Best MTB Brakes
Efficient mountain biking depends on a number of factors such as quality of the bike, the brakes, suspension system, etc. Having a powerful brake at one’s fingertips offers the needed confidence and also allows the biker to ride faster.
Having the best MTB brakes will allow the terrain explorer to brake later and to the rider at excellent speeds over at terrain, enhancing one’s average speed.
For those who want to ride fast and safe, it is important to use the best set of brakes. There are ample brakes available in the market and it takes careful consideration of each one of them to come up with the best set of brakes.
We have done the homework for you and have listed the best MTB brakes here along with its buying guide. We hope our guide will help you to choose the best MTB bikes for your mountain riding experience.
Best MTB Brakes
Quick Answer: The 5 Best MTB Brakes – 
- Shimano XT BL-M8020 4 Piston Disc Brake
- Hope Tech 3 E4 Disc Brake
- HIMANO SLX BL-M7000 Disc Brake
- TRP SPYKE Mechanical disc Brake
- Avid BB7 MTN G2 Front or Rear Rotor
Best MTB Brakes Reviews
The new XT 4 piston disc brake has been upgraded to four pistons for a 20% increase in the braking power. The MTB brakes have excellent heat dissipation on par with its two-piston model. It has the same level shape as that of its previous model and features an integrating master cylinder and stealthy black finish.
This finish matches with the rest of the XT group. Its narrow clamp features a neat cockpit and it plays efficiently with remote droppers and lockouts. The brake with no doubt in ultimate for streamlining and integration and is compatible with all type of terrain.
The bike complements heavy and more aggressive trail and endures riders and those who prefer riding e-bikes. It features excellent power and modulation and thus comes handy on steep and technical terrains. It allows the user to dial in the controls for an easy reach and toll less accessibility.
This MTB disc brake features a well-engineered Hope Tech 3 E4 disc brake for a consistent and a reliable braking performance. The brake is ideal to use on trial bikes, dual crown downhill sled and endure rig. These are sharp brakes that have beautiful finishing. Along with anodization, they also feature color match rotors to boot.
They not just look great but also perform exceptionally well along with smooth modulation and abundant power. They will never fade halfway, even when the biker rides through a 5,000 feet descent.
These brakes are not ideal for those who are looking for on and off feel with a powerful bite right at the start. But they have a firm lever feel with a definite bike point. The power comes smooth at first, allowing more control of the braking force at the point of pad contact.
This additional modulation helps in fine-tuning the speed without skidding and also helps in enhancing the braking efficiency after the user gets easy on the brake. Its E4 caliper is CNC machined from a block of aluminum of aerospace-grade.
This is one of the best MTB brakes and has been the brakes of preference by everyday rides. The brakes have both aesthetic and functional upgrades with their recent version and fulfill the requirements of its groupset.
It gives the reassurance of a long-lasting stopping power for any situation that the biker dives into. Shimano also saves weight and thus enhance the responsiveness of its BL – M7000, inspired by its costlier XT and XTR drivetrains.
Its master cylinder has been streamlined so as to save weight on the main caliper body. Its slimmer clamps help to reduce clutter on the bars. The servo wave cam system has been updated on the levels.
There are subtle alterations in place to enhance power and responsiveness so that when the biker squeezes through fast on a steep they have benefited from a better switchback. It’s center lock rotors retuning with alloy carrier enables excellent efficiency in dissipating heat.
The TRP spyke Mechanical disc brake features dual side actuation mountain bike set. The brake pressure at the front wheel is about 160 mm whereas the brake pressure at the rear wheel is also 160 mm.
There is dual-sided actuation along with even pad wear. The brakes are easy to set up and to adjust, and it works excellent with All linear-pull levels. The ultra-grippy semi-metallic pad from TRP is compatible with Shimano M525/ M 515.
There are ample customization options available with the bike brake. Its weight per wheel is about 169 grams. It is made in Taiwan and is made universally available by TRP. The brake comes with post mount adapters and works great for both road bikes and mountain bikes. For MTB, the biker may have to put the bigger rotor at the front owing to the spoke to caliper clearance.
This is an ideal mechanical disc brake that weight just 329 grams. its adjusting dual knob pad system and its tri-align caliper-positioning system makes this the best braking system of choice for MTB bikes. The Avid BB7 braking system offers the confidence of excellent stopping power for the biker with simple adjustability features.
They behave just like disc brakes but with additional stopping power and endurance. This braking system is ideal for long rides and long-distance touring in any terrain.
Its mechanically actuated BB7 braking system leaves the biker with absolute peace and mind and all of the adjustments can be done easily with the help of a standard toolkit. Its G2 clean sweep rotors help in dissipating heat efficiently and render the best modulation with its caliber adjustment knows.
These functionalities help the biker to dial in their brakes painlessly. The brake is absolutely compatible with standard long pull mountain levers.
Buyer’s Guide for Best MTB Brakes
How MTB Brakes Work?
Previously Mountain bikes had rim brakes and these work by a cable pulling a pad on each side of the rim. This causes friction and slows the wheel and the bike down. There are different types of rim brakes available and improvements were also done consistently. With the introduction of hydraulic disc brakes, bikers had reliable stopping power on steep or long trails downhill.
The hydraulic disc brakes make use of brake fluid so as to push pads and piston onto a disc that mounts with the hub of the wheel. The rider can impart a less force to pull the lever for an enhanced modulation.
Hydraulic disc brakes use brake fluid to push pistons and pads onto a disc mounted to the hub of the wheel. Less force is required from the rider to pull on the lever and there is more modulation. Some of the bikes can also have cable disc brakes, but these have very weak stopping power. But hydraulic disc brakes have become the standard on any mountain bike in recent days. It is in fact tough to find a mountain bike these days without hydraulic disc brakes.
