Best Mountain Bike Brakes

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Shimano Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - BR-T4000
Test Winner: Shimano Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - BR-T4000
Amazon Link
There is a specific pain that comes from constantly squeezing onto tired, old mountain bike brakes. Your hands are sweaty, the muscles on the inside of your palms feel like they’re on the verge of cramping up, and your fingers feel as if they may snap off and blow away. If this is you, it may be time to invest in some new brakes.

Many of the products on the market are for specific replacement parts, such as cables, brake pads, and calipers, and levers. Take into consideration exactly what you want when you are replacing your bike’s brakes. Do you need to buy a whole new set? Or just replace the hand levers? Perhaps you want to bust out your toolbox and upgrade your brakes completely. Or maybe, you want to switch from classic V-brakes to try out the much superior (and more expensive) disc brakes.

Standout Picks

Shimano XT BL-M8000 Disc Brake
When shopping for new brakes for your mountain bike, one name that stands out from all of the other brands out there is Shimano. Shimano is the brand that leading mountain manufacturers put standard on their bikes because they know that these brakes are made from quality materials. The XL BL-M8000 is one of the best brakes that you can currently install on your beloved mountain bike.
Amazon Link
Shimano Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - BR-T4000
Once again, Shimano lands after one of the tops slots on this list. Shimano makes some of the best V-Brakes out there on the market, and they are offered at a more affordable price than disc brakes. If you were looking for a set of brakes that was more affordable, yet still as effective as disc brakes and carried the Shimano name, this product hits all of those marks.
Amazon Link
$24.57
Shimano Deore Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - T610
Shimano dominates this list, yet again, with the Deore V-Brake system. The Deore is a little bit more expensive than the BR-T4000, but it in no way is as expensive as a set of Shimano disc brakes. This model is extremely sharp looking and is a cinch to install on most mountain bikes.
Amazon Link
CYSKY V-Brake
If you are looking to upgrade the existing V-brakes on your mountain bike, the CYSKY V-Brakes comes at an excellent price. They are easy to install, work like a dream, and come with both the front and the rear brakes. Keep in mind, however, that this set is only the components for above the wheels and works off of existing brake handles that come with your mountain bike.
Amazon Link
$15.69
Ztto V-Brake
The Ztto V-Brake set is a perfect solution for cyclists that are looking to upgrade their bike brakes, but they don’t want to spend the extra cost of some of the more known brands and don’t want to invest the money for disc brakes. These are a great choice for mountain bikers, because they are able to bring you to a stop without putting much strain on your hands.
Amazon Link
Hope Race Evo X2
With one reviewer referring to these brakes as "sexy," you'll definitely want to check them out. This set from Hope is lightweight, has durable materials, and is reliable.
Amazon Link
SRAM Guide RSC
This set of disc breaks brings you the confidence to bomb those hills without a jerking brake reaction. The lever is Matchmaker compatible and easy to install. These are perfect for many terrains and a great alternative to the big-name brands.
I-Mart Hand Brake Lever
If your current handles to your mountain bike brakes are worn and weathered, or you just don’t like the ones that came standard, these I-Mart hand brake levers will make a stylish and sturdy addition to your bike. They are easy to install to your existing hardware, and are simple to use.
Amazon Link
BicycleStore Hand Brake
If you are looking to get your hands on some new brake levers that affix to preexisting mounted brakes, these are an excellent choice. Not only are they easy to install, but they also bring a little bit of style to the handlebars of your mountain bike.
Amazon Link
$11.99
VGEBY Brake Lever
For bikers that are looking to add a little bit of color to their bikes without spending a lot of money, these bike levers from VGEBY are an excellent choice that are offered at a good price. They come in various colors, are easy to install and work off of existing brakes.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Materials

For brakes to work properly and stand up to whatever you throw at it out there on the trails, it is important that they are made out of quality material. You may be surprised to know that some companies construct their components out of plastics and PVC materials that may crack under the pressure of a wipe-out. The best products in this particular area are generally made out of aluminum alloy, because they are incredibly strong, but still lightweight, so that it won’t add any unnecessary weight to your bike.

Effectiveness

It goes without saying that this was the most important thing we looked at when selecting brakes. Sure, it’s great for them to look good and be made from quality materials, but if they don’t make you slow down and stop, they are virtually useless. When selecting the best of the best, we took the time to sort through all of the things that people were saying about each product. Something that makes a set really stand out is not only how well these products can make you stop, but how easy they are to use. One of the best features we came across was the ability to stop with just one finger – a feature prevalent in Shimano products. The one-finger stop makes it so that you can keep control of your bike without taking your hand completely off of your rubber grips. The less force from your hands that is needed to regain control of your bike on descents makes for a far more pleasant ride.

