The common bicycle brake system consists of three main components:
- A mechanism for applying rider force into the system: Smart Brake Remotes – Brake lever, Brake remote, or Thumb Brake.
- A mechanism for transmitting that force including hydraulic hoses: Smart Brake – Brake Unit
- A braking mechanism such as a caliper; rim or disc brakes.
The rider applies force into the braking system, for example by pulling the brake lever. The lever wirelessly signifies the Brake Unit to activate a motor that pushes hydraulic oil through a hose into the caliper. When the force builds up inside the caliper, the caliper clamps the brake pads onto the braking surface, causing the bike to slow down.
Rim vs. Disc Brakes
The two most common types of brakes are rim and disc brakes. The major difference between these two is where the force is being applied. With a rim brake, the stopping force is applied by calipers to the outer edge of the rim itself. Disc brakes, on the other hand, move the braking surface away from the rim to a rotor. The rotor is mounted to the hub, while the caliper is mounted to the fork near the axle.
Both effective, but which one is better suited for you and your bike?
First, find out what kind of brakes your bike uses today.
If the bike is equipped with rim brakes, it will most likely not have the option to add disc brakes. This depends on your bikes frame and wheels. Many bikes with disc brakes have the possibility to add rim brakes. Look at the bikes frame for two threaded holes 74mm apart (one at each side of the fork).
If you are in the situation to choose between both, consider this:
+ Rim brakes provides more braking power because it is located further from the center of mass
+ Rim brakes are easier to repair.
– When riding in dirty or wet conditions the rims will get slippery, providing longer stopping distance.
– Brake pads must be positioned in consideration by rim dents or out of true wheel to prevent collision between the brake pads and rim in freewheel mode. This means more travel time from pulling the lever until the brake pads hit the rim, providing a longer stopping distance.
+ Disc brakes works much better than rim brakes in wet weather and are less exposed to external influences. This is because the rotor is smaller than the rim, making it spin faster, causing a positive effect of whipping off water and dirt.
+ It’s easier to use wider tires with disc brakes.
+ Disc brakes are more sensitive, giving better/smoother brakes
– Because the rotors (disc) are smaller than bicycle rims, disc brakes have less leverage over the wheel and need to clamp the rotor much harder than a rim brake to provide the same braking force. Consider add larger rotors to compensate; going from 160 to 180mm or 180 to 203mm increase brake torque with 20-30%.
In terms of adding a Smart Brake to your bike, it will in most cases depend on the bike’s possibility to add either disc or rim brake. If you are in the position to choose, then a disc brake is the most commonly preferred braking system as it is more sensitive and performs better in most conditions. Brake distance may variate depending on wheel/disc ratio and the total weight on user + bike. These factors will always be important when choosing your disc brake setup with Smart Brake.
Bedding in your new brakes
Before you take your new Smart Brake out for its first time, you must first bed in the brakes. It is crucial to properly bed in your brakes on the new braking system, this creates the proper contact area between brake pads and rotors, and provides the safest stopping power possible. Find a safe place to perform the bed-in process. You want to be away from traffic and on a smooth flat surface that’s easy to ride on. Mount your bike and pedal to build up speed, as you build speed apply equal pressure to both your rear and front brake so you smoothly come to a stop. As you come to a stop release the pressure on both brakes and begin rolling again. Repeat this step at least ten times to allow the proper amount of braking material to transfer between the braking pad and rotor. This heats the system up, then cools the system, to allow the materials to transfer effectively and create the most efficient brakes possible.
With your brake system, especially rotors, keep the brake area clean of dirt and debris. This includes solvents and cleaners as well as dirt that can cause issues with the braking surface of the rotors and pads. In addition be mindful of brake rotors when loading your bicycle in or out of racks, as well as when removing the wheels. If either of your wheels is removed from the bicycle be sure not to pull the brake lever without a block inside the brake caliper. If the rotor is not present the brake pads will press against each other and can become stuck.