Mechanical Disc Brakes
With mechanical mountain bike disc brakes, a tensioned steel cable activates pistons that cause the brake pads to compress against the rotor when the brake lever is pulled.
- Easier to set up and maintain mechanically
- Less expensive than hydraulic disc brakes
- Can not modulate amount of brake force as easily as hydraulics
- Have to apply more pressure to brake than hydraulic brakes
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
With hydraulic mountain bike disc brakes, instead of a steel cable, hydraulic fluid pushes pistons inside the caliper, which compress the brake pads.
- More precise control and sensitivity, which is good for technical riding
- Don't have to use as much pressure to brake
- Have a crisper feel than mechanical brakes
- More complicated mechanically to set up and maintain
- Can not fix on the trail if they fail because of the special equipment that is needed