Every Type Of Bicycle Brake (Explained For New Riders)

Categorized as Bicycles, Bike questions & beginner guides

Last updated: March 11th, 2023

Brakes operate by an extremely simple principle: the harder you squeeze a wheel, the sooner it stops spinning.


There are dozens of ways to do that!

We have lots of jargon, hundreds of brake models, and endless debates over one variety versus another.

How exactly do they work? Which works best? Where’s the line between innovations and gimmicks? Above all, what’s it like to live with each type of brake?

If you’re a bit perplexed, it’s all good.

By the end of this guide, you’ll understand the types and trade-offs of modern bicycle brakes, so you can choose ones that inspire confidence in all conditions.

This article might contain affiliate links. As a member of programs including Amazon Associates, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Background: how bicycle brakes work

Bike brakes use leverage to press a pad against part of the wheel or hub. All that pressure creates friction, which turns kinetic energy (motion) into heat and brings you to a stop.

Imagine pinching a wheel directly between your fingers (don’t actually try this!). At best, it would barely impact the speed of a moving bike. You’d lack the strength, and your fingertips (or whatever’s left of them) would lack the tackiness.

In other words, slowing a bike requires a lot of pressure. We’re talking a lot, a lot. To that end, every brake has some form of mechanical advantage that creates leverage. 

Usually, it’s a hand-operated lever. With coaster brakes, it’s from back-pedaling torque. Either way, it transforms your modest strength into Herculean clamping force. 

Brakes work best when at least one surface is rough or tacky. That’s the role of brake pads.

Rim brakes use rubber pads to “grab” the rim without wearing it down (too quickly).

Disc brake pads (and hub brake shoes) use rough metallic compounds. They need to withstand incredible forces that would deform rubber. And since rotors are replaceable, and hubs are greased, there’s no need to worry about wear.

What makes a bike brake “good”?

At the most fundamental level, a good brake provides two things:

  • Enough maximal power for emergency stops. “Enough” is relative, but in general, it means the rear brake can skid the rear wheel and the front brake can lift the rear wheel in realistic riding conditions.
  • Good modulation, or the ability to manage speed via subtle gradations in braking power.

Power without modulation creates a disconcerting “on/off” feel. Modulation without power is simply dangerous.

We also want that power and modulation in all weather—ideally with minimal maintenance and a reasonable price.

Most modern brakes do at least a decent job balancing all the above. Still, as we’re about to see, individual designs have major trade-offs.

Bicycle brake types in brief

There are five* standard types of modern bicycle brakes:

  • Cable-actuated rim brakes (still widely used on all but mountain bikes)
  • Cable-actuated disc brakes (popular on all types of low- to mid-range bikes)
  • Hydraulic disc brakes (popular on all types of mid- to high-end bikes)
  • Coaster brakes (mostly on kids’ bikes and beach cruisers)
  • Cable-actuated hub brakes (common on Dutch bikes)

Each type is a combination of just two design factors:

  • Actuation (what creates force): cables, hydraulic lines, or pedaling torque
  • Location (what the pads/shoes squeeze against): the rim, a disc, or the inside of the hub

As we’ll see next, those factors largely determine power, modulation, upkeep, and cost.

* Actually, there’s a sixth type—hydraulic rim brakes—but they’re extremely uncommon. In my view, they combine the worst features of mechanical rim brakes and hydraulic discs, both of which we’ll cover at length.

Brake actuation: the source of force

Actuation refers to how your own strength gets transmitted to the brakes. With hand levers, the options are a cable or hydraulic line. With back-pedaling (coaster) brakes, the only choice is chain tension.

Those three mechanisms accomplish the same thing: applying the brake in proportion to how hard you squeeze (or back-pedal). But in terms of power and maintenance, there’s a world of difference between them.

Mechanical (cable) brakes explained

Mechanically actuated brakes rely on cable tension to pull the caliper inward (or press the shoe outward).

One end of the cable connects to the lever, and the other end connects to the caliper. The caliper straddles the braking surface (e.g., rim or rotor).

Squeezing the lever tightens the cable and pulls the sides of the caliper against each other, which squeezes the braking surface in the process.

On its own, a cable straightens out when you tug on it. That would be catastrophic on a bicycle. Imagine trying to ride with a cable taut between the handlebars and rear wheel!

So, how do you keep a cable curved under tension?

