The Difference Between Disc and Rim Brakes

The brakes on your bike can come in one of two styles and knowing the difference can help you find your best ride.

When you’re tearing down a mountain, dust in your wake, you’re going to want a set of brakes you can rely on. But the brakes that can help you come to a comfortable stop on a nice, easy path aren’t always going to cut it on a rough mountain trail. That’s why it’s important to know which types of brakes are best for you — disc brakes or rim brakes.

“When comparing disc brakes to rim brakes, the first thing you’ll notice is placement,” DICK’S Sporting Goods Bike Tech Jesse Lara says.

Rim brakes, as the name suggests, are situated at the top of the rim of your wheel. The brake pads compress on both sides of the rim to help your bike come to a complete stop.

“These brakes are great for path, pavement and comfort riding,” Lara says.

If your bike has disc brakes, you’ll find them at the bottom of the forks at the center of the rim. Disc brakes compress on only one side, much like the brake setup in a car, and boast extra stopping power.

“With this extra stopping power,” Lara says, “these bikes are great for downhill and mountain riding.”

Understanding your brake setup can help you ride your best on the road, path or trail. Dig even deeper and learn how to remove and install your bike wheels without your brakes getting in the way with more bike maintenance tips.

For help with tune-ups, installations, adjustments and repairs, visit our bike service PROS at your local DICK’S Sporting Goods.