I’m a liberal and fully appreciate why some riders swear by brakeless BMX riding.
I mean, there’s the freedom of not having to deal with the brake cables. You also get a cleaner & clutter-free bike, which makes it easier to learn to control your ride.
Plus, riding brakeless makes life easier when doing whips and bars.
But personally, I’m not a big fan of brakeless riding.
The reason is I’m a pretty versatile BMX rider, doing both trail and park riding. I often like going fast and doing big airs, and in most cases, I’m better off with brakes.
I also like having control when I’m learning new stuff, especially things that are scary.
Of course, you can always achieve control with brakeless riding, but brakes are practical. It’s easier for me to grab the levers faster than putting my foot on the tire or skidding the rear tire to a halt (it’s easier to replace brake pads than tires and rubber shoes 😊)
Sure, I know, brakeless tricks are cool, and I’ve to admit I enjoy watching them. But I’m pretty sure with the right skill, I can beat the brakeless riders in every aspect (braking, modulation, control, etc.).
There’s no need for the brakeless riders to get arsed right now, but the truth of the matter is you can’t do Abubaca, taps, fufanus, or funky tire stall on a brakeless bike.
You need the best bike brakes.
With the best brakes, I can effortlessly do the brake tricks and much more.
Now, if you need to elevate your riding with brake riding, I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best BMX brakes.
I’m a fan favorite of the BMX brakes over the regular brakes because of their performance, sturdiness, and durability.
You can’t go wrong with any of our selections below.
Table of Contents
The Best BMX Brakes For The Money
#1 1999 BMX Brake Set & Lever - EDITOR'S CHOICE
I bought the 1999 BMX Lever to upgrade a hand-down BMX that needed new brakes.
They seemed like an incredible option. Both fit and finish were on point, and the components fit well.
While they’re your basic side pull brakes, I’m pleased because of their performance and ease of use.
My first impression of the Brake Set is that it comes with hardware for a front and rear install. The longer bolt effortlessly fits through the fork, while the shorter mounting bolt integrates well to the rear cross-member.
I installed the 1999 Brake & Lever as a rear brake for my kid’s bike. The bike came with factory coaster brakes and a front hand brake, which was fine for the moment. But I really wanted him to learn to use the rear hand brake.
And the good thing with the long reach of the brake caliper helps to fit a variety of BMX brake pads and can go all the way to mounting slots.
The best part, though, is the brake cable is length, which is a plus because BMX riders can always cut it to perfect length. Personally, I purchased the brake because I needed a long-reach set of calipers for my 20” kid’s bike. The BMX Brake set seems to be the right fit.
Of course, the ultimate test is how well a BMX brake with a robust sprocket will bring you to a halt.
The good news is 1999 Brake Set & Lever eliminates the dual spring system. Instead, it comes with a single pivot point (single spring system) that can bring you to a halt in any condition.
I’m impressed with the performance of the brake already as my kid can ride downhill with his feet off the pedals and only use the hand brake to stop.
And unlike other brakes that require an enormous amount of grip strength to stop, this brake set one is easy, and the brake kit is bolted right up.
Meanwhile, the brake lever has a great build and the brake pads accompanying the brake caliper aren’t anything like the picture. They’re much nicer, easy to install and help to stop effectively.
My only concern at first was that the lever is designed t install on the right side.
Even then, I didn’t have any issues installing the handle on the left side of the handlebar. Yes, the brake set is not aesthetically pleasing as it installs “upside down”, but it has no impact on performance, and only you will ever notice.
The real downside of the brake set was the installation.
If you’ve never installed a caliper brake before (MTB guys, I’m talking to you), it’s a good idea to find a knowledgeable person to walk you through it.
Installing requires some elbow grease because you need to remove the handlebar grips to install the brake handle.
It’s also important to adjust the springs by bending them, aligning them to the wheel, and getting appropriate toe-in.
Of course, all of these are super easy once you watch the pros do it, but it can be frustrating to learn from trial and error.
But aside from that minor bother, the 1999 BMX Brake Set is a great brake, a performer, and an all-rounded solution.
I would recommend it.
#2 Odyssey Springfield U-Brake Black – Easiest BMX Brakes to Install
I can’t get enough of the Odyssey Springfield U-Brake Kit.
See, my previous brakes were useless and kept on bending at the top, and even after bending them back, they were too weak to stay that way.
So, I wanted a simple and easy-to-live-with replacement kit.
Something that doesn’t come across many problems and is fairly inexpensive.
And after a thorough review of several BMX brakes, I came across the Odyssey Springfield U-Brake Black.
