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Disc Brakes vs V-Brakes: Which Are Best for Bike Safety?

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

disc brakes vs v brakes

We often find ourselves struggling to figure out which product is best when considering both safety and performance. For bicycle braking needs, you may end up comparing disc brakes vs v-brakes. Is one better than the other?

The V brake is a conventional braking system that is easy to maintain and replace. Meanwhile, disc brakes possess high braking power suited for mountain biking and competitive riding. Each type does well in different situations.

Keep reading to learn more.

Bicycle Braking Solutions: V-Brake vs Disc Brake


Among the many types of bike brakes, it is inevitable for comparisons to be made. One such comparison is rim brakes vs disk brakes.

Another significant comparison would be linear-pull brakes vs disc brakes, which is part of the discussion below.

1. V-brake


The V-brake is also called the linear-pull brake or direct-pull cantilever. This is a type of rim brake, which is a conventional bike braking system.

It makes use of brake pads mounted on the frame and applied to the wheel rim to stop movement. This type works along with the operating levers on the handlebars.

There are many types of rim brakes, and they have many differences in design with their common point being that their braking is applied to the wheel rim.

Cantilever brakes are identified by having two separate arms instead of the traditional caliper type that has two arms connected to a single bolt. Although most rim braking systems are generally for the road bike, cantilevers are well-suited for off-road bikes and they were the standard for such use.

With the arrival of the V brake, it quickly replaced the traditional cantilever in the majority of mountain bikes due to one key design difference: not having a fixed cable on the frame.

This led to eliminating one of the biggest problems with cantilevers that often resulted in dangerous crashes.

Are disc brakes better on a bike or are traditional systems still the way to go? The advent of disc brakes has led to a reduction in V brakes bicycle use, but they are still a popular choice on hybrid and touring bikes.

This is because of the versatility such types offer, along with their availability in more places while touring.

The biggest advantage that V-brakes offer is ease of maintenance and repair, along with how easy it is to find parts wherever you are in the world. This type is also cheaper than the more specialized disc system.

But perhaps the biggest argument for choosing a V brake over others is that it is a well-established system. It is simple, and it works with long years of use to back it up.

  • Easy to maintain and replace
  • Parts are easy to find
  • More affordable
  • Sensitive to mud and dirt
  • Can wear down wheel rims
  • High maintenance

2. Disc brake


A different system compared to rim brakes, the pad is applied to a disc instead of the wheel rim. This also makes the setup of disc brakes unique compared to traditional braking systems, often leading people to wonder about bike disc brakes vs conventional ones.

In disc brakes, a disc or rotor, usually made of steel, is connected to the center of the wheel using bolts or a proprietary lock system while the pads are housed in a pair of calipers.

When the brake lever is pulled, these calipers clamp onto the disc, bringing the wheel to a halt.

The result is unparalleled stopping power, which has brought disc braking to the forefront of competitive biking, especially for mountain bikes. However, this design brings its own set of problems.

It is prone to heating due to friction, which can cause dips in braking efficiency and disc warping. There are specialized designs that aim to keep this problem at a minimum.

The hydraulic disc brake, for example, makes use of a hydraulic fluid to eliminate friction. It also provides a faster response, although with its share of problems as well as an even higher price tag than the already more expensive basic disc brake.

Hydraulic brakes are also incompatible with most bicycle frames.

Between two types of disc systems, hydraulic and cable-operated ones, hydraulic variants require less work but need specialized bleeding maintenance instead.

However, the specialized knowledge required is considered a good trade-off in exchange for its superior performance.

When more braking power is required, a larger disc brake cycle rotor is needed, as well as more pistons for hydraulic types. These are often needed for riding downhill.

  • Superior brake power
  • Unaffected by weather conditions
  • No damage to wheels or rims
  • Considerably heavier
  • Higher price


Deciding on which system to use will depend on your needs. Disc brakes offer unmatched performance in specific braking situations, while V brakes offer versatility and access that shines in long-distance rides and tours.

The frequency of disc brake use on many bikes may lead people to believe that there is a clear advantage, but it is worth noting that a well-maintained v brake can still hold its ground. Know your situation well, and you’ll be able to pick the right tool for the job.

In the end, what’s most important is to take good care of our equipment and to know how to use them. This usually yields good results.


Now that you have a better understanding of disc brakes vs v-brakes, you will have an easier time picking one of them and be more confident in your choice. Choose disc brakes for high-performance braking needs and V-brakes for versatility along with ease of repair and maintenance.

What do you think makes for a good bicycle braking system? Tell us all about it in the comments section below; we’d love to hear from you.

Always ride safely.

Furthermore, if you are looking for all about bike brakes. You can visit some tips and tricks compiled by us, such as how to adjust hydraulic disc brakes and brakes rubbing on a bike.

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