Floating and Fixed calipers are the two categories of brake calipers and by extension they determine the categories of
disc brake itself.
Both types of calipers serve the basic function of a disc brake but go about it differently and therefore have different
pros and cons.
How the Floating or Sliding Caliper works
A caliper bracket is solidly mounted and the caliper itself within that bracket isn't solidly mounted so it can slide left and right
via pins and bushings on the bracket.
A piston on the inner side of the disc pushes that brake pad as if to move the disc but because the disc can't slide, the force
pulls the sliding caliper with another brake pad unto the other side of the disc.
The advantages of the floating caliper is that its cheaper and lighter than the fixed caliper as it uses less parts and is more
How the Fixed Caliper works
The entire caliper is solidly mounted and there is a piston or pistons on both sides of the disc. The pistons push the two brake pads
unto both sides of the disc.
The fixed cailper use multiple pistons sorted in pairs with two, four and six being the usual number of pistons as opposed to the
one piston in the sliding type.
The fixed caliper can apply more squeezing power and apply that power more evenly during braking as force is directly applied to
both sides even if its a two piston brake.
Fixed calipers also provide a better feel through the brake pedal whenever the driver applies the brake which is preferable for luxury
Both types of disc brakes are effective as part of an efficient braking system and this is evident by the fact that the less powerful
floating caliper is used much more than the fixed caliper.
The floating or sliding caliper is good enough for most vehicles and since it is lighter and cheaper and features like
ABS and EBFD can be used on both types.
The fixed caliper is only required when a vehicle is built with tremendous amounts of speed or is a heavy vehicle with a reasonable
amount of speed then more powerful braking would become priority over low cost and weight.
Some vehicles have the right balance of speed and weight to be able to use fixed calipers on the front wheels and floating calipers
on the rear wheels.