We get quite a lot of questions about disc brakes. Believe it or no
Here is a good guide to help understand them:
Originally found exclusively on mountain bikes, disc brakes are popping up on unicycles.Unicycle.com has created unicycles that come with a disc brake hub allowing them to be disc brake compatible.
Disc brakes have excellent stopping power, superior modulation, and better all-weather performance than rim brakes.
There are two main styles of disc brake: mechanical (or cable- activated), and hydraulic. Cable-activated brakes are what they sound like, the brake levers are attached to cables (most are too thick a caliper for unicycle use).
Hydraulic version replaces the cables with hydraulic fluid in a fully sealed line. When you brake, the pressure forces the fluid to move into the caliper, pressing the pads against the disc.
Maintenance for the hydraulic is recommended only if the brake feel spongy which is caused by bubbles in the line or contaminated fluid. Also most manufactures recommend fluid replacement and bleed once a year under heavy use or every other year if lightly used.
Brake Noise can be caused for various reasons. Glazing on the pads or rotor caused by heat and dirt can be remedied by sanding the pads slightly and cleaning the rotor with rubbing alcohol. Rule of thumb for brake pad replacement is when the pad backing plate and the pad material is under 3mm. There are two main types of brake pads. Resin brake pads (also called organic) are quieter and have more bite. They are good in wet and cold weather but wear more quickly. Sintered brake pads (also known as metallic) come with most brake sets and last longer for downhill and high heat situations or a lot of wet weather riding but can be a little noisy.
We hope this helps you understand disc brakes a little more.
Till next time happy pedaling!