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Why your Next BMX Race Bike will have a disc brake


One of the side benefits of building custom BMX race bikes, apart from sharing the rad experience with our customers, is that we have a pretty good handle on emerging trends. Over the past couple of years, one trend that is becoming really apparent is the specification of a disc brake over V-brakes on these builds. While we build predominantly Pro size bikes, even in the expert and down range of bikes we are seeing the same trend.



One question we get consistently is why would a BMX race bike require a disc brake when racers barely touch their brake during a race? Afterall, on today’s tracks where the surfaces are hard, the hills big, speed around the track is at a all time high and with berms being designed to compliment the track, racers rarely now grab the brake lever as you want to maintain your speed and the days of braking hard to slow down for a tight, flat corner are long gone. 

Though here we are, disc brakes exist in BMX racing, and shock horror, even the freestyle world where you could argue that a disc brake has a greater asset for tech tricks and has a rightful “performance” application. 

Where has this push for disc brakes for race bikes come from then? One only has to look at the broader bicycle market to see that disc brakes have invaded every corner of the cycling world, with the UCI reluctantly certifying them for road racing after resisting for many years. Again, here’s another cycling disciple that definitely benefits from this technology and the reason why might surprise you, as a comparison can be drawn to why BMX racers are turning to disc brakes. 


A traditional rim brake isn’t as efficient as a disc brake, and nowhere as effective. Especially in wet weather. In addition to rain affecting performance of braking, remembering that road riders descend from climbs and us their brakes a lot, with the advent of carbon fibre rims it came to light that the amount of heat generated by brake pads on rims meant that there was a real chance that the rims could be “cooked” and fail due to delamination caused by this heat generation. Basically one long hill descent, even on hills found in the Australian alpine areas, could lead to this failure. And like any tech, once it became dominant on the higher end road bikes, there was a trickle down effect. 

And anyone old enough to have ridden mountain bikes with V-brakes know that compared to disc brakes, there is just no comparison in performance, and again, anyone that ever rode in wet and muddy conditions knows that along with having NO brakes, your V-brake pads would be down to the backing plate in one one ride. This is why any quality mountain bike has had a disc brake set up as standard nearly 20 years now. 

But why BMX? We’ve established that performance isn’t really a consideration, though now that I race a disc braked BMX bike, I can tell you what I love about it and you might be surprised at my reason. Basically any BMX racer does sprints as part of their training and even at my level (I’m old) you can still crank out a fair bit of speed and run out of space pretty quick even with a short 8 to 10 pedal sprint. Doing a session one day towards the end of last year I found myself admiring the ease of being able to pull up with just one finger and just a little bit of pressure applied.



It seems a little pedantic, but this control over braking transitions to the track and racing. Even though we try to avoid braking during a race, there are times when you do just need to tap your brake lightly so you can make a move in a corner, or to avoid someone that’s binned it right in front of you. THAT’s where a disc brake comes into its own, that control you have is so precise and all you need is one finger on the lever to wash off a K or two to avoid a crash, or to make a pass. 

With brands like Chase and Meybo installing a disc brake as standard on their complete bikes like the Edge and Elements (Chase), and Superclass (Meybo), the expectation of riders is now that bikes have a disc brake. When it comes to build a custom race bike, it is now one of the first questions we ask the customer. Or the first thing that they mention to us here at the shop. 

Something to really think about when you are building a new wheelset for your current race rig is that you really want to use a “disc” hub, or a hub that you can bolt a disc rotor to, even if currently you are running a V-brake. Because in 2023, I can guarantee that your next frame you upgrade to will most likely be disc only and you’ll be 100% ready. With the investment you’ll be making in a hub set (most likely Onyx) not something that you want to dump, we recommend anyone building a set of new wheels go with a read hub that is disc ready. It’s only a little more material and (in Onyx’s case) it’s no extra cost. 


Lasty, design wise, a disc only frame like the Meybo HSX (carbon and alloy), a DK Zenith, or the incoming Chase RSP 5.0 frame look so slick. No brake posts to interrupt the line of the seat stay and in the case of the carbon HSX and Zenith frames, the flat mount design protects the caliper to some extent and looks super tidy, in our opinion. 

What’s our favourite brakes? We really like the SRAM TL, and G2 series, as the levers are ambidextrous and the reservoirs are slightly protected with this design. They have a brake for every level, from entry, to performance in the G2 model, and you’ll see them on most of our custom race bikes. For the flat mount set up, our go to is the Magura MT range. Again economical and enough performance for or needs in BMX racing.