Best MTB Brakes [Review] in 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol
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Are you looking for the best MTB brakes money can buy?
Well, you are;t the only one. We all dread speeding downhill on our mountain bikes, cutting through the wind, and having a grand time when our brakes suddenly fail.
It’s no surprise 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 tires with more aggressive treads. This provides more traction which translates to more braking power.
Now I know that finding the best mountain bike brakes can be a bit tedious and a challenge at times because there are so many factors to consider when finding the best fit for you.
But don’t worry because guess what?
I have researched 18 different MTB brakes looking at all the factors such as price, quality, and material. You can get going on your next adventure down the most exciting trails knowing that these brakes will keep you out of trouble, no matter the weather.
Every product we’ve selected below is of the highest quality and will ensure your safety while riding the trails. Check out our number 2 pick as it’s my personal favorite.
Enough on this, for now, let’s dive into the best MTB brakes.
We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:
Best MTB Brakes
Shimano Saint BR-M820 Disc Brake
Our top pick is the Shimano M820 which is the third generation of Saint.
Shimano’s advanced Saint ICE Technologies brake levers feature shorter more ergonomic levers that feature tool-free lever adjustment and adjustable free stroke for the ultimate in customization.
The new Saint has superior heat-management with self-insulating ceramic pistons and radiator fin extra wide pads. The overall operating temperature has been reduced by 50 degrees with 20% more stopping power, compared to the older version.
Now, you’re probably wondering why this is number one.
Well, once I saw the feedback for this one I just knew it had something special. this MTB brake has over 100 reviews and a 4.9-star rating with customers praising it for how “silent”, and “powerful” it is.
This is something of a hidden gem and definitely worth checking out. Click the link and have a scroll through the abundance of 5-star reviews if you’re still not sure about this one.
- Caliper arrives pre-bled
- Anti-slip dimpled lever blade
- Super stiff high power 3-layer brake hose
- 4 piston caliper
- Modulation could be slightly better
Latest deal: Shimano Saint BR-M820 Disc Brake
Hope tech 3 E4
If you’re looking to push the pace and tackle all terrains the Hope Tech 3 is top-notch for reliable stopping power. Incorporating a CNC machined T6 aluminum caliper making this brake both efficient and durable, perfect for the trails.
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 no matter what hits you on the trail.
But that’s not all.
The E4 calipers use phenolic pistons that add another layer of powder on top of the already quick and efficient braking system. The lever has an anodized finish which makes these brakes weather-resistant perfect for even the extreme conditions on the mountains.
You can even wash the brakes without worrying about rust so you can keep your bike spick and span care-free. They are also super easy to bleed, so you can get on the trails in no time.
Overall, a great experience while giving you a range of colors to choose from.
- Color options
- CNC machined T6 aluminium calipers
- Anodized finish
- Phenolic pistons
- No rotor included
Latest deal: Hope tech 3 E4
MAGURA MT8 PRO FLIP FLOP DISC BRAKE
Coming in hot at number 3 is a real winner.
The Magura MT8 is the “Feather” of the Magura performance hydraulic disc brake range. The race-tuned MT8 offers an unrivaled combination of braking power and stability while weighing in at a mere 225 grams, making it the lightest brake from Magura.
The two-finger alloy brake lever is ergonomically designed to reduce strain on the hands, allowing you to easily and accurately apply all the braking power you need on rough terrain and large descents. Plus, if something feels off, you can simply adjust the lever to match your personal reach.
Hold on though, that’s not even the best part.
The MT8’s 2-piston design generates confidence through its exceptional stopping power and steadiness in ruthless conditions. If you’re the kind of rider that counts grams to count medals, the MT8 earned its degree in lightweight performance.
Here are some comments about this one from customers. one said that this is made with “German quality engineering.” while another called it a “very good product and for a great price”.
Get it now while it’s still in stock!
- Toolless adjustment of lever reach
- 5-year leak-proof guarantee
- Compatible with MAGURA Storm and Storm SL discs
- Optimal heat resistance
- No color options
Latest deal: MAGURA MT8 PRO FLIP FLOP DISC BRAKE
SRAM G2 ULTIMATE DISC BRAKE A2
At number 4 we have the SRAM G2 ultimate disc brake and this one is really something special.
Going fast on the trails can be exciting, but nothing is more important than being able to stop quickly and under control. Luckily, with these hydraulic disc brakes, you’ll have the best stopping power for your mountain bike.
The SRAM G2 Ultimate Disc Brake is one of the lightest four-piston hydraulic disc brakes ever. It features more caliper stiffness and a new pad compound with bite and pivot bearings for a crisp lever feel and a fatigue-free ride. The G2 Ultimate also has a carbon lever and titanium hardware.
But what have others said about this one?
One customer found this one to be a satisfying “upgrade” for their bike while another was extremely pleased calling it “awesome and the best”.
Give this one a try, you won’t regret it.
