Do you need to get 4 pot (4 piston) hydraulic brakes for your mountain bike?

SRAM RSC G2 4-pot brakes

Most mountain bikes are sold with 2 pot (or 2 piston) hydraulic brakes. But you can also buy 4 pot hydraulic brakes. Which is right for you?

Two pot brakes have two pistons – one on each side of the brake rotor – which squeeze the brake pads against the rotor and cause friction, which slows you down.

Two pot brakes are fine for everyday on-road riding – but they might not be fine for off-road riding. Four pot brakes have four pistons – two on each side of the rotor – which enables you to use much larger brake pads, which should give your brakes rather more stopping power and control.

There are two cases where you want 4 pot/4 piston mtb brakes.

1. How much do you weigh?

Honest question – give an honest answer.. If you weigh more than 180lbs – or 13 stone – or 80kg – then I think you’ll want 4 pot brakes. The extra control and stopping power will come in handy.

Why bike companies sell XL frames with 2 pot brakes is beyond me – I think that’s a guaranteed accident waiting to happen.

2. How well do you stop – and how controlled is your stop?

4 pot brake pads – much wider than 2 pot!

The other question for you is how well do you stop – can you stop as quickly as you want to, and how well can you control/modulate your deceleration?

If you have a two pot brake and you can’t really control your deceleration as well as you like – and I’m assuming you’ve got well maintained brakes that are properly bled and your brake pads are in good shape – then you might get better results with a 4 pot brake.

Learn more – watch a video

Watch what The Lost Co. has to say


Personally I think 4 pot brakes are great – in my experience they give you significantly more control (and power). It’s cheaper to go straight to 4 pot brakes than it is to buy 2 pot brakes and be forced to upgrade later.