bracket Sold Separately) B1: Black 950mmAmbidextrous, Left/FrontTop-loadingDirectlink, Forged Aluminum blade4-piston, dual diameter ; AluminumMTB
Magura MT7 ProMagura USA MT7 Pro Disc Brake Black/Neon Yellow, Left or RightPostNot Included1-Finger Hc, Aluminum4 pistons, Forged one-piece AluminumDownhill / Freeride, Enduro, All Mountain
TRP Slate G SpecTRP Slate G-Spec Disc Brake Black/Silver, Front/LeftPost, Front/LeftTop loading semi metallicAloy, Ergonomic dimpled; I-Spec compatible4-piston/HybridXC, All Mountain & Enduro
SRAM Code RSram Code R - Rear 1800mm Hose - Diffusion Black (Reach) (Rotor/Bracket Sold Separately) B1: Black 1800mmPost, Rear/RightMetal sintered, with steel back platesAluminum alloy4 pistonEnduro, Gravity
SRAM G2 RSRAM G2 R Disc Brake Gloss Black, FrontPost, FrontOrganic, Steel backledDirectlink, Stamped Aluminum4 pistonMTB
JGbike Shimano Mt200 Brake SetJGbike Shimano MT200 MTB Hydraulic Disc Brake Set for Mountain Bike Bicycle MTB XC Trail, e-Bike, Fat Bike, The Best Upgrade kit for Mechanical Disc BrakeIS/PM, Front + RearB01S ResinBL-M315BR_M315All Mountain
Magura MT Trail Brake SetMagura MT Trail Sport 2701389 Bicycle Brake 1-Finger HC Lever Left/Right Suitable Set Consisting of Two Brakes for Front Wheel 4 and Rear Wheel 2 Pistons, Black, One SizePost, Front + RearMagura Performance line1-Finger Hc, Aluminum4-pistons, Aluminum forgedTrail
SHIMANO Deore XT M8100SHIMANO XT BR-M8100 Disc Brake Black, Left/FrontPost, FrontG03A ResinBL-M8100BR0M8100XC, MTB
Tektro HD- M290Tektro HD-M290 Hydraulic Disc Brake Front 850mm with 160mm RotorPost, Left/FrontHigh performance metal ceramic compoundCast aluminium, 2 finger bladeDual piston, Forged aluminumMTB Road , Cyclocross, TT / Triathlon, Recreation, BMX, E-Bike
Magura Mt5Magura MT5 Mountain Bike Disc BrakePost, FrontMagnetiXchange padsErgonomic, 2-finger, aluminum4 pistonGravity, Enduro, E-MTB
TRP HY/RDTKTRP TRP Cable Actuated Hydraulic Disc Brake with 140 Rotor, BlackPostSemi-metallicNot includedHydraulic caliperRoad

1. Shimano Deore BR-M6100: Faster brake engagement; servo wave lever for better modulation; the 2-pistons design provides great control over brake | Overall best choice

Shimano Deore BR-M6100

  • Lever: 2-fingers, I-SPEC EV;  10° angle adjustable
  • Actuation: Servo Wave
  • Caliper: 2-pistons
  • Mount: Post, Front
  • Piston: 2
  • Rotor: Not Included
  • Brake pads: G03S Resin
  • Application: All Mountain, XC
  • Fluid used: Mineral Oil
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 1000 mm/1700 mm

Features & Considerations
  • Design: M6100 brakes have a two-pistons XC-specific design that offers sturdy mounting, superior feedback, and better braking power. The two pistons minimize any leading effect, while the brake pads are optimized to offer more control over braking. For the brake fluid, mineral oil is used as it is more environmentally friendly.
  • Servo Wave: Servo Wave technology reduces the time taken by the brake pads to come to the rotor, which only allows a short level pull. The actual braking force is exerted through the rest of the lever travel, which is longer. This ensures that braking force can be controlled better so that its application is accurate and effective.
  • One-Way-Bleeding: This technique allows the brake to bleed easily. Optimized hose routing ensures that there are no bubbles left in the caliper. The funnel further allows bleeding the brakes simply and cleanly.
  • Ice Technology pads: When the Ice Technologies Shimano are used with this brake, it starts performing more consistently. Cooling technology in the pads is coupled with the radiation fin. The fin and rotor blade for the disc brake ensures that they:  i) Last longer; ii) Hardly make any noise; iii) Ensures less fade; iv) Bring the overall weight down. Both metal and resin pads are available. The backplate has 2 layers with the radiation fin that can be used here are responsible for better radiation performance.
  • I-Spec EV: This is a connection variance that we see in drivetrains built for MTB for the shifter and the lever. The shifter can be adjusted horizontally and vertically for the brake lever. Fewer clamps almost mean a clean cockpit.
  • Compatibility: Rotors are not provided with delivery; however, any rotor with a Center Lock design can be used with these. The rotor sizes compatible are 160, 180 & 203 mm rotors.

Some Weaknesses
  • Adjusting the reach of the lever needed an Allen key.

Shimano Deore BR-M6100 are very impressive brakes from the manufacturer, where the calipers have a design that is using 2 pistons. We also found that the lever was redesigned. The result was excellent modulation during our test runs.
As we set on to unpack the brake after delivery, the streamlined look immediately caught our eye. The routing for the hose was such that the setup was much “cleaner”, which we appreciated. This would save the hydraulic line from any damage in the case of a crash. Like the other brake systems from Shimano, we used Mineral Oil from Shimano here too. The next component that was redesigned was the lever, BL-M6100. We had to use the hex key to adjust the lever’s reach. The lever’s outer edge would brace the reservoir’s body on the handlebars, which seemed stiffer. The clamp of the handlebar was also moved so that it was more central on the lever. What is great about this lever is we were able to change their angle setting by a range of ten degrees. Thanks to this, we were able to tune the setup over an enhanced range. Shimano paired the lever with their Servo Wave technology so that when we pulled in the lever, the pads flew off initially. Therefore only a little pulling was required until the pads and the rotor were in contact with each other. This multiplication of power is more significant at “pad-to-rim” contact. We were able to deliver more stopping power while having better control over it. This lightweight caliper with 2 piston design offers the best braking performance and consistent power for braking, no matter the conditions.

Shimano Deore BR-M6100

Shimano Deore BR-M6100

2. SRAM Code R (Front): DirectLink lever; oversized caliper featuring 4 pistons; adjustable lever reach (no tools)

Sale
SRAM Code R (Front)

  • Lever: Forged Aluminum blades; Reach, contact point adjustable
  • Actuation: Servo Wave
  • Caliper: 4-piston, dual-diameter caliper
  • Mount: Ambidextrous, Left/Front
  • Piston: 4, Aluminum
  • Rotor: Centreline
  • Brake pads: Metal sintered, steel backplates
  • Application: MTB
  • Fluid used: DOT 5.1
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 950 mm; 1800 mm

