Brakes

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How to choose BMX brakes: Brakes allow riders to precisely control the speed of their bike by simply actuating a brake lever with one or two fingers. Typical dirt, park, street and race bikes are built with only a rear brake. Some riders still use a front brake as well, but this is less common. The brake component itself, whether mounted on the front or the rear, remains the same.

Brakes are fairly simple, and have only four parts to them: pads, arms, springs and pivots. The pads are what come in contact with the rim, which creates enough friction to slow down the bike. The two arms are pulled by the brake cable and are connected to the frame at the pivots. The pivots are the point at which the brake is bolted to the frame’s brake bosses, and serve as a pivot point for the arms. They also house the springs that push the brake back to its original position after braking.

Upgrading brakes is an easy way to increase performance, shed a bit of weight and maximize the bling factor of any bike.

Types of Brakes

There are three basic types of BMX brakes: U-brakes, V-brakes, and caliper style brakes.

U-brakes: These are the standard brake style used on all dirt, park or street bikes. They mount to the brake bosses on the seat stays of the frame. U-brakes are extremely durable and their contoured design keeps them out of harms way.

V-brakes: These are standard issue on race bikes. V-brakes are lighter and offer very powerful braking, but their design exposes the brake unit to more abuse than U-brakes, making them less conducive to freestyle applications. V-brakes also mount to brake bosses.

Caliper: These are the predecessor of U and V-brakes. These days it is rare to see a BMX come stock with caliper brakes, unless it’s a children’s bike. The main difference with caliper style is that they bolt into a hole drilled in the frame rather than to brake bosses. The are also usually weaker than U and V-brakes.

Sizes

Brakes only come in one size, and will fit any bike equipped with the proper mounts. Be sure to check your frame for the right brake bosses if you want to install a new U or V-brake.

Materials

High quality brakes use aluminum arms to save weight. Some manufacturers use different materials in the pivots to improve smoothness – brass, for example. Brake pads come in many colors and densities. Softer pads offer superior grip, but do not last as long as harder pads.

How Much To Spend

U-brakes range in price from $15 to $75. In the $15-$40 range, brakes use aluminum arms and basic spring systems. Some models offer different colors and soft compound brake pads. Brakes in this range offer solid performance at a fair price. The more expensive brakes, ranging from $40 to $75, use CNC machined arms, stiffer springs, are offered in an array of color options, lighter weight and use soft compound pads to improve overall performance.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you’ve purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you’ve found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn’t answered in this guide, our BMX forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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