Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Welcome to our big brake disc test 2021. Here we present all the brake discs we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best brake disc for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy brake discs.




Summary

  • Brake discs are one of the most important components of a bicycle. The choice of brake discs must be carefully considered.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between centrelock and 6-hole brake discs, whereby both variants are available in different sizes.
  • For long rides, brake discs with a large diameter are suitable. For shorter rides with less braking power, smaller brake discs are recommended.

The Best Brake Disc: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a brake disc

Which brake disc do I need?

In principle, the choice of brake disc depends on the size. Basically, the larger the diameter of the brake, the greater the torque with which the brakes are applied.

Centerlock disc brakes are ideal for quick installation. (Image source: pixabay.com / Hans)

For long descents and high braking power with a lot of luggage, it is recommended to go for a brake disc with a large diameter. For shorter rides with less braking power and lighter bikes such as children's and youth bikes, small brake discs are sufficient.

Brake discs are available from various manufacturers in different sizes. SHIMANO, HOPE and CONTEC are well known. You will find the following SHIMANO disc sizes in our range:

  • 160 mm
  • 180 mm
  • 203 mm

How do I mount a brake disc?

The installation of the Centerlock discs is easier and faster, you only have to tighten one circlip and not 6 screws.

The circlip is tightened to 40-50 Nm and the bolts to 4-6 Nm, depending on the manufacturer. A torque spanner is recommended for correct installation.

Centerlock vs. 6-hole?

We often ask ourselves which brake disc mounting system we should choose or which ones suit our type of bicycle.

The Centerlock disc only has to be put on the counterpart on the wheel. After that, it only needs to be tightened with a bolt.

On the other hand, when changing the 6-hole disc, all 6 bolts have to be unscrewed. In most cases, this is done with special spanners and exact Newton metre specifications.

What does a brake disc cost?

The prices of brake discs differ according to various factors. For example, cheaper versions are available for as little as 7 euros, while more expensive versions cost around 45 euros.

Online shops Centerlock 6-hole
Amazon 13 € 24 €
Bike-discount 26 € 40 €

Here you should also consider the diameter and type of brake discs. Centrelock brake discs require special tools. With 6-hole disc brakes, fitting takes longer but no further tools are needed.

What alternatives are there to brake discs?

The brake is one of the most important components on a bicycle. You need to think carefully about what kind of braking system you want to use.

There are 4 main types of brake systems:

Rim brakes

With rim brakes, the brake is actuated by brake levers. To achieve a braking effect, the brake is applied to the rim. It is used for high braking performance in dry conditions.

Advantages
  • Low weight
  • High braking power in dry conditions
Disadvantages
  • Poor braking performance in wet conditions
  • High wear

Drum brake

The drum brake is located on the rear tyre of the bicycle. In contrast to rim brakes, the braking power of drum brakes remains constant even in wet conditions.

Advantages
  • High braking power in dry and wet conditions
  • Braking power remains constant
Disadvantages
  • Changing brake pads is more expensive

Back-pedalling brake

There are 2 types of coaster brakes: with gear shift and without gear shift. Recoil brakes work just as well in wet conditions as in dry conditions.

Advantages
  • High braking performance in dry and wet conditions
  • Robust and reliable
Disadvantages
  • Heavy weight
  • Pedals can only be pedalled forwards

Roller brake

A roller brake was developed to prevent the front wheel from locking or slipping. This is especially necessary for novice cyclists who are more likely to injure themselves. The brake develops a deceleration due to the friction in the brake casing.

Advantages
  • Suitable for beginner cyclists
  • braking occurs due to friction in the brake casing
Disadvantages
  • Weak braking power due to very strong friction
  • Not suitable for long rides

Decision: What types of brake discs are there and which is the right one for you?

If you want to buy a brake disc, there are two alternatives you can choose between:

  • Centerlock
  • 6-hole

What distinguishes a centrelock brake disc and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

If you first look at the difference in weight, you will find that the Centerlock hubs are lighter than the 6-hole hubs. The installation and removal of Centerlock discs is also easier thanks to a cassette tool.

The change from a Centerlock disc to a 6-hole disc is possible with the help of an adapter.

In addition, the installation of the Centerlock disc is easier and faster. The brake discs are somewhat heavier and can therefore cost more.

Advantages
  • Weight
  • Easy mounting
  • Change from centrelock to 6-hole disc possible
Disadvantages
  • Heavy brake discs
  • Special tools must be available
  • Centerlock hubs have a smaller hub flange diameter

You need special tools that you don't always have with you when you're on the road and your bike breaks down. In addition, centrelock hubs have a smaller hub flange diameter than 6-hole hubs.

