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Mechanical vs Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

mechanical vs hydraulic disc brakes

Are you tired of the constant vibrations when taking off your tracks? Then, it’s high time to replace your disc brake as it may result in uncomfortable rides, and in the worst-case – accidents.

To draw out your bike’s full-on road race potential, it is best to know how these machines work. So, let us explore the mechanical vs hydraulic disc brakes and which of these two types bring the best out of your bicycles.

What is the Best Disc Brake to Keep Your Bike in Top Shape

Both mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes offer unique functions that add up to the overall performance of our bikes. I will tell you everything about this vital rig.

If you opt for a long-lasting disc brake, then using hydraulics is definitely a good choice. Hydraulic discs disperse or distribute heat well, so they deliver better efficiency, making your trip safer and more convenient.

What are the Results of Poor Heat Dissipation

Having proper heat distribution is a must if you want to keep your disc brake in top shape. Rookie bikers often miss out on the importance of this feature. So, what actually happens if yours cannot dissipate heat very well?

The heat caused by friction, when not distributed well, will overheat your rotors. These heat spots will result in brake harshness and vibrations. Keep in mind that vibrations are not a good thing as it reduces your bike’s structural integrity.

How is this possible?

When brakes are not broken in, the brake pad deposits eventually build up and turn into cementite. This unwanted compound kills your rotor’s performance to the point that it cannot be saved, leaving you with the only option to buy a new one.

Other Features to Consider


Aside from considering the proper heat dissipation, it is also important to note down the most common features that we look for in a product, which is convenience.

As a busy cycler, I prefer something easy to check and maintain. Both types guarantee easy maintenance, though. So, you would not fret about choosing between the two.

But if you are a meticulous biker like me, we should go for mechanical brakes as this type is more cost-effective than the hydraulic ones, saving every penny while having a decent disc brake for your bike.

Each plays a vital role in the world of cycling, and now that I laid out the distinctive features of these two, the rest is up to you. For more information, I introduced other necessary features between the two. Check them out below.

Differences Between Mechanical and Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Knowing the more vital distinction between these rigs leads to a smoother road trip. The difference between the hydraulic and mechanical brakes lies within their name. Hydraulic systems work with fluids, given by the name that originates from the word “Hydro.”

This type transfers force from the lever to the caliper. It is a high-end tool that helps you apply less pressure at the lever, giving you a greater braking or gripping power level. You can rest easy, as this one guarantees a slip-free stop on all your tracks.

The excellent durability of hydraulic disc brakes is something to look forward to. They offer maximum braking power that you can highly control. Plus, they do not take up too much of your space! This allows you to bring along more objects on your day trip.

The standard mechanical ones are operated by a cable and are mostly seen in rim brakes. It is simpler than the hydraulic ones and guarantees easy installation.

The thing that boosts mechanical brakes from hydraulic systems is that they break off the need for power while working in harmony. With the use of a basic lever, this machine works efficiently in no time.

Unlike hydraulic disc brakes that require a specific fluid before they can work correctly, mechanical ones are quite basic and are, therefore, a good tool you can rely on. In terms of budget, I recommend this brake type as they are way cheaper than others.

They are also known for being lightweight that vouches for comfort and stability on your trip. However, this type does not guarantee excellent brake power. I can well say that it offers more substandard quality and hydraulic ones still top in power.

Also, mechanical disc brakes easily lose their gripping power as they heat up pretty easily. It does not have any liquid that transfers heat to the caliper upon friction.

For a more thorough guide regarding these rigs, it is best to do some research. Understanding it in-depth is more complicated than you think. That is why I laid out the basic features first.

But if you wish to go into a detailed venture, you can start off by considering the size difference in centimeters as it gives a difference on your ride, even if you find the changes minimal.

Some rotors, like the Shimano XTR, are critically detailed and laminated to deliver optimum performance. It’s also crucial to take note of cable adjustments and which one works perfectly for you. Check out more tips here.

Fair enough, the two types of disc brakes offer an equal amount of boons and banes. So, it is all up to you to decide the final verdict.

Good Starter for a Disc Brake


Buyers are dying where to find their ideal disc brake. It is available in several shops and online stores, but it might be tricky to get yourself one for the first time. That is why I have come up with these good starter products.

Check out these excellent disc brakes that offer good sensitivity. It really blends in with your bike’s delicate texture to give off a comfort like you have never seen before.

If you prioritize performance above all features, I am sure you would like the Catazer MTB Hydraulic Disc. It comes with an excellent braking system considering that it is a hydraulic disc, which is more powerful than mechanical ones, as I mentioned above.

This product is also equipped with a right rotor size of 160mm. It perfectly fits in the common bike size, so you do not have to worry about its compatibility.

One amazing thing that I remember about this product is how it comes with double piston brake type lining that increases its compatibility. My brother wished to have one because this disc brake is perfect for his E-bike as well.

But for those on a tight budget which limits their choices to a mechanical disc brake, I got just the right thing. Before upgrading to my hydraulic disc brake, I tried the Avid Unisex Mechanical Disc Bike Brake BB7 MTB.

This mechanical disc bike brake is unisex, so everyone can use it on their bikes. It sets the standard in the realm of mechanical disc brakes. Plus, the basic design takes less time for installation and more time for fun.

Another thing that I love about it because it comes with an integrated cable spring adjustment that stops tension at the right time. It is definitely a recommended tool if you want something easy to manage.

Now you do not have to stress out in choosing a beginner rig for you. I guarantee a trip worthwhile with these items. Trying it is a good choice, and when you feel like the time is right, you can step your foot in the waters and explore more ideal options for you.

Disc Brake Installation

The installation of the two types somewhat differs. It is common knowledge that mechanical ones are more user-friendly in terms of assembly. However, I am sure that installing the hydraulic disc brakes will also be a breeze with proper guidance.

The tricky part with these tools comes from aligning a hydraulic disc brake because you have to know some preliminary info and diagnose your bike first before you can actually align your disc brake on the bike.


Equipped with all the go-to features you can find in a disc brake, I find the Catazer MTB Hydraulic Disc a total lifesaver. It is a decent starting point if you want a high-end disc brake to accompany your legendary bike.

If you prefer the traditional mechanical disc brake, I recommend the Avid Unisex Mechanical Disc Bike Brake BB7 MTB. However, don’t limit yourself to these disc brakes because the market is full of awesome choices.

Read more: disc brakes vs v-brakes: which is better?

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