Bicycle Brake Guide
Single-speed bicycles or children's bicycles feature coaster brakes. These are located at the rear wheel inside the hub and are engaged by rotating the pedals backward.
Road bikes and some BMX bikes feature caliper brakes. Caliper brakes are shaped like an upside-down horseshoe with pivots in the middle and brake pads on each end. The brake pads clamp down onto the side of the wheel rim. The rider controls these brakes by squeezing hand levers mounted onto the handlebars. The levers are connected to the caliper with a cable.
V-brakes and cantilever brakes work on a similar principle. Both brakes have pivots mounted to the frame or to fork. They both have more power than the caliper brake and are primarily used on mountain and touring bikes. V-brakes provide much better stopping power than cantilever brakes, and they have made cantilever brakes virtually obsolete.
Disc brakes are not as common but may be used on tandems, mountain bikes, and recumbents due to their very powerful braking. Operation is similar to automobile disc brakes, but they may use hydraulic fluid or a cable. Disc brakes work well in wet, muddy environments; therefore many mountain bikes include them or have the mounting location to upgrade to them.
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