These Odyssey BMX brakes are so damn good.
First, they come at half the price of big BMX brakes. Yet, it doesn’t end up like generic brake like what everyone uses.
The second reason I’m gaga over these brakes is the ease of installation.
See, I’m a DIY enthusiast and spend most of my time setting up bicycle stuff, including brakes, and I can confidently say this was by far the easiest and quickest brake kit set up I’ve come across.
It’s the easiest to install for sure. You simply need to slap it, and it works.
Performance-wise, the Odyssey BMX brakes are pretty much dialed. You simply need to throw them out of the box, just ensure the posts are greased, and that the brake pads are in the right direction. You’ll get the much-needed tension on your bike, and they work well.
Of course, I’ve to admit there’re other brakes out there with better performance, but Odyssey Brakes is pretty hassle-free. Plus, for the price, you can’t really beat that.
Along with the incredible braking performance, the U-brake design on the brake fits any standard BMX tire with a U-Brake frame.
I love how well they provide the extra tire clearance needed for today’s larger tires. They work well where the Evo 2 had clearance issues.
While these are only designed for rear use, I’m pleased to report that I didn’t experience any trouble when skidding. It has terrific stopping power.
I found the Springfield U-brake to be the perfect replacement for the pre-installed brakes on my kid’s bikes. The factory ones were horrible.
He had to squeeze the brake lever so hard to get them moving and wasn’t strong enough to make them slow down his bike. He had even given up riding because he couldn’t stop.
The Springfields are now his new favorite.
They’re easy to use, and he doesn’t have to worry about skidding or anything anymore. He loves them.
What about ease of installation?
There’s only one center pull spring connecting the top of each brake arm. So, no silver or black springs to fiddle with.
I simply tightened down the 5mm brake boss bolt, connected the straddle cable before allowing my kiddo to skid their heart’s contents away.
Plus, because of the single shared spring, the brakes self-center themselves, just like caliper brakes would, saving you from the need for brake caliper adjustment.
And because of all these, you benefit from a silent ride. No squeaking, squealing, or anything.
Meanwhile, the brake cables provided are of high quality- just like other materials. They’re durable, sturdy and even when push comes to shove, you’ll simply need to replace a couple of springs, and that is later down the line.
The other badass thing with these brakes is they come with everything you need to get going. Alongside the levers and brake cable, you also get a replacement ring, hinged medium Springfield lever, hanger, and all the crap you need.
And, oh, it’s an Odyssey BMX brake, so you benefit from a lifetime warranty, which is a nice thing.
My only concern with these brakes is that the stock pads aren’t strong and lack centering adjustments.
But otherwise, hats off to Odyssey for making these awesome brakes. It gets the job done, and I’m surprised other brands haven’t thought of such a simple idea before.
#3 Curb Dog Muscle Bound BMX Brake Set – Premium Option
The Curb Dog BMX Brake Set is perhaps a bit pricier than most BMX brakes, but it should last and seems to be a bit more substantial than the cheaper and run-of-the-mill brakes.
Personally, I love it because it made a huge difference in the overall braking capacity on my son’s bike.
The V-brake type design used on this model has the edge over other models, and it’s quite reliable. It also helps to extend the longevity of the pad.
On my kid’s bike, I love that it allowed him to come to a halt without squealing or sounding like fingernails on a chalkboard.
And the other nice thing with this one brake set is that it’s highly multipurpose and adapts well for use on either the front or rear of the bike.
I cut off the linear brakes and installed these through the fender bolt hole on the front forks.
The Curb Dog BMX brakes work great, and I’m impressed at how they bring him to a sudden halt with the least effort.
On top of that, the brake’s compatibility is pretty awesome, as they come in size 6″ x 6.5″ x 2.5″. So, the brakes are perfect for most BMX wheels (standard 20-24 inches) and freestyle wheels.
It’s a great option for the freestyle bike, and when used correctly, it makes a huge difference to the breaking capacity. Plus, it also works great even when combined with a U-break kit.
Like any other premium purchase, this one brake set comes complete with a brake lever and brake cable in the brake kit.
If you’ve a basic idea of these components, you’ll find installation quite a breeze.
The quality of the Curb Dog BMX Brake Set is impressive and will exceed your expectations, especially when it comes to braking performance.
I would highly recommend this brake set for the BMX bikes as they stand for quality and perform more than your average brake.
Sure, they’re a little pricey, but so far, so good.
Curb Dog BMX Brake Set seems like a decent brake kit for the money. Nice brake cable length, no cutting, and good overall quality.
