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  1. #1
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    brake( pad)s for long descent

    I'm doing a couple of hillclimbs in the next few months, and while Mt. Washington won't let you ride down some of the other/shorter hills require that you do.

    having practiced on a steep but short local hill, I can sense that this is going to be more fun for me than for most people as I probably outweigh them by #100.

    the descents will be controlled by the organizers and slow-paced, which pretty much means riding the brakes most of the way. or pulsing.

    my current plan is to put a nice set of koolstop pads on the front and a crappy pair of new pads (i.e., the ones I would replace with koolstops) on the back. then ride the back brakes most of the way down the hill, and occasionally pulse the front ones if I really need to stop in a hurry.

    alternatively I could put koolstops on the back as well, but my guess is that I'll just grind through them. don't really care about grinding through the stock pads, and not too worried about squealing.

    yet another possibility is to ride my bike with a drum brake in front, which would solve all of my problems, but it is SO HEAVY (also has a heavy-duty rim) that I'm reluctant to.

    thoughts appreicated
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  2. #2
    Senior Member CJ C's Avatar
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    from what i heard koolstop salmons wear quicker.

    that said at $7 a pop i could care less if they do or not. They are by far the greatest pads i have ever used. with koolstops at 250lbs going 15mph i can lock up a rear single pivot caliper from the suicide lever on a 80's road bike. if i can do that with them then why would i need anything else.

    I can ride in a light rain and have the same stopping power. i dont understand why stock pads are not this good?

  3. #3
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJ C View Post
    from what i heard koolstop salmons wear quicker.
    Friction is going to wear something down quicker. I'd rather have it be the pad.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    The pads aren't quite $10 and last a thousand miles or more. Put ideas about their longevity out of mind, and use them appropriately.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I wouldn't use either brake "continuously".
    HEAT build up.
    Too hot and you melt the tire bead, although this seems to be only a problem for loaded tandems going downhill in real life.
    Then again, if you weigh as much as a loaded tandem.......

    Alternate them so one can cool.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    ...Too hot and you melt the tire bead, although this seems to be only a problem for loaded tandems going downhill in real life.
    Then again, if you weigh as much as a loaded tandem.......

    Alternate them so one can cool.
    Melt the bead? I've never heard of that? I have heard of heating the tire/rim combo enough expand the air in the tire enough to blow it off the rim. I've done that before.

    Why wouldn't they let you ride down Mt. Washington by yourself? I assume you are talking about the Mt. Washington hill climb? I wouldn't worry about wearing out brake pads, as others have said, they don't cost much. I would also let a little air out of your tires at the top to allow for some extra expansion as the rims heat up on the way down.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  7. #7
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    I would install KoolStop salmon pads at front and rear, then alternate which brake I use in an effort to keep temps down and preserve the integrity of the brake pad. Using one brake exclusively will heat the pad (and rim) up considerably, which can lead to decreased braking performance and (potentially) shorter pad life.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    would disc brakes be better for mountain descending? I completely fry the rims even with koolstops, much more so than the skinny boys doing these climbs. thinking of getting a road or cross bike with disc brakes
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  9. #9
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I have stock pads. I have ridden down one local mountain that has a 16 mile descent of 4300 feet. I simply use both brakes together to control my speed and let off the brakes where I don't need them. In fact I rarely ever just use one set of brakes.

    Have yet to blow anything up or even have to replace a pad.

  10. #10
    Senior Member 1855Cru's Avatar
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    Like others have said, I wouldn't worry about wearing out the pads, that's what they're designed for. Blowing out your tire on long downhills if you ride the brakes is a VERY real threat. Last week on the descent from Mont Ventoux I passed 4 cyclists with blowouts, at least 2 of them were later confirmed to be from overheated rims.

