Best MTB Brakes [Review] in 2020

Last Updated on September 29, 2020

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Imagine speeding downhill on your mountain bike, cutting through wind and having a grand time when your brakes fail. Not the best sight to imagine right? This shows how important and crucial a good set of brakes can prove to be on a mountain bike. It can save you from many horrifying accidents.

Investing in brakes is a great move because, ultimately, you are investing in your safety. Enduro and downhill mountain bikes have heavier tyres with a more aggressive tread. This provides more traction which translates to more braking power. But that alone is not enough of course.

Today we look at some of the best options for brakes you can consider for your mountain bike.

We've spent the time so you don't have to:

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Products compared
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Best MTB Brakes

1.

SRAM level TLM

Top Choice Item

SRAM brings you their level TLM hydraulic disc brakes that look sleek and have a black and grey color way going for them. They look super high tech and complete your mountain bike like no other. The design is lightweight which is always appreciated to keep the weight low. The alloy lever blade, provided by DirectLink, delivers on both durability and, more important, power and modulation. The DOT 5.1 fluid and the two-piston monoblock caliper further improves performance when it comes to quick and easy stops. The brakes are also very easy to maintain so you can have the ultimate braking experience all day, every day. The time-port closure has durable seals and ultra-smooth cylinder which, along with the bleed port, seals the system to minimize contamination by air or fluid loss. Thereby enabling high braking power and consistency. Overall, this is a great braking system for the price.

Pros
  • Compact lever body by DirectLink
  • Alloy lever blade
  • Stainless hardware
  • Good braking power and consistency
Cons
  • Could use better branding

Latest deal: SRAM level TLM

2.

Hope tech 3 E4

Prime Picked Item

Hope tech brings you a rather shiny and more mechanical look when it comes to braking systems for your mountain bike. The brakes have a nice finish and also offer many color options like black, blue, yellow, purple and red. The bike incorporates a CNC machined T6 aluminium caliper to improve durability. This also enables a 5% increase in performance from the previous version of this brake. The disc brake system is on board that allows for quick and easy stops whenever required. The brakes are directly compatible with Shimano I-spec shifters. The E4 calipers use phenolic pistons that adds another layer of power atop the already quick and efficient braking system. The lever has an anodized finish which it makes weather resistant. You can wash the brakes without worrying about rust. Overall, a great experience.

Pros
  • Color options
  • CNC machined T6 aluminium calipers
  • Anodized finish
  • Phenolic pistons
Cons
  • No rotor included

Latest deal: Hope tech 3 E4

3.

Shimano saint M820 brakes

Best Value Item

Shimano is very well-known when it comes to bike accessories, especially in disc brakes for mountain bikes. And they bring you their saint M820 hydraulic disc brakes that look sleek and modern. The mechanical robotic vibe will be a definite hit among riders of all ages. The branding is cool, and the color way is also elegant. As for the lever and caliper, the brakes use Servo Wave mechanism and 4 ceramic pistons that provide tremendous braking power in the palm of your hands. The free stroke is adjustable which allows you to hit the sweet point you need it at, and the reach adjustment does not require tools so you can tune the brakes on the go. Ice-technologies are available as an added bonus to reduce brake fade in extreme braking situations. Overall, this is a great product for the price you pay.

Pros
  • Unique color way
  • 4 ceramic pistons
  • Free stroke adjustment
  • No tools required
Cons
  • No rotors included

Latest deal: Shimano saint M820 brakes

4.

Shimano zee M640

Shimano brings to the table, some of the sleekest looking modern designs when it comes to disc brakes for mountain bikes. And this time is no different with their zee M640 braking system. The angles go amazing with the all-black and dark grey color way that introduces a more low-profile understated vibe. As far as the lever is concerned, it is made out of forged alloy that adds durability and lightweight nature to the brakes. The brakes are hydraulic and compatible with I-Spec-B which enables amazing braking power and even distribution of impact. The 4 ceramic pistons further improve the efficiency of the brakes by providing 2 different diameter options. The brakes are fully adjustable and do not require tools. Overall, this is a good buy.

Pros
  • Low-profile look
  • Forged alloy lever
  • I-Spec-B compatible
  • 4 ceramic pistons
Cons
  • Adaptor not included

Latest deal: Shimano zee M640

5.

SRAM force CX1

In market for a dependable hydraulic disc brake solution for your mountain bike that looks sleek at the same time? You have come to the right place as SRAM brings you their force CX1. The brake levers look modern and give a rather minimal vibe. They will look perfect with your MTB setup. The lever blade material used is full carbon which is super strong and lightweight. Combine that with aluminium levers, and you have got yourself a durable braking system that will see you through a good amount of time. Phenolic pistons provide great braking power with the hydraulics and DOT 5.1 fluid used in the brakes. Braking with this mechanism is super easy and quick. You will absolutely love how they feel on the road. The stainless-steel hardware along with aluminium also make the brakes rust-free. Overall, this is a great product.

