Mechanical vs Hydraulic Disc Brakes on an E-Bike: What's the Difference?
July 21, 2022
Wondering about the difference between mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes? When choosing an e-bike for yourself there are a lot of elements that one considers before purchasing your first e-bike. One of these is what types of brakes the bike brings. Whether you know it or not, brakes make a big difference on a bike. Specifically whether the bike brings hydraulic brakes vs. or mechanical brakes. The difference of the mechanical vs. hydraulic disc brakes also leads to a price change due to one being considered “better” than the other although at the end of the day the bike will stop regardless of what brake it brings. In fact, it’s not a matter of which one is better, it’s a matter of which one you prefer. So what exactly is the difference between mechanical vs. hydraulic disc brakes? Well for starters, you have to keep in mind how you will be using your e-bike. When purchasing a bike you want to make sure that it is equipped with brakes that you feel that you can trust. It is important to know the difference between mechanical vs. hydraulic disc brakes, so you can be very well aware of bicycle brake type comparison and what makes up the bike. Brakes are an important part of your bicycle just like they are for a car. Typically those who purchase an e-bike will be using it more than those who don't own an e-bike. So what exactly are Hydraulic brakes?
Mechanical Disc Brakes vs. Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Hydraulic brakes on a bicycle function by transferring force from the brake lever to the brake pads using hydraulic fluid. Hydraulic brakes are often more powerful and easier to maintain than other kinds of brakes, making them a popular option for mountain biking and road cycling.
To explain further, when asking what is the main difference between mechanical vs. hydraulic disc brakes, hydraulic brakes refers to when the brake lever is pulled a fluid is being compressed which then will run all the way down to the brake caliper. After this is done the brake pad is compressed to the wheels rim. With hydraulic brakes there is no brake cable involved in the process. Mechanical refers to when you pull the brake lever the brake cable is being pulled, which in return pulls the brake caliper that essentially pulls the brake pads into the rim. Note that with mechanical there is no fluid involved making this a big difference between both. So you may ask yourself which one is better? The answer as stated above is what you feel most comfortable in. The braking performance on a bike with hydraulic brakes is more powerful since the brake pads are pushed into the rim and mechanical brakes are asymmetrical.
Another thing to keep in mind when discussing the best bicycle disc brakes is the type of maintenance they require. A bike is just like a car which makes sense as to why more people are opting for an e-bike rather than purchasing a new car because not only are you getting exercise while riding to your destinations you’re also saving the planet one e-bike at a time and maintaining and caring for your bike as you would for a car. Mechanical and Hydraulic brakes require different types of maintenance work. Mechanical brakes require maintenance due to the cables stretching and the fact that the pads start to wear out. Hydraulic brakes require maintenance after the brake pads are all completely worn out. If you are unsure of how to check if your brakes need maintenance to take it to your local bike shop. They’ll have the experience needed to work on disc brakes.
One other thing to keep in mind is how these full cycling brakes will be used. With hydraulic brakes there is no need to pull hard on the brake lever which in a sense is great for those who don't have much power in their hands. Since it requires less power from your hands to pull on the brake lever, choosing an e-bike that would give you the flexibility of not having to put so much strain on your hands is a good thing for those who ride but may have poor flexibility.
Although both brakes do the job required at the end of the day, some would say that hydraulic brakes are better. Some of these reasons include the fact that you will be able to do your own maintenance on your brakes rather than having to take it to a bike shop. This, obviously, lowers the cost of owning your bike.
To make things more simple take a look at the pros and cons of both the hydraulic brake and mechanical disc brake systems.
Pros of Mechanical Disc Brakes:
- Easier to replace
- Easy maintenance
Cons of Mechanical Disc Brakes
- Needs more squeeze power by hand to enable brake
- More maintenance required
- Brake cable gets stretched
Pros of Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- More likely to last longer
- Less maintenance
- More brake stopping power
Cons of Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- Very complex to do maintenance on
- If there's an oil leak it's harder to fix
If you want to learn more about what e-bike would suit you best take a look at our other blogs like “6 tips to help you choose the best e-bike for 2019 ” or “Is a step-through e-bike right for you?”