There have been many changes and innovations in the bike industry over the years and few bicycle parts have changed more than the braking system. From the humble cantilever to the new ceramic hydraulic disc brakes, the way people stop bikes has come a long way. This article will look at all the main types of bicycle brakes.
The cantilever brake
There are two main types of cantilever brakes used today, some are found on older bikes and some are still used to keep costs of manufacturing low.
The cantilever brake works by having each arm attatched to a separate pivot point on one side of the fork which means that all cantilever brakes are
dual-pivot. Centre pull These were used on almost all mountain bikes made before the mid 1990's, and are still popular on touring and cyclo-cross bicycles. U-brakes These were fashionable for mountain bikes around 1987. The pivot for each brake is between the brake shoe and cable attachment. U-brakes have had a bit of a revival in the last few years for use on freestyle bicycles.
Still popular today on lower costing mountain bikes, they are similar to the cantilevers but the brake cables come in from the side.
V-brakes have a main arm and a secondary arm. Each arm has a brake pad mounted at the lower end that aligns with the side of the wheel rim.
An exposed section of the brake cable, referred to as the inner cable, runs horizontally from the main arm to the secondary arm. Squeezing the hand lever pushes the main arm and pad against the rim as the inner cable pulls the secondary arm and pad against the opposite side of the rim. These cables and pads are easily replaced and are very cost effective compared to other types of brakes.
There are two main types of disc brakes the cable and the hydraulic. Cable disc brakes Disc brakes have three main parts the disc rotor that are attached directly to the bikes hub, the calliper that houses the brakes pads and the lever. When the lever is pulled, the calliper pushes the pads against the rotor, effectively squeezing it until the friction slows down the rotation of the wheel. Cable disc brakes are cheaper and easier to fix although the cable stretches, meaning that it will need adjusting regularly. Hydraulic disc brakes These work on the same principle as the cable disc brakes but use fluid instead. This means that they are fairly maintenance free and have a greater stopping force compared to cables. For more information on the different types of brakes and how to adjust them, visit Sheldonbrown.com.