How to Choose the Best Brakes for Your Road Bike

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How to Choose the Best Brakes for Your Road Bike

Bicycling is both a recreational activity and a necessary mode of transportation for people all over the world. While some utilise bikes only for the recreational aspects, many others depend on them to get from one location to another or even for their livelihood. Regardless of how people use their bikes, the one thing that is vital to the proper use and safety of the bike is to have a good set of brakes in place. There are different types of brakes available, depending on the type of bike and its predominant use. Some types of brakes are better for road bikes than for mountain bikes, so the rider should be aware of the differences.

There are several considerations a buyer needs to make prior to choosing a new set of road bike brakes. Although consumers can purchase brakes for road bikes from bike stores, they can also avail of the many options on eBay to make that decision.

About Road Bikes

Road bikes are specifically designed to be used on flat paved surfaces, unlike mountain bikes that are utilised for off-road trails and rugged terrain. Road bikes have slimmer frames and lighter components than mountain bikes because road bikes are used on a daily basis over long distances, and weight becomes a large factor in their ease of use. Because road bikes are adapted for use in urban and paved settings, they have different needs as far as the types of brakes they utilise. Many road bikes have highly advanced materials that make up the wheels and rims of the bikes, so standard brakes only serve to damage these types of materials. These are considerations that riders need to address when they search for brakes for their road bikes.

Types of Brakes for Road Bikes

Road bikes get their name because they are specifically designed to be used on paved roadways. Unlike mountain bikes or racing bikes, road bikes serve a variety of uses in urban settings. Because they are frequently used in settings where larger vehicles and traffic are present, the braking system on the road bike becomes an important aspect to the safety of the rider.

Rim Brakes

Rim brakes make up a large selection of road bike brakes available. Rim brakes operate by squeezing two brake shoes together on the rim of the bike's wheel, creating friction that slows the rotation of the wheel until it stops. Generally, the rim brake is activated when the rider squeezes a lever attached to the handlebar area.

There are different types of rim brakes, and each has various advantages depending on the needs of the rider. Rim brakes are popular, because they are generally inexpensive and are very easy to replace when they wear down. The mechanical operation of rim brakes is also straightforward enough for individuals with little mechanical knowledge to understand.

Rim Brake Type


Side Calliper

Consists of two curved arms that pivot directly above the wheel; the brake cable attaches to one side of the calliper

Centre Calliper

Consists of two identical arms that connected by bolts on both sides of the rim; the brake cable attaches to a yoke in the centre above the calliper and squeezes them together when pulled


Consists of two separate brake pads attached to the frame on either side of the wheel; the brake cable pulls upward on the two sections, forcing them into contact with the rim


Consists of an upside down "U"-shaped apparatus attached to the frame; the top part of the "U" is squeezed together by a cable pulling the pads onto the rim

Roller Cam

Operate on the cantilever principle, except the brake pad arms are two-sided sliding cams that serve to apply more pressure with less effort


Features internal linkage in triangular housing; the bottom section of the triangle features two brake pads, one on each side of the rim; when the cable is pulled, the internal linkage squeezes the pads together on the rim

The main drawback to rim brakes is that their performance can be seriously degraded by wet weather or debris that attaches to the rim of the bike. Rim brakes also can produce significant heat to the rim when applied, so they are not the best choice for rim materials that do not respond well to heat. The heat build-up on the rim can also affect the air inside the tyre if it gets hot enough, causing an unsafe condition should the tyre fail.

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes consist of a disc that is attached to the wheel hub at the centre of the bike's wheel. A calliper is attached to this disc and contains two pads that are squeezed together onto the disc to create friction and slow the rotation of the bike's wheel. Disc brakes operate the same as rim brakes, except the pressure is applied to a disc in the centre of the wheel rather than the rim. The big advantage of disc brakes is that the disc is located above the ground and is not susceptible to the same debris and moisture that can cling to the rim of the bike. Disc brakes also have the advantage of not transferring heat to the rim of the bike and the tyre, making them safer for prolonged downhill braking applications. Disc brakes are effective in all types of weather conditions because the disc has small holes in it to help dissipate heat and allow debris and moisture to escape the disc surface.

Drum Brakes

This is not a very common type of brake found on road bikes. The drum brake is a fully enclosed unit that operates much like the drum brakes on a car. When activated, two internal brake shoes are pressed outwards against the inside surface of the brake hub. The friction that builds up serves to stop the wheel from rotating. Drum brakes are not affected by external weather conditions since they are fully enclosed. Drum brakes are permanently attached to inside of the wheel hub, so they are not designed for use with quick release hubs.

Materials Used in Road Bike Brakes

The majority of brakes designed for road bikes is constructed of rubberised compounds that are both effective and economical. There are other types of materials, such as leather, ceramics, and cork, used in the construction of specialised pads. Cork brakes pads are utilised more frequently on road bikes that have carbon fibre rims because cork is non-abrasive and does not transmit heat to the carbon fibre material.

How to Buy the Best Brakes for Your Road Bike on eBay

When shopping for brake pads for your road bike, one of the more convenient and safe ways to shop for and purchase new brakes is to utilise the advanced search tools available on eBay. You can begin your search by navigating to the eBay home page and entering a keyword such as "road bike brakes" into the search box. A list of available items is displayed for you to browse through. If you find items that interest you and want to save them to compare with others, place them in your watch list for review at a later time. You can also search for brakes for specific brands and types of road bikes by simply entering that information into the search box.


While riding a bike can be a fun way to get a little exercise or commute to work, it is important for riders to always make sure their equipment is top operating condition. This is especially important when it comes to the brakes on a road bike. Road bikes are used in environments with a great deal of traffic, so having the ability to stop quickly and effectively can be critical to the safety of the rider. Having the proper brake pads and an effective braking system on the road bike is important to ensuring a safe and enjoyable riding experience. Riders looking for great deals on new road bike brakes should take advantage of the powerful shopping tools available on eBay to help them find and buy exactly what they need at great prices.

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