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The brake caliper is the assembly which houses the brake pads and pistons. The pistons are usually made of plasticaluminium or chrome-plated steel.

Calipers are of two types, floating or fixed. A fixed caliper does not move relative to the disc and is thus less tolerant of disc imperfections. It uses one or more pairs of opposing pistons to clamp from each side of the disc, and is more complex and expensive than a floating caliper.

A floating caliper (also called a "sliding caliper") moves with respect to the disc, along a line parallel to the axis of rotation of the disc; a piston on one side of the disc pushes the inner brake pad until it makes contact with the braking surface, then pulls the caliper body with the outer brake pad so pressure is applied to both sides of the disc.

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