Style

It may seem a little vain, but you probably spent a lot of time and money carefully selecting a mountain bike that was powerful and also reflected your personal style, so the last thing that you probably want to do is add new brakes that look bulky and sloppy. We took that into consideration when sorting through all of the different makes and models of brakes. We selected products that stop on a dime, but that also look great.

Top 10 Picks

1. Shimano XT BL-M8000 Disc Brake

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Shimano XT BL-M8000 Disc Brake
Amazon Link

When shopping for new brakes for your mountain bike, one name that stands out from all of the other brands out there is Shimano. Shimano is the brand that leading mountain manufacturers put standard on their bikes because they know that these brakes are made from quality materials. The XL BL-M8000 is one of the best brakes that you can currently install on your beloved mountain bike.

Read more

Material
The brakes and the disc is made from sturdy aluminum, so that it doesn’t add any unnecessary weight to your bike, and it is incredibly durable. You don’t have to worry about anything breaking if you happen to wipe-out. The tool-less features allow you to hop off of your bike and make adjustments to the disc without the need for any tools.

Effectiveness
This is where this these brakes really shine. Have you ever noticed when you are trying to control your bike on a steep downhill decline that the power behind your brakes tends to ‘fade’? This is typically due to the heat that builds, and it eventually reduces friction. Shimano’s radiator pads are designed with integrated fins to help reduce displaced tension to keep you in complete control the entire trip down the mountain. The braking system is also so incredibly easy to use that you can pull yourself to a complete stop using only one finger.

Style
The design of these brakes will transform your mountain bike into a rocket ship. They are made from a mix of matte and shiny black metal and alloy and have a small enough design that they don’t appear to be too big or bulky when mounted next to your hand grips on your handlebars. The disc that affixes to your tire is thin and sports a slick design that looks like it is just another part of your wheel.

Summary
If you are looking to upgrade your mountain bike brakes to something that can perform under the harshest trails, you can never go wrong with a Shimano product. You might have a pay a little bit more than you would other brands, but it is definitely worth the added cost in the long run.

Amazon Link

2. Shimano Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - BR-T4000

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$24.57
Shimano Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - BR-T4000
Amazon Link

Once again, Shimano lands after one of the tops slots on this list. Shimano makes some of the best V-Brakes out there on the market, and they are offered at a more affordable price than disc brakes. If you were looking for a set of brakes that was more affordable, yet still as effective as disc brakes and carried the Shimano name, this product hits all of those marks.

Read more

Materials
Just like any Shimano product, these brakes are made from quality aluminum and alloy metal that allow you to stop on a dime without adding any unnecessary weight to your bike. All of the tools that you will need are included in the purchase of these brakes, including the brake pads, and these brakes are incredibly easy to install.

Effectiveness
You might be a little bit reluctant to purchase a set of V-brakes, because they are significantly cheaper than disc brakes, and many cyclists claim that they don’t have the same stopping power as disc brakes. While that might be true to a certain extent, Shimano designed these brakes to be incredibly powerful and almost as tough as disc brakes, because everything from the brake pads to the calipers is made from high-quality materials. Stopping with these brakes is also incredibly easy and can be controlled with just one finger. Less tension required from your hands to come to a stop and regain more control over your bike means that your hands won’t become tired as quickly and won’t cramp up the way they might with weaker brakes.

Style
Just like any Shimano product, these brakes look incredibly sharp atop the handlebars to your mountain bike. They are composed of a mix of both matte and shiny medals, and they sit next to your rubber grips without sticking out too much, which makes them far easier to use.

Summary
If you really wanted to upgrade your brakes to Shimano, but didn’t want to spend the extra money that you would require from Shimano’s disc brakes, these are an excellent option that is incredibly easy to install as well.

Amazon Link
$24.57

3. Shimano Deore Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - T610

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Shimano Deore Mountain Bicycle V-Brake - T610
Amazon Link

Shimano dominates this list, yet again, with the Deore V-Brake system. The Deore is a little bit more expensive than the BR-T4000, but it in no way is as expensive as a set of Shimano disc brakes. This model is extremely sharp looking and is a cinch to install on most mountain bikes.

Read more

Material
As with any Shimano product, the break high-quality from high quality aluminum, so that it won’t add any extra weight to your bike. The purchase of this set only is available in the front set or rear set, so that if you wanted to get brakes for your front and rear wheels, you would have to make two separate purchases.

Effectiveness
Not only do these brakes look incredibly sharp, but they also perform like a dream. Often, when you are running a trail with tired brakes, your hands feel like they are doing all of the work for you instead of the brakes. Tired and cramped hands make for one miserable ride. These brakes, however, can be controlled with just one finger. And this eliminates tired and cramped hands, so that you can be out there longer. Fitted properly, these brakes will allow you to stop on a dime without so much as breaking a sweat.