Pros
  • Carbon and aluminium build
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Weather resistant
  • 1 fluid phenolic piston
Cons
  • Could use more color options

Latest deal: SRAM force CX1

6.

Shimano XT M8000

Shimano, once again, brings a rather mechanical robotic approach to mountain bike disc brakes with their XT M8000. The brakes look sleek and modern with their all-black and metallic color way. They will compliment your bike in the best of ways possible. Forged alloy for the lever and the forged caliper provides some of the best durability and strength all while keeping it lightweight. The brakes are I-Spec-II compatible and the reach and free stroke are adjustable. The lightweight caliper design reduces rigidity as well, allowing more power to be produced and delivered easily in extreme braking situations. Brakes use mineral oil for smooth function and shim-less mounting system allows for a quick setup. Overall, this is a great product for the price.

Pros
  • Forged alloy lever and caliper
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Mineral oil
  • I-Spec-II compatible
Cons
  • Could use more color options

Latest deal: Shimano XT M8000

7.

Hope stealth race X2 evo

Hope brings you their stealth disc brake system which looks modern and elegant. The color way is all-black which gives it a very understated vibe. The branding is also super sleek and compliments the rest of the system perfectly. T6 aluminium is used for lever construction with titanium bolts that provide ultimate durability and strength. The brakes are fairly lightweight and feathery too. The wide-angle hose connector mount is there for your convenience and the piston has increased diameter for generating more usable braking force on the rotor. Lever is adjustable via allen wrench and can be modified the way you want. Overall, this is a good product.

Pros
  • Aluminium alloy construction
  • Wide angle hose connector mount
  • Wide diameter piston
  • Durable and lightweight
Cons
  • Expensive

Latest deal: Hope stealth race X2 evo

8.

Shimano altus BR-MT200

Shimano brings you an all-black color way when it comes to sleek mountain bike disc brakes with their altus. The brakes have minimal branding which appeals to a lot of minimalists and people who like it simple. The lever of the hydraulic discs is also well made for good durability and strength. The versatile design will match numerous bike styles and will go with almost any ride out there. The braking power is adjusted for entry level riders, making it easy for them. The rattling sounds are also minimized so you have a comfortable and peaceful riding experience. The lever reach is accessible for small hands and the installation is easy, quick and clean. These brakes were designed with convenience and comfort in mind and they deliver on it. This is a great option for you.

Pros
  • Sleek and modern design
  • Easy to install
  • 3-figer brake lever
  • Minimized rattling sound
Cons
  • Could use better build quality

Latest deal: Shimano altus BR-MT200

9.

Tektro draco disc brakes

Tektro brings you a unique green and black color way that compliment your bike in a great way. The funky design will be a hit among the youngster. The design language and angles also look sleek and modern on this brake system. The material used for build is aluminium which is durable and lightweight. Strength is not an issue at all, and the brakes are also rust-free. The open system dual piston produces a lot of power for braking, enabling you for quick and easy stops whenever needed. The fluid used is mineral oil that keeps everything running and functioning smooth. This brake is great for your fast paced off road antics and everyday adventure. This is a great product.

Pros
  • Aluminium build
  • Rust-free and durable
  • Open system dual piston
  • Mineral oil
Cons
  • Can use better build

Latest deal: Tektro draco disc brakes

Best MTB Brakes Buyers Guide

What to look for when buying MTB brakes:

Price: When you shop online for good mountain bike disc brakes, you will come across brakes that ask for a lot of money. Some companies ask for a lot and don’t provide as much for it. You should pay attention to what you are buying and check if the same features are available on a cheaper alternative. You will be surprised at what you find.

Quality: This is a very important aspect for mountain bike brakes. If the brakes don’t have good quality, they will break easily. You need your brakes to pull through in the toughest of times, because that is when you need them the most. You cannot afford them breaking in some extreme situations.

Material: The material is also a crucial factor of hydraulic brakes. Since they generate a lot of power for braking, they need to have a strong material to support it. Good materials include 6000 and 7000 series aluminium. Carbon is also good as it adds the lightweight aspect to the bike.

Summary

Today we looked at some of the best offerings in the braking department when it comes to mountain bikes. Manufacturers brought their A-game and kept quality persistent throughout. Some used great calipers and levers while others had wide pistons for more usable braking power. The oil used also played an important rule and hence, mineral and DOT 5.1 oils were seen as fluids in the brakes. Color options were also seen in some of the offerings.

Overall, the companies featured today did an amazing job at providing good quality brakes. No matter which one you go for, you will not be disappointed. Brakes are a vital part of every mountain bike and should not be compromised on whatsoever.

Alex Bristol

Content Manager at Pedallers

ABOUT

Alex is a cycling expert at Pedallers and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.

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