We've tried and tested the very best mountain bike disc brakes, covering budget, trail, e-bike and four-piston options. Don't start stopping until you've read this.

Power is nothing without control and the best mountain bike disc brakes offer both. The power you need to control your speed, and brake with one finger to reduce fatigue and allow better control and handling. We’ve extensively tested the latest hydraulic disc brakes on the market head-to-head, and only the best of the best make it to this guide.

Shimano Deore M6100 hydraulic disc brake photo

Shimano has nailed the price and performance balance with the Deore brake.

1. Shimano Deore M6100

Best value disc brake

Weight: brake 291g, rotor 199g | Rotors: 160, 180, 203 and 220mm | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Impressive power and modulation
  • Reliable
  • Great value for money

Reasons to avoid:

  • Levers can rattle slightly
  • Fiddly set up

Shimano’s Deore brake punches well above its weight, with a bargain price, buckets of power, and a premium feel. There’s a two-piston caliper that beautifully balances weight with power, and a stubby, one-finger lever that feels nice to pull with a light action and good modulation. 

Although the brake comes stock with organic pads, you can upgrade these to metal sintered for better wear life and stopping power in the wet. The build quality and finish is excellent, and Deore brakes just seem to go on working perfectly with minimal maintenance. A great product at a brilliant price.

Read our full test review of the Shimano Deore M6100

Hope Tech 3 V4 disc brake

The Hope Tech 3 V4 caliper is a work of machine art.

2. Hope Tech 3 V4

Best disc brakes for adjustability

Weight: brake 265g, rotor 173g | Rotors: 160, 180, 183, 200, 203, 220, 225mm | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Adjustable and indexed reach
  • Easy set up
  • Lightweight
  • Powerful

Reasons to avoid:

  • Stiff reach adjustment
  • Too much lever stroke before engagement

This is Hope’s downhill brake with a Tech 3 lever mated to a V4 caliper, but it’s light enough to run on a trail or enduro bike as well as an e-bike. Made in the UK, one of Hope’s main advantages is that everything can be mixed-and-matched, with comprehensive spares back up. Oh, and with loads of colours available, you can ensure your brakes match your bike perfectly.

Hope’s redesigned brake lever has reach and bite point adjustment via two machined dials, so you can really tune the lever feel to your preference. While the big four-piston caliper provides loads of stopping power and the light lever action lets you modulate that power with perfect control. Overall, this is a lightweight, powerful, user-friendly disc brake, that’s also great value for money.

Read the full Hope Tech 3 V4 disc brake review

Hope Tech 4/E4 brakes

Hope Tech 4/E4 brakes are impressive in many ways

3. Hope Tech 4 E4

Best brakes for colour matching and servicing

Weight: 290g (lever/caliper/hose), floating rotors 178g | Rotors: 160, 180, 183, 200, 203, 220, 225mm | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Excellent modulation and power
  • Light lever action
  • Hinged lever clamp is easy to use
  • Multiple colour options

Reasons to avoid:

  • Lever shape has crisp edges that can feel uncomfortable
  • New pads didn’t last as long as expected

This all-new Tech 4 is something of a radical departure for Hope, and alongside smaller improvements inside the caliper, represents a totally new brake. The biggest visible change is that the updated lever is considerably longer, bringing a claimed 30% pressure increase compared with the Tech 3. There’s also a new hinged clamp to save weight and integrate better with shifters and dropper remotes.

It’s easy to set up thanks to the tool-free bite point and reach adjustments, and the stopping power is impressive. There’s a broad power band that builds up before really locking the wheel, and it’s easy to control at the lever. Easily Hope’s best brake yet.

Read the full Hope Tech 4 E4 disc brake review

best mountain bike disc brakes

Clarks Clout1 is the best wallet-friendly option

4. Clarks Clout1

Best disc brake under £50

Weight: brake 307g, rotor 190g | Rotor size: 160 and 180mm | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Unrivalled budget brake
  • Reasonably powerful
  • Easy to set up and bleed

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not the nicest lever feel or modulation

At £29 the Clout1 is just jaw-droppingly cheap, and although it feels a little wooden and has limited rotor options, it’s the perfect brake if you’re looking to upgrade from a mechanical disc or put together a budget frame build. Performance-wise the Clout1 is a good brake for the money, with surprisingly good power.

