Are Mountain Bike Disc Brakes Better than Rim Brakes?

I'd say yes and those who have newer mountain bikes are faring better overall on the trail.

Why is this?

It has been shown that mountain bikes with disc brakes perform better overall than mountain bikes with rim brakes.

Disc brakes are heavier than rim brakes, but they have more control. Rim brakes are still used and many mountain bikes have them including mine.

One of the reasons why mountain bike disc brakes are so popular is because they are known to work better when the conditions for riding are not the best.

Muddy conditions, wet conditions, extremely dusty conditions-the disc brake can handle it well.

The reason they offer improved stopping power over rim brakes is because they are located at the center of the wheel (on the wheel hub).

I am a personally am a fan of rim brakes. This is because I adventure race and they are low maintenance and can be fixed in the field. However here is a quote from a lover of disc brakes.

Personally, I will never go back to rim brakes on my own bike. For me, the consistent performance and non-rim-dependent nature of discs is well worth the added weight.


As it is with everything, mountain bike disc brakes do have their downsides. The main one is that maintaining them is rather costly, much more so than rim brakes.

When they need to be repaired the work is more difficult to do and as such it is more costly to afford. For this reason, knowing how to repair simple things regarding your brakes may be a good idea. But you can learn how to fix them for next to nothing. This book How To Service Your Mountain Bike can save you a lot of time and money.

Disc brakes are more costly and weigh more. Hydraulic disc brakes move brake fluid through a hose or line to squeeze the pads together, and require very technical maintenance.

So the three disadvantages are maintenance, cost and weight at 150 to 350 grams additional weight.


Mountain bike rim brakes started with the original cantilever brakes, and are now known as V-Brakes. V-Brakes work well in most conditions and are easy to maintain.

Rim brakes have some drawbacks. I have trouble getting mine to align properly and they ofter rub if not positioned just right. The rims need to be straight and undamaged.

They suffer performance in wet or muddy conditions. They will eventually wear down.

Cost is certainly an issue as well. Disk brake systems are usually more expensive compared to rim brakes.

Rim brakes are the lightest set-up. That is I why have rim brakes on my bike. There are some variances in performance. The're not as sensitive as disc brakes. Rim brakes are cheaper than disc breaks.


When switching you will most likely have to buy a new wheelset and a new set of brakes. Disc rims usually cannot be used with rim brakes. The standard hubs for rim brake wheels usually cannot be used with discs.


Do you need information about disc brakes and buying a mountain bike from a-z?

Todd Molloy teaches you how to be sized for your bike, how and where to test your bike, and where to buy it from. This is a nice addition as you definitely want to get the "right" bike... Your Essential Bike Buying Guide by Todd Molloy


JensonUSA has deep discounts and to not forget to check out their outlet store. You can find great prices at They have good prices and are very comparable to Randall Scott Cycle Company.

When changing over or if your just learning about brakes, you might want to check out your local store first. They are normally happy to give you some great free information.

Want to go it alone? Try this book on how to service your bike.

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