#4 Wake Bike Brakes Mountain Bike V Brakes - Best Value for Money
V-brakes aren’t the most popular brakes for BMX bikes.
But if you’re a veteran or old-school cyclist like me, you know they’re quite effective and easy to use.
It’s the reason I’ve included the Wake Mountain Bike Brake because it presents a simple and easy braking system. Plus, it comes complete with all the components to get going, including a brake pad.
But the biggest benefit, in my opinion, of having these BMX brakes is the value for money they offer.
They’re not super expensive and offer the real bargain for your cash.
Sure, it’s always good to keep your expectations in check and be reasonable for a bargain purchase.
While the Wake Mountain Bike may not outdo the Shimano Component brake, it over-delivers on many fronts.
I put these on my kid’s BMX bike to replace some other generic V brakes from years ago, and I love every bit of it.
While the brakes are smooth and incredible, the pads are mushy.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s expected, but I love how the BMX bike still stops better than it did with the cantilevers, so I can’t really complain.
The brakes boast a forged alloy and plastic construction but are not as light as expected.
They’ll wear extremely quickly and give a spongy feel to the brakes. The soft pads also create a lot of squealing, but that can be fixed by adjusting the toe-in of the pad.
It doesn’t fail on the durability test, though, and I don’t see any problem with the plastic spring box. It’s durable, tough, and will stand up to plenty of abuse.
Meanwhile, the pin setting the backpressure is metal, and I’m pleased with the minimum noise and decent stopping power.
The nice aluminum arms are good quality, while the return springs are smooth and proportional, making them easy to adjust.
Installing this brake is easy as it gets and can hold up to any abuse or weather conditions.
In addition, the Wake Bike Brake kit comes with more hardware than expected, including new mounting bolts, a new cable guide, and new rubber covers.
Overall, the wake brake kit is a nice purchase, and my recommendation is that you buy these arms but replace the pads with a better-quality design, especially one with an offset design.
Also, during purchase, keep in mind the arc size is 110mm, so you need to confirm whether your bike has a V-brake installation hole.
#5 Tektro 930AL V Brake - Best BMX Brakes for Kids
I needed a set of direct-pull brakes to install on an old MTB I was rebuilding, and these were available quickly.
Given the mediocre quality of the factory-installed Tektros that came with my daughter’s bike, I was expecting nothing more than something to stop my project bike being better than its original cantilevers.
But I’m glad I purchased these because they’re built with power and efficiency in mind.
The fit and finish of the Tektro 930AL V Brake are also good.
They look nice on the BMX bike and come with numerous features, such as the linear-pull brake system that allowed me to break immediately.
Tektro 930AL brakes are awesome on the bike, but more importantly, they come with a linear-pull brake system that allows an instant brake experience.
Part of the reason behind the exemplary braking performance was the “V-brake” design.
Unlike my previous brake systems, the Tektro 930AL V Brake allowed a more controlled stop in any conditions without delay.
Plus, I didn’t have to worry much about the brakes wearing out or anything because they’re made out of heavy-duty alloy carbon steel. I don’t see like I’ll be replacing them any time soon.
Keep in mind there’re two variations of the Tektro 930AL V Brake.
Our review is the “mini” option. It comes with shorter arms than the standard V-brakes for a little less cable travel. While it generally has less power, it gives more clearance for a given cable pull and reduces the stress on the brake arm and sleeve bearings.
When in use, I find it quite predictable and secure.
Plus, for its size, it adapts well to the kid’s bikes. The shorter brake arms may also be appropriate for a road or cyclocross brake lever.
The brakes are also pretty light, and coming in at only 161 grams, they’re significantly lighter than most brakes and have the advantage of keeping your bike lightweight.
While the stopping power is excellent, the adjustability is average for a quality V brake. Still, it’s impressive at this price point.
See, if you’ve used cheap brakes before, you know it can get frustrating to install and make an adjustment.
The Tektro 930AL V Brake is different.
Installing the brakes hasn’t been this easier, and it’s no more difficult than your average direct-pull brakes.
But installing the cables is, however, not so easy. The binding screws are difficult to turn with one hand, making the entire process a bit awkward.
But the good thing is once the brakes are dialed in, they hold their position well, just as any good quality V-brake.
Best BMX Brake Set Buying Guide
There’re so many BMX sets in the market that choosing the right one for your needs can be nerve-wracking.
It doesn’t need to be so, though, because, in the section below, I’ll help you narrow down to the best options.
Here, I share everything you need to know about selecting the best BMX brakes.
But first, let’s look at the types of BMX brakes.