So just where exactly has Clarks cut corners? Well, the clamp is single bolt so you have to remove your grips (and dropper remote) to slide the brake off the bar. And the reservoir design is simple and side-specific, so you can’t flip it over to use on the left/right without unplugging the hoses and rebleeding. There’s no bite point adjust (often the case on non-megabucks brakes) and the lever blade isn’t the most ergonomically sophisticated, but the Clout1 scores where it counts: power, reliability and consistency.

Read our full test review of the Clarks Clout1

Hayes Dominion A4

Hayes Dominion A4

5. Hayes Dominion A4

Best brakes for easy adjustment and set-up

Weight: brake 306g, rotor 188g | Rotor size: 180 and 203mm | Rating: 9/10


  • Great value and quality
  • Dialled reach adjustment
  • Comfortable
  • Fine-tuneability


  • No bite point adjustment

To simplify setting up the caliper drag-free, Hayes has created the clever Crosshair centring system, and it’s standard on the Dominion brake. Basically it lets you tweak the angle of the caliper relative to the disc and lock it in place. There’s also loads of pad clearance to the rotor, so there are no excuses for rubbing brakes with the Dominion.

Hayes has also achieved a light lever action with no slop, thanks to a cartridge pivot bearing, and there’s loads of power and natural modulation. The main complaint is the weight, but overall it’s a really good brake that’s easy to live with.

Read our full test review of Hayes Dominion A4

Best e-bike disc brakes

These brakes aren’t just for electric mountain bikes – if you like a really powerful brake, prefer steeper terrain where stronger braking power is required, or are a heavier rider, you’ll feel the benefit these more powerful brakes offer.

The SRAM Guide RE is a great option for e-bikes.

1. SRAM Guide RE

Best e-bike disc brake

Weight:  brake 286g, rotor 195g | Rotors: 140, 160, 180, 203mm | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Performance
  • Serviceability
  • Reliability

Reasons to avoid:

  • Caliper is hard to align and stay aligned

Something of a Franken-brake, the Guide RE is a lower end Guide lever (no bearing or bite point adjustment), allied to a beefy Code four-piston caliper for stiffer, stronger stopping power. The lever shape is comfortable, there’s a nice light action, and plenty of power. It does need a bit of looking after to stop it feeling loose and sloppy, but the value is good and it excels where power is a priority.

Read our full test review of the SRAM Guide RE

TRP G-Spec E-MTB brake

TRP G-Spec E-MTB brake with optional two-piece rotor.

2. TRP G-Spec E-MTB brake

Best e-bike disc brake for rotor choice

Weight: brake 306g, rotor 204g | Rotor size: 160, 180, 203, 223mm | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Large rotor for increased power and better heat dissipation
  • Easy to operate
  • Well made
  • Cheap replacement pads

Reasons to avoid:

  • Feels a little wooden and less refined that competitors
  • Needs to be assembled and bled before use

TRP’s G-Spec E-MTB disc brake is specifically designed for e-bike use, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work on a regular analogue bike. The G-Spec has a wide lever blade that’s covered in dimples for extra traction, and it’s definitely comfortable. At the caliper end, the forged unit gets top-loading sintered metal pads and a chunky build. Power is good, but the action is a bit wooden. You can also amp up the performance with a massive 220mm rotor. This is also thicker, so it dissipates heat more effectively as well.

Read the full TRP G-Spec E-MTB disc brake review

Magura MT5 eStop disc brake

Magura’s MT5 eStop disc brake does not skimp on power.

3. Magura MT5 eStop brake

Best e-bike brake for power and control

Weight: brake 247g, rotor 182g | Rotor size: 160, 180, 203, 220mm | Rating: 8/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Solid lever feel
  • Good value

Reasons to avoid:

  • Fragile construction
  • Long bedding in process

Really Magura’s MT5 eStop is just the MT5 with new rotors, but don’t let that make you think it’s nothing special. As with most Magura brakes, it’s really powerful, with impressive modulation and a super-light lever action. The lever does sweep in towards the grip more than typical designs due to the radial piston layout, but as long as you don’t run your levers close to the grip, it’s not a problem. Paired with a big 220mm rotor, this is a serious brake for gravity riders and e-bikes.

