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Video: Hydraulic versus Mechanical Brakes for Electric Bikes

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An electric bike can help you climb a steep hill with ease, but it is your electric bike’s braking system that will help you descend that same hill safely.

All of the bikes we build at EVELO have braking systems selected specifically to match the bike’s performance, but there are still important differences, for example, between hydraulic brakes and mechanical brakes.

In this video, Alex explains some of those differences and does his best to help you make the best choice for your next electric bike.

If you would like more information about how to choose an electric bike, please see “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide” and then get a free fit consultation.

Transcript

Hey, guys. Alex here at EVELO Electric Bicycles. Just wanted to talk a little bit about the difference between mechanical brakes and hydraulic disc brakes.

So we’re here with a few different bikes, and this one has hydraulic disc brakes, and you’ll see that this actually has a hydraulic reservoir and it’s filled with some mineral oil. Really light action, easy to press, and there’s a hydraulic line that runs down all the way to the brake caliper.

Alex shows an example of an electric bike with an hydraulic braking system.

 

And on this one over here, you have the mechanical disc brakes. So you can see that there’s a lever and there’s a traditional cable that runs down to a mechanical caliper, and that brake lever actuates that caliper. You don’t really see anything moving on the hydraulic brakes.

Benefits of a Mechanical Braking System

So there’s pros and cons to both systems. I think the biggest pro for the mechanical disc brakes is that they’re very easy to adjust, you don’t need any kind of special tools. This is just a regular bicycle cable here, and again, there’s also some adjustments down here at the caliper.

An electric bike with a mechanical braking system.

 

One of the negative side of things is that you do need to adjust this every couple hundred miles. As those pads wear down, you’re going to want to tighten that cable up, and that does require adjustment. But again, it’s definitely easy to adjust yourself, it’s a do-it-yourself sort of thing. You can also service these roadside, which is pretty nice sometimes.

Benefits of an Hydraulic Braking System

The arrows points out the reservoir for the mineral-oil based hydraulic brakes.

 

So there’s some advantages to the hydraulic system as well. This lever’s absolutely super smooth, it’s also adjustable to the distance, so if you have smaller hands or lower hand strength, that hydraulic lever is really going to be the way to go.

And you can see that, again, there’s that reservoir, and that’s going to run all the way down, and there’s a hose going to the caliper here.

The caliper for the hydraulic braking system.

 

These are also self-adjusting, so as that pad wears down and gets a little bit thinner, it’s going to automatically fill this with fluid. You don’t need to stop and tighten cables or adjust the brakes, it’s self-adjusting until you need to replace those pads, which is a do-it-yourself procedure. You just kind of remove this caliper and slide some new pads in there.

The one disadvantage with hydraulic brakes, if you do have a problem, it may not be a do-it-yourself repair because there is fluid in here, so you do need a couple special tools to be able to bleed that system and make sure there’s no air in there, so that’s something to consider.

We go back to the mechanical here, they’re going to be much easier for do-it-yourself service, but they do require more fiddling and more adjustments. The hydraulic are going to be a little more maintenance-free overall, but then again when they do require some adjustment, you’re going to need some special tools or you’re going to need to go to the bicycle store which, again, they’re very reliable so you don’t really have to focus on that too much.

Both Systems Are Effective

And another thing that folks talk about is really stopping distance, right? And my personal thought on this is that both brakes are strong enough to lock up the wheel, so once that wheel locks up and you’re skidding, you really lost connection with the road, so both systems do have adequate braking power, so I think that’s something to keep in mind when you’re comparing and contrasting the two different types, there.

All right, guys, well thanks for checking out our video here about hydraulic disc brakes and mechanical disc brakes.

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