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Why you need hydraulic brakes on your e-bike ?

Hydraulic brakes or mechanical disc brakes, which one is better for your e-bike. And why you shall choose one to another ?

At our product lines we tested both types of brakes on our e-bikes. Also we still try different brakes on our samples and check which one offers a greater value to our riders. Back in 2015 our product line was using mechanical brakes such as Avid BB3, BB5 and BB7.

Avid BB3 was a problematic mechanical brake with low stopping power and high maintenance requirements. Avid BB7 was the best mechanical disc brake that we have tested in terms of stopping power, ease to use but still it is nowhere near a hydraulic brake.  

As you can guess from our product line we shifted to Hydraulic brakes in recent years and we have no plan to shift back to mechanical brakes on our electric bikes. Now we will try to explain you why we make such decision.


What are Advantages of Hydraulic Brakes on Electric Bikes ?

1- Less Lever Effort

You can check working mechanism of hydraulic brakes online. I will not get into details of it but basically it is same as other hydraulic equipments such as car jack. In same principle, hydraulic system amplifies your power on lever and create a big stopping power.

If you own a commuter electric bike and need to ride for long duration, this will be a big issue for you. Mechanical disc brakes will make your hands sour. The same is true if you are riding downhill and need to brake a lot.

2- Closed Circuit

Hydraulic brakes on e-bikes have close circuit system so dirt can't get inside. On the other hand in mechanical brakes dirt can get inside. If you have mechanical brakes on your electric bike and go from mud, moving parts will be subject to mug.

You will need to clean the mechanical brakes otherwise you will hear strange quirky noises and you will see major drops in stopping power.

Hydraulic brakes need much less maintenance compared to mechanical brakes on e-bikes.

So they are easier to operate and easier to maintain. Of course we aren't talking about zero maintenance. You need to check oil level from time to time and add oil when needed. This won't happen more than once a year or in some cases once every next year.

3- Less Adjustment

In Hydraulic brakes we have two pads and both move towards to rotor. So rotor is squeezed evenly from both sides. On the other hand on mechanical brakes movement is on singular direction. Because of this there will be minor bends on rotors on mechanical brakes or some dislocations. And you will need to adjust the mechanical brakes from time to time. Most hydraulic brakes need no adjustment unless you drop your bike or there is an outer impact on your e-bike's hydraulic brakes.

Also this will let you change your rotors earlier than hydraulic brakes.



What are advantages of Mechanical Brakes ?

Biggest Advantage of mechanical brakes over hydraulic brakes is "price". Cost of an entry level hydraulic brake is at least 2x more expensive than a mechanical disc brake. Also when assembling bike it needs much more labor work due to complexity of the system.

So cheaper electric bikes are prefering to use mechanical disc brakes. But in terms of cost for rider mechanical disc brakes aren't cheaper at all.

  • Need more adjustment. If you aren't handy person you may need to visit your local bicycle store more frequently.
  • Need Maintenance and clean up
  • Need more frequent change of rotors which means $$$


To sum it up, after long discussion with our technical team, we decided to shift to hydraulic brakes several years ago and we are extremely happy with the result. Our riders appreciate this decision and once they try e-bikes with mechanical brakes they can recognize the difference.

My advice for first time electric bike buyers is to try both systems for at least 10 minutes before deciding to buy an e-bike. Especially if you are not comfortable with tools, I strongly advice to choose an e-bike with a hydraulic brake system.