Written by 2:03 am MTB, MTB Gears • 2 Comments

My Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes



Best for downhill riders and those who want to save some money
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
-System: Hydraulic
-Weight: 381g
-Rotors: 180mm
-Calipers: 4-pistons
  • Practical performance
  • unbeatable price
  • plenty of power
  • relatively lower stopping power than other alternatives
Best for the top of the range all trail performances
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
SRAM Guide Ultimate
-System: Hydraulic
-Weight: 218g
-Calipers: 4-piston
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • superb performance
  • great stopping power
  • Quite pricey
  • Needs more fine-tuning
the Best option for mountain rides, especially those steep ascents
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
Clarks M2
-System:  Hydraulic
-Weight: 392g
-Rotors: 160mm
-Calipers: 2-piston
  • impeccable braking performance
  • sleek compact design
  • reliable
  • Not so great control and modulation
the Best option for long downhill stretches
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
Shimano SLX M675
-System: Hydraulic
-Weight: 310 g
-Rotors: 160mm
-Calipers: 2-piston
  • performance
  • long life pads
  • Resistance to heat build-up
  • expensive for what it can do
Best for cross country and for riders looking for trail-oriented caliper
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
Hope Tech 3 X2
-System: hydraulic
-Weight: 242g
-Rotors: 183/203mm
-Calipers: 2-piston
  • Quality build
  • easy to install
  • look sleek
  • Pricey
 Best for steep and technical terrains
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
Shimano XT M8020
-System:  Hydraulic
-Weight: 318g
-Rotors: 180 and 203mm
-Calipers: 4-piston
  • great power and modulation
  • Inconsistent lever feel
Best for road riding
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
Magura MT5
-System: Hydraulic
-Weight: 314g
-Rotors: 140/160mm
-Calipers: 4-piston
  • incredibly light
  • great stopping power
  • outstanding modulation
  • Expensive
Best for light trail
Best Mountain Bike Disc Brakes
-System:  Hydraulic
-Weight:  380
-Rotors: 160
-Calipers: 4-piston
  • easy bleed technology
  • easy pad replacement
  • sloppy lever design





  • System: Hydraulic
  • Weight: 381g
  • Rotors: 180mm
  • Calipers: 4-pistons
  • Pros: Practical performance, unbeatable price, plenty of power
  • Cons: relatively lower stopping power than other alternatives

SRAM Guide Ultimate

  • System: Hydraulic
  • Weight: 218g
  • Rotors:170/180mm
  • Calipers: 4-piston
  • Pros: Incredibly lightweight, superb performance, great stopping power
  • Cons: Quite pricey, needs more fine-tuning

Clarks M2

  • System:  Hydraulic
  • Weight: 392g
  • Rotors: 160mm
  • Calipers: 2-piston
  • Pros: impeccable braking performance, sleek compact design, reliable
  • Cons: Not so great control and modulation

Shimano SLX M675

  • System: Hydraulic
  • Weight: 310 g
  • Rotors: 160mm
  • Calipers: 2-piston
  • Pros: performance, long life pads, resistance to heat build-up
  • Cons: expensive for what it can do

Hope Tech 3 X2

  • System: hydraulic
  • Weight: 242g
  • Rotors: 183/203mm
  • Calipers: 2-piston
  • Pros:  Quality build, easy to install, look sleek
  • Cons: Pricey

Shimano XT M8020

  • System:  Hydraulic
  • Weight: 318g
  • Rotors: 180 and 203mm
  • Calipers: 4-piston
  • Pros:  great power and modulation
  • Cons: Inconsistent lever feel


  • System: Hydraulic
  • Weight: 314g
  • Rotors: 140/160mm
  • Calipers: 4-piston
  • Pros: incredibly light, great stopping power, outstanding modulation
  • Cons: Expensive

Magura MT5

  • System:  Hydraulic
  • Weight:  380
  • Rotors: 160
  • Calipers: 4-piston
  • Pros: easy bleed technology, easy pad replacement
  • Cons: sloppy lever design


How To Choose The Best Mountain Bike Disk Brakes

If you are currently looking for the best mountain bike disc brakes, it is important to know a few things. The market is packed with a handful of options and if you have never had to make a choice before, choosing the best is not going to be a walk in the park. Here is all you need to factor in at all times.

What makes mountain bike disc brakes the best?

Before we even look at what to consider when buying these types of brakes, it will make a lot of sense if we first look at why they are very popular.

  • Power– Disc brakes system is all about power. They are incredibly popular than V brakes.
  • Versatility– the kind of versatility you can net from disc brakes will simply blow your mind. You can do quite an array of things with them. It does well in practically all weather conditions.
  • Control– when it comes to controlling, nothing beats the power of disc brakes. The progressive barking they come with, offers powerful braking performances, without necessarily affecting your control of the ride.
  • Confidence– being with the services of high performing brake and astonishing level of reliability in all weather conditions, you will have more confidence when you hit those tough and technical terrains. You will not worry about anything.

Brake Disc Pads

Pads form an integral part of your barking system. It is one component that differentiates a great brake system from a bad one. Disc brake comes made from different materials. Each material comes with its own share of advantages and disadvantages as well. You choose what to go for depending on what you really need. Here is a quick look at the three popular pads

Metallic (Sintered) Brakes pads

This is basically a sort of a compound with the added hardened metal ingredients. Most copper is used to construct them. These are the best disc brakes pads if you usually ride in wet, muddy weather conditions. Because they have been built to last, you can actually use them if you are a heavy-duty rider. They can easily withstand and tough condition.


