Upgrading Your Brake Rotors: A Guide to Enhanced Performance, Safety and Cooling

Mountain biking is all about pushing limits and conquering challenging terrains. To ensure your bike is equipped for these adventures, upgrading your brake rotors can significantly improve performance and safety. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you select the best upgraded MTB brake rotors.

Why Upgrade Your Brake Rotors?

  1. Improved Braking Performance: Larger, higher-quality rotors provide better stopping power and heat dissipation, reducing brake fade during long descents.
  2. Enhanced Durability: Upgraded rotors are typically made from stronger materials that can withstand more abuse and last longer.
  3. Weight Reduction: Many high-end rotors are designed to be lighter, reducing the overall weight of your bike.
  4. Aesthetics: Let’s not forget the visual appeal! High-end rotors often come in sleek designs that can add a stylish touch to your bike.

Key Factors to Consider

  1. Rotor Size
    • Common sizes: 160mm, 180mm, and 203mm.
    • Larger rotors (e.g., 180mm or 203mm) offer better braking power and heat management but may add a bit more weight.
    • Match the rotor size to your riding style and terrain. For downhill and enduro riding, larger rotors are preferable.
  2. Mounting Style
    • Six-Bolt: The standard and most common mounting style. Ensure your hub has a six-bolt pattern.
    • Center Lock: Requires a special adapter to fit six-bolt rotors if your hubs are Center Lock.
  3. Rotor Material
    • Stainless Steel: Most common, offering a good balance of performance, durability, and cost.
    • Floating Rotors: Feature an aluminium carrier with a steel braking surface. These provide better heat management and are less prone to warping.
    • Carbon Rotors: Lightweight and high performance but very expensive and can be less durable.
  4. Rotor Thickness
    • The standard thickness is around 1.8mm. Ensure your calipers are compatible with this thickness.

Why E-Bikes Need Better Performance Brakes and Rotors

E-bikes are heavier and faster than traditional mountain bikes, putting extra demand on the braking system. This increased weight and speed mean that e-bike riders need more powerful and reliable brakes and rotors to ensure safety and control.

  1. Increased Weight: E-bikes generally weigh more due to the motor and battery. This extra weight requires stronger braking power to slow down and stop efficiently.
  2. Higher Speeds: The motor assistance allows e-bikes to reach higher speeds more easily, necessitating more robust braking components to manage the additional momentum.
  3. Extended Ride Durations: E-bikes often allow riders to travel longer distances, which can lead to more prolonged braking. Better rotors help manage heat buildup, preventing brake fade over extended use.

For more about E-bikes follow our Blog HERE or have a look on our website at the E-bikes that are currently available HERE

6 bolt v centrelock

Top Brands to Consider

  1. Hope Technology
    • Known for their floating rotors, which are excellent in terms of heat dissipation and performance.
    • Popular models: Hope Floating Rotor, Hope Saw Disc Rotor.
  2. Shimano
    • Renowned for reliability and performance.
    • Popular models: Shimano XT RT-MT800, Shimano XTR RT-MT900.
  3. SRAM
    • Offers a variety of high-performance rotors.
    • Popular models: SRAM CenterLine, SRAM HS2.
  4. Magura
    • Known for their robust and high-performing rotors.
    • Popular models: Magura Storm HC, Magura MDR-P.
  5. TRP
    • Provides excellent performance and value.
    • Popular models: TRP-29, TRP-33.
shimano icetec rotor

Hope floating rotors

Designed to work with a variety of disc brake systems, particularly those manufactured by Hope Technology. However, they are generally compatible with most disc brake systems that use the same rotor size and mounting style. Here are some key points to ensure compatibility:

  1. Rotor Size: Ensure that the rotor size (e.g., 160mm, 180mm, 203mm) matches your brake caliper’s requirements. Using a rotor size not recommended for your caliper can lead to poor braking performance and safety issues.
  2. Mounting Style: Hope floating rotors are typically six-bolt rotors. Ensure your wheel hubs are compatible with six-bolt rotors. There are also Center Lock rotors, but adapters can be used to fit six-bolt rotors to Center Lock hubs if necessary.
  3. Brake Caliper Compatibility: While Hope rotors are optimized for use with Hope calipers (such as the Tech 3, E4, X2, and V4 models), they are generally compatible with other brands like Shimano, SRAM, Magura, and others, as long as the rotor size and mounting style match.
  4. Rotor Thickness: Hope floating rotors are usually 1.8mm thick, which is the standard. Ensure your brake calipers can accommodate this thickness.

Common Brake Systems Compatible with Hope Floating Rotors

  • Hope Technology: Any of their current and recent past brake calipers.
  • Shimano: Deore, SLX, XT, XTR, and other models.
  • SRAM: Level, Guide, Code, and other models.
  • Magura: MT series, such as MT4, MT5, MT7.
  • Avid: BB7, Elixir, Code, Juicy.
  • TRP: Quadiem, Slate, Spyre.

Installation Tips

  1. Ensure Compatibility: Double-check that the rotor size and mounting style are compatible with your current brake setup.
  2. Use Proper Tools: A torque wrench is essential for ensuring the bolts are tightened to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  3. Bed in New Rotors: Properly bed in your new rotors by performing a series of gentle stops to allow the brake pads to conform to the new rotor surface.


Upgrading your MTB brake rotors can dramatically enhance your biking experience by improving stopping power, durability, and overall bike performance. By considering factors such as rotor size, mounting style, material, and brand, you can make an informed decision that suits your riding style and needs. Happy riding, and stay safe on the trails!

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