Features & Considerations
  • Sintered brake pads: This disc brake is supplied with brake pads that are metal sintered, with steel backplates. These are very effective for riding downhill fast, where the terrain may be wet or muddy regularly. These contaminations cannot wear the pads down quickly, which is what riders look for.
  • Directlink design: The lever has a DirectLink design that feels great from the moment the brake engages from lever pull. The rider will have absolute control over the brakes throughout the rides.
  • Expandable Bladder: SRAM’s lever design has a bladder that has a revised shape so that air is removed from the lever. This pushes the fluid as required, with bubbles of air. The relief for back pressure feels better and helps to constantly exhibit superior braking.
  • Piggyback reservoir: The lever has the reservoir for hydraulic fluid optimized so it is easy to use and ensures better performance. Managing the brake fluid becomes much easier as the lever is placed ambidextrously. The levers on the handlebar can be switched to.
  • Closure of timing port: The bore of the lever cylinder and the reservoir are connected to form the timing port. Durable cup seals will pass over to ensure that ports are closed. The system will become pressurized. The cylindrical bores are finished smoothly so that braking power becomes more constant and consistent.
  • Bleeding edge: The circuitry of the caliper fluid has moved the bleeding port beneath the caliper so that all 4 bores of the piston can communicate. This will allow the fluid that is being bled to fill the caliper naturally so that the process is easier and consistent.
  • Heat Shield: The heat shield is made from stainless steel. This is responsible for bringing down the temperature of the caliper fluid by 20°C, the pad and the body of the caliper are not thermally connected anymore.
  • MMX Clamp: This clamp for the lever here is universal, as both sides of the lever are compatible with it. This is largely thanks to the hinge of the lever clamp that can be mounted on either the right or left side, thanks to the hinge. The shifter can be mounted too, just by using a single adapter.

Some Weaknesses
  • Does not have features for contact adjustment.

SRAM Code R B1 has been increasingly used for DH riding. It has also found its way on bikes used for heavy-duty trail and enduro riding too. We found that the caliper was housing 4 pistons, where each pair were of different diameter- 16 & 15 mm. It was also housing 30 % more brake fluid in terms of volume.
We found the lever was redesigned go a Directlink design and made using forged Aluminum. The ergonomics were great too, as we found the lever to fit in our hand easily. It was also integrated very well in the cockpit. As soon as we started riding, we were very impressed by how well code R performed. The modulation that they offered was excellent, and we rarely had to skid while stopping. This would prove to be very helpful in winter, when it may be an issue if the brakes have too much bite. Roots, mud, and wet rocks could be avoided easily. Since we were able to try the brakes out in dry conditions, we were able to maintain our traction while we were engaging the brakes hard and fast over dust and other obstacles. Another impressive feature was the Bleeding Edge, which helped to bleed the brakes conveniently. The heat shield also helped to reduce the build-up of heat. Overall – the ratio of price and power + modulation was very impressive, given that the SEAM Code R is a great entry-level option.

SRAM Code R (Front)

SRAM Code R (Front)

3. Magura MT7 Pro: Carbotecture lever housing; 1 piece caliper with 4 pistons for superior braking; can be bled easily

Sale
Magura MT7 Pro Disc- Brake

  • Lever: 1-Finger HC & aluminum: Bite & reach adjustable
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: Forged 1-piece aluminum, 4-piston
  • Mount: Post & Front
  • Piston: 4
  • Rotor: Centreline
  • Brake pads: Magura Race Series
  • Application: Downhill / Freeride, Enduro, All Mountain
  • Fluid used: Mineral oil (Royal Blood)
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): Magura Disc Tube 2200 mm, Front

Features & Considerations
  • Carbotecture SL lever: The combination of polymers and embedded carbon fibers to create a composite material makes the Carbotecture SL brake master light in weight, with high endurance capabilities.
  • Lever Design: The radial design of the lever is responsible for reducing friction and transmission losses. Making the brakes more sensitive, precise, as well as easier to control and operate. The 95 mm ergonomic design of the brake lever is enabled to function on either side of the handlebar. Using aluminum alloy as lever material gives it high stiffness and the ability to resist wear and tear.
  • HCT (Hard Core Tech): The HCT disc brakes series was developed by Magura to improve and optimize special details like ergonomic performance for high-end racing. The shorter HC aluminum lever gives full control and forces braking power with the use of just one finger.
  • Weight Ratio Performance: Characterized by their optimal material usage and lightweight construction, Magura has used a decisive weight allocation method to develop high degree thermal resistance.
  • 4 piston caliper: Made using forged aluminum, the one-piece caliper of the Mt7 uses 4 pistons for added rigidity. Therefore the MT7 is amongst the hydraulic brakes offering more stopping power and is very easy to modulate. Thanks to their floating design, the pads can be easily removed if needed.
  • Easy bleeding Technology: This is the bleeding system from Magura. If the hoses need to be shortened after setup, EBT ensures that bleeding is completed quickly and with ease.
  • Brake Pads: We could use any of the three pads from Magura – Race, Performance, and Comfort. Comfort pads make less noise, last longer but do not offer the bite. Race pads are best for performance but may not last long. The Performance series pads are a combination of both.

Some Weaknesses
  • The design may seem somewhat flimsy.

The Magura USA MT7 Pro Disc-Brake is the peak of versatility. It can be used on the front or rear, with either left or right orientation. The first thing to praise about the MT7 Pro is the braking power. At no point of our testing did we feel that the braking power slouched. Carbotecture Technology also ensures that the brakes are light in weight.
We tried out the brakes with the stock lever at first. It was longer and allowed the brakes to engage firmly. This was followed up with superior modulation. The feel from the lever was very consistent, along with the firm engagement. We used the Series line brake pads and a 180 mm rotor. The power offered was significant. The brake feel could be fine-tuned in several facets, which provided us with several options for setting the brakes up. For our test, as we were looking for performance, we used the Race series pads. This ensured that our setup was the best that was possible for MT7 Pro. These brakes are right up there, with the high-quality hydraulic brakes, and seem to justify the price tag.

Magura MT7 Pro Disc-Brake

Magura MT7 Pro Disc-Brake

4. TRP Slate G Spec: Ergonomic design; great brake modulation; hybrid pistons

TRP Slate G Spec

  • Lever: Alloy, Ergonomic dimpled; I-Spec compatible; Reach adjustable
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: 74 mm 4-piston
  • Mount: Post, Left/Front
  • Piston: 4
  • Rotor: Not included
  • Brake pads: Top loading semi-metallic
  • Application: XC, All Mountain, and Enduro
  • Fluid used: Mineral oil
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 1000 mm / 1900 mm

Features & Considerations
  • Affordable TRP brake: This is a premium product from the manufacturer, but comes at an affordable price – which is really great. With a silver finish, the lever is mostly made using cast aluminum.
  • Caliper Design: 4 pistons are being used on the caliper here, with sizes 14 mm and 11 mm on either side. They are called hybrid pistons since they will allow the rider to have more control over the stopping power and modulation. The caliper has a large opening on its backside, which prevented any brake fade and helped to dissipate heat faster.
  • Brake pads: Threaded pin and retaining clip have been used to mount the pads here. This design makes it very easy to remove the pads here. The pads also offer enough clearance so that Finn pads can be used with this brake too. The pads use a semi-metallic compound, which is ideal for maximum braking power and minimum noise during the rides.
  • Banjo fitting: To ensure that the routing of the hose is optimized, we can find banjo fitting that can be adjusted. Therefore, on any setup – hose angles are always smooth. For ease of access, the bleed port is positioned inside at the top front corner and is not affected by the mounting position. The brakes are also delivered with a 1000mm hose that can only be used for front mount here.
  • Drilled & dimpled lever: The lever has been designed by taking into consideration the suggestions from professional riders. There is a more tactile feel here, thanks to the holes that have been drilled on the body. There will be minimized finger slip at the blade of the lever. The shape is longer, for improved control and braking power. As the lever is fit on the handlebar, the bar clamp is hinged so that very little space is used up.
  • Reach adjustment: Allen Wrench of 2 mm can be used to modify the position where the lever blade is resting. There is a screw that is located internally at the lever blade that can serve this purpose. This screw is close to the pin for the lever pivot. As a result, the lever reach can be fine-tuned for each rider. The adjustment lever size is significant and offers smooth actuation that can be relied upon with confidence.
  • Bar mount Compatibility: Slate is compatible with gear shifters from Shimano known as “I-Spec”. This integration system for mounting the brake lever and the shifter ensures that i. The setup is organized; ii. There is abundant space for the handlebar; iii. The system is lightweight. The hydraulic brake for the front wheel is delivered with adapters for IS mount & post mount. Therefore, 180 & 203 mm rotors can be used here.