By running it through housing: a flexible but non-stretchy tube, with a lubricated interior that lets the cable slide freely. Housing easily bends to follow the shape of the bike, yet it’s sturdy enough to avoid deformation.

Hydraulic brakes explained

Hydraulically actuated brakes use fluid pressure to push the caliper inward.

Rather than a cable, they use a hose filled with brake fluid. The lever is a little more complex: it contains a reservoir of brake fluid

The lever’s mechanical advantage multiplies your grip strength and concentrates it on one tiny area, resulting in enormous fluid pressure. That pressure reaches the caliper where it flows through valves, pushes on pistons, and finally compresses the pads against the rotor.

(Hydraulic rim brakes exist, but you won’t encounter them. They show up on some trekking bikes sold in Europe, but barely exist elsewhere. Why, you ask? In my view, they’re the worst of both worlds: the internal complexity of hydraulic discs and the weather limitations of rim brakes.)

Coaster (back-pedal) brakes explained

Coaster brakes rely on back-pedaling forces to push brake shoes outward against the hub wall.

This is extremely easy to use—just pedal backward!—but a little tricky to explain.

A clutch lets you engage the gears while pedaling forward. But when you pedal backward, the clutch moves horizontally (outward along the axle), pushes into 

(Coaster brakes do have an arm, too, but it’s totally unrelated to a rim brake’s arm. It’s fixed between the axle and chainstay to brace against the torque of back-pedaling. Important, but not particularly interesting.)

We’ve seen how brakes generate force, but what turns that force into friction to slow you down?

Brake location & style

Recall that brakes work by rubbing against some part of the wheel. Only three such parts are really viable, hence three basic brake styles:

  1. Rim brakes squeeze their pads against the sides of the rim, which are machined with special grooves that help pads grip.
  2. Disc brakes squeeze their pads against a rotor attached to the hub. There’s less mechanical advantage so close to the center of the wheel, so disc brake calipers are exponentially stronger than rim brakes.
  3. Drum (hub) brakes are inside the hub, and press outward against its drum-like shell. They’re a lighter, simpler version of the brakes cars have used for decades.

Side note: the very first brakes were none of the above, but actually squeezed the tire directly. They were weak when dry, useless when wet, and hard on rubber tires—a recent invention at the time—so they disappeared ages ago.

Overview: bicycle rim brakes

Rim brakes date back about a century, and they’ve largely given way to disc brakes on higher-end bicycles. Still, their simplicity and effectiveness maintain a devoted following—especially among more traditional or purist types.

They’re also extremely cost-effective and by far the best option for inexpensive bikes.

All types of bike rim brakes use just a few, simple parts:

  • Two pads to apply friction to the rim.
  • A caliper (typically a pair of arms) to hold and compress the pads.
  • A lever that pulls a cable to tighten the caliper.

Some obscure designs added cams and rollers to improve their feel and power, but those never caught on. Simple, spring-loaded arms remain the norm.

Rim brake pros:

  • Inexpensive, even for decent quality
  • Generally good modulation/feel at all price points
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Potentially more powerful than cheap mechanical disc brakes
  • No hub compatibility issues
  • All shops are familiar with them

Rim brake cons:

  • Generally lack power for extreme riding or massive cargo
  • Much less powerful in wet weather (moist rims reduce friction)
  • Slowly wear down rims over time
  • Some types (mainly cantilever) are prone to “shudder”
  • Pad replacement requires some adjustment
  • Generally limited tire clearance
  • Can be hard to avoid flex
  • Wheels need to be true (meaning symmetrical, with even spoke tension)

Types of bicycle rim brakes


V-brakes are the most powerful type of rim brake. V-brakes are also called “direct-pull” or “linear-pull” brakes since the cable pulls the arms directly toward each other.

Those uniquely long brake arms create a huge mechanical advantage, and therefore power.

That’s a bit of a double-edged sword, since higher leverage means less subtle modulation. They’re not bad by any means, but they can feel more “on/off” and less delicate or nuanced than other rim brakes.

When they came out in the 1990s, V-brakes quickly replaced cantilevers as the mountain bike brake of choice. Compared to cantilevers, they offer far more stopping power without sacrificing tire and mud clearance (and without requiring finicky cable hangers).

Today, off-road and even urban riders generally prefer disc brakes. However, V-brakes remain the best choice at the entry level. Good ones are relatively cheap, and perform surprisingly well when carefully adjusted.

