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Disc Brakes and Drum Brakes – Basics

Disc Brakes and Drum Brakes – Basics

Which Brakes are better for Motor Cycles? Disc Brakes or Drum Brakes? As a matter of fact, the Disc Brakes are always better than the drum brakes as it can deliver excellent braking performance. Let us understand basics of both brake systems.

Drum Brakes

The Drum Brakes consist of a Brake Drum and Brake Shoe arrangement. A set of Brake Shoes or Pads press outward against a rotating cylinder-shaped drum when the brake pedal is engaged. It was initially used for both front and rear wheels of the Motor Cycle.
A metal Drum is attached to the wheel and the Drum Brake mechanism is attached to the axe of the wheel. There is an expanding cylinder of Twisting Lever that transfers the movement to two Metal Arches, having Brake Shoes attached to them.

Disc Brakes

In contrast to the Drum Brakes, Disc Breaks use a Disc and Pad arrangement. It is a significant shift from the Drum Brakes. The Discs are usually stainless steel, drilled, slotted or wavy to disperse rainwater and assist in cooling. Carbon Brakes are also used for far greater braking force compared to conventional steel disc. Calipers are used to squeeze a pair of Pads against the disc to create friction. This friction generates heat and thus cooling mechanism is required.
The Brake Calipers are a pair of metal plates bonded with the Brake Pads (acting as friction material) When the Brake Lever is pulled, the Brake Fluid creates pressure on Pistons in the Brake Caliper. This forces the Pads to move towards and press against the Disc, thus slowing down the Motor Cycle.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Drum Brakes are cheap to manufacture and can be easily integrated into the wheels of Bikes and Scooters but they are poor at heat management
  • Disc Brakes are costlier compared to Drum Brakes but have excellent heat management and due to this the performance do not degrade in all braking conditions
  • Drum Bakes create a lot of noise when water goes into the drum during rainy conditions
  • Disc Brakes are of self-cleaning type and also offer better stopping power during rainy conditions
  • Safety mechanisms like ABS can be incorporated into Disc Brakes

Let us now watch a video on the Disc Brakes to understand its working in a better way.

Video provided only for illustration – Credit: Lesics

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.

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