Some Weaknesses
  • At 285g for the front post-mount, it is on the heavier side.

TRP G-Spec Slates are an aggressive option for trail brakes with a price point that is quite affordable. We set them up on a 29er enduro bike and used a 160mm rotor.

The terrain that we decided to try them on regularly is preferred by bikes in the speed range of 120 to 150, so naturally, we were impressed by the level of control offered by the brakes. Having used a set of different brakes on the same bike, we also noticed a significant difference in modulation. We applied the lever consistently and had a pretty good idea by then of the power and way in which the brakes were engaging. At no point did we have to pull the lever fully or skid unintentionally. In the beginning, we were unsure whether the brakes were on or off when they never were squeezed. However, we had to pull the lever harder on steep terrains that required fast riding. As the braking power was very smooth and even, we were able to scrub off the exact amount of speed that was needed. With a great finished look, the brake pads with top loading and the lever that can be adjusted without making this disc brake a solid recommendation for a budget. We could easily compare the braking performance of the Slate with the Quadiem disc brake from Shimano, where the Slates can be obtained for a fraction of the price.

TRP Slate G Spec

TRP Slate G Spec

5. SRAM Code R (Rear): Great braking power for a budget; bars clutter-free as it is matchmaker compatible

SRAM Code R (Rear)

  • Lever: Aluminum Alloy(Right mounted); Reach adjustable
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: Aluminum
  • Mount: Post mount, Right/Rear
  • Piston: 4
  • Rotor: CenterLine (Sold Separately)
  • Brake pads: Metal sintered with steel backplates
  • Application: Enduro, Gravity
  • Fluid used: DOT 5.1 fluid
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 1800 mm (rear)

Features & Considerations
  • Directlink lever: The lever used by the SRAM Code R uses a lever with a DirectLink design. As a result, as the lever is squeezed for engaging the brakes – the feel at the lever is very sturdy and positive. This lever offers absolute control, without any compromise. They are built using aluminum. Bearings at the lever are sealed so that the actuation of the lever is clean and crisp. At no point of riding will there be any fatigue of the fingers.
  • Lever adjustments: Contact point adjustment lets riders fine-tune the position of the fingers during level pull for brake engagement. This adjustment also balances either of the levers in a full brake system so that the brake feel is almost the same. Reach adjustment w will allow the riders to adjust the reach of the ever easily so that even with one finger, the control over the braking power would be maximum.
  • Brake pads: The brake pads for SRAM Code R have been made with a sintered compound. It has been mounted to a plate that is using steel backing and is vented. These pads work best in wet conditions, including mud and rain. It ensures that they can last long and deliver excellent performance throughout.
  • Larger Piggyback Reservoir: With the Code R, the reservoir for the brake fluid can hold 30% more brake fluid. The reservoir is an integral part of the lever’s design here, that ensures that the lever can be used easily and performs better. The Piggyback Reservoir makes it very easy to manage the brake fluid. The lever can also be placed ambidextrously, which makes switching the levers for ‘moto’ use a hassle-free task due to “two-sided” mounting.
  • Expandable Bladder: Air bubbles can be minimized and regulated thanks to the bubble design of the brake lever. The bladder has a special shape that will remove any air from the lever and facilitate the movement of the hydraulic fluid. Backpressure relief is vastly improved so that the braking is more consistent and reliable.
  • TPC Plus: The timing port system used by SRAM here uses cup seals that will last longer. Also, the bore for the master cylinder is “ultra-smooth” so that the braking power is consistent and dependable.
  • Code R caliper: The Code R has a caliper that uses 4 pistons so that the braking power is more. The diameter of the pistons here is sized at 15 mm and 16 mm for each pair. This results in the production of varying forces by each piston. Per lever throw, the distance moved by each piston will vary too. As a result, the rider will have more control over the modulation, and the braking power remains consistent and longer in case of heavy-duty riding. The manufacturer claims that the braking power is improved by 15 percent with this design. A single billet has been used to machine the brake caliper here.
  • Heat Shield: The caliper features a U-shaped small plate that has been made from stainless steel. This stops the system from overheating by removing the thermal connection between the caliper body and the brake pads. This can bring down the temperature of the caliper fluid by 20 degrees.
  • DOT 5.1: For the hydraulic fluid, DOT 5.1 is preferred here. This is because to reach the boiling point for 5.1, it would tile 3 times the time needed by DOT 4. Even in extremely difficult conditions, the braking power is always smooth.
  • Clamp compatibility: The Code is compatible with the Matchmaker X and the Standard Matchmaker clamp. Levers and triggers from SRAM, along with RockShox PushLoc controls can be found on these.

Some Weaknesses
  • There will be compatibility issues between SRAM bleed kits that are older and the new “Bleeding Edge bleed here.

The manufacturer believes in traveling fast down steep descents & wanted to provide you a reliable solution for braking. The Sram Code R is a testament to that support, as the design of this hydraulic disc brake is uniquely for drivers who are into intensive, fast, and hard riding. They carry a great matt look, and modulation was obviously superior. We used this as our front brake and were fairly impressed by the feel of the brakes, which was very firm and substantial. Despite a slight increase in weight, they surely are a great budget-friendly upgrade option. This disc brake was equipped with Bleeding Edge technology. Thanks to the updated path for the fluid and bleed porting – it was fairly easy to ensure that there is no contamination or fluid loss as the fluid moved through the caliper.

Without bleeding or swapping the hose, the levers could be used “moto” style. To adjust the reach of the lever, we did not need any tools as well. The reservoir and the pistons were certainly bigger and helped to deliver great braking power and predictable modulation. The heat magnet was great too and helped to have better control over the brake. For freeride trails and tricky downhill riding, the brakes would need to be strong and offer control at high speeds as well. The Code R hydraulic disc brake is perfect for mountain riding. Even though some will disregard the Code R as very basic and argue that it is the cheaper version of the Code RSC – we believe that the manufacturer wanted to provide an affordable alternative with the Code R. It certainly comes packed with all the necessities that make it a great hydraulic brake.