- More caliper stiffness
- Pivot bearings
- 4-piston caliper
- Slightly pricer
Latest deal: SRAM G2 ULTIMATE DISC BRAKE A2
TREK Bontrager Speed Stop Integrated Brake
Now if you’re looking for a brake that is well known for its adjustability while being super lightweight. The Bontrager Speed is both front and rear compatible.
It is also compatible with Shimano SRAM, and Campagnolo systems meaning you can use it on a range of bikes making it an excellent choice for all conditions.
There’s Tunable stopping power to dial in the perfect lever feel so you’ll be stopping super quick especially on the most uneven surfaces meaning there’s litt;e risk while riding and you can feel confident pushing your mountain bike to those top speeds.
This one is incredibly popular and well worth the price so go check it out!
- Rear and front compatible
- An excellent choice for all conditions
- Can be used on a range of bikes
- Could use more color options
Latest deal: Bontrager Speed Stop Integrated Brake
MAGURA MT4 ESTOP DISC BRAKE
Last but not least we have the Magura MT4 Estop disc brake.
The Magura MT4 eSTOP Disc Brake is Magura’s take on an E-mountain bike brake system that features upgraded pads and is designed for use with Magura’s new E-bike rotors.
These brakes are optimized to be used with Magura’s new MDR-C or MDR-P rotors. This allows for increased braking power that is able to hold up to the rigors of modern E-mountain bike riding.
By now you know that’s not all though.
A two-finger aluminum braking lever is comfortable, durable, and features a reach adjust for a customized feel. Magura used their super-lightweight, Carbotecture housing, which uses impact-resistant carbon fiber layup for a stiff, strong, and lightweight brake that weighs in at just 230 grams.
The Magura MT4 eSTOP Brake can also be mounted on the left or right side and can be used as a front or rear brake.
This one really is a no-brainer so get it now!
- Carbotecture® housing
- Two-finger aluminum lever with reach adjust
- Two-piston caliper
- SPORT brake pads optimized for E-bike use
- Lack of color options
Latest deal: MAGURA MT4 ESTOP DISC BRAKE
Best MTB Brakes Buyers Guide
We can all agree when I say that brakes are the most important safety component on our bike, they prevent things from getting messy on both the trails and the roads.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to use brakes as often as we do, we’ll rail the corner perfectly and defeat every descent like a pro, but brakes are not only the key safety feature but our comfort blanket while riding in case you find yourself way out of your comfort zone.
Luckily with mountain bike disc brakes, they are built to challenge the roughest and even iciest of surfaces, getting a grip of the ground quickly so you can get back into your comfort zone quicker, especially after our favourite adrenaline rush on the hills.
If and when you decide to pull the brakes, MTB brakes prevent you from skidding or going over the handlebars- it happened to all of us at one point early on in our riding experience.
With more bike control I feel that it gives me more power at my fingertips, finding the right MTB brake has definitely improved my confidence as a rider and it will with you too after reading this 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 of 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 aluminum. Carbon is also good as it adds a lightweight aspect to the bike.
Adjustability: Adjustability is one of my number things to look for when buying my bike brakes, simply because it helps reduce hand fatigue after a long day down the trails. With sharp twists and turns, bumps, climbs and descents our hands go through a lot on the trails. Finding brakes with easy adjustability that I can quickly change on the trail has completely transformed my experience as a rider.
Rotor size: Rotors that are bigger may be slightly heavier but have a larger area to cool down on sustained descents, keeping them working optimally and is something to definitely be considered when buying your MTB brakes.
Pad removal: Brake pads that can be removed make your job much easier when cleaning, it’ll save the hassle of removing your wheel, despite not having to do this often it makes life a lot easier when you do.
Brake fluid: MTB brakes often use either mineral oil or DOT fluid to work their pistons, DOT fluids deal with water absorption better than mineral oil but you will have to be more careful with applying and handling as it can damage the paintwork on your bike.
Bleeding system: I know this is a tedious task to do but finding brakes that can be easily bled is so important. It helps tackle those pesky bubbles after a fun-packed day down the trail. Brake bleeding is the procedure performed on hydraulic brake systems whereby the brake lines are cleansed of any air bubbles so you can excel in your ride for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need 4 piston brakes MTB?
The only time you don’t need 4 piston brakes is if you live in an area with mostly XC riding. 4 piston brakes will be slightly heavier than 2 piston brakes, so if you live in a flat area and mainly ride cross country and don’t require the added stopping power, then a 2 piston brake is probably better for you.
Do you need to bed in MTB brakes?
New pads lacking power are completely normal. You just need to bed them in. A bed-in process is required in any metallic brake system, including the brakes on a car, and your disc-brake gravel or road bike is no exception.
Why are mountain bike parts expensive?
Most mountain bikes are made with high-quality materials and a lot of care goes into their creation hence the high asking price. The parts included also follow this trend so replacing them and maintaining your bike can be just as pricey as buying a new bike entirely. However, more affordable options exist. If you’re looking for a budget bike with quality parts then check out our guide on the best mountain bikes under $500.
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 role 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.
Choose the best mountain bike brake that’s the best fit for you, stay safe out there, and happy cycling!
Content Manager at Pedallers
Alex is a cycling expert at 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.