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Breaking Down Bike Brakes

What kind of brakes should I have on my bike?

There are so many different styles of brakes out there for bicycles, all with there appropriate application. Where, when, and how you are riding are the questions you want to ask yourself when figuring this out. 

The most common brake styles you may come across in your quest for the perfect bike are V-Brakes, Disc Brakes, Caliper Brakes, Cantilever Brakes, and the always popular "coaster brake".

Heres a list of applications most appropriate for each style:


The V-Brake

This brake is probably the most commonly used brake on the market for good reason. Most often used on mountain bikes and hybrids, these inexpensive brakes offer immense strength, quick response and ease of disconnecting to remove the wheel. V-brakes also offer lots of clearance over the tire to shed mud quickly and put fenders on with ease. the disadvantage to the V-Brake is that it only has a rubber brake pad so it may not perform as well in muddy or wet conditions.

Caliper Brakes

These brakes are most commonly found on road bikes as they are designed to be more compact, streamlined and aerodynamic. Like the V-Brake, Caliper brakes only take a rubber pad so if you are looking for something better suited for wet weather riding, the disc brake is going to be right up your alley.  

Cantilever Brakes

These brakes can be found most often on "Cyclo-Cross" bikes. Though they also have a rubber pad, these brakes can be very light-weight, powerful, and have the most mud clearance of any rubber padded brake system.

Disc Brakes (mechanical or hydraulic) 

These brakes are best suited brake for all-season riding in any weather condition, as well as aggressive mountain biking. Generally found on high-end road, mountain, and hybrid bikes, these brakes have more stopping power than any other brake type. Disc brakes with a hydraulic system as opposed to mechanical will generally have the most stopping power and better power modulation. 

Coaster Brakes

These brakes will generally come on children's bikes and "Beach Cruisers". Though these brakes are practically maintenance free and very easy to use, they are not meant for serious riding as they are not nearly as strong as any of the other styles mentioned. 

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