SRAM Code R (Rear)

SRAM Code R (Rear)

6. SRAM G2 R: Versatile MTB brake; offers great power thanks to the 4 piston caliper; reliable

Sale
SRAM G2 R

  • Lever: DirectLink, Stamped Aluminum; Reach adjustable (no tools needed)
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: Aluminum
  • Mount: Post mount (IS w/ adapter)
  • Piston: 4
  • Rotor: CenterLine (Sold Separately)
  • Brake pads: Power organic pads
  • Application: MtB
  • Fluid used: DOT 5.1 fluid
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 950 mm (front)

Features & Considerations
  • “Mini-code”: As the G2 is mounted as the front brake, the Code R disc brake can now be used on trails. The G2 R comes packed with all the features provided with the Code R. The only difference is the shell of the G2 R is more simplified. hydraulic disc brake can be used on
  • Lever design: The lever features a DirectLink design that ensures that as soon as the brakes are engaged, the pulled lever feels solid – offering better control. The lever reach can be adjusted here for a personalized setup. As the position of the lever is adjusted without any tools, riders can find the optimal position where even with one finger, control will be maximum.
  • Power Reserve Geometry: This disc brake has been designed such that the distance between the centers of the pivot and the handlebar is the lowest. This will minimize the inward travel of the lever. An arc is therefore created, the pathway of which is similar to the natural motion of our fingers. Consequently, the brake lever is delivered with more power. This also reduces finger slip off the lever ends.
  • Power organic pads: These brake pads are using an organic compound and are steel backed. The result is excellent braking power which brings the best of both worlds. It weighs less, like organic pads. Additionally, the braking power of sintered pads is offered. This “Power” organic brake pad ensures that they operate mindlessly, without sacrificing any braking power. There is a great balance between modulation and durability.
  • S4 Light-weight 4-Piston Caliper: The S4 Caliper is a recent innovation from SRAM. We can find 4 aluminum pistons that have been Moly-coated and machined. As a result, setup is very easy and there is consistent rollback. The caliper has also adopted porting for a Bleeding edge. This technology from SRAM makes the process of bleeding the brakes fast and simple. The heat shield will allow dissipating heat at a faster rate.
  • Timing Port Closure: The timing part for a hydraulic brake is the gateway between the bore of the master cylinder and reservoir. As the lever is pulled, the power is sealed off using a cup. This pressurizes the system, which also enhances the braking power and its consistency. This is known as the “timing port closure system”.
  • Compatibility: The handlebar’s encoder can be used with the Matchmaker system from SRAM. The brake, shift lever, or seat boss’s remote control can now be placed in a single clamp.

Some Weaknesses
  • Rotors are not provided with the G2 R.

With the SRAM G2 R, we find a hydraulic disc brake that is packed with the power of the “SRAM Code R” and a great package of features from SRAM. Best of all, they are available at a great price.

We found the caliper to be redesigned with 4 pistons, and the pocket for the brake pads was slightly narrow. In the initial phase of our ride, we found that the braking power was adequate – along with more bite. From the moment that the pads touch the rotor until fully it locks the rotor up – braking power was fairly consistent. The improved feel in the lever was maintained throughout as well. We also found that the G2 was able to dissipate heat extremely well, even when we were trying out fast descent for longer durations. In comparison to many hydraulic brakes today, we felt that the G2 R was much more capable to maintain the braking power. In some cases, the braking power seemed stronger too!

The lever dials for contact point adjustment were actually effective, and we found that the pads retracted very well. Also, thanks to the Bleeding Edge technology – we were able to blend the brakes easily using the bleed tool. This provided the brakes with a “crisp” feel, in addition to the consistent lever feel. As a result, modulation was outstanding.

SRAM G2 R

SRAM G2 R

7. JGbike Shimano MT200 Brake Set: Hydraulic brake set for Shimano M315; an ideal option for the upgrade; compatible with many bikes

JGbike Shimano MT200 Brake Set

  • Lever: BL-M315;  Reach adjust (without tools)
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: BR-M315
  • Mount: Post Mount, Front + Rear
  • Piston: 2
  • Rotor: Not included (Recommended: Front 180 mm, Rear 160 mm)
  • Brake pads: B01S Resin
  • Application: All Mountain
  • Fluid used: Shimano mineral
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 800 mm/1500 mm

Features & Considerations
  • Hydraulic brake set: This disc brake set comes with a full brake set for the front and rear wheel. The add-on value of 2 adapters should be considered too. They have also been pre-assembled, pre-bled, and have the resin pads installed on them already. The post mount bracket can accommodate 180 mm, while the IS mount bracket can for 160 mm at the rear or 180 mm at the front. However, no rotors are supplied with delivery.
  • BL-MT200 lever: The BL-MT200 brake lever is included with this brake set. The lever is made using rigid steel and has a “3-Finger” design. With a 75mm minimum reach, it is ideal even for small hand sizes. The design is universally applicable and can be used on a variety of bikes, especially with flat bars. The braking power is perfectly tuned for MTB beginners or riders who are at the entry-level. It is assembled as “Left” for the Front and “Right” for the rear.
  • Reach adjust technology: the lever here comes with a mechanism to adjust the reach, which is the distance between the handlebar and the grip. This can be adjusted by preference so that all hand sizes feel comfortable on the levers, no matter the riding activity.
  • BR- MT200 caliper: This 2 piston caliper is compatible with the lever in this brake set. The aluminum painted caliper can be mounted both front and rear. With pad clearance that is enhanced by 40% than usual, any noise from the brake pads is minimized. The construction ensures that the rider will have absolute control while putting the brakes on.
  • One way bleeding: This technology from Shimano ensures that no air bubbles are being captured in the hydraulic system where the oil route has been streamlined throughout. Mineral oil can be funneled through the one-way routing for efficient and effective bleeding.
  • B01S Resin Pads: These resin pads from Shimano have been mounted on the calipers here via a split pin. This will offer excellent modulation of power and low noise. They have also been integrated with cooling technology from Shimano. This ensures reliability, along with increased regulation.

Some Weaknesses
  • Rotors will need to be purchased, which will drive up the cost. Not ideal if the customer is on a budget.

The JGbike Shimano MT-200 Brake set is offering just the right amount of powerful braking in this “value-packed” set. At a great price, many features of higher-end hydraulic disc brake sets are available here. Thanks to the versatile design, it is compatible with a large array of bicycle types. This ranges from MTB to cycles used for touring. “One-way Bleeding system” – made installation and maintenance easy too.

We needed only 15 minutes to install these brakes and believe you would need the same time too, even if you are a beginner. We used mineral oil to march the funnel bleeding style. Additionally, the front and rear hoses are available at 800/1500 mm and 80/1650mm combinations, which was great. Both the brakes were very light, so we hardly felt any change in the weight. Lod weight also ensured that no external factors were slowing us down. Everything seemed very well made. However, check if you ordered the “EU model” by accident. If this is not avoidable, the lines would need to be switched over.

During our initial runs, we skipped bedding the brake pads. As we dragged the brakes while slowly coming down a hill a few times, we noticed a drastic improvement in braking performance. Another great aspect of this budget disc brake set is they can be an ideal upgrade option from mechanical disc brakes. As we tried them out on zig-zag tracks that involved going through trees too, at no point did we feel that the braking power was inadequate or compromised. As for the brakes for the front and rear – the front one is called BL or “left”, while the rear one is called “BR”. Keep this in mind so that you are not confused during installation.

