Can I Convert Rim Brakes To Disc Brakes? (Explained)

Can I Convert Rim Brakes to Disc Brakes

Many bike owners often opt for brake conversion when the brakes of their bikes become defective or begin to malfunction.

Changing your bike’s brakes involves removing some vital components and replacing them with new ones from another bike.

In some cases, this conversion can be quite difficult to achieve. On that note, can I convert rim brakes to disc brakes? 

You can convert rim brakes to disc brakes if you remove all the brake system components. These components include rotors, calipers, hoses, and other parts. Also, you must replace the frame and fork with new disk caliper mounts. 

Can I Convert Rim Brakes to Drum Brakes? 

Can I Convert Rim Brakes to Disc Brakes

You can convert your rim brakes to drum brakes; however, this process is tedious and requires maximum effort and caution.

Converting your rim brakes requires changing the entire brake system of your bike to drum brakes.

The reason for this is pretty simple! Rim brake systems usually contain different components; the same applies to drum brake systems. 

Hence, changing a few components of your rim brake system to a drum brake system will not work as the components might not be compatible.

So, you must remove the rim brakes and install the drum brakes. Drum brakes consist of different components which serve a specific function. The following are some components of drum brakes. 

#1. Backing Plate 

This component procures a source for other components of drum brakes. It boosts the rigidity of the brakes and preserves them from dust and debris.

Furthermore, it engulfs the torque from braking activities. Plus, it’s robust and resistant to constant wear. 

#2. Wheel Cylinder

The wheel cylinder is responsible for operating the brakes on every wheel of your bike. The two pistons regulate the shoes at every edge of the wheel cylinder. 

#3. Brake Drum 

The brake drum revolves around the wheel and axle. It’s a great conductor of heat and resistant to frequent wear.

Admittedly, rim brakes contain limits and downsides that adversely affect some bike owners.

Hence, they tend to convert their rim brakes to drum brakes due to their numerous advantages. Now, what are these advantages? Let’s find out below! 

  • The cost of purchasing the brakes is affordable. 
  • It’s resistant to corrosion; hence, it requires little maintenance.  
  • It contains an inner self-energizing impact that requires little input force.
  • You can easily restore/fix the wheel cylinders.

Rim Brakes Vs. Drum Brakes; What is the Difference?   

Rim brakes and drum brakes are the best options when changing/replacing your bike brakes. However, these brakes differ in size, design, composition, and functionality.

When opting for brakes for your bike, you must consider brakes that are 100% compatible to avoid unforeseen complications. Choosing the wrong brakes for your bike might disrupt its functionality.

It’s normal if you’re perplexed about what brakes to utilize for your bike as you want to settle for the best.

The table below will clear any lingering confusion as it contains explicit differences between rim and drum brakes. 

Rim Brakes Drum Brakes
They require regular maintenance as they wear out easily, especially when subject to constant friction.The brakes do not wear out easily and last for long.  
The brakes are cheap and affordable. The brakes are affordable and easy to purchase. 
They perform poorly when wet and might stop functioning due to corrosion. The brakes maintain their performance when wet, and it’s resistant to corrosion. 
The brakes often carry mud, debris, and snow from the ground to the brake pad, clogging it and hindering its performance. The brakes carry less debris from the ground to the brake pad, but it doesn’t clog and hinder its functionality. 
The wheel cylinder is not easy to restore/fix. The wheel cylinder is easy to restore/fix.
The brakes are very light.The brakes are heavy. 
The brakes are suitable for road racing, and you can use them on your commuting bike. The brakes are not suitable for road racing and commuting.  
The brakes are not suitable for off-road activities. The brakes are highly suitable for off-road activities. 

How do you Convert Rim Brakes to Disc Brakes? 

Converting your rim brakes to disc brakes is no easy task as you will spend a lot on purchasing new components.

Now, how do you carry out this task? I’ll accentuate this process! First, remove the frame and fork and replace them with new disc caliper mounts.

Afterward, remove the components of the rim brake system. These components include a brake pad, calipers, hoses, rotors, and other vital components.

Replace the rim brake system with the disc brake system. Remove the wheel hubs, including the front and rear parts, and replace them with disc rotor mounts.

Before converting the rim brakes to disc brakes, you must purchase a conversion kit

The conversion kit contains all the essential tools you need to perform the conversion successfully.

Unfortunately, the process for the conversion is quite tedious, and you might encounter complications.

The complications become an obstacle, especially when you have little experience in this field.

You might end up spending more than you should due to these complications. 

Hence, it’s best to seek the expertise of a professional to assist you in performing the conversion. Bike owners convert their rim brakes for different reasons.

Sometimes, they convert their rim brakes when it’s getting old and starts malfunctioning. In this scenario, you need to purchase your bike’s new brakes of the same size and type. 

These new brakes are 100% compatible with your bike and function effectively. Nonetheless, you can still perform the conversion if you have a bike containing disc brakes.

On the other hand, some bike owners convert their rim brakes when they want to increase their functionality.

In this case, you can upgrade your brakes by replacing some components. However, you must take your bike to a professional to help you with the replacement. 

How much does it Cost to Convert Rim Brakes to Disc Brakes? 

Cost is one of the first factors to consider when converting your rim brakes to disc brakes. Rim brakes to disc brakes conversion costs approximately $1,000-$2,000.

However, this depends on your location, as the costs for conversion could be more or less.

So you need to plan your budget properly when converting your bike brakes. Factors such as the number of wheels on your bike affect the conversion cost. 

Furthermore, the quality of the components also affects the costs. High-quality components are usually very expensive due to their composition.

It’s advisable to settle for high-quality components when you want to convert your brakes. Settling for low-quality components will adversely affect your bike.

Plus, you’ll spend a lot on frequent repairs of these components. It may also lead to an accident, especially when you lose control of the brakes on the road. 

Additionally, the type of rotors you purchase also increases the costs. Ensure to purchase rotors of high quality to avoid problems.

Plus, it’s best to purchase rotors suitable for your bike. If you want to perform the conversion yourself, you’ll have to purchase the conversion kit.

The kit will cost you roughly $2,000 as it contains essential tools. It’s best to take your bike to a mechanic to help you avoid spending a lot on self-repairs.


Although rim brakes to disc brakes, conversion is not an easy task to achieve, and you can easily perform it by purchasing a conversion kit.

And replacing the components of the rim brake system with the components of the disc brake system.

Furthermore, it’s best to take your bike to a professional to assist you with the conversion.

Josh Matthews

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