Mini-V brakes

Mini-V brakes are effectively shrunken V-brakes. The shorter arms don’t have to travel as far, so they’re compatible with the short-pull brake levers found on road, cyclocross, and touring bikes. (That’s as opposed to long-pull MTB levers, which work with standard V-brakes.)

Mechanically, they’re identical to their bigger cousins. They’re mostly seen on cyclocross bikes, bringing greater power (but less subtle modulation) than the more cantilevers. Most CX riders are moving to disc brakes, so mini-Vs aren’t a common sight.

Dual-pivot brakes

Dual-pivot brake calipers have a separate pivot point for each arm—hence their name. They’re common on road bikes, where their sleek profile and terrific modulation are more valuable than raw power.

The pivot points are often asymmetrical (such as one at the brake mount and one on to the side). The simplicity is nice, but the asymmetry means one arm is longer, therefore more prone to flex under hard braking. That’s not dangerous, but it doesn’t feel firm and confidence-inspiring, either.

Better models have symmetrical pivots: one on each side, separate from the brake mount. That way, both arms have just a short distance from the rim to the pivot, so they’re equally stiff under force.

Unfortunately, tire width is limited. Dual-pivot calipers wrap around the cross section of the tire; clearance becomes a problem with tires beyond ~30 mm wide, depending on the exact brake, tire, and frame design.

“Long-reach” calipers have longer arms that expand tire clearance. Common models like the Tektro R559 accommodate up to ~35 mm with fenders, and perhaps 40+ mm without.

However, those longer arms are prone to flex. Some high-end long-reach calipers are plenty stiff, thanks to clever engineering and top-tier materials. Unfortunately, they tend to cost more than decent discs.

Most mid- to high-end road bikes are moving to disc brakes. That’s doubly true for gravel and adventure bikes that take wider tires and venture into grittier conditions—conditions where discs particularly shine.

Still, dual-pivots will always have a large place in the road bike market. They’re sleeker and lighter than is possible with disc brakes, and the best models offer unsurpassed feel and modulation.

Center-pull brakes designs are a simpler predecessor to modern symmetrical dual-pivots. They use a straddle cable instead of more complex arm designs, but are functionally similar. 

Center-pulls are still available as replacements for vintage road bikes. They’re also popular among a small but devoted segment of road and touring riders, for aesthetic and technical reasons alike.

U-brakes are another technically dual-pivot style that goes by another name. They’re common on freestyle BMX bikes (thanks to a slim design that doesn’t impede tricks) and were also popular on MTBs in the pre-V-brake era.

U-brakes’ long arms and indirect cable pull aren’t powerful enough for aggressive off-road use. They were mostly superseded by V-brakes, and then disc brakes, for mountain biking and BMX racing.

Cantilever brakes

Cantilever brakes (often called “cantis”) are pulled from a single, centered attachment point. It’s not perpendicular to either arm, so we say the pull is indirect. That makes them less powerful than direct-pull (or V) brakes, but it also improves modulation.

Their short arms are easy to reinforce, so good cantis feel solid and reassuring under hard braking. Modulation can be superb. 

As a bonus, small arms and a high cable leave plenty of room for fenders and mud. That’s a big reason for their historical popularity on touring and cyclocross bikes..

Cantilevers are still used on certain touring and cyclocross bikes, at least the models that haven’t been updated to discs (or mini-Vs).

They also prevailed on mountain bikes until the 1990s, at which point V-brakes offered a badly needed boost to stopping power.

One unique drawback is their characteristic “shudder”: a sort of pulsating feel that worsens as you brake harder. Braking forces cause the fork to flex subtly back and forth. That minuscule movement tugs and relieves the cable, which in turn tightens and relieves the calipers.

Canti shudder is obnoxious and disconcerting, but generally harmless. I’ve successfully reduced it with smaller pads that are properly toed in, but some amount is inherent to the design.

Side-pull (single-pivot) brakes

Side-pull brakes attach to the cable on one side. Both arms pivot around the mounting hole, hence their alternate name: “single-pivot.”

The long distance between the pivot and the pad makes for a weak, flex-prone caliper. For that reason, they’re basically relegated to very cheap road and BMX bikes, and are best avoided in general.

At a glance, side-pull and asymmetrical dual-pivot brakes look extremely similar. Look closely to see whether both arms are in fact attached at the same pivot point. If not, it’s a dual-pivot, and should be serviceable. If they are, it’s a side-pull/single-pivot, which is arguably a red flag.