Style
These brakes look like they were designed to be the brakes of a space shuttle. They are available in two very sharp colors, black, and silver. They are slightly smaller than the other two Shimano products on this list, and they look like they were built specifically for your handlebars. Both the black and the silver colors options are covered in a matte finish, so they won’t show every fingerprint and smudge.

Summary
If you are in the market for a new set of brakes, you simply cannot go wrong with Shimano. These V-brakes are not only incredibly affordable, but they are effective and look incredibly sharp. The only reason that they did not land a higher spot on the list is because some of the past users have come across some issues with the installation process.

Amazon Link

4. CYSKY V-Brake

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$15.69
CYSKY V-Brake
Amazon Link

If you are looking to upgrade the existing V-brakes on your mountain bike, the CYSKY V-Brakes comes at an excellent price. They are easy to install, work like a dream, and come with both the front and the rear brakes. Keep in mind, however, that this set is only the components for above the wheels and works off of existing brake handles that come with your mountain bike.

Read more

Material
What’s great about these brakes is not only that they are incredibly affordable, but they are also made from high-quality materials. The mounting frame is composed of an aluminum alloy that is both durable and lightweight, so you don’t have to worry as much about the status of your brakes if you ever suffer a minor crash.

Effectiveness
If you are taking the time to upgrade the brakes on your mountain bike, the more important thing to look for is how well they perform. And these brakes can stop on a dime. What makes these brakes a little different is that the brake pads fit incredibly snug against your wheel, which is exactly what you want in a V-brake. The closer the pads sit on the wheel means the less force you will need to create friction between the pad and the brake. Less room means that you will be able to control the speed of your bike on the decline with the simple pull of one finger.

Style
The design of these brakes are simple and are meant to blend in seamlessly to your bike. They don’t stick out and are completely black, including the mount and brake pads. If you are looking for a simple upgrade to your existing brakes, this is a wonderful (and affordable) solution.

Summary
For cyclists that are looking to upgrade their existing V-brakes on their mountain bike, and don’t want to spend the extra cash on some of the more recognized companies, this is an excellent choice that will save you a little bit of money.

Amazon Link
$15.69

5. Ztto V-Brake

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Ztto V-Brake
Amazon Link

The Ztto V-Brake set is a perfect solution for cyclists that are looking to upgrade their bike brakes, but they don’t want to spend the extra cost of some of the more known brands and don’t want to invest the money for disc brakes. These are a great choice for mountain bikers, because they are able to bring you to a stop without putting much strain on your hands.

Read more

Material
Like any quality set of brakes, the Ztto V-brake is composed of alloy metal to ensure that they are able to take a blow if you happen to suffer a wipe-out on the trails. All the screws and bolts that are included are thick and made from alloy metals as well (some companies use plastic screws that aren’t as durable).

Effectiveness
Just like any good set of mountain bike brakes, these were designed to be able to stop quickly and efficiently and allow the driver to control the speed of their bike on steep downhill descents. The purchase of one set of these comes with units that work for both front and rear tires, making them an excellent deal at their price point. It is important to note, however, that they do not come with cables. You are either going to have to use existing cables that you already have, or buy new ones.

Style
The design of these brakes are sleek and sharp and don’t sit very high up above the wheels of the bike. They are offered in a matte black color with black brake pads and silver accents. They are designed to be used on both mountain bikes and folding bikes. If you want a new set of brakes that is really going to look great on your mountain bike, these are an excellent choice.

Summary
If you are a cyclist looking to make some upgrades to your mountain bike but are unwilling to pay the higher price tag as some of the other brakes out there on the market, the Ztto V-brake set is an excellent solution to keep you safe out there on the trails thing summer.

Amazon Link

6. Hope Race Evo X2

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Hope Race Evo X2
Amazon Link

With one reviewer referring to these brakes as "sexy," you'll definitely want to check them out. This set from Hope is lightweight, has durable materials, and is reliable.

Read more

Materials
These brakes feature titanium/aluminum hardware, an alloy lever, and a polyester enforced line. The disc and rotors are not included with this set.

Effectiveness
The 2-piston caliper provides great stopping power. The lever is easily accessed and adjusted with an allen key. Also, the main cylinder reservoir is also easy to reach, making the lines easy to bleed.

Style
These brakes have futuristic qualities about them. The design and intricacies are well thought out and deliver. You won’t need to worry about adding any bulk or excess weight to your bike. They are only available in black, which is pretty standard, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Summary
With the final assembly, not including the disc, these brakes weigh in at .54-pounds! These are one of the lightest and most powerful on our list. If you are looking for something new and versatile, these may be the perfect fit for you.