JGbike Shimano MT200 Brake Set

JGbike Shimano MT200 Brake Set

8. Magura MT Trail: 4 pistons front, 2 pistons rear: superior braking w/ excellent modulation

Magura MT Trail Brake Set

  • Lever: Ergonomic 1-finger brake aluminum brake levers; Reach adjust
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: 1 piece Aluminum
  • Mount: Post Mount
  • Piston: 4 front, 2 rear
  • Rotor: Not included
  • Brake pads: Magura Performance line
  • Application: Trail
  • Fluid used: Mineral oil (Royal Blood)
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 1000 mm / 2000 mm

Features & Considerations
  • Great value: The Magura MT Trail Sport disc brake set comes with 2 brakes for the front wheel and a single brake for the rear wheel. The resulting configuration finds 4 pistons at the front, and 2 pistons at the rear wheel.
  • Maximum power with great modulation: Front pistons offer maximum braking power while the rear calipers use the two pistons for reliable control. Even in the most demanding trails, the MT trail offers the perfect balance of modulation, power, and braking performance.
  • 1-finger HC lever: This short aluminum lever ensures that even with a single finger, full braking performance is guaranteed. While they weigh the same as aluminum fingers that follow a 2 finger design, HC technology brings about noticeable improvements in the ergonomic.
  • Carbotecture encoder housing: High-tech polymers are combined with carbon or glass fibers. After several complex processes, this is transformed into a granulate of plastic. As this granulate is processed to obtain the final compound, optimal alignment of the carbon fibers is observed, per the load requirements. This Carboflow process can produce any desired shape, by injection molding the plastic granulate. Magura uses this to form the master body, where the blade if the lever is low; however, the carbon weave makes the material durable.
  • MagnetiXchange pistons: This technology makes it very easy to change the brake pad, thanks to a magnet in its interior. The pads can be pulled into their correct position directly so that fitting inside the brake caliper is perfect.
  • Magura EBT: EBT stands for Easy Bleed technology. This allows for easy bleeding that can be done quickly. As a result, the brakes offer exceptional modulation, along with great power output.
  • Royal Blood Hydraulic Oil: Using this hydraulic oil, the entire braking system can be lubricated. In case of fill up and bleeding required after a crash, only Royal Blood mineral oil can be used on Magura Brakes.
  • “Performance” brake pads: These resin pads belong to the Performance line. The bite that they offer is quite surprising, considering that they are non-metallic. Pad changing and installing new pads is a piece of cake here.

Some Weaknesses
  • Shimano Slx shifters cannot be used with this brake set.

The Magura MT Trail Disc Brake set offers a pair of Magura MT Trail brakes at a great bargain price. These hydraulic disc brakes are perfect for MTB.

After trying out the disc brake set from Shimano, we were looking for something which was not Shimano or Sram. We came across this disc brake set at an affordable price and decided to test them immediately. We used 180mm rotors for the 29er we put this brake set on, and the Trail sport did live up to the hype. Braking performance was consistent and smooth throughout. We also noticed the bite during instances that needed to scrub off speed immediately.

The brakes at the front were grabbier than the rear, which helped us to shut down momentum as we traveled into sections of the trail that were super steep. We picked up how the brakes were complimenting each other, which allowed us to take late corners. This was possible because we had complete confidence in the front brakes, which reigned in the speed whenever we needed. The rear brakes came into play when the rear end of our bike needed repositioning during line changes that we decided on at the last second. As we crept down steep slopes or pulled the brakes hard at high speed – this disc brake exhibited an array of power that could be modulated easily. We were impressed by the performance of the MT Trail Disc Brake set and can be a great option considering that there are many bikes in this price range that may not be able to offer the same performance.

Magura MT Trail Brake Set

Magura MT Trail Brake Set

9. Shimano Deore XT M8100: Lever and caliper set for Front mount; ideal hydraulic brake for XC

Sale
Shimano Deore XT M8100 Disc Brake

  • Lever: BL-M8100; Reach adjustable
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: BR-M8100
  • Mount: Post Mount
  • Piston: 2
  • Rotor: Not included (RT-MT800 Centerlock rotors in 140, 160, 180, 203 mm)
  • Brake pads: G03A resin
  • Application: Xc, MTB
  • Fluid used: mineral oil
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 1000 mm (Front)

Features & Considerations
  • Brake and lever: The M8100 disc brake offers great braking performance over a range of styles for MTB. The lever and the disc brake caliper for the front wheel are delivered with this product.
  • BL-M8100 lever: The BL-M8100 lever has a stiff design that can provide the additional support required for riding aggressively. The weight is low and the braking power is tuned specifically for cross country riding.
  • Free stroke adjustment: Any hand size can be accommodated on this lever. This is because the distance that runs from the contact point of the pad and where the lever is positioned initially can be adjusted.
  • Servo Wave: The Servowave brake lever ensures that the pad travels fast initially. Therefore, only a little movement of the lever will make the roads touch the rotor. The factor for power multiplication is increased significantly when the pads come in touch with the rotor. As a result, a greater portion of the over stroke can be used to exert more stopping power, with more control.
  • I-SPEC EV: This creates a cockpit that is clean and optimized for action. More riders can adjust the lever to its optimal position, which would change according to their riding style, body style, and preference. The lever can be accessed quickly on the ergonomic design for greater comfort.
  • Reach adjustment: This mechanism will adjust the distance from the lever to the grip of the handlebar to suit a range of hand sizes.
  • BR-M8100 caliper: The 2-piston caliper is perfect for cross country riding. The piston can retract quicker, which enhances the modulation for superior control over the brakes. The connection system is very simple, which couples with modulated stopping performance – allowing riders to focus more on the trails.
  • One way bleeding: To prevent air bubbles from being generated in the hydraulic system, this technology has been developed by Shimano. This features an oil route that is integrated throughout the brake system.
  • Ice Technologies pad: The caliper can be fitted with pads that have adapted to Ice Technology. The pad has a “radiation fin” with a backplate of 2 layers ( stainless steel + aluminum fin). The pad becomes more durable, makes less noise, has a lower weight, and there is hardly any brake fade.

Some Weaknesses
  • The design could have had more flair.

Shimano Deore XT8100 disc brake certainly offers great value for money. The brakes felt more linear, and there was no abrupt transition. The brakes delivered power very smoothly since ServoWave technology kicked in exactly when it was needed – not earlier. To check if there is any fade, we resorted to dragging them constantly over a few minutes. Fortunately, there were no such issues.

Braking power usually kicked in with a grab that felt very firm and was consistent throughout our testing. Initially, the lever travel felt sturdy until the pads and rotor hit each other. The leverage us changed by Servowave, which made pulling the lever slightly easy. The trails were considerably steep and fast, and we planned to allow the brakes to breathe a little. However, since there was hardly any brake fade – we eventually decided not to. The clamp was hinged for compatibility with I-Spec, while the handlebar had an extension butted up against it so that the perch’s outboard end could be braced. We used the same plastic dial to make adjustments to the lever as we did on many other hydraulic disc brakes.