Overview: bicycle disc brakes

Disc brakes are rapidly replacing all other kinds. Their power is a plus for aggressive riding, and everyone can appreciate their consistency in foul weather.

Unlike literally all rim brakes, discs have to mount near the hub. That requires different frame and fork reinforcement, so manufacturers have taken a while to develop, test, and refine those changes…all while navigating rider preferences, cost constraints, and racing organization rules.

The closer a brake gets to the center of rotation, the less mechanical advantage it has, so the more clamping force it needs to produce. A disc brake sits just a few inches from the axle, so it generates several times as much force as a rim brake, which sits about a foot away.

All disc brakes use the same fundamental parts:

  • A hub-mounted rotor that transmits braking force to the wheel.
  • Two pads to apply friction to the rotor.
  • A caliper that drives pistons against the pads, which squeeze the rotor.
  • A lever and cable/hose to apply force to the caliper. If hydraulic, the lever also contains a reservoir.

Disc brake pros:

  • Extremely powerful, especially if hydraulic
  • Infrequent maintenance
  • Unphased by wet weather or grime
  • No rim wear
  • All shops are familiar with them
  • Pad replacement takes seconds
  • Unlimited tire clearance
  • Not affected by an out-of-true wheel

Disc brake cons:

  • More expensive than rim brakes for a good set
  • Poor modulation/feel on entry-level models
  • Repair is complicated
  • Hydraulic versions require occasional bleeding
  • Slightly heavier
  • Dedicated hubs required
  • Rotors are somewhat vulnerable

Types of bicycle disc brakes

Mechanical disc brakes

Mechanical disc brakes use cable tension to rotate a small, piston-like piece inside the caliper. 

Conceptually, it’s like a screw. As the cable tightens, the mechanism twists one way and moves in (pushing the pad with it). As cable tension relaxes, the mechanism rotates the other way and backs off (again, bringing the pad with it).

In practice, it’s hard to do this smoothly under the massive force that a disc brake requires. 

Precise machining and high-quality bearings get expensive, so the best mechanical discs cost at least as much as decent hydraulic ones. They’re worth considering for ease of repair (no valves or fluid involved!) but aren’t the cost-saver you might expect.

Hydraulic disc brakes

Hydraulic disc calipers use fluid pressure to push one or two pistons (per side) toward the rotor.

The line is completely filled with brake fluid, and a reservoir (inside the level assembly) holds even more. When you squeeze the lever, it forces some of the extra fluid through a valve and into the line. The fluid isn’t compressible, so it moves the pistons, and therefore the pads.

Fluid pressure is extreme—potentially hundreds of psi—so braking power can be phenomenal. With larger rotors, even downhill mountain bike racers can control their speed with a single finger.

Performance aside, hydraulic discs are lower-maintenance than their mechanical cousins. Hydraulic hoses don’t stretch and brake fluid is non-compressible. Unless air enters the system, there’s no need (and generally no way) to fine-tune them.

Better still, they adjust themselves. Valves ensure that the pads always retract the same distance from their farthest point, which changes over time as the pads wear down. Pretty cool!

But beware of something much less cool. Remember, self-adjustment is relative to the pads’ farthest point of compression. If you squeeze the brake without a rotor in between, the pads will self-adjust to be practically stuck together. That’s a headache to deal with, so always insert a brake chock (or cardboard in a pinch) when the wheel is removed.

Overview: bicycle drum brakes

You probably know drum brakes from the coasters on beach cruisers and kids’ bikes. But a more evolved form is also widely used on European city bikes, whose owners need weather resistance and low maintenance above all else.

Designs vary, but all drum brakes are based on the following parts:

  • A shoe (not a bad) to apply friction to a drum (which, in this case, is the inside of the shell of the hub)
  • Some sort of expander mechanism that presses the shoe outward against the drum. For coaster brakes, this is often a simple metal arc. For high-end roller brakes, it’s a set of cams and rollers.
  • A pedal clutch or a level and cable to impart force to the expander.