But before then, let’s first consider the categories for bike brakes.
The two main categories for bike brakes are:
1) Rim brake
2) Disc brake
BMX riders have limited choices and can only choose the rimmed brakes since the disc brakes are unavailable for BMX bikes.
But all in all, it doesn’t hurt to know the differences.
Both brakes draw their names from where the braking force is applied.
A disc brake applies force to the rotor disc mounted on the hub.
On the other hand, a rim brake applies braking force directly to the BMX wheels themselves.
The rim brakes are often found on BMX and road bikes, thanks to their lightness and mechanical simplicity.
However, the rim brakes are further categorized into other categories.
The three common categories include:
Caliper brakes are often found on road bikes.
Their performance is less appealing on BMX bikes compared to the U-brakes or cantilever brakes.
The U-brakes are the standard braking system in most BMX bikes.
The u-brake kit works by allowing the brake arms to move on two pivots connected to the bike’s frame.
Beyond the aesthetics, a U-brake system is non-invasive and will keep you from harm, especially when performing stunts.
Cantilever brakes are commonly known as pull ‘V-brake’ and have many similarities to the non-disc brakes used on mountain bikes.
Detanglers And Gyros
This type of brake is popular with freestyle BMX riders.
They tend to be heavier than other brake types, but they allow the handlebars round bar to spin around the frame endlessly while allowing effective braking.
Everything About BMX Brakes- Parts of a BMX
Brakes allow better and effortless control of your bike’s speed by a simple press of the brake lever using hands or fingers.
The brake itself is rather simple, consisting of only four main parts:
- Brake Pads- They come into contact with the rim, using friction to slow your bike
- Arms: Usually, there’re two of these connected to the bike frame through a pivot. A regular brake cable pulls the arms to facilitate stoppage.
- Springs: This part pushes the brake to return to the original position.
- Pivots: As their name suggests, they serve as the pivot you’re the brake arms.
Usually, the quality of a brake is, in most cases, determined by the choice of material.
Now, brakes may use different materials for the different parts we’ve seen.
Usually, the arms utilize aluminum because it’s light and saves on weight.
The pivots use brass, and this is necessary to take on smoother turns.
Meanwhile, the pad may come as soft pads or hard pads.
The soft pads offer a much stronger grip on any braking surface, but they don’t last long.
Some of the bikes, especially the high-end options, utilize carbon alloy steel. While it’s more expensive than the regular aluminum, it’s sturdier and more dense-resistant.
Don’t forget to consider your tire size when choosing your BMX brakes.
Generally, BMX brakes work better on narrow tires than on wider tires. It’s even easier to pull stunts on the narrow tires.
Remember, the caliper has to reach the fender for proper braking.
On wider tires, you need bigger and stronger calipers to eliminate flexing, especially when wet.
Rear Brakes or Front Brake?
The positioning of your break is a personal choice and depends on the individual BMX riders.
But generally, the rear brakes are ideal in poor traction conditions or when your front tire bursts/deflates.
On the other hand, the front brakes are used for braking on dry surfaces. It’s more functional and has great stopping power.
Plus, using the front brake is generally safer, especially if you take your time to learn to use it.
V-Brake Vs. U-Brake
Both the V-brake and U-brake are designed for center-pull brake cables.
The difference is usually in the positioning of the mounting posts.
On V-brakes, the mounting posts are beneath the seat tube or at the top of the chainstays, while on U-break, the mounting posts are above the seat stays.
Simply put, V-brakes mount at the bottom, while a U-brake mounts towards the upper part.
Best BMX Brakes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What’s the benefit of rim brakes?
A: One of the benefits of the rim brakes is their lightweight aluminum construction.
Rim brakes are also super easy to maintain and have unmatched reliability.
Q: Do professional BMX bikes have brakes?
A: Yes, it’s a rule that all BMX bikes should have brakes.
However, most users, especially street and park riders, often take brakes to ride brakeless.
Q: Is it illegal to ride my BMX brakeless?
A: Yes, riding brakeless is illegal and can land you into trouble.
Ideally, your BMX should have at least one break. Most states require you to have back brakes.
Q: Can I use both the front and rear brakes on my BMX?
A: Yes, using both brakes reduces the chances of front or rear wheel skidding and gives you much better control.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best BMX brakes is the 1999 Brake set.
I would recommend this pick because it beats all other competitors’ hands-down.
It’s a sturdy and performance-oriented option that will work as hard as you do to bring you to a complete halt.
Plus, it’s effortless to use and doesn’t require a lot of arm effort to stop.