There are two main types of brakes which are generally used on trikes: drum brakes and disc brakes. Both brake types will stop the trike well and have their advantages and disadvantages. Although the vast majority of trikes sold will have disc brakes, there are often options with select manufactures on which brakes are available. Determining which is right for you depends on you and how you intend to ride the trike.
Drum brakes are reliable, low maintenance and aerodynamic with very little of the brakes mechanism out in the wind as it is all encased in the hub shell. Drum brakes are available in two sizes, 70mm and 90mm.
70mm drum brakes are powerful enough for most users and are lighter than their 90mm counterpart. The brake pads are generally long lasting and can potentially go tens of thousands of miles between replacement. They generally require very little maintenance other than some cable adjustment as they slowly wear down.
90mm drum brakes are bigger and more powerful than their 70mm counterpart. The trade-off for this extra power is that the 90mm drums are significantly heavier than the 70mm version. 90mm drum brakes are recommended for heavier riders and for people looking to do a lot of touring with heavy camping loads.
The downside to Drum Brakes is that many people don’t feel they are great when the conditions are wet.
Disc brakes have more outright power than drum brakes and are lighter weight. The trade-off for this extra power and lower weight is more frequent maintenance and slightly worse aerodynamics. The pads will need to be replaced more often than the drum brake pads with potential life of 2-5 thousand miles being expected depending on riding conditions. We recommend disk brakes for riders who like to go fast and want a strong, solid braking platform. Disc brakes fall into two sub-categories: Mechanical Disc and Hydraulic Disc.
Mechanical Disc Brakes
Mechanical Disc brakes are engaged by cable actuation. As with all disc brakes, there is a specific caliper & disc utilized, but generally most v-brake style brake lever will work in this system The Sram BB7 mechanical disc brake is the industry standard for trike braking, they are simple, powerful, reliable and easy to set up and work on with only simple tools. In addition to brake pads, cables and housing generally wear out and are required to service or replace.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Hydraulic disc brakes gives a slightly different feel to it’s Mechanical Disc counterpart, typically giving a bit more feedback which many riders prefer. They are generally much more powerful than the Mechanical Disc and feel more solid. The main drawback of the hydraulic brakes is price and service. Generally most Hydraulic brakes are significantly more than Mechanical Discs. Most home mechanics don’t have the skill set to service the brakes sufficiently – bleeds can be finicky.