How to make BMX brakes work better?

How to make BMX brakes work better!

How to make BMX brakes work better

For your BMX brakes to work better, it is essential that you understand the details of these mechanisms. There is no such thing as a general rule in this respect, as each sportsman or woman adapts his or her bike according to his or her preferences. That is why we are going to start at the beginning and explain which types of brake you can use.

Rim brakes and disc brakes, which to choose?

Basically, we can distinguish between two types of brakes: rim brakes and disc brakes. Rim brakes are the most used and also the oldest type of brakes. They are simple mechanisms which consist of friction pads that apply pressure to the wheel rim to stop its movement. They are operated from pressure placed on the handlebars. They are a reliable, and thereby a more economical, system.

Its weak point is its poor performance in wet or muddy conditions.  The brakes also require frequent maintenance as the pads wear easily.

On the other hand, disc brakes are primarily used on mountain bikes because of their good grip on the ground. Disc brakes can be mechanical or hydraulic. We will explain this in detail here as BMX brakes are more of a technicality.

Types of rim brakes

It should be pointed out that there is more than one type of rim brake. Some distinguish between two types, while others identify a third variant.

We will mainly focus on the calliper and cantilever rim brakes. The former consists of a single screw or axle which is fixed to the frame of the bike. It is usually placed above the wheel.

The screw works as a pivot and the arms act as a clamp. This is why they are also known as “crab brakes.”

Cantilever brakes have two pivots, each holding an arm or shoe. The brake shoes are positioned on either side of the wheel and are connected by a cable that directly causes them to pull.

Since the 1990s, BMX bikes have commonly used cantilever direct-pull or V-B=brakes. These replaced the traditional centre-pull brakes. Although V-brakes are a product developed by Shimano, they have become the popular name for this type of brake. On a BMX with V-brakes, you will notice the absence of the cross wire and see that the arms are mounted parallel to the frame.

Since the 1990s, BMX bikes have commonly used cantilever direct-pull or V-B=brakes. These replaced the traditional centre-pull brakes. Although V-brakes are a product developed by Shimano, they have become the popular name for this type of brake. On a BMX with V-brakes, you will notice the absence of the cross wire and see that the arms are mounted parallel to the frame.

The third category of brakes is actually a successful combination of the cantilever and calliper brakes. We’re talking about the U-brakes. These have two axles which move the brake arms and are located at the top of the wheel. In this, they resemble the cantilever brakes, but their clamping mechanism is an actual calliper, like the calliper brakes.

They were very popular in the 1980s, particularly on mountain bikes. Recently they have resurfaced, hand in hand with fans of freestyle biking. In contrast, BMX racers generally prefer the V-brake system.

Are disc brakes better than V-brakes?

This is an ongoing controversy that seems to have no resolution. Among bikers and in specialty stores, you can find detractors and defenders of both types of brakes. Some people claim that disc brakes are an evolution of V-brakes. Certainly, their braking capacity is higher, and they need less pressure on the brake handles. They are very lightweight, and, given their distance from the wheel, they tend to stay cleaner.

Nevertheless, their high price and repair difficulty speak against them. In addition, it can be very difficult to align the pads when the wheel has been removed.

Since there is no single answer, you must make a personal assessment. Investing in one or another type of brake depends on the manner and frequency of the bike’s use. Many BMX riders prefer the U-brake system as it is installed under the frame and does not interfere with tricks. It is also less exposed, so it is more protected in case of falls.

V-brakes are mainly used for BMX racing. You should be aware that, due to their configuration, you may have to make some adjustments to your bike to install them.

Below you can hear Global Cycling Network on the difference between Disc Brakes vs Rim Brakes:

How do I repair my BMX brakes?

To achieve good performance, it is essential that your BMX brakes work perfectly. This requires some maintenance. First, you must ensure that the brake levers are free of dirt. Dust and dirt often accumulate on the brake levers, and this interferes with the operation of the mechanism. You should also check that the brake levers are correctly positioned on the handlebars. They often slip and create additional stress on the brake cable. They should not squeak or offer resistance to pressure.

If you notice any difficulties, clean and lubricate the brake levers and cables. You can use a small amount of oil, taking care not to touch the brake pads or rotors.

Some people use homemade recipes for cleaning brakes. These range from applying a glue and baking soda mixture or alcohol to the wheels to using sandpaper on the brake pads to remove glass. These may not seem like good ideas at first. In fact, these products can cause corrosion and weaken the mechanism.

You should also check the condition of the cables and casings. Replace any that are frayed or rusty.

Remember, proper wheel alignment is key to safe braking.

How do you adjust the BMX brakes?