Components of MTB Brakes:
The important components of hydraulic disc brakes are as follows,
- Lever: MTB brake lever, the lever attaches with the handlebar and the rider uses this to apply the brake.
- Hose: This hose contains the brake fluid and runs from the level to the caliper.
- Brake Fluid: This fluid is usually dotted 4 or dots 5.1 or mineral oil.
- Calipers or pistons: MTB brake calipers
Sintered pads are less likely to fade, but are noisier and are less powerful. Organic pads also wear out faster, some of them attach to the cooling fins to allow heat to dissipate.
Disc or Rotor: This attaches with the wheel hub and is either a single piece of stamped steel or a rotor that connects with the hub with 6 bolts. Bigger the disc, greater is the braking power.
Best Mountain Bike Brakes FAQs
How do disc brakes work?
The hydraulic disc brakes feature a line that fills with a hydraulic fluid that connects the brake lever to the calipers with the help of brake pads and piston. When the lever is squeezed, the fluid compresses the piston and causes the brake pads to pinch the rotor on the wheel. This causes friction and causes the wheel’s movement to slow down and stop. Disc brakes need to be bled as part of maintenance with frequent replacement of the hydraulic fluid.
What is the difference between the V brake and the disc brake?
V-brakes are the traditional type of mountain bike brakes. They have a lever attached with the cable which causes the pads on either side of the wheel to pinch the rim when depressed. Hydraulic brakes on the other hand feature a rotor disc which is there on the hub of the wheel and not the rim.
When the riders pull the brake lever, the fluid inside the cables push the piston and the brake pads on the rotor. This causes friction and slows the bike down. Disc brake demand less pressure on the lever to stop than V-brakes.
What is the reason for the brake to squeal?
The squealing sounds of the brake are common and can be because of several factors. These factors are worn-out brakes, new brakes have not bedded, misalignment of brakes, excess grease or oil on the brake pads, rotor and other components.
Squealing can also occur when the brake pads do not connect with the wheel rim at the correct angle. To combat this problem, the user should ensure that the brakes are in good condition and they are set up and aligned correctly.
Points to consider while choosing the best MTB Brakes:
- Choosing the right type of brake
- Type of riding
- Size of the rotor
- Brake pads
- Compatible with components
- Mounts for the frame and the fork
- Size of the rotor
- Rotors and Calipers
Choosing The Right Type of Brake:
Best MTB disc brakes generally fall into two major categories, namely mechanical and hydraulic brakes. Both the systems have their own merits and hydraulic brakes are quite popular and best for most of the riders. Hydraulic brakes are costly and complex, they are fast, reliable, have great modulation and control. They also exert the best stopping force.
Type of Riding:
Brakes for mountain bikes are different and suits different styles of riding. Most of the bikes can sort into two major groups for brake recommendations. The first type of riding is trail riding, that includes cross country and is mostly light-duty mountain bikes. They are ideal to ride on man-made trails and on a single track. The next is the downhill style of riding that demands bikes that ride on fast descents and steep inclines.
Size of The Rotor:
The size of the rotor depends on the size and weight of the rider and their riding style. Rotors are generally of three common sizes, namely 160, 180 or 230 mm. majority of the trail riders pick up 160 mm rotors whereas downhill riders take up 203 mm rotor for their best stopping power. The 180 mm rotor is an excellent compromise pick that is perfect for heavy riders and for anyone who needs additional stopping power on their bike.
Brake pads of MTB bikes generally are of three major varieties, organic, metallic and semi-metallic.
- Organic pads: These pads are a mixture of natural materials such as fiber, rubber, glass, and heat resistant resin that binds them together. These pads do not get as hot as metal pads and offer excellent modulation, making them an ideal choice. These are not a good choice for downhill riding and for inclement weather riders as they wear out quickly in wet conditions. They are also prone to failing at high temperatures.
- Semi-metallic pads: These are the most common brake pads and afford a decent stopping power. They also last longer than organic pads.
- Metallic pads: These pads are less effective and also heat up. They make up an ideal downhill brake pad, and they tend to make more noise than organic pads. But they are hard wearing and are also extremely durable.
Compatible with Components:
This is the trickiest and the easiest aspect of selecting an MTB bike. It is good that riders check the sizing, mount types, ride feel, preference, and other specifications before choosing the most ideal MTB bike.
Mounts for the Frame and The Fork:
This is an important concern for a few riders. The international standard and the post mount are the two different standards when it comes to mounts. Some of the frames use IS on their rear and Post Mount on the front. But with the help of adapters, it is possible to use most of the brakes in the majority of the bikes.
Size of The Rotor:
Disc brakes work by applying friction to the rotor on the wheel. They also require specific wheels that are built for the rotors. The most common standard for wheel and rotor mounting is the International Standard. Some of the manufacturers also use a proprietary system for rotors that could be little costly and also restricts the rotor selection procedure.
Rotors and Calipers:
It is important to choose an MTB bike that gets compatible with the rotor and the caliper in both the diameter and the width. After deciding on the rotor size, check the calipers and ensure that they accommodate the rotor. Though compatibility is an important factor in choosing MTB brakes, bikers have to remember that adapters and converters exist for most parts and standards and generally come as add-on products.
Every Mountain biker should learn the importance of having good brakes with their MTB bikes. Having an excellent brake will not only improve the stopping time but also the extent of control that one has over their bike. We hope our guide helps you to choose the best MTB brake for your all-terrain driving experience.