6 Bolt Versus Centerlock Rotors System comparison

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Last Updated on August 12, 2021

A question that bugs most new cyclists who are thinking of getting a new bike wheel, hubs, or disc brakes is whether they should invest in centerlock or 6 bolts?

Bear in mind that both will work excellent with your disc brakes, and it doesn't matter where you get it from. As long as you attach any of them to your rotor and center it correctly, your brakes won't care much about what you have installed.

Without further ado, let’s look at the reasons why experienced cyclists are obsessed with either centerlock or 6 bolt.


Everything you need to know about the Centerlock rotor system

center lock system detailed

1) Centerlock is the new rotors on the market developed by Shimano

They are placed on the hub and are locked using a special key. You can use Shimano TL-LR10 as the key to tighten the cassette.  Its contact surface between the hub and disc is made of steel, making the whole system durable.

The challenge that comes with using Centerlock rotors is that they are heavier than a 6 bolt rotor. The Centerlock rotors weigh 156 grams, while the 6 bolt rotors weigh 115 grams.

The additional weight increase is because Centerlock rotors have two parts. The outer steel part is responsible for braking, which connects to your hub.

The inner steel part is lined up with other splines and link up. Thanks to its unique fitting system, it's easier to set up and fit a Centerlock than a 6 bolt rotor. 

What's more, the two-piece system makes it a challenge for your disc rotors to bend. That's excellent if you usually bend your discs. The aluminum will do a great job of cooling the heat to keep everything working great and excellent.

You’ll love the fact that once you fit the Centerlock rotors, they will be centered and remain that way. In other words, skiffing issues will be a thing of the past. They are also easier to center and remove.

With just a correct tool, you can tighten or loosen your Centerlock rotors to suit your needs. 

2) They are lightweight

Having had an experience of the two, here is my recommendation. If you are a professional cyclist who wants to have a lightweight bike for your races, look no further. Centerlock rotors are ideal for you. From personal experience, I've found the speed to be incredible and effortless during braking times. That's because of their lightweight size.

Besides, they weigh less than 6-bolt brakes. Thus, making them an excellent choice for professional bikers who want to have a lightweight bike for their races. As a result, users experience faster speeds and braking times due to its lightweight size. 

3) Centerlock rotors are expensive

That means they are perfect for bikes that want to get the value of their money. They are expensive because they have an aluminum center for the hub attachment and a steel center for the rotors. Lastly, ensure you buy the right Centerlock brakes because they are hard to find.

4) Centerlocks are available for both road and mountain bike formats

The Ice-Tech Freeza Centerlock rotors can reduce the rotor’s temperature by 50°. To reduce the rotor’s temperature further from 400° to 300°, you can use the Ice-Tech disc pads.

The reduction of the rotor's temperature will provide you with consistent braking power. What that means is, you won't feel the loss of which comes from sustained braking when you are riding downhills.

You will brake effortlessly and have consistent power. That said, if you love riding downhill, the Centerlock braking system will perform well.

Advantages of using Centerlock rotor system

  • Rotors are hard to bend because they have an inner ring
  • Easy to remove the rotor
  • Easy to center
  • Lightweight hub

The disadvantage of using a Centerlock rotor system

  • The rotors are heavy
  • Needs unique key for unmounting
  • Compatibility issues
  • You’ll need to buy a Centerlock wrench

Everything you need to know about the 6 bolts Rotors

6 bolts Rotors

6 bolts rotors have been used since the 1990s, and they account for 90% of the brakes in the market. It has a 2-piece rotor section which helps the biker to stay safe from warping and overheating.

This rotor requires you to use torque to the brake's star pattern. Otherwise, you will face the risk of uneven brakes.

The 6 bolts rotors come in standard diameters that are interchangeable. Most importantly, they are the industry preferred option for mounting rotors to the hub.

They use 6 Torx head bolts to attach themselves to the hub. Fixing these rotors can be a little bit difficult, but they are easy once you get the hang of it. All you need is to use a torque wrench during the fitting process.

If you overtighten the rotors and you don't strip, the rotors can fail when you are cycling. To avoid this, ensure you follow the star-style pattern when you tighten the bolts. Otherwise, you may fit your rotor off the center, and you will experience skiffing and annoying noises.

Besides that, you also need to check the torque regularly to avoid any issues that may come along. Ensure you shake and loosen the bolts as you ride.

For instance, if one bolt is tight and the opposite one is loose, the rotor will come off the center, and you will start rubbing against the disc pads.

Unlike Centerlock rotors, the 6 bolt rotor is light. You will also find them quickly on the market in case you need a replacement. When buying a new one, make sure you get the correct size and style you need.

Another key difference is that you don't need a special key for a 6 bolt rotor. All you need is a Torx screwdriver

When to invest in a 6 bolt rotor system

If you have hubs with a 6 bolt pattern and not looking to change the wheels, you can use a 6 bolt rotor system. Those who love using SRAM would benefit from using a 6 bolt rotor system instead of the Centerlock.

If weight is your concern, then the 6 bolt rotor system is ideal for you. The 6 bolt rotor system is ideal for someone who loves climbing the hills, thanks to the lighter brakes.

Advantages of 6 bolt rotor system

  • Budget-friendly
  • Rotors are available
  • It comes in many rotor options
  • A plethora of brake options

Disadvantages of 6 bolt rotor system

  • Easy to warp
  • Easier to fail when riding
  • Easy to trip when fitting
  • You can fit them accidentally off the center

The one thing you need to bear in mind before choosing either Centerlock or 6 bolt rotor system

You need to know the rotor’s diameter before you decide to buy the actual rotor size. You can find the bike’s rotor diameter in the brakes specs.

Sometimes it’s usually printed on the back of the bike rotors. Most bike riders will have either a 140 or 160mm rotor diameter. Mountain bikes have a rotor diameter of 180mm.

Other bikes will have a bike rotor size of 220. And it is common for bikes designed for extreme downhill racing on steep terrain because they need extra braking performance.

Conclusion: The Verdict !

As you have read, the main difference between the two is the method used to fit the rotors. They work the same way and provide support to your bike. Perhaps right now, the confusion is now clear.

Your choice will depend on your demand, analysis of the features, and quality. Here's my rule of thumb: if you are a novice bike rider starting from scratch, the Centerlock rotor system will be ideal for you. 

If you are a person who prefers to be authentic, then it is an excellent idea to settle for a 6 bolt rotor system. Either way, I would prefer to go with a Centerlock rotor system.

That was 6 Bolt Versus Centerlock Explained & Detailed Comparison Guide. I would like to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Harold Whitford

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About the Author

My name is Harold Whitford, a husband, father, and avid cyclist with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Delaware. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, I have a number of the road race and national time trial championships in my bag.

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