What Are The Different Brake Systems Available On Electric Scooters

What Are The Different Brake Systems Available On Electric Scooters – And Which One Is Right For You?

This guide explains everything you need to know about the brakes of an e-scooter. You can read which braking systems are the most effective and which systems are most common.

What types of braking systems are there?

There are two main categories: mechanical and electronic brakes. In order of effectiveness, braking systems for electric scooters include disc brakes, drum brakes, foot brakes, regenerative brakes, and electronic brakes.

Disc brakes

E-scooter disc brake

How disc brakes work: a metal disc (called a rotor) is attached to and rotates with the wheel of the scooter.

The most common actuation design for this type of brake is a handbrake, similar to what you would find on a traditional bicycle.

When you pull the brake lever, it activates a part called a caliper that surrounds part of the rotor. The caliper squeezes the spinning rotor together with the brake pads, causing friction that slows down the wheel and thus the scooter.

Disc brakes come in three flavors:

  • Hydraulic
  • Semi-hydraulic
  • Mechanically

Hydraulic disc brakes

Fully hydraulic disc brakes use fluid-filled (hydraulic) lines to control the actuation of the calipers. When you squeeze the handbrake, it increases the pressure in the hydraulic lines connected to the calipers.

The increased pressure in the calipers causes a piston to move, pinching the rotor. They are fully hydraulic disc brakes, the best type of disc brake. The hydraulic actuation gives you the best control over braking.

Semi-hydraulic disc brakes

Semi-hydraulic disc brakes are similar to fully hydraulic brakes, but instead of a hydraulic line running from the lever to the caliper, they use a cable.

The cable runs from the brake lever to the caliper and moves a hydraulic piston when activated. Semi-hydraulic disc brakes have strong and consistent stopping power.

Mechanical disc brakes

Mechanical disc brakes use a brake cable to activate the caliper. Most mechanical cable-operated disc brakes are activated by a handbrake. As soon as you squeeze it, the brake cable, which is connected to the caliper, becomes shorter.

The caliper transmits force to cause the brake pads to squeeze the rotor. With mechanical disc brakes, you feel more resistance to the cables than with hydraulic disc brakes, because there is often more friction.

Advantages and disadvantages of disc brakes

Excellent stopping powerNeed periodic maintenance
Easy to adjust and maintainDisc brakes are typically more expensive than other braking systems
Good braking control, especially with hydraulic disc brakesPoor-quality disc brakes are prone to damage to the rotor

The drum belt

How drum brakes work: Drum brakes are enclosed in the wheel hub and have pads that push against the braking surface, creating friction that slows the wheel down.

Like disc brakes, drum brakes are activated by cable-operated levers, usually with the left lever operating the front and the right lever operating the rear.

They are almost as effective as disc brakes, generally require less maintenance, but are more complex to tinker with.

Advantages and disadvantages of drum brakes

Generally low maintenanceComplicated to disassemble or repair
Consistent performance in wet conditionsLess performance than disc brakes
Completely enclosed in wheel hubGreater chance of overheating

Foot brakes

How foot brakes work: foot brakes are a hinged fender that pushes into the rear tire, creating friction that slows the wheel.

You activate them by pressing the mudguard with your heel. You push on the rear tire to slow the scooter, which means you have to take your back foot off the deck to brake.

Although this sounds simple, slight movements can cause you to lose balance, especially on e-scooters with small tires.

Advantages and disadvantages of foot brakes

No maintenancePoor wet weather performance
Lightweight braking systemAverage longer braking distance
Simple design to useRequires more attentiveness while driving

Regenerative braking

How regenerative brakes work: regenerative brakes are activated by a switch that electrically couples the motor to the charging system, creating resistance to the motor running.

The idea is that you can recover energy during braking and thus increase the range. Most Xiaomi scooters use, among other things, this type of braking system.

Hardly any e-scooter comes with one standalone regenerative braking system, as it is not effective enough to bring the scooter to a complete stop independently.

Advantages and disadvantages of regenerative braking

No extra weight or maintenancePoor braking performance
Little energy recoveryMay not work if the battery is not fully charged

Electronic brakes

How electronic brakes work: electronic brakes work in almost the same way as regenerative brakes, except they do not help to charge the battery.

They are activated by a switch that shorts the terminals of the motor, creating resistance to motor rotation. Electronic brakes are activated in a number of ways: using a push button or handbrake.

Advantages and disadvantages of electronic brakes

No extra weight or maintenancePoor braking performance
Some electronic braking systems are poorly implemented and prone to failure

Brakes are essential for your own safety and that of fellow road users. So it is very important to understand how the brakes work and to inspect them regularly between rides.

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