    I imagine the heavier you are the more heat you will generate in order to maintain a given speed.
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  11. #11
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
    I'm doing a couple of hillclimbs in the next few months, and while Mt. Washington won't let you ride down some of the other/shorter hills require that you do.

    having practiced on a steep but short local hill, I can sense that this is going to be more fun for me than for most people as I probably outweigh them by #100.

    the descents will be controlled by the organizers and slow-paced, which pretty much means riding the brakes most of the way. or pulsing.

    my current plan is to put a nice set of koolstop pads on the front and a crappy pair of new pads (i.e., the ones I would replace with koolstops) on the back. then ride the back brakes most of the way down the hill, and occasionally pulse the front ones if I really need to stop in a hurry.

    alternatively I could put koolstops on the back as well, but my guess is that I'll just grind through them. don't really care about grinding through the stock pads, and not too worried about squealing.

    yet another possibility is to ride my bike with a drum brake in front, which would solve all of my problems, but it is SO HEAVY (also has a heavy-duty rim) that I'm reluctant to.

    thoughts appreicated

    Be very careful of heat build up on the front wheel.

    Heat will kill any braking you have so if you drag a brake use the back brake to slow with keeping the front cool for hard stops.
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  12. #12
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    I'm a volunteer bus driver for my church. I drive a 45 passenger MCI tour bus into the Sierra's on a fairly regular basis. It is very much like riding a bike. VERY slow going up, and you really need to watch your speed coming down. The proper way to brake is to pick your comfortable speed, then stay at it or below. On the bike, you don't have to say "35 is my speed". You just know where your comfort level is. When you reach your speed, slow down by enough that you can release your brakes and let everything cool off. Reach your speed again, slow down again. YOU DO NOT WANT TO RIDE YOUR BRAKES THE WHOLE WAY. On the bus, if I heat the brakes too much, they'll fade, requiring me to use them more to get the same stopping power, until they fade more...eventually just going away. That is what we call "bad". I'm not sure if the pads on a bike will glaze, but that would be a concern for me. Cooling is the key.
    If at first you don't succeed, Skydiving is not the sport for you!

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
    would disc brakes be better for mountain descending? I completely fry the rims even with koolstops, much more so than the skinny boys doing these climbs. thinking of getting a road or cross bike with disc brakes
    There's probably not much difference. Brake discs are much smaller than the rim of your bike, so they have less ability to dissipate heat. Disc brake pads can be made to withstand higher heat, but if you heat them too much they'll glaze over which decreases braking ability. If you use hydraulic disc brakes, it's also possible to boil the hydraulic fluid which, again, decreases braking ability.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    There's probably not much difference. Brake discs are much smaller than the rim of your bike, so they have less ability to dissipate heat. Disc brake pads can be made to withstand higher heat, but if you heat them too much they'll glaze over which decreases braking ability. If you use hydraulic disc brakes, it's also possible to boil the hydraulic fluid which, again, decreases braking ability.
    The disk brake (rear only) on my tandem is significantly better/stronger than the DA brakes on my single. Yes they will glaze over but you've got to really abuse them to get to that point. Some of this is a function of rotor size. Larger rotors cool faster. You are starting to see manufacturers produce disk brake equipped road bikes since Volagi first came out with them. Colnago just introduced a disk brake version of their C59 so they are coming. One important thing, disk brakes are not drag brakes. You can't ride with them continually applied. That will overheat them and result in diminished braking capacity. If you want a "drag" brake then a drum is the only way to go.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    Sstorkel, have you ever used disc brakes? They are far superior to any rim brakes for heat resistance, stopping power and wet weather performance. They come standard on just about any mt bike over $ 600.00. And work great for downhill mt biking.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    Sstorkel, have you ever used disc brakes? They are far superior to any rim brakes for heat resistance, stopping power and wet weather performance. They come standard on just about any mt bike over $ 600.00. And work great for downhill mt biking.
    Only on my rigid mountain bike (Avid BB7). And my full-suspension mountain bike (Magura Marta). And my touring bike (Avid BB7 Road). They provide consistent wet weather stopping power and superior feel at the lever, which is why I use them. Protection from over-heating on a long (ex: multiple mile), steep, technical descent? I've never had a problem with either rim or disc brakes, so I can't be sure that discs are any better. One thing's for sure: the discs on my touring bike are a heck of a lot hotter than the rims on my road bike at the bottom of my favorite 4-mile training hill...

  17. #17
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    Has anyone tried to apply Dynamic Braking to cycles? The idea is basically a reversed Fluid Drive system to absorb energy and save brake pads. Even if it was awkward to sell , the design would be useful in a city like Sheffield with it`s endless steep hills. Running off the top of the back wheel with on/off application (Not used going up hills) would be interesting.

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