Amazon Link

7. SRAM Guide RSC

Where to buy
SRAM Guide RSC
Amazon Link

This set of disc breaks brings you the confidence to bomb those hills without a jerking brake reaction. The lever is Matchmaker compatible and easy to install. These are perfect for many terrains and a great alternative to the big-name brands.

Read more

Materials
This set comes with a strong aluminum lever along with a 4-piston caliper with dual diameters of 14mm and 16mm. The lever can be adjusted without tools and the mounts are ambidextrous. These brakes come ready to install, but some have noticed that the hose is slightly long and recommend bringing it to your local bike shop to have it cut. The design makes bleeding the lines a breeze. Rotors are not included.

Effectiveness
These SRAM brakes are really making a name for themselves. Often compared to Shimano brakes, these brakes are smoother. They won’t jolt you and bring you to a dead stop. They are smooth and responsive while still giving the confidence to go down a steep hill. One customer said that he also likes to use these brakes with his cross-country bike because of the 4-piston caliber stopping power.

Style
With no glaring brand names or unattractive features, these brakes look very sleek. They are available in black or silver and 2 positions, front/left or rear/right.

Summary
If you’re looking for something a bit less mainstream but with a great reputation, these are a great buy. They are a great value and very durable. Just don’t forget to rotors and the possibility or shortening the hose.

8. I-Mart Hand Brake Lever

Where to buy
Amazon Link
I-Mart Hand Brake Lever
Amazon Link

If your current handles to your mountain bike brakes are worn and weathered, or you just don’t like the ones that came standard, these I-Mart hand brake levers will make a stylish and sturdy addition to your bike. They are easy to install to your existing hardware, and are simple to use.

Read more

Material
Just like any great handle lever, this product is made from a high-quality aluminum alloy, meaning that it is tough and durable, but it won't add any unnecessary weight to your handlebars.

Effectiveness
This lever hooks right up to the cables of an existing set of calipers, and hooks onto the handlebars right next to your rubber grips. It is able to affix to any type of handlebars that have a diameter of approximately 22 mm. These levers are incredibly easy to install and only require three fingers in order to come to a stop.

Style
The design of these brakes is one of the best features about them. Instead of coming in classic black or silver, they are coated with a shiny white finish with black accents. They are sure to add a little extra style to your mountain bike.

Summary
The best feature about these hand levers is the incredibly affordable price. One pair of these will set you back about the same amount of money that you probably spent this morning on a coffee and pastry. They are incredibly easy to install and really add a little bit of style to your mountain bike.

Amazon Link

9. BicycleStore Hand Brake

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$11.99
BicycleStore Hand Brake
Amazon Link

If you are looking to get your hands on some new brake levers that affix to preexisting mounted brakes, these are an excellent choice. Not only are they easy to install, but they also bring a little bit of style to the handlebars of your mountain bike.

Read more

Material
Like any good product, these levers are made out of a high-quality aluminum alloy, so that if you happen to take a bit of a tumble, your brakes should be able to withstand the fall.

Effectiveness
Installation is easy. Simply hook up these levers to the existing cables from your mounted brakes. The lever of this particular model sticks out a bit more than some of the others, so you will have to reach your hand just a little bit farther. The good news is that it only requires the use of three fingers to pull the lever down so that you won’t suffer from tired fingers and hands when you get to where you are going.

Style
The design of these is a solid and matte black that has silver accents for the hardware. They are easily affixed to your bike and sit just below the rubber grips on your handlebars. They are also available in a midnight blue shade with black accents or silver with black accents.

Summary
If you are looking to upgrade the hand levers for your mountain bike, and you don’t really want to spend a whole lot of money, these are an excellent choice. The cost of these will set you back about the same amount that you spent on breakfast this morning.

Amazon Link
$11.99

10. VGEBY Brake Lever

Where to buy
Amazon Link
VGEBY Brake Lever
Amazon Link

For bikers that are looking to add a little bit of color to their bikes without spending a lot of money, these bike levers from VGEBY are an excellent choice that are offered at a good price. They come in various colors, are easy to install and work off of existing brakes.

Read more

Material
These are made from incredibly durable aluminum alloy. This type of material is perfect because it won’t weight the handlebars of your bike down, but it also is durable enough to withstand a wipe-out.

Effectiveness
The lever sits a little higher than some of the others, so you will have to reach your hands a little bit further up in order to stop. They are designed to be perfect for mountain bikes and folding bikes and are incredibly easy to install.

Style
The design of these brake levers is what sets them apart from some of the other out there on the market. They are available in four different colors: black, metallic red, metallic royal blue, and silver. Each color has black accents and silver hardware, making them look incredibly sharp when mounted on your handlebars.

Summary
If you want to add a little bit of color to your bike, and didn’t want to spend a lot of money, these are an excellent choice.

Amazon Link

Sources