All about disc brakes:types and maintenance

Disc brakes are the order of the day, therefore, today we are going to talk about what types there are and what maintenance they require so that our bike is in perfect condition.


Types of disc brake

Disc brakes vary according to their operation and depending on the type of cyclist, we are going to talk about both types below:

  • According to your drive, there are two universal disc brake systems depending on the drive technology: hydraulic and mechanical.
The most widespread system is hydraulic disc brakes, this braking circuit is filled with brake fluid that is pumped from the lever to the caliper. Braking is more progressive and modulated, going from less to more and avoiding wheel locks to promote better control.
Instead, the mechanical disc brakes They have a traditional braking cable. Its braking is more abrupt, less progressive. They tend to lose touch, but the repairs and adjustments they require are simpler.




  • The other criterion that we find to classify disc brakes is according to the modality of cycling that we practice.
In the case of the Mountain Bike, in disc brakes the standard ranges from 160 to 220 mm, and the lever is straight and adjustable in reach. In addition, it is also possible to improve power with four-piston models.
In the road bikes, the latest road disc brakes have their own peculiarities, in levers, caliper size and disc diameter. They are smaller than MTB ones (140 and 160 mm) and the floating type is taking over the rigid ones, with a more extended and opaque central piece, as well as fins to better dissipate heat (technology Ice from Shimano).
And in the gravel bikes, disc brakes are similar in size and technology to road brakes, they use the same type of lever for the hook handlebars. But its disc diameter is usually larger, 160 or 180mm. In addition, the brake levers have a different design and ergonomics that generate better finger grip, sacrificing a little weight.



Disc brake maintenance

Correct maintenance of disc brakes requires specific care. Within this care, replacing the tablets and draining the liquid are the most important operations that we must perform.



First of all, to carry out the replacement of pads, we must take into account that the compound in the pads disappears due to friction with the disc, this implies that we must check its condition every two or three months. When the thickness of the pad is less than 1mm, we must consider changing it, and if it drops to 0.5mm, we must replace it immediately, since the metal support of the pad would begin to rub against the disc, thus damaging its braking track. You can change the pill at home without complications.

After each pad change you should pedal and touch the brake from less to more repeatedly in a flat, quiet place until the touch hardens.


Bleeding should be done once a year, regardless of how much you use the bike. This is because the brake fluid loses its properties with or without use, so we must extract the old fluid by pumping it with new fluid from the lever to the exit hole of the caliper. You can do this at home without problems as long as you have two small hoses, a funnel and brake fluid.


On the other hand, we must take into account the clamp centering, since strong braking, bumps, falls or use of the bike can cause a mismatch in the fixation of the caliper to the frame or fork. This produces a misalignment of the pads with respect to the disc, which generates friction, even if we do not apply the brake. To center the calipers, avoiding annoying noise and reducing wear, you will need to loosen the caliper retaining screws. Then move it and center it slightly, simultaneously squeezing the handle to realign it with the disc, and tighten the screws again, alternating this tightening so that it is uniform on both sides.



It is essential that before starting each route you make sure that the disc brakes, calipers and levers are clean, this will help you ride more efficiently, safely and will add years of useful life to your bike. You just have to get used to cleaning it with soap and water after each outing, this will prevent it from getting inside the caliper. You must clean this monthly, first removing the tablets.