Drum brake pros:

  • Impervious to weather
  • The lowest-maintenance type of bike (potentially years between services)
  • Unlimited tire clearance
  • All shops are familiar with basic coaster brakes
  • Not affect by an out-of-true wheel

Drum brake cons:

  • Generally the heaviest type
  • Less powerful than good disc brakes
  • Not all shops are familiar with high-end roller brakes
  • Very few high-end options to pick from
  • Coaster versions impede back-pedaling
  • Coaster versions aren’t compatible with derailleurs

Types of bicycle drum brakes

Coaster brakes

Coaster brakes use pedaling torque to push a brake shoe against the shell of the hub.

They’re as intuitive as it gets: pedal forward to go, backward to stop, and that’s it! The lack of cables creates a nice, clean aesthetic—and they’re essentially maintenance-free, to boot.

Unfortunately, coaster brakes are limited to the rear wheel, have little power, modulate poorly, prevent back-pedaling (which is critical off-road), and prevent the use of a derailleur.

They’ll always have their place on kids’ bikes and beach cruisers, but hand brakes work better on just about every level.

Hub brakes

Hub brakes also work by pressing brake shoes against the hub shell. However, they’re controlled by a brake lever and cable, and the mechanism inside the hub is much more complex.

By separating braking from pedaling, hub brakes are feasible for both front and rear. The use of a lever (not back-pedaling torque) improves modulation, which is a vast improvement over the on/off, skid-prone nature of coaster brakes.

Shimano roller brakes are by far the best on the market. They’re plenty powerful for city use, and can even hold their own with some disc brakes. Combined with weatherproof construction and extremely rare maintenance, they’re ideal for urban cycling (as on Dutch bikes) where their significant heft doesn’t matter.

Disc vs. rim brakes: which type do I need?

That’s highly personal. Your budget, terrain, bike type, and riding style are all major factors.

That said, most riders will be happiest with hydraulic disc brakes. They have the best combination of power, modulation, and low maintenance. Hydro discs may be overkill on pavement, but they’re unlikely to leave you wanting more.

However, I see two cases where other options may serve you better.

  • Consider rim brakes if you’re on a tight budget (about $700 or less for a complete bike). Entry-level mechanical discs are under-powered in general, and may come at the expense of drivetrain specs.
  • For touring or bikepacking, consider high-end mechanical discs. In the very rare event of a problem, roadside repairs are much easier with mechs than hydros.

Common questions about bike brakes

Are rim brakes OK in rain?

Rim brakes are fine in the rain, but not ideal, since they stop slower and less predictably than disc brakes. That said, I rode rim brakes for years in a wet climate without undue stress or danger.

Power is not the problem. Well-adjusted rim brakes are more than strong enough for non-extreme riding.

Rather, it’s a question of consistency and longevity.

Rain makes rim brakes feel less consistent. Wet rims reduce friction, so squeezing the brakes doesn’t feel like it’s doing much…at first. As the wheel keeps turning, the pads wipe away that moisture and “kick in” as they start to grip. It only takes a second or two, but it’s disconcerting. 

You can minimize that phenomenon by “feathering” your brakes during a wet ride. To do that, apply them very lightly for a few seconds. Use just enough pressure to feel them engage, but not so much that you slow down noticeably. That way, water and grime are swept away, leaving your rims clean—or at least cleaner—when it’s actually time to stop.

Disc brakes have no such issue. Rotors shed water more effectively, and the high clamping forces (and harder pads) overcome whatever moisture remains.

As for longevity, the main concern is rim wear.

The friction of braking wears down the rims’ sidewalls, no matter the conditions. That just goes with the territory.

But when the rims get wet, they get gritty at the same time. Under braking forces, that grit works like sandpaper to wear down your sidewalls. I’ve seen rims last upwards of a decade in dry climates versus just a couple years in frequently wet ones.

Disc rotors also get gritty, but less so, since they’re farther from the ground. But when rotors do eventually wear down, you can replace them in minutes with a single wrench—no need to rebuild the entire wheel.

Are disc brakes on road bikes worth it?

Disc brakes make less of a difference on road bikes, but are still worth it if you ride in wet or muddy conditions. Otherwise, I don’t consider them a deciding factor.

It’s confidence-inspiring to have perfectly consistent braking in all conditions. It’s also safer if you ride around traffic. But if you enjoy dry roads most of the time, then well-adjusted rim brakes are a good (and cheaper) option.

If you rack up really high miles in a wet climate—we’re talking several thousand per year—then premature rim wear can be a problem. In that case, disc brakes mean less maintenance and potentially lower long-term costs.

