When it comes to e-bikes, one crucial component that directly affects rider safety and performance is the braking system. Before, there was a debate between disc brakes and rim brakes in bicycles. But with the introduction of e-bikes, disc brakes start getting more popular. In fact, most modern bikes now prefer disc brakes over rim brakes. And why not?

Disc brakes prove themselves to be more functional, especially for MTB biking. Now the next debate is about hydraulic vs. mechanical disc brakes - two main types of disc brakes.

Mechanical brakes use a cable-pulling system, more like rim brakes, while hydro brakes use fluid to transfer the braking force. Here we will look at the pros and cons of both mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes for e-bikes.

Types of Disc Brakes

There are two main types of disc brakes: Mechanical and Hydrualic. The major difference between these two bicycle brakes is their efficiency. Although they both perform better than the old rim brakes, they are different from each other in many ways. Let’s discover which one is better for your e-bike:

Mechanical Disc Brakes

The Sola ev bike with mechanical brake

Mechanical disc brakes work quite similar to traditional rim brakes. They operate with the help of a steel cable that is connected with a brake level; which is further connected with a brake calliper. This system is the same as most rim brakes.

It works when the cable pulls the brake lever, activating the calliper that then squeezes the brake pads onto the rotor. When you apply braking force, the lever pulls a wound steel cable through the housing. That cable then pulls on the lever arm at the calliper, which then pushes the brake pad into the rotor, usually via some kind of internal ramp mechanism.

Pros of Mechanical Brakes

The simple system of mechanical brakes has many advantages. Some of them are:


Mechanical disc brakes are more affordable compared to their hydraulic counterparts. This makes them a practical choice for riders seeking excellent braking performance on a budget.

Ease of Maintenance:

The mechanical design of these brakes means they are generally easier to maintain. Bikers can easily adjust the cable tension and replace brake pads without any special tools or expertise.

Simplicity and Reliability:

Mechanical disc brakes are known for their reliability and consistency in performance. With fewer moving parts and a straightforward design, they are less prone to malfunctioning or requiring frequent servicing.

Cons of Mechanical Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes also have some limitations which makes them less popular for e-bikes.

Lower Modulation:

Mechanical brakes often lack the precise, smooth modulation that hydraulic brakes offer. They feel somewhat spongy or less responsive when braking, especially in high-speed situations.

Increased Effort:

With Mechanical brakes, you need to apply more force on the brake lever to achieve the same level of stopping power as hydraulic brakes. So they are not ideal for downhill rides.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

the cityrun ebike with hydraulic brake

Hydraulic disc brakes use a seal fluid-filled system to transfer force from the brake lever to the calliper. The brake fluid is hold in a master cylinder and when the brake lever is squeezed, the piston moves inside the cylinder and force brake fluid toward the brake calliper. This force is then transferred to pistons inside the brake calliper which push the brake pads into the disc rotor to slow the wheel rotation.

Pros of Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes are popular because they offer a lot of benefits. Here are some of their pros:

Enhanced Modulation and Control:

Hydraulic brakes provide better control over braking power as compared to their mechanical counterparts. The hydraulic fluid transfers force evenly, allowing for smooth and progressive modulation. This results in a more refined braking experience.

Reduced Fatigue:

Hydraulic disc brakes require less effort on the brake lever to deliver the same stopping power as mechanical brakes. So, they are more comfortable for long rides and difficult terrains where you need to use brakes a lot.

Superior Performance:

With their advanced design, hydraulic brakes offer greater stopping power. Their overall performance is also better than mechanical disc brakes. They work exceptionally well under high-speed or heavy-load conditions, making them ideal for mountain biking or e-bike models with higher power output.

Cons of Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes are more popular than mechanical brakes, but they don’t come without issues.

Higher Cost:

Hydraulic systems are more expensive to purchase as compared to mechanical disc brakes. Their maintenance might also cause a hefty amount. So they are not for bikers who are on a tight budget.

Complex System:

Hydraulic brakes require specialized tools and knowledge for installation and maintenance. Their hybrid system is not easy to manage for novice bikers. If any issues arise, they may require professional assistance for repair or their hydraulic system will bleed.

Hydraulic vs. Mechanical Disc Brakes: Which is Best for Your e-bike?

Hydraulic disc brakes offer superior performance thanks to their advanced design and enhanced stopping power. They are more suitable for high-power e-bikes and challenging terrain because they provide excellent modulation and control. However, hydraulic disc brakes come at a higher cost, and they are not easy to maintain.

On the contrary, mechanical disc brakes provide a more affordable option with ease of maintenance and reliability. But you have to compromise on modulation and performance.

Heybike sells electric bikes with both mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes, so you can compare models and choose the ones that best suit your needs and budget.

So, when you have to decide which brakes you should choose for your e-bike, just go through the pros and cons of both hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes. Then consider your riding preferences, your budget, and how and where you want to use your e-bike. Only then can you make an informed yet correct decision!

Check out more information on electric bike kits on our blog

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