All wheeled vehicles have some braking system in place. Brakes are meant to bring a moving vehicle to a halt and are one of the most important features of any vehicle. There are two types of brakes used in two-wheelers - drum brakes and disc brakes.
Both the braking systems essentially workon the same principle of pressing friction material against a spinning drum/disc. While the drum brake is an older style of braking than the disc brake which is technologically more advanced, the former is still very relevant in India and is used mostly in mass selling vehicles.
A drum brake system has a wheel cylinder with pistons and a set of brake shoes inside a spinning drum. The pistons push the brake shoes against the side of the drum, which stops the rotation of the drum and brings the vehicle to a halt.
A disc brake system comprises a metal disc rotor and a caliper assemblywith brake pads connected to a master cylinder. When we pull the brake lever, brake fluid is pushed out towards the assembly and the hydraulic force puts pressure via the pads on the disc to stop the wheels.
Since both the systems involve creating friction to stop the vehicles thereby generating a lot of heat, it's important to effectively dissipate the heat. The disc brakes do a better job owing to their design - as they are exposed to air as opposed to drum brakes which are enclosed.
Heating up of the brakes can cause brake fade which is the reduction of the braking power, and in drum brakes take longer to recover. The disc brakes have vented/air-cooled discs that cool down faster. With faster recovery cycle their performance is also better.
Performance in wet conditions
During rains the performance of the drum brakes goes down as they cantrap water inside them, which too can cause brake fade. Disc brakes on the other hand, tend to keep water off the brake disc due to centrifugal force, and hence perform better than drum brakes in wet conditions.
Cleaning and Maintenance
While disc brakes are easier to clean than drum brakes, a disc brake assembly is more complex than drum brakes, and requires more efforts in maintenance and replacement of parts.
While disc brakes are more advanced technologically, it boils down to the total cost. Disc brakes are more expensive which reflects in the new bike purchase and aftermarket expenses. This is the prime reason many commuter motorcycle manufacturers use drum brakes.
Many cruisers offer the disc brakes on the front wheel while a drum brake on the rear while to bring the overall cost down.
No matter which braking system is there on your bike, both need proper service and timely maintenance. Even the most efficient parts wear out after a certain period and need replacement. And you can’t afford to risk riding with worn out brakes. After all, there’s no price you can put your life.
We at MK Auto understand the importance of friction technology and are one of the leading manufacturers of brake shoes and disc brake pads that match up to the OEMs in terms of quality and fitment.