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With the advent of new technology, motorcycles are getting more powerful and faster. Gone are the days when people used to buy a bike to just commute from point A to B. Now, customers look for performance when buying a motorcycle. With the increase in power and speed, the brakes also needed an upgrade. So, disc brakes were invented.
Looking back at the history, the disc brakes were first developed in the mid-1950s for race cars. Later in 1962, two-wheelers manufacturers also started offering disc brakes. The Lambretta TV175 Series 3 Scooter was the first two-wheeler ever to be equipped with disc brakes.
In 1975, Honda CB750 Four became the first production motorcycle to use disc brakes on both the front and rear wheels.
In a country like India, riding a motorcycle is a huge challenge. Anything can happen on the road and you might need that stopping power to avoid any mishaps. So, brakes are the vital component of any vehicles and especially in bikes, it is even more important.
With the increase in power and speed of the modern motorcycles, the buyers are left with confusion between choosing the right set of brakes.
We explain to you why disc brakes are better than drum brakes in motorcycles.
The disc brake system consists of a rotor or disc fitted on the wheel and calliper with pads on either side. The system becomes complete with the fluid line which comes from the oil reservoir. The oil reservoir is connected to a pump which is the brake lever.
So, when you pull the brake lever, the oil is pushed towards the callipers and in turn; it applies pressure on the pads which creates friction with the disc to slow or stop the motorcycle. The bite of the callipers on the disc depends on the size of the pads or the area of contact of the pads with the disc.
To increase the bite of the disc brake, we need bigger pads or dual-discs. Now, that's why we see bigger motorcycles sporting either large discs or dual disc at the front wheel. The four-pot calliper is designed in such as way that it houses multiple pads angled to make contact with the disc. A single pad is called pot and two pads are called two pots and so on.
So, what are the advantages of a disc brake? We explain in the below points.
1. Stopping Power: The disc brake offers efficient stopping power compared to drum brake. We can also increase the bite of the brakes by adding bigger pads or multiple pads. Having dual disc is also an option to increase the braking power.
2. Heat Dissipation: As the disc brake is located outside the wheel, it cools down easily as compared to drum brake. The drum brake is located inside the wheel, so chances of brakes getting heated are very high.
3. No Wheel Damage: In a drum brake system, shoes are connected to a spring which causes friction with the wheel. So, the friction might result in overheating inside the wheel and it could damage the wheel gradually. But there is no such problem with the disc brakes.
4. Maintenance: During the maintenance of a disc brake, you only need to clean the disc and the pads with a sanding paper. But during a periodic maintenance of a drum brake, you need to remove the entire wheel.
5. Affordable Spares: Both the disc and the brake pads are not that expensive and it can be changed very calliper. But if something goes wrong with the drum brakes, there are chances of damage to the wheel. So a damaged wheel could be an expensive affair.
But even disc brakes come with its own set of disadvantages. Although only a few, we explain in the below points.
1. Wheel lockup: Disc brakes lock up very easily in the absence of ABS. Under a panic braking situation, you should be very careful with disc brakes as it will easily lock the wheel and result in a crash.
2. Price: The bikes equipped with disc brakes are expensive as compared to the drum brakes.
3. Brake failure: As the brake fluid pipe exposed, if the pipe is damaged, the disc brake will fail. Failure of brakes can be extremely dangerous and will result in an accident.
4. Brake Fluid Maintenance: If the bike is not used for a long time, chances are the brake fluid losing its viscosity. So, you need to maintain the brake fluid level and always check for its viscosity.
Most companies usually offer disc brakes at just the front-end on some of their smaller displacement offerings. This helps improves braking while also keeping the price of the motorcycle in check.
The disadvantages of disc brakes are negligible. Disc brakes are always better than drum brakes and can deliver excellent braking performance. The disc brakes might cost you a premium, but the kind of braking performance you get is worth the money. We recommend you to go for bikes with disc brakes and ABS as it will protect you during panic braking situations. What are your thoughts on disc brakes, do let us know in the comments section below.