Brakes are an important part of any bike. Professional and experienced BMX riders rarely use brakes on their bikes. But when you are a beginner or an amateur, you need to use brakes on your bike to prevent accidents. So, you need to gain a good idea of what kind of brakes BMX bikes have.
There are 7 types of brakes commonly found on BMX bikes. U-brakes are best for freestyle riders, V-brakes for racing, or disc brakes for dirt jumps. Apart from these, there are other braking systems that are best in different cases. The type of brake should be determined by considering the riding needs of your bike.
In this article, I will discuss in detail the brakes of BMX bikes. And I believe, this article will help you if you want to become a professional BMX rider.
What Kind Of Brakes Does BMX Bikes Have?
There are about 7 types of brakes that we notice in BMX bikes. Manufacturers mainly included brakes based on the requirements or demands of the rider. I’ll discuss all the brakes in detail below.
V-brakes, known as direct-pull, are most popular for racing. They are mounted on either side of the frame and are attached to rubber pads a few millimeters across. Although V-brakes are more commonly used on hybrid bikes, off-road bikes, or touring bikes, they are also widely used on BMX bikes. Riders prefer these brakes more because of their lightweight property.
A cable usually connects such brakes to the brake lever on the handlebar. When the rider pulls the brake lever, the rubber pads of the V-brake create a powerful grip on the rim, which plays an effective role in controlling the bike. But if you are a freestyle rider, then this type of braking option is not ideal for you.
U-brake is the most popular choice among riders for freestyle and flatland BMX bikes. The simple structure of the brakes and the braking strength make them very effective. U-breaks are relatively easy to use and they pair nicely with detangles. That’s why these brakes are practical.
Brakes of this type of design are most commonly used for the rear brakes of bikes. U-brake arms are usually placed below the chain base, giving the rear of the bike a sleeker look. A BMX rider can rotate his bike 180 and 360 degrees with U-brakes through intelligent cable routing.
3. Coaster Brakes
A coaster brake attached to the rear hub of a BMX bike is also called a ‘Pedal Brake’. Although these types of brakes are obsolete and old-fashioned, some people still use them. These brakes require less maintenance and coaster brakes can provide some added benefits to the rider.
Besides providing a comfortable experience, coaster brakes also give your bike a more aesthetic look. However, these brakes can cause problems in freestyle riding. Therefore, the use of coaster brakes has decreased a lot nowadays.
4. Mechanical Disc Brakes
Mechanical disc brakes are equivalent to traditional rim brakes you can find on a variety of bikes these days. These types of brakes are connected to the brake levers on the handlebars and provide signals via cables. Most riders prefer these brakes for providing powerful braking.
In this braking, the pads apply pressure to the rotors attached to the wheels instead of the rims. The complete system comprises a brake lever, metal disc, metal pad, and reinforced steel cable.
Mechanical disc brakes can provide highly effective braking in water, mud, or any type of weather condition.
5. Cantilever Brakes
Cantilever brakes are best for those who often ride in bad weather. One advantage of these brakes is that they allow you to install wider tires or fenders on your bike. The brakes are light, unobtrusive, and relatively straightforward.
This braking system provides a powerful brake. Cyclocross riders prefer these brakes most, as they provide plenty of clearance. Many people use cantilever brakes on their touring bikes as well. You can also use this brake on your BMX bike. But for that, you need to install a specific fork.
6. Caliper Brakes
These brakes are not normally used on wide tyres. A rider operates this brake by cables in the caliper braking system. Although these brakes are mostly used on road bikes, we have also seen them on some BMX bikes.
Caliper brakes are less effective than V-brakes or U-brakes.
Manufacturers attached these brakes to the frame holes through bolts. Since most BMX bikes use relatively wide tires, these brakes are less likely to be used on BMX bikes.
7. Gyro Brakes
We also know this braking system as a ‘rotor or detangler’. If you are a freestyle BMX biker, this type of brake is best suited for you. These brakes will allow you to do a full barspin, tangling no wires.
Gyro braking has an additional accessory to the head tube and the stem that splits the brake system into two halves. When you pull the lever, it causes the rotor to compress the braking zone between the two plates and the bike slows down.
What Size Brake Lever Does A BMX Bike Need?
The size of BMX bike brake levers depends a lot on the bike model and braking style. There are many styles of brake levers available in the market. You will get mainly three different sizes of brake levers for BMX bikes which you need to select according to your bike model and braking system.
Do BMX Bikes Have Hand Brakes?
Manufacturers generally take into consideration safety features while designing bikes. Although professional BMX riders are not comfortable using hand brakes on their bikes, BMX bikes do have hand brakes. These often play a role in keeping the rider safe by protecting them from unwanted accidents.
So, Why Don’t BMX Bikes Have A Hand Brake?
You may have noticed that many BMX bikes do not have hand brakes, as these cause problems during various stunts or tricks. A cable usually connects hand brakes to the brake lever to the handlebar. These cables will provide restraint when you want to turn the handle 360 degrees during a stunt.
Also, while performing many stunts, the hand brake is a hindrance to the bike’s required mobility. Additionally, hand brakes add a bit of weight to the bike, whereas lighter BMX bikes are more suited for stunts. Considering all this, many people remove the hand brake from their BMX bike.
Do BMX Bikes Have Pedal Brakes?
Yes, some BMX bikes have pedal brakes, better known as coaster brakes. These types of braking systems are usually quite old-fashioned and few riders use them. These brakes are attached to the rear hub of the BMX bike.
However, not all BMX bikes have pedal brakes. While these brakes provide some advantages, they also bring some disadvantages. That’s why BMX riders don’t feel comfortable using these brakes.
Many people want to know if the foot brake and pedal brake of BMX bikes are the same. Usually, pedal brakes, foot brakes, or coaster brakes convey the same meaning or they are actually the same.
Do BMX Bikes Have Front Brakes?
Yes, many BMX bikes have front brakes but not to all. Usually, manufacturers add them to their bikes as a safety feature. Although most BMX bikes come with rear brakes only, we see both front and rear brakes in some cases. But in practical terms, there is no need for front brakes on BMX bikes, they are rather problematic.
So, Why Don’t BMX Bikes Have Front Brakes?
A front brake will restrict your mobility and make the bike a bit heavier. Even it can be terrible sometimes, especially during BMX racing as the front brake hinders you in many stunts.
A pro and experienced BMX rider find the front brake more of a disadvantage than an advantage. That’s why we don’t see front brakes on many BMX bikes.
Do BMX Bikes Have Back Brakes?
Almost all BMX bikes have back brakes only or both front and rear brakes. But professional BMX cyclists do not use any brakes on their bikes and take pride in riding bikes without brakes. However, bike manufacturers generally consider the rider’s safety and attach at least a rear brake to their bikes.
Do BMX Bikes Have Disc Brakes?
Yes, some BMX bikes have disc brakes.
Disc brakes are most commonly seen on dirt jump BMX bikes. These types of brakes are more effective and reliable than any other braking system. That’s why we see disc brakes on many other types of bikes like road bikes, hybrid bikes, etc. apart from BMX bikes. Because these brakes are very effective in any weather or road condition.
While brakes can protect you from unwanted accidents, not using the right type of brakes can also cause complications. Becoming a professional on a BMX bike is quite difficult and time-consuming. Knowing about all kinds of brakes on BMX bikes will help you a lot in becoming a pro BMX biker.
Here, I have discussed the front and rear brakes of BMX bikes in detail. I have explained the answers to common brake-related questions. If you want to know more, then let me know through the comment section. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.