  • Does well in wet weather conditions
  • Durable; they can last longer


  • Produce noise
  • Tend to fade quickly at higher temperatures.
  • Wear your rotor quickly
  • Longer break-in time


Organic (Resin) Pads

These often come made from high-density ceramic bonded with resin. These are the best pads if you are looking at keeping the weight down and would still need high performance. Typically, you can go for these pads if you are an avid cross country rider. If you also do flat trails, this pad will be more practical. They don’t do well in wet conditions though. They also wear quickly. So if you are looking for something to serve you now, months and years, you might want to put this option out of your list.


  • Less noise
  • High resistance to heat build-up
  • Don’t cause any wear on your rotor
  • More initial bite


  • Tend to wear and tear really quickly
  • Not a great option for wet conditions


Semi Organic brake pads

This one sits right at the middle and they are a sort of compromise between metallic and organic brakes pads. It is not always a great option, but do offer a great combination of longevity and power. Currently, you will find them on low-end mountain bikes. You will also find in country mountain bikes because they have been designed to last.


  • Less noise
  • Cause little wear on your rotor


  • Relatively low performance


Rotor Size

Rotors are those strong and light circular metal discs that are normally attached to the front and rear wheels of your mountain bike. When you squeezed the brake levers, a smooth force is applied to the rotors from the pads and that will allow you to stop. The size of the rotor is paramount and must be considered at all times.


We have a wide range of diameters in the market. We have two main diameters; 140mm and 200 mm.  They influence the performance of your brakes. For example, a rotor with a larger diameter means great stopping power. It puts more force on the wheel.

Secondly, we all know the braking force can create some heat on the rotor and also in the disc pads. However, a larger rotor can come in handy during such situations. It helps dissipate heat more. This will help preserve your brake pads and enhance performance.

So which is the right diameter? There is no definite answer to this, but just know that; in every 20mm increase in size, you get up to 15-20 percent increase in braking power. For mountain riding, a 160-180mm rotor will do great work. However, if you are doing those serious downhill racing go for a 200 mm rotor.


This one joins the caliper to the lever. It should be free of any air bubble as that can affect the working of the brakes. When choosing your braking, ensure the hose is able to resist any hydraulic pressures. It also needs to seamlessly handle the squashing. There are actually two options you could go for.

First, are those standard hoses you will find in most bikes. They are reinforced plastic that offers great toughness. They are also incredibly flexible.

Secondly, if you want enhanced performance, you could choose those steel sheath hoses. They are a bit tight and offer a more accurate brake feel. They also come with improved crush resistance.

Lever and Master Cylinder

The master cylinder is basically that cylinder that contains the reservoir. It can effectively adjust to heat expansion of brake fluid and pad wear. Many times, while it is not important to go for hinged clamp plates, a flip flop design makes the brakes more useful and versatile.

Levers come in various shapes; some are narrow, others are curved and crooked. If you are not worried about your wallet, you can actually opt for a carbon-fiber lever blade. They are incredibly lightweight. They are a lot a bit warm when it is cold.

Largely depending on how it has been designed, there are quite a number of adjustments you can pull off and make your brakes feel the way you want them to be. For example, a pretty good number of brakes in the market allow you to quickly adjust the reach to the levers,  but at the same time being able to nail the biting point; this is where your brakes come in contact with the pad. In other cases, you will find brakes that allow you to adjust leverage and power. However, just know, while you could easily net a number of great things from these few adjustments, there are potential dangers, as well.


Bike control especially, at through steep incline is crucial. We all need a set of brakes that can help you stop your ride smoothly without necessarily affecting your control of the ride. For this reason, ensure your disc brakes are able to apply power smoothly and most importantly progressively. You need to make the most out of the available traction.

Reach Adjustment

This is often controlled using a dial or even a screw in some cases.  This adjustment allows the lever move further away or even closer to the handlebar. So when buying a set of a braking system, ensure it comes with this great feature as it allows you adjust the system based on the size of your  hand.

Contact Point Adjustment

This is also controlled with the help of a screw or dial. This is used to adjust and figure out at what exact point on the lever travel that pad makes contact with the disc. This comes with a few benefits as well. It allows you to customize where on the travel the braking actually starts. Not all brakes come with this feature. If you can get a design with it, that would come with so many practical benefits.

Ease of use and maintenance

Pretty much like any other part and components of your bike, we need a set of brake that is reasonably easy to set up.  Its installation process must be 1 or 3 simple steps. It shouldn’t take you the whole day to try to figure out how to set it up, especially if you are right in the middle of the wild. It must also be easy to live with. When it comes to maintenance, and hydraulic disc brakes require a little bit of maintenance. They are not like rim brakes, they come with no cable that can get clogged up with dirt.


As with any big investment you make today, after spending a considerable amount of money on the best disc brakes for your bike, obviously, you would want something that can serve you now and for a couple of years to come. It must be well built, and durable. These are moving parts and they are going to be subjected to a degree of tear and wear. However, your choice must be able to withstand the test of time.


What brand should you actually go for? With the number of choices available, obviously, most people will ask this question. We have quite a number of big names in the industry including SRAM, Magura Formula, Shimano, and Hope.  Although there are other brands in the market today, you can’t in any way go wrong with either of the mentioned brands.

Bottom Line

With the number of options available in the market, singling out the best from the crowded market is no longer easy. Most people would agree with us that finding a perfect braking system for your bike is not easy. Thankfully, if you put the above-mentioned features into great consideration, you can’t go wrong.

Updated on January 22, 2021 by Ben

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