Disc brake aerodynamics and weight are still valid concerns for road riders, but much less than in years past. Flat-mount calipers and lighter materials have mitigated those issues, paving the way for disc-equipped racing bikes we see today.

How do disc brakes vs. linear pull brakes compare?

High-end disc brakes are more powerful and consistent than linear-pull brakes. However, cheap mechanical discs are usually inferior to good linear-pull brakes.

All rim brakes tend to need more frequent adjustment, but they’re also simpler to work on.

Hydraulic disc brakes have the most power of all. And in wet conditions, rim brakes don’t feel as consistent or powerful as disc brakes.

Their power comes down to mechanical advantage. Mechanical advantage, in turn, depends on how far you are from the center of rotation. If you want to stop a spinning merry-go-round, wouldn’t you try to grab a handle edge, rather than near the center?

It’s the same principle with rim brakes. They produce a small fraction of disc calipers’ clamping force. But because they’re several times farther from the hub, it only requires a small fraction of that force to feel equally powerful.

From another perspective, disc brakes need to be exponentially stronger to make up for their lower mechanical advantage near the hub. That calls for more advanced engineering and materials, hence their generally higher price.

On the bright side, squeezing a dedicated rotor instead of the rim helps solve the weather issue. A manufacturer can cut water- and heat-shedding holes into a rotor, but rims need to remain intact for strength.

mechanical vs hydraulic disc brakes / hydraulic vs mechanical disc brakes

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Cantilever vs. V-brakes: are they the same?

They may look similar, but they work and perform differently. V-brakes have greater power thanks to direct (linear) cable pull. Cantilever brakes have arguably better modulation due to angled cable pull.

Picture a pair of brake arms. One end is mounted on a pivot. The other, where the cable attaches, is free to move inward toward the rim. The more the cable aligns with that direction of movement, the greater the horizontal (rim-ward) force vector.

With V-brakes, the cable runs directly from one arm to the other. That means its force is almost totally in line with the motion of the arms. I say “almost” because the arms technically move in an arc, not a line, but it barely matters for our purposes.

However, with cantilevers, the cable runs through an elevated center pull between the arms. As the arms move inward but the cable moves upward, force shifts from the advantageous horizontal vector to the disadvantageous vertical vector. 

Can I use V-brake levers with cantilever brakes?

It’s technically possible, but not a good idea to use V-brake levers with cantilever brakes. They’ll feel much weaker, since cantilevers are designed for short-pull (high-force) levers, but V-brake levers are long-pull (low-force).

What about road levers with V-brakes?

It’s possible but a little complicated to use road levers with V-brakes. Road levers have short cable pull, but V-brake calipers require long pull. To convert them, you’d need to install a Problem Solvers Travel Agent.

Alternatively, you can replace your cantilever brakes with short-pull mini-V-brakes. They solve compatibility issues and increase braking power.

Above all, don’t use V-brake levers directly with cantilever brakes. You’ll have excessive power, poor modulation, and trouble keeping the levers from “bottoming out” against the bars.

Are bicycle brakes hard to maintain?

No. Modern brake technology makes everyday maintenance easy. They require little more than cable and pad adjustment. It can be finicky, but it’s not difficult.

Repair may be another story.

Rim brakes are easy to fix with minimal tools and knowledge. All parts are visible, simple, and intuitive. All you need is a couple Allen wrenches and a modicum of mechanical aptitude!

It’s largely the same story with mechanical discs, too. Their inner workings aren’t quite as obvious, but they’re not messy or inaccessible, either.

Hydraulic brakes are another story.

True, pad replacement is still a cinch: they pull out and slide in with your fingers (or needle-nose pliers), just like on mechanical discs.

But bleeding the brakes (that is, replacing fluid) or troubleshooting a strange feel can is more involved. Plenty of cyclists successfully fix their own hydraulic discs, but many, perhaps most, prefer to leave them to a pro.

Lastly, drum/hub brakes are best left to a mechanic. There’s virtually no way to work on them without significant disassembly.

Fortunately, that’s rare. Hub brakes need virtually nothing besides cable tension adjustment, and some occasional grease through an almost self-explanatory grease port. And unlike brake pads, hub brake shoes last many thousands of miles.

By Erik Bassett

Erik Bassett is the founder and editor of Two Wheels Better. He draws on three decades of cycling and scooter experience to help you find the right ride, incorporate it into daily life, and safely enjoy the journey.