Shimano Deore XT M8100 Disc Brake

Shimano Deore XT M8100 Disc Brake

10. Tektro HD-M290: Front brake w/ rotor; open hydraulic system; uses environment-friendly mineral oil

Tektro HD-M290

  • Lever: Cast aluminum, 2 finger blade (left); Reach adjustable
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper:  Aluminum (Forged)
  • Mount: Post Mount
  • Piston: open System, Dual-piston
  • Rotor: TR160-8
  • Brake pads: High-performance metal ceramic compound
  • Application: MTB Road, Cyclocross, TT / Triathlon, Recreation, BMX, E-Bike
  • Fluid used: Tektro mineral oil
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 850 mm front

Features & Considerations
  • Tektro lever: The lever being used with Tektro HD-M290 is made using cast aluminum. With a reach between 86 and 90 mm, the short-reach is specially designed for people with shorthands.
  • Adjustable lever reach: This will adjust the distance between the lever to the grip of the handlebars. The liver reach is adjusted as or the hand size and preference of the user.
  • TR160-8 rotors: The rotor has a brake surface that is drilled to dissipate more heat. It also offers more heat tolerance. Brake fade is minimized during descents by the rotor, while the braking power is excellent. They can be easily installed and are a reliable option for trail riding. features a drilled brake surface that offers high heat dispersion and excellent heat tolerance. This design provides great stopping power while minimizing brake fade on descents. The Tektro Round rotor was designed for riders offering easy installation and dependable performance for the trails.
  • 2 piston caliper: To ensure that the braking power is always consistent, calipers with dual pistons are being used with this disc brake.
  • Auriga brake pads: These pads from Tektro are compatible with a range of models from the manufacturer. The compound used for this brake pad uses metal with ceramic so that braking performance is consistent on downhill descents and in unfavorable weather conditions.
  • Tektro mineral oil: This mineral oil has non-corrosive properties and should be used on Tektro hydraulic brake systems. The heat expansion properties of this oil are excellent.

Some Weaknesses
  • The disc brake may be a bit noisy.

At a great price, the Tektro HD-M290 (about $39) can be a great complement to a disc brake system. It is to be mounted on the left side

From the beginning, we noticed a significant difference in terms of feel, in comparison to mechanical disc brakes. Until the rotor and the pads were touching each other, resistance in the lever was almost zero. After contact, resistance built up instantly. The lever could hardly be moved, while modulation was carried out by squeezing the lever with some pressure. Since the pistons were opposing, the caliper was able to offer consistent braking power throughout. The pads were held in place using a reusable screw. The bracket for mounting the caliper and the rotor fit perfectly as well. . Since we have to hardly make any modifications while we install the disc brake, we were surprised by the braking power that the HD-M290 offered. The Tektro HD -M290 is a great hydraulic brake system that is available for a good value.

Tektro HD-M290

Tektro HD-M290

11. Magura MT5: 4 piston technology; carbotecture lever housing; ideal for trail and enduro riding

Sale
Magura MT5

  • Lever: Ergonomic, 2-finger, Aluminum; Reach adjustable
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: Aluminum, Forged
  • Mount: PM/IS
  • Piston: 4
  • Rotor: Not included
  • Brake pads: MagnetiXchange pads
  • Application: Gravity, Enduro, E-MTB
  • Fluid used: Royal Blood (mineral oil-based)
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 2200 mm

Features & Considerations
  • 4-piston braking power: The 4 pistons provide surplus braking power, in addition to the great stability and excellent control needed on downhill and Enduro runs that are tougher.
  • Carbotecture housing: This is the material being used for the housing of the brake lever. Carbon fibers are aligned optimally so that homogeneous surfaces can be produced. These fibers are covered with resin, allowed to harden after they have been embroidered on a mass to form the lever design.
  • Magura EBT: Bleeding can be done easily, using a quick mechanism. The power output will be optimum while the modulation of the brakes is superior too.
  • MagnetiXchange: The pads that are being used here have been equipped with this technology so that they can lock into the required position automatically. Replacing the brake pads is no more an inconvenience.
  • Lever design: To reduce any strain on the hands, we find an ergonomic design for the lever on Mt5. The 2-finger design is optimized so that the application of braking power on steep downhill and terrains that are more technical is accurate and effective. The lever can be adjusted per the size of each rider’s hand as well. Here, the distance of the lever to the grip of the handlebars is adjusted. The levers are not side specific, thanks to the flip flop design that is adopted here.
  • RHR: Also known as routable hose routing, it facilitates easy and accurate routing of the brake hose.

Some Weaknesses
  • Blunt power delivery and lever flex takes some adjusting to
  • Occasional reliability issues

The Magura MT5 was another hydraulic disc brake that we tested out from Magura and were fairly impressed by the balance the manufacturer has found, between the price and braking performance.

Certainly, the price was our main incentive; we took a further look into what else the MT5 was offering. The pads are using MagnetiXchange technology, which locked them into the optimum position inside the calipers automatically. For the hydraulic liquid, Magura used Royal Blood mineral oil, which is environmentally friendly. Modulation was acceptable with the 4 piston caliper here; however, the braking power was very significant as it brought us to a stop. The lever did feel wood-like to members of our team, while the length was awkwardly lengthy for some members. The construction is prone to damage if care is not taken during bleeding. As an alternative, you may choose the HC lever. While we tested the Mt5 on the trails, the deceleration and braking force were noticeable, mainly due to the accuracy. No matter the conditions, the Mt5 was able to reduce our riding speed considerably. Therefore, if you are looking for a reliable disc brake for a budget where you want the best possible power – the MT5 is an unrivaled choice.

Magura MT5

Magura MT5

12. TRP HY/RD: Hydraulic disc brake that is cable actuated; ideal for road bikes; automatic pad adjustment

TRP HY/RD

  • Lever: Ergonomic, 2-finger, aluminum; Reach adjustment
  • Actuation: Hydraulic
  • Caliper: Aluminum
  • Mount: PM with IS
  • Piston: 4
  • Rotor: 140 mm, 160 mm, or no rotor at all
  • Brake pads: Semi-metallic
  • Application: Road
  • Fluid used: Mineral oil
  • Hose Length (Front/Rear): 2200 mm

Features & Considerations
  • Cable actuated hydraulic system: This hydraulic brake system that is using a cable-actuated design that has been updated. The cost-effectiveness of this design is combined with enhanced modulation and stopping power. The shift of the levers to not need any springs, since the design is compatible with many of the cable-actuated system that is available today. The handlebars are tidy since the hydraulic mechanism is at the caliper of this disc brake.
  • Open system: An open system consisting of a predetermined volume of fluid and air is used by the Hydraulic disc brakes due to the efficiency of this braking mechanism. Generally contained within a reservoir, the fluid and the air have a bladder in between, separating the two. As the fluid volume changes, the bladder contracts and expands accordingly.
  • Heat compensation: To accommodate the system as functional throughout a series of temperature levels, using an open system is deemed as an adequate solution to cater to the expanding nature of fluids when heated. When the brakes are released, an open system allows the fluid to flow into the reservoir.
  • Pad/rotor wear compensation: With time, the slave pistons must move further and further to bridge the gap between the worn-out pads and rotors. In open systems, additional fluid from the reservoir flows into the braking systems to make sure that the master and slave pistons always have a minimum amount of fluid between them. As the rotors and pads wear, piston slippage helps ensure that the system remains continuously operational.
  • Timing ports: Positioned just in front of the piston, timing ports can be described as small holes located within the master cylinder. The master piston closes off the connection between the reservoir and the system when the brake lever is used.
  • Taper bore: Avid Taperbore Technology integrates the use of a bladder incorporated master piston within a master cylinder. The diameter of the cylinder is fractionally bigger than that of the piston within the area where it rests. This gap allows the fluid to access a place located behind the piston seal and also around it. When the brakes are operational; to cut off fluid access, the piston shifts to an area of the master cylinder that has a smaller diameter, giving it the ability to seal around the piston.
  • FF5 adapter: Having the option of being used for either 140mm or 160mm rotors, this adapter is necessary for mounting forks with center to center bolt spacing of 70 mm.

