Traditionally, road bikes came with rim brakes. However, disc brakes are becoming increasingly common on road bikes.
Rim brakes work by mechanically pinching both sides of the rim with rubberized brake pads. While there are different configurations for the mechanical pinching action, they all result slowing down the wheel through the friction of the rubber brake pads on the rim of the wheel itself. Rim brakes are inexpensive compared with disc brakes but provide less stopping power, are less effective in wet or muddy conditions, and require more finger effort to brake aggressively.
Disc brakes on road bikes aren’t that different from the disc brakes found on most cars these days. A disc, known as the rotor, is mounted to the hub of the wheel and brake pads pinch on the sides of the disc to slow down or stop the wheel. Disc bikes for bikes come in two different types, hydraulic and mechanical.
Hydraulic disc brakes offer more consistent braking in all conditions, superior performance on steep terrain, more progressive and stronger braking with less finger effort, and they self-adjust as the brake pads wear. Mechanical (cable-activated) disc brakes need to be adjusted manually as the brake pads wear. However, they are less expensive to purchase and maintain and are also generally compatible with older-style brake levers.