Can You Add Disc Brakes To A Mountain Bike?

Can You Add Disc Brakes To A Mountain Bike? – [Must Know!]

Adding disc brakes to your mountain bike can be one tricky task because you have to deal with different things. Brakes are, without a doubt, one of the most important parts of every bike.

When it comes to adventurous riding, such as mountain biking, you have to be very careful with it. The first question is can you add disc brakes to a mountain bike? The answer depends on different factors. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Is your Mountain bike compatible with disc brakes?

Before proceeding, it is essential to check the compatibility of your mountain bike with disc brakes.

Mountain Bike Disc Brake

MTB Frame:

A disc brake-compatible frame features attachment points to ensure the mountain of the Disc and other required components. There will be two holes to install the disc brake on the opposite of the frame drive system. These mounting holes are known as IS mounts.


Brakes are directly installed on the wheels of mountain bikes. Make sure they are compatible with disc brakes. Typically, there are two types of systems available in mountain bike wheels to facilitate disc brakes. You can choose between 6 Bolt and Centerlock disc brakes.

6-Bolt hubs:

Bikes wheels having 6-bolt hubs or threaded holes that attach the disc brake rotor works best for disc brake installation.

Center Lock:

Offering an excellent spline of the wheel hub, Shimano Center Lock can accept the Disc and lock it into the lock ring. However, you can also use various tools to tighten the Disc.


The fork must have the post mounts to ensure the disc brake installation. You can easily change the fork’s bike if there are no post mounts available and you want to add disc brakes to a mountain bike.

Different types of Disc brakes:

Disc Brake

Based on the size, there are different types of disc brakes available on the market. Take a look at the following types.

  • 140mm
  • 160mm
  • 180mm
  • 203mm

It is recommended to go with the 160mm if you are installing disc brakes for the first time. If you are looking for more power and control, it is better to consider bigger sizes as they provide a larger surface compared to small disc brakes.

Can you add disc brakes to a mountain bike?

Yes, you can put add disc brakes to a mountain bike but make sure your mountain bike has the above-mentioned compatibility features.

How to install disc brakes on a mountain bike?

The first thing is to buy pre-assembled disc brakes from your favorite brand. You need the following tools to install disc brakes.

  • Set of Allen Wrenches or Allen Keys
  • Torque Wrench
  • Torx Drive Set
  • Torx 125
  • Side cutters
  • Bike repair stand
  • Rope Locker

Installing disc brakes on the front wheel of a mountain bike:

Removing V brake:

Adjust your bike on the stand and remove the V brakes installed on the bike with a screwdriver and Allen keys. Also, remove the handlebar levers.

Removing Front Wheel:

Now remove the front wheel because installing disc brakes is a tricky task with the front wheel on. Don’t worry; you can get them back on when needed after installing the front discs.

Handle Disc with care:

Be careful with the Disc, as moving and installing it on the front wheel may damage it if treated carelessly. It is better to wear gloves for maximum safety. You can also use a clean rug with rubbing alcohol to clean the disc rotor.

Adjusting the Rotor on the Front Wheel:

The wheels may run disc and rim brakes. However, you need to swap out older wheels for a disc brake version. If you are using the 6-bolt system, begin snuggling the six bolts into the holes of your wheel hub to attach the Disc. Never turn it forcefully, as it may damage the wheel.

Now move the rotor in a clockwise direction and tighten the bolts manually. Make sure to follow the star-shaped pattern to prevent disc bending. It is recommended to use a torque wrench.

Clean the Disc:

After adjusting and aligning the rotor on a wheel hub, use a clean rug with any brake cleaner to wipe off any debris. Make sure the Disc is properly cleaned before proceeding.

Re-attach the Front Wheel:

It’s time to re-attach the front wheel back to the fork by following the process used for removal. Choose the front brake calipers and remove the caliper spacers from them. It is better to install the spacers when you remove the rotor from the calipers.

Aligning Calipers and Brake Lines:

Slide the calipers on the Disc and align the attachment points. Make sure to loosely attach the two bolts. It will help to move them with hands when adjusting the disc brakes.

The front brakes attach to the left side of the handlebar. Now, attach the brake lever to the handlebars and align the brake lines loosely.

Add the lever to the handlebars and start by squeezing the brake lever. After that, spin your wheel up to four times to ensure that the calipers are aligned properly with the disc brake.

Hold the brake and tighten up the caliper to align the disc brakes.

Zip-Tie the brake lines:

When you are done with tightening, zip-tie your brake lines with the frame and fork as per your requirements. Trim off the extra stuff with a cutter.

Don’t forget to adjust the position of the brake levers and tighten them with screwdrivers.

Quick Tip:

Before taking a test ride, try a bike bouncing test to check for rattles. You need to lift the bike for like four to six inches and drop it back on the ground.

If anything makes noise, do the tweaks and then take the bike for riding to check disc brake performance.

Installing disc brakes on the Rear wheel of a mountain bike:

Bike Disc BrakeBike Disc Brake

Removing rear wheel:

Remove the back wheel of the mountain bike and attach the rear disc brake by following the front wheel. Ensure that you align and torque down all bolts in a star pattern to prevent Disc from bending.

Route the brake line:

It can be tricky to route the brake line for the rear wheel. Attach the calipers and begin routing the brake lines from the chain stay. Now handle the seat tube and the top tube for the handlebars.

Attach Brake Lever:

Attach the brake lever loosely on the right side of the handlebars. Tighten the caliper bolts by following the similar procedure as mentioned for the front wheel.

Attaching Caliper:

Attach the caliper to the rear frame loosely. You can also use spacers if needed.

Now spin the rear wheel and pull the brake to grip the Disc. Hold the brake and tighten the caliper for proper alignment.

Don’t forget to tighten it up.

Advantages of Disc Brakes:

Disc brakes offer various benefits over standard rim brakes. Here are some of the most important ones.

  • Typically, rim brakes lose their stopping power when splashed into muddy water during wet conditions. You cannot stop the bike in such conditions, especially during downhill riding. That’s where disc brakes are ideal, as they are safe from splashes and also offer excellent stopping power.
  • The calipers help to wipe off water from wet rotors and provide great control over your mountain bike.
  • Another prime benefit of disc brakes is that they provide better brake modulation with a minimum lever force. Disc brakes, therefore, offer more control over mountain bikes compared to rim brakes.
  • If the rim bends during riding, it doesn’t impact the disc brake.
  • The self-adjusting function of hydraulic brakes allows them to readjust without any maintenance. You can’t find such a feature in rim brakes.
  • If the Disc gets damaged, installation is effortless and takes less time compared to rim brakes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Are disc brakes better than V brakes?

Disc brakes provide instant stopping power at a fast speed which is hard to find with V brakes. Also, disc brakes need less maintenance cost compared to V brakes.

Is it possible to install a disc brake on any bike?

The prime factor is the compatibility of your bike. Some bikes are disc brake compatible, whereas most of them don’t allow disc brake installation. It is better to check the bike specification before installing disc brakes.

Can I convert V brakes to disc brakes?

Technically, you can’t convert V brakes to disc brakes unless the frame has mounts for disc calipers and hubs have mounts for rotors.

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