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How Do Disc Brakes Work on an E-bike? A Small Device with Big Power

How Do Disc Brakes Work on an E-bike?

Introduction- How Do Disc Brakes Work on an Ebike?

Guest contribution by Salman Bhati

The use of the ebike for transportation has significantly risen over the years, for its introduction solves most of the problems around traditional bikes.

Electric bikes are gaining popularity daily, and more and more people buy these practical and efficient bikes. The ease of use and comfort that come with an e-bike is unimaginable!

Reputable ebikes for sale are often full of power and can reach a high speed, but it is equally essential to decelerate and brake quickly. Your bike’s brakes need to be very good at the obvious — slowing you down. The weight, power, and top speeds of modern e-bikes make this a tougher job than you would expect, which is why the quality of your bike’s brakes is paramount to all else. It doesn’t matter how fast you can go if you can’t safely slow down.

What kind of braking system does a good e-bike have? In the first place, e-bikes tend to have more components than traditional bikes. People also have higher requirements for their overall performance, so the brake component is particularly important in ensuring riding safety. This article will give you a quick overview of the components of an e-bike braking system and how they work.

How Do Disc Brakes Work on an E-bike?

The Main Components 

  • Levers

Levers are the appendages attached to your handles and used as the primary activation system for your brakes. Basic levers don’t offer much in terms of extra features.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that while the laws vary depending on where you live, the United States and much of the world require that the front wheel be connected to the left brake lever and the back wheel be connected to the right brake lever.

  • Cable

The vast majority of e-bikes rely on a mechanical disc brake system. Mechanical disc brakes have cables filled with air, while hydraulic disc brakes have cables filled with fluid. The cable connects the lever to the caliper, running from your handlebar to your wheels. Mechanical disc brakes are easier to repair and replace, while hydraulic disc brakes provide greater stopping power due to the cable setup.

Here are some comparisons between these two kinds of disc braking about their pros and cons to help us better choose a suitable braking mode for electric bicycles:


Mechanical Disc Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Hydraulic disc brakes

Pros More efficient than the majority of others More braking force to be applied
Easier to fix Good job in modulation
A cheaper option A closed system– less maintenance required
Cons More friction loss and stretch– more maintenance required Possibility of getting worn by oil
Not easy to fix by yourself

These two types of disc brakes have their advantages. No matter what braking method, it is best to choose the one that suits you. Fortunately, most bike manufacturers provide options when it comes to braking, and you can choose the one you prefer.

  • Caliper

The caliper is the central housing unit for two other critical braking components: the Brake Pad and the Pistons. When the lever is pulled, the pistons will move and press the brake pad into the brake rotor. Brake pads are specifically designed to slow down the bike by applying friction to the brake rotor while absorbing the brake rotor’s heat when pressed against it. Brake pads are typically the first component you need to replace on a braking system that isn’t functioning correctly.

  • Brake Rotor

The brake rotor is a large metal disc that sits in the Wheel Hub, which refers to the center component of the wheel that holds it all together. As the brake pad is pressed into the spinning brake rotor, it slows it down by creating friction, making it harder for the rest of the wheel to turn.

The larger the brake rotor, the faster you slow down due to the greater friction. However, be aware that brake pads will wear out quicker on a larger brake rotor because of the more significant friction compared to a smaller rotor. Typical ebike brake rotors are often between 160-180 mm (6 3/10 to 7 1/10 inch) in size. For example, the 180mm mechanical disc brakes used in Magicycle electric bicycles have more substantial friction and can provide faster and more effective braking.

So How do E-bike Brakes Work?

The attached cable applies pressure to the brake caliper’s pistons when the brake lever is pulled. The pistons push the brake pad attached to the caliper down into the brake rotor, using frictional force to the spinning wheel hub that the brake rotor is attached to. The tighter you pull on your brake levers, the harder the brake pad is pushed into the brake rotor, resulting in greater frictional force.

The greater frictional force applied to the wheel hub, the faster your wheel will slow down as the energy and momentum retained by the wheel are expelled as heat. Larger brake rotors have more surface area to evenly expel heat, allowing you to apply more force without running the risk of damaging the rotor, brake pad, or other components of the braking system.

Famous Brands of Electric Bicycle Brakes

 From the above, we can see that it is necessary to choose an e-bike with an excellent braking system, especially considering the quality of the brake pads and the effectiveness of its various components in cooperating.

One brand, in particular, is famous for its braking systems. Tektro is the largest maker of e-bike-specific brakes, with at least 17 variations of kill switch-equipped setups. Tektro’s performance brake brand, TRP, makes its variations of e-bike brakes and has partnered with high-end companies to make custom systems for their bikes.

Other major bicycle brake manufacturers like SRAM and Magura have also jumped in with their own version of bike brakes, but Tektro has notably embraced the motorized trend and offers an extensive lineup.

Many bicycle manufacturers work with these brands to ensure that their products are safer and more resistant to wear and tear. This guarantees that you would have a safe ride, and be able to make an immediate stop whenever you want.

See the Magicycle Ocelot Pro Long Range Step-Thru Fat Tire Electric Bike, which is providing a limited-time offer.


In short, brakes on e-bikes are critical devices, since you could potentially be riding fast. When getting an e-bike with disc brakes, check that they are effective and able to stop the bike quickly.

Images: Unsplash/ Jan Kopriva and Viktor Bystrov

Author Bio

Salman Bhati is passionate about health, fitness, sports, and lifestyle. He contributes regularly to various websites, including Magicycle Bike, where he reviews e-bikes and bike components. Besides cycling, he enjoys other forms of outdoor recreation too.