Read the full Magura MT5 eStop disc brake review

How we tested the best mountain bike disc brakes

As well as drawing on our extensive experience of these brakes on test bikes in a variety of terrain and weather conditions, all of them were tested over the same loop on the same bike to highlight differences in performance. We compared power, modulation, set-up and ergonomics.

Most manufacturers don’t include the cost of rotors or adapters in the overall price of their brakes, so we’ve worked this out for you and included it in the info.

We’ve also weighed all of the brakes and included the weight of a 200mm (or 203mm) rotor and lever/caliper. We have not included the weight of the adapters because, depending on the frame and fork you’re using, they may not be necessary. Factor in around 80-90g for two adapters and all the fixing hardware.

Braking technique

Dropping your heels will mean that you can take a lot of weight through your legs when braking

Best mountain bike disc brakes need to know:

A mountain bike disc brake includes a steel rotor, a rotor caliper (with brake pads inside) and a brake lever. Connecting the system is hosing filled with hydraulic fluid.

In an ideal world you wouldn’t need to use the brakes that often because you’d rail every corner, blitz all the descents like a chainless Aaron Gwin and charge down rooty singletrack quicker than a supercharged pro. However, the majority of use don’t have those skills, we drag the brakes when we’re riding downhill, brake all the way round corners and often comfort brake just because things have gotten too scary. For us really powerful and reliable disc brakes are a must have, because often we’re hanging onto them for dear life.

Thankfully every year disc brakes become more efficient and more powerful, so you can get back into your comfort zone a lot sooner. You also get adjustable reach and bite point, so when you absolutely need to stop on a sixpence, your hands will be in the right place. Brake pads are also harder wearing, which is a good thing with all that stopping you’re having to do and foul weather you’re riding in.

winter hardtail

Brake pads come in sintered metal or organic compounds.

Brake pads

Brake pads come in two main compounds – metal sintered or organic. The latter are often fitted to brakes because they’re slightly cheaper, but it you want better stopping and longer life, especially in the wet, you’ll want a metal sintered upgrade.

Independent adjustment for reach and bite point on a Hope brake lever

Reach adjustment

This is the most important adjustment on any brake because it allows you to set the reach (lever spacing) to you hand size. The adjuster will often be an annoyingly hard-to-reach grub screw but some brakes come with small knob that you can adjust by hand.

Bite point adjustment

Technically this adjustment doesn’t move the pads any closer to the rotor but it feels like it. It’s handy adjustment if you want to run you levers inboard. SRAM calls this the Contact Point Adjustment, on Shimano it’s Freestroke.

We like big rotors, we cannot lie

Rotor sizes

Available in various sizes, but the most common are 160, 180 and 200mm. There’s more mechanical advantage with a bigger diameter rotor and so greater stopping power.

Fancy rotors are the icing on the cake not utterly essential

Rotor construction

Standard rotors are cut from stainless steel and heat treated and two-piece designs (including floating rotors) have the steel braking disc surface riveted to an aluminium carrier. This type of rotor is lighter, truer and is far less likely to warp but yep you guessed it – it will cost more.


Depending on the mounts on your frame/fork and rotor size you may need to run an adapter. In the past these were included but most manufacturers now sell them separately because why should you pay for something you might not use or maybe they’re just being cheap.

SRAM's AXS Rocker Paddle shifter brings cable-operated familiarity with wireless speed and accuracy

Mounting your shifter directly to your brake lever can free up space on your bars, but also restrict positioning.

Shifter mounts

A MatchMaker style clamp allows the shifter to be bolted directly to the lever. It will be an additional cost but it eliminates the clamp, saves weight and frees up bar space for junk such as lights, computers, phone mounts and the like.

Olive and insert

These are the small components used to fasten the hose into the lever. Spares are included in the box because if you shorten the hose you will need to replace them.