Learn about the braking system of electric bicycles.This guide is divided into two parts and will detail as simply as we can how eBike brakes work. Below, you’ll find a description of each component that forms the braking system, learn how they work together to slow your bike down and find out how you can make some small adjustments to repair and improve your brakes.
(Please note the second article: How to clean and maintain electric bicycle brakes)
If you have any other questions about eBike brakes after reading our post, you are welcome to leave a comment below.
With that in mind, we’ll get started on our eBike brake discussion by going over all the components that form the braking system.
What are the Components that Form an eBike Braking System?
Levers are the appendages attached to your handles and used as the primary activation system for your brakes. Basic levers don’t offer much in terms of extra features. But did you know that premium brakes have adjustable lengths, angles, and even pull strength?
The only other thing worth mentioning is that while the laws vary depending on where you live, the United States and much of the world require that the front wheel be connected to the left brake lever, and the back wheel be connected to the right brake lever.
The cable connects the lever to the caliper, running from your handlebar to your wheels. The vast majority of eBikes rely on a mechanical disc brake system. Mechanical disc brakes have cables filled with air, while hydraulic disc brakes have cables filled with fluid. Mechanical disc brakes are easier to repair and replace, while hydraulic disc brakes provide greater stopping power due to the cable setup.
The caliper is the central housing unit for two other critical braking components: the Brake Pad and the Pistons. When the lever is pulled, the pistons will move and press the brake pad into the brake rotor. Brake pads are specifically designed to slow down the eBike by applying friction to the brake rotor while also absorbing the brake rotor’s heat when pressed against it. Brake pads are typically the first component you need to replace on a braking system that isn’t functioning correctly.
The brake rotor is a large metal disc that sits in the Wheel Hub, which refers to the center component of the wheel that holds it all together. As the brake pad is pressed into the spinning brake rotor, it slows it down by creating friction, making it harder for the rest of the wheel to turn.The larger the brake rotor, the faster you slow down due to the greater friction generated. However, be aware that brake pads will wear out quicker on a larger brake rotor because of the larger friction compared to a smaller rotor. Typical eBike brake rotors are often between 160 mm to 180 mms in size.
So How do eBike Brakes Work?
Now that you have a general idea of every component on an eBike, we can discuss how the brakes work.
When the brake lever is pulled, the attached cable applies pressure to the brake caliper’s pistons. The pistons push the brake pad attached to the caliper down into the brake rotor, using frictional force to the spinning wheel hub that the brake rotor is attached to. The tighter you pull on your brake levers, the harder the brake pad is pushed into the brake rotor, resulting in greater frictional force.The greater frictional force applied to the wheel hub, the faster your wheel will slow down as the energy and momentum retained by the wheel is expelled as heat. Larger brake rotors have more surface area to evenly expel heat, allowing you to apply more force without running the risk of damaging the rotor, brake pad, or other components on the braking system.
The heat generated by braking is the primary reason why components get worn down. Eventually, you will need to replace the brake pad, the calipers, and even the brake rotor. However, just because your brakes are getting worn down or are causing issues doesn’t mean you have to throw them away immediately.
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