What are the characteristics of a 6-hole brake disc and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The biggest advantage of a 6-hole disc is the universal system. If your bike breaks down, you can simply go to the hardware store and buy a replacement bolt and then tighten it.

However, it looks different when mounting a 6-hole disc. As the name suggests, 6 separate steel screws are required.

Advantages
  • universal system
Disadvantages
  • Complex assembly
  • 6 screws are required

In addition, you might tighten one side a little more than the other, which can cause the rotor to warp a little.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate brake discs

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between brake discs.

The criteria you can use to compare brake discs include:

  • Size / Diameter
  • Weight
  • Material
  • Brake force

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Size / Diameter

The diameter of the brake disc is particularly important for the braking power and stability of the disc brake. Small brake discs with a diameter of 140 mm are suitable for light riders.

A distinction is made between 2 types of brake systems for changing a brake disc. (Image source: pixabay.com / LUM3N)

However, riders with small brake discs should have good riding and braking technique. For long and steep rides, such as Alpine rides, larger discs are more advantageous.

The improved leverage thus generates significantly more braking power and thus offers more stability. In addition, higher braking forces on long descents ensure significantly less fatigue on arms & hands.

Weight

Weight is an important factor with disc brakes. Wheels with a lower weight are noticeably easier to accelerate and steer.

A disc brake weighs more than a classic rim brake. However, they do not require a specially prepared brake flank.

Material

Bicycle disc brake pads are made of 2 materials:

  • Carrier material
  • Friction lining

The carrier material can be made of titanium or steel or, for example, aluminium. The density of the material under the backing plate is particularly essential to avoid unwanted heat emission at the brake piston.

Most brake discs are made of stainless steel. Shimano has introduced a new design called "Ice-Tech".

The brake discs and pads have been introduced with ICE TECHNOLOGIES to create a cooling technology for high braking performance.

The braking surfaces of the discs are made of steel, the core in the middle is made of aluminium. The aluminium core is thus said to be better able to dissipate braking heat and reduce surface temperature from 400 ˚C to 300˚C.

There is also a cooling fin on the brake pad. The design of the disc combined with a cooling vane on the brake pad results in longer pad life, less brake noise, less fading and lighter weight.

Braking power

After buying new brake pads for disc brakes, they must first be braked in. If the brake pads are worn out, the only solution is to replace them.

Brake discs dissipate the heat generated by braking energy. (Image source: pixabay.com / markusspiske)

As a rule, the braking force of disc brakes should be so strong that you only need one or two fingers to brake and do not have to use more force. In addition, fitting a larger disc increases the braking force.

Facts worth knowing about brake discs

How does a brake disc work?

The disc brake works in a similar way to a car brake. It consists of a brake disc, which is attached to the hub, and a brake unit, which is attached to the frame or fork.

During the braking process, the brake pads are pressed against the disc from both sides.

Another advantage of brake discs is that the heat generated by braking energy is dissipated better than with classic rim brakes.

How do I change a brake disc?

Before changing the brake discs, the following tools are needed.

Changing a 6-hole brake disc:

  • Torque spanner
  • Torx bit including holder
  • If required: work gloves

For the 6-hole brake disc, 6 screws must be installed.

  1. Have rotor, screws and fuse ready
  2. Remove old disc completely
  3. Place new disc on the hub - observe running direction!
  4. Screw individual screws into the thread and tighten them crosswise one after the other
  5. Tighten with the appropriate torque wrench

Changing a centrelock brake disc:

  • Torque spanner
  • Centrelock tool
  • 24 mm nut
  • If necessary: work gloves

The installation of a centrelock disc is much easier

  1. Place the Centerlock brake disc on the hub body. Then use the circlip, which is also used in a similar form for the cassette
  2. Final fixing with the Centerlock tool, the 24 mm nut and a suitable torque wrench

How do I clean brake discs?

Squeaking brakes on your bike are annoying and nobody wants to hear them. Cleaning the brake discs can certainly help against squeaking brakes.

To do this, proceed as follows:

  1. Removing the brake pads
  2. Glaze the brake pads with sandpaper
  3. If the brake pads are worn Replace brake pads
  4. Remove paint residues
  5. Spray brake disc with special cleaning agents (Motorex, Pedros, Sonax, Bike Shine, Brunox, Finish Line)
  6. Tighten the screws again
  7. Refit reworked or new pads in the brake calliper

Image source: flickr.com / Maik Meid

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