When you buy a BMX bike you will probably have to assemble it. The manufacturer usually disassembles the handlebars and front wheel and packages them. Therefore, you will have to adjust the brakes before you can use it.

The procedure is simple. Just run the cables through and adjust them on the handlebar. Once the wheels are in place, you must make sure that the cables are properly tightened. We explain the process step by step below to clarify all your doubts:

  1. The first thing you’ll have to do is insert the cable into the brake lever. Before running it through the adjustment system, make sure that all the components of the system are correctly aligned. To do this, you will have to turn it over. Once the check is done, pass the cable through the system and secure it.
  2. Then run the cable through the rim of the frame. The tip of the cable should point towards the rear of the bike.
  3. The next step is to place the short cable over the brake arm. It should go around the downtube of the frame. Now take the long cable and run it through the screw hole that is mounted in the brake arm.
  4. With a 10 mm wrench, adjust the brake and mount the connector on the end of the long cable. Check that the cable and the screw are firmly connected. If necessary, correct the position of the brake pads. They should press on the rim edge.
  5. Cut the excess cable, attach the metal caps and close them with pliers.
  6. Finally, check that the brake shoes are placed on the wheel and do not stick out too far.

You can also see the video below on how to adjust the BMX brakes from Brant Moore:

Is it illegal not to have brakes on a BMX?

The General Vehicle Regulations, approved by Royal Decree 2822/1998, regulate all matters relating to road safety in Spain. Article 22 of this regulation refers specifically to cycles and bicycles.

In this sense, it is explicitly stated with regard to the obligation of these vehicles to have “[a]n adequate braking system acting on the front and rear wheels.”

However, this regulation concerns vehicle traffic and circulation. In other words, it relates to traffic on the public highway. For sports practice and competitions in enclosed spaces, bicycles could be exempted from compliance with this law.

is it illegal not to have breaks on a bmx

However, the recommendations of the BMX manufacturers should be taken into account. Some specify in their guarantee conditions that using the bike without brakes automatically cancels the contract. They argue that, in this case, a modification of the original legal status of the product has been made.

In any case, those who are just starting to ride BMX bikes should not remove the brakes under any circumstances. More than a question of legality, it is a matter of common sense and personal safety.

Does the BMX bike need front brakes?

As we have seen, all bikes must be equipped with a front and rear brake system. However, we already know that, in this sport, modifications and customizations are the order of the day.

Athletes are always looking for better control over the vehicle that allows them greater freedom of movement and speed.

does the bmx bike need front brakes

It is common for racing BMXs to have only one rear brake. Usually, this is a V-brake, as it is a light and powerful system. On the other hand, freestylers can do without brakes completely.

This allows more experienced riders to practice tricks such as the foot jam. This consists of slowing down the movement of the front wheel with one foot while moving the frame with the other.

For competitions, a brake system with a rotor or gyroscope is also used. This eliminates the cables that hinder the movement of the handlebars, allowing 360º turns.

What are the best BMX brakes?

There are many factors you should consider when choosing your BMX brakes. Even if you have already decided between V-brakes, U-brakes, or caliper brakes, there are still many questions to be answered.

For example, you will also have to think about your comfort and ergonomics. It may sound strange, but the shape of the brake lever affects the correct grip and control of the bike. Some models will only allow you to hold it with one finger which could cause some difficulty in pressing on the brake.

Another important aspect is the speed of braking. In this sense, the brake pads are responsible for generating the friction that stops the wheel. Both for safety and for control when you’re freestyling, you’ll want an immediate response. For this, you should choose a powerful BMX brake kit.

Clearly, the price factor cannot be ignored, especially when the range is so wide and variable. Consider, in any case, the durability of the materials and their response and not just the economic value. It is no secret that what is cheap is often expensive in the long run.

Ultimately, the purpose of your BMX bike will determine which is your best option. All the above elements will have more or less weight depending on what you are going to do with your BMX.

For example, if you’re going to use it primarily as a means of transportation, you need brakes that provide safety. You should opt for powerful and durable brakes and take into account the terrain and climate conditions in your region.

A good choice is the Odyssey Springfield U-brake kit. It is easy to install, even for beginners. This is a rear brake system that stands out for its lightness. It weighs only about 190 grams! This brake fits 18″ to 29″ tires very well.

On the other hand, if you want to do tricks, a gyro brake kit is ideal. These prevent cables from getting tangled and allow you to turn the handlebars 360°. The Odyssey G3 gyro is currently one of the most highly-rated products.

It is a robust mechanism with a good fit and proven durability. The cable is reinforced to ensure a longer life. It is also favorably priced, which is quite affordable by virtue of its quality. Whatever you choose, be sure to periodically check the mechanism, so that the BMX brakes work optimally.

Also, read these articles

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