Some Weaknesses
  • No significant weakness.

The TRP HY/RD disc brake should not have any cable slack if it is set up properly, and using the barrel register for tightening the brakes is a big no-no. After installation, we resorted to testing the brakes out.

Initially, or during the first 4- 5 rides – we did appreciate the braking power; however, we were missing the feel usually offered by hydraulic brakes. In such cases, we would advise you to keep riding with the brakes on – just like us. As we used the brakes more and more, we could feel that the brake was setting in. As we got accustomed to the brake and used it extensively on turns, we found ourselves riding down steep descents with much more confidence. This was really great, and on the turns, we were braking much later than before. The brakes were tested in the rain, in winter, and even under the scorching summer heat. The performance, we must say, was consistent throughout. There were hardly any squeals from braking, which was perfect. With excellent braking and vastly improved modulation, we are also getting pads that can both self-center and self adjust. Unlike mechanical disc brakes, the brake levers do not need to be pulled to their bars in muddy terrains that damage the pad. Since most components of the mechanical disc brake system can be retained while using the TRP HY/RD, it is certainly more budget-friendly than a fully hydraulic brake system.

TRP HY/RD

TRP HY/RD


Buying Guide: Mechanical disk brakes

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are a braking mechanism located in the center of a bike wheel. The system is operated via calipers to produce pressure on a rotor by squeezing brake pads against it.

Types of Disc Brakes

    • Hydraulic disc brake: Hydraulic disc brakes run through a sealed and fluid-filled system. After the brake lever is pressed, the resistance created from using fluids will push brake pads against a rotor is used to stop a bike. As non-compressible fluids are used in these brakes, they can offer superior performance to mechanical ones. This is because the pressure applied on the lever is way less than the amount that is exerted on the rotor. In other words, a simple push on the lever is good enough to generate a response with adequate stopping power. The closed design of hydraulic brakes prevents the entry of foreign materials like dirt and mud into the system. Therefore even when riding in wet and muddy conditions, the braking power and performance of your bike are not hampered.
    • Mechanical disc brake: The system of mechanical disc brakes uses stainless steel cables to control and operate the brake pads in contrast to the fluid-pressure system of hydraulic brakes. Simple and easy to use, the self-maintenance ability of mechanical discs makes them perfect for long tours or trips. The braking performance of these systems is less precise and requires a greater operating force than hydraulic brakes. The open design of mechanical disc brakes makes them more prone to frequent cleaning and care as the heavy steel cables collect dust, mud, and dirt debris; exposing the system to uninvited disruptions.

1. Brake pads

The brake pads are made from materials that have been designed to interface specifically to the material for the rotors that are used. The characteristics of the materials for the brake pads differ in terms of wear, performance in wet and dry, dusty conditions. The pads can be switched for use but should be accompanied by a new rotor installation too. Typically, there are two types of materials used for brake pads.

    • Organic pads- Organic resin is bonded with metallic & organic compounds.
    • Metal sintered pads- At high pressure and temperature, metals are bonded to form these pads.

They are functioning as per the following principles.

    • Adherent friction- During the bed-in, the rotor will be covered with the pad material, but in a thin layer. As the brakes are applied, friction is generated as bonds between the pads and the layer on the rotor are established and destroyed. If this layer is uneven, noise along with uneven braking will hamper the performance. The material that is used for the pad is critical to this
    • Abrasive friction- When the brake pad surface or rotor wears down, abrasive friction results, caused by the breaking down of either the surface of the brake pads, the rotor, or both. This is a secondary contributor to overall friction but is the primary contributor to rotor wear.

2. Rotor

The size of the rotor will determine the braking power of the hydraulic disc brake. The distance between the axle and where the braking force is placed varies with a larger diameter. As a result, there will be more leverage for the system for opposing the rotation of the wheels. The heat from the brake and thermal mass of the system determines its performance. As more weight is added on by larger rotors, smaller rotors with a more manageable weight are also available. They do not suit for heavy or aggressive riding. The lever is pulled harder so that the reduced power can be compensated by more force. The hydraulic brake would heat up and compromise the performance.

3. Rotor design

When a rotor design is to be selected, factors that should be looked at are the width of the disc, the hardness, and the rubbing area. Materials that have high tensile length and are durable are the ideal materials. They can handle the harsher force arising from the material of the friction pad better.

All across the surface of the rotor should its thickness be uniform. The varying thickness will have adverse effects on the brakes.

The design of the ring area will affect the longevity of the pad. This so affects the overall strength weight of the rotor.

4. Rotor Type

6 bolt and CentrLock rotors are the two rotor types that are available today.

    • 6 Bolt – They are more compatible with the products available today. It can be used on several models of brakes thanks to the hubs that are used. The installation may not be very convenient, as there stays a little risk of error when the bolts and points for the hub mounts are being fixed.
    • CenterLock – Usually they have a single ring for locking it at the center. A special tool is used to assemble and take the system off again. As each rotor size is unique, only a few hubs and brakes can be used with these. They are heavier and come at a higher price.

2-Piece Rotors

An aluminum carrier is used to construct the rubbing area made from stainless steel. A cooler disc during the runs is due to the aluminum carrier which dissipates heat better. It is lightweight and helps to keep the fluid, caliper, and pads cooler. Usually, they are an upgrade option.

5. Caliper

The brake caliper in a hydraulic disc brake system holds the brake pads, which are moved towards the rotor by the pistons. Pistons are typically cylindrical components that engage in pushing g the oil whenever the lever is engaged. A “Monobloc” caliper has been cast from a single metal piece, while 2 piece calipers have 2 halves that have been bolted together. 2 piece calipers are more cost-effective. Typically they are of two types.

    • Fixed: They do not move for the disc, and the whole body is mounted. The brake pads are pushed by the pistons on either side of the rotor. Due to these criteria – pistons are uses here in numbers of 2, 4, 6, etc. They can squeeze with more power and can distribute the braking forces evenly, at the same time. Even though the feel of the brakes are substantial at the lever, this setup may be expensive as the pistons have to be machined precisely
    • Floating: Floating calipers have an external frame that can slide sideways thanks to brushing and pins.
      Application of a hydraulic force on the piston residing internally will try to move the pads in the direction of the rotor. However, the hydraulic force will instead pull the sliding frame that holds the brake pad on the disc’s opposite side. Floating calipers do much, have a more compact design, and are more budget-friendly than the fixed design.

Hydraulic calipers are another option where the cable of the brake will be running to the caliper to e attached to an arm. As this actuated the system, the hydraulic mechanism is complete.

Number of Pistons

Pistons can be made from aluminum, plastic, or steel that has been chrome plated. Even though the number of pistons does not affect the braking power, 4 pistons will present a much larger contact area in comparison to 2 pistons.

