Have you ever wondered why most motorcycles don’t use mechanical brakes instead of hydraulic ones?

And what are the differences between hydraulic and mechanical brakes. anyway?

In this blog post, you’ll discover:

  • The differences between hydraulic vs. mechanical brakes
  • Pros and cons of each type

Hydraulic Brakes – How Do They Work?

The term “hydraulic” in “hydraulic brakes” means that the brake power is done through a fluid – specifically brake fluid.

The brake fluid is kept in a cylinder known as the “master cylinder,” which is connected to the brake caliper (which holds the brake pads or brake shoes) through a special rubber hose called the “brake hose.”

When applying the brake lever, the piston inside the master cylinder pushes the brake fluid to the caliper brake. 

brake fluid

Contrary to common belief, however, brake fluid is NOT compressed. It’s just used to transfer the brake force.  

For more information about how your brake system works, check out the blog post about it here on The Dual Wheel Journey:

Mechanical Brakes – How Do They Work?

Hydraulic brakes vs. mechanical brakes – pros and cons

Hydraulic brakes pros

The biggest perk is that a hydraulic brake system gives you more brake power – through less force. 

Considering that many motorcycles are capable of going 100 km/h or more, this is a strong advantage.

Hydraulic brakes cons

Since you have to buy the brake fluid separately, there’s an extra cost to the hydraulic brake system.

Furthermore, it requires extra maintenance. Since DOT 4 brake fluid (the most common brake fluid for motorcycles) absorbs water over time, it must be flushed and replaced every two years.

Mechanical brakes pros

Remember – a mechanical brake system has NO liquid.

Since a mechanical brake system relies on tensioning a metal cable rather than pushing fluid into a brake caliper, you don’t need to purchase anything else for it to work.

As long as the cable is intact, your brakes will work like they’re supposed to.

Mechanical brakes cons

Remember what I said earlier about how mechanical brakes aren’t standard on motorcycles?

That’s because a mechanical brake system requires more pressure to activate the brakes.

This isn’t so much of a problem on a bicycle – after all, you can only get up to about 10 km/h or 5 miles/hour at most.

But on a motorcycle capable of getting up to highway speeds, you’d have to squeeze the front brake hard – like INSANELY hard.