4 piston calipers can offer better modulation control by modifying the piston dimensions. As pistons are built as single-sided or opposed, the latter can exert equal forces to the brake pads. When the diameter of the pistons on each side of the caliper is different, each piston produces variable force in addition to how much a simple lever throw will move the piston.

Larger pistons can generate more force. Additionally, the speed of the pistons will vary as per their diameter. Therefore, smaller pistons are prone to reduce the distance between the pads and the rotor faster. These different piston sizes can be manipulated to control the modulation too.

6. Lever

The lever, or the master cylinder, is mounted on the handlebars. The brake lever is housed here too, and together they generate the force needed as input so that the fluid for the hydraulic brake can be pushed to the slave cylinder. The brake pads are clamped to the rotor due to this action.

The master cylinders of the lever are arranged in either a radial configuration or an inline configuration.

    • Radial design – The handlebar and the master cylinder are perpendicular to each other.
    • Inline design- The master cylinder is parallel with the handlebar.

In the picture below, you can see the difference between the two designs is distinguishable due to the position of the pivoting point of the lever. This is detrimental to the lever’s ergonomics.

7. Lever Stroke

The complete lever stroke has been divided up as follows

    • Dead-stroke – As the fluid is being pushed by the primary seal during the first part of the lever stroke, the fluid is heading towards the reservoir. After this, this liquid is pushed further using the brake lines to the calipers.
    • Pad Gap Stroke – This is referring to the instance when pistons are coming out of their housings and the pads come in contact with the disc.
    • Contact & Modulation – Further lever stroke clamp the pads to the rotor so that there is more braking power. The rider can control the modulation in some brakes too.

Lever Adjustments

It is essential that the hydraulic disc brake is well adjusted and tuned. We have mentioned below a few adjustments that can be made to the lever, with their purpose.

    • Reach adjustment- This will allow you to make adjustments to the lever spacing or the reach of the lever per the size of their hand. This adjustment can be made using the knob that is found on many designs. People who have long fingers will want the blades to be far away from the grip of the handlebar, while short grips on people prefer the blades closer. If the blades of the lever are in an optimized position, the arm pump is reduced so that the forearms of the rider do not fatigue.
    • Contact point adjustment- This allows riders to change at what point of the lever’s stroke the brakes will start to engage. Shimano offers this adjustment on their disc brakes too, where the pads can be moved closer or farther away from each other as an extra.

8. Brake Hose

The brake hose forms the connection between the caliper and the lever. They are specially designed as an integral component for the design of the whole brake. They can support more than 2000 psi of internal pressure without stretching or undergoing substantial expansion. The feel at the lever is correlated to the minimum expansion that does occur at certain pressure levels. It allows the rider to have more control over the braking capability of the brake

9. Caliper

Hydraulic calipers have the full benefits of going to disc brakes in the first place. Light, reliable action. Sealed against the elements. Self-adjusting for pad wear.

You may have to have hydraulic brakes bled if they start to feel spongy but that’s a rare occasion and it’s something that you can do at home with a few supplies. The least cable-reliant hydraulic systems involve using a converter box; a unit that mounts under the stem and accepts cables from the nearby brake levers and converts the cable action into hydraulic action.

10. Adapter

The mount of the frame will decide if an adapter needs to be used. In some cases, they are included with brake sets, while many manufacturers want customers to buy them separately.

11. Shifter Mount

Levers can be bolted with a shifter with the help of the MatchMaker clamp. Even though it is an additional purchase, they return value by allowing the brakes to run low weight, and there is more space at the handlebar to mount lights, computers, etc.

12. Hydraulic Fluid

Hydraulic braking systems typically use one of two types of brake fluid – DOT fluid or mineral oil.

    • DOT Fluid- There are more common for hydraulic disc brakes. Except for DOT5, all other DOT fluids are made from a base of poly-glycol.
    • Mineral Oil- They are hydrophobic and absorb very little water from the surroundings. The fact that they are environment-friendly means that they can be stored for a long time after opening.

Closed hydraulic system:

Hydraulic disc brake systems where the fluid volume between the slave piston and the master cylinder remains constant. When the fluid expansion in a closed system generates pressure while the brakes are heating up, drag is generated. The feel at the lever is affected while the pads are pushed towards the rotor by this pressure. For the rotor and the pads to touch each other here, the slave cylinder is likely to cover more distance. This also means the lever will travel further as the pads wear out.

Open hydraulic system:

An open system uses a reservoir where there is a surplus volume of fluid, with minimum air. A flexible bladder separates these two. The bladder undergoes expansion and contraction as fluid volume changes. As the brakes are released in an open system, the reservoir is filled while the fluid expands. Therefore, the system can deliver consistent performance over varying temperatures.

F. A. Q.s

Q1. Are hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano any good?

Ans.: Shimano is one of the leading manufacturers of hydraulic disc brakes today. They have strived hard to introduce hydraulic brakes for road bikes. For Shimano disc brakes, the hydraulic setup will offer the best experience for disc brakes.
Shimano was quick to identify that overheating will be a concern when discs are used for road biking. During the fast, long downhill travels this may be a bigger issue. Shimano introduced a rotor that uses IceTech. Three layers of aluminum and stainless structure are sandwiched for the rotor structure here. Since it can transfer heat better, aluminum has been used. Aluminum sections on the brake track’s inboard side have a way structure. 140 and 160 mm rotors are compatible with the road disc braking system from Shimano, who offer options for riding style and rider’s weight. Shimano has also introduced a flat-mount system that is specific to Shimano bikes. Shimano has quoted “This new design allows consumers to move away from the mountain bike history and look, which has been used until now, using a method better suited to high-performance road bike riding,”. Other manufacturers use this too since the Flat Mount is an open standard.

We can clearly see that Shimano is clearly leading the way to make all sorts of developments to hydraulic bike designs, and their products can be the ideal first option for all hydraulic brake system users.

Q2. Are hydraulic disk brakes worth it?

Ans.: Typically, technical riding at high speed can be handled better by hydraulic disc brakes. However, how they compare to other brake types may shed a light on the matter. :

    • Vs mechanical discs: Hydraulic brakes offer enhanced modulation from a minimal effort at pulling the lever. These levers do not strain the hand of the risers when they pull the levers. The pads can be replaced easily in case they wear out while bleeding the brakes will improve the performance. Some brakes can go longer without bleeding.
    • Vs rim brakes: Hydraulic brakes will allow riders to brake more consistently, especially if the riding conditions are not ideal or for long downhill travel. Since there are no cables, not much maintenance is necessary along with reduced lever pull.

Since all lever effort is multiplied, the force from the brakes is much larger than the force at the input. This is why minimum effort can still offer great performance. The lever feel can be appreciated better, accompanied by better modulation. In reality, the feel at the lever is light enough to be exerted y using the little finger only. The magnitude of the braking force can be controlled better.

Conclusion

With all the options that are available in the market today, selecting the best hydraulic brakes can be an ambiguous task. The decision-making process will become even more difficult if you are looking for the best budget hydraulic disc brakes. If you already have a mechanical disc brake system, you may look to upgrade to the hydraulic style if possible. However, if it is not – we hope that our article can help you select the best budget hydraulic disc brakes that provide the best value for money. Equipped with the best braking power and go riding today!

Related readings on Bike brakes:


Useful resources:

(Visited 30 times, 2 visits today)

Last update on 2020-11-25 at 12:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply