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Old 06-10-09, 11:00 AM   #1
mad mike
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how good are brakes in the rain?

it felt great!! the rain, i mean!! i had just completed mile number 10 this morning over what i call my difficult route... and i'd just rode and hoofed it up about a 700 foot half mile climb... when it hit!!!

i was enjoying it immensely... when it occurred to me that i had to go down the other side of that ridge in a little while!!!

surely enough, when the time came, it was still pouring... i tested the brakes a bit, to see how the rain would affect them and i felt like they were stopping me, but it didn't quite feel right... so i dismounted and walked down...

i normally use the on/off/on/off method and keep my speed under control until i get most of the way down and i can't resist any longer.... and let it go... i usually get to about 35-40 mph when i hit bottom that way... i can't imagine what it would be if i didn't keep it slow... i'm too chicken... i wiped out 2 summers ago somewhere between 15 & 20 into a bank and cracked a helmet...

my neighbor's kids, in their teens have a ball, they coast over and brake by dragging their feet! oh well, when you're a kid, you're invulnerable/invincible aren't you?

anyway, to get back to my question... i've always had the coaster brakes up until a 3 years ago, and believe it or not, during that time, for the most part, its been a perpetual drought in the south east... this spring is the wettest we've had for a number of years... and even though i've been riding in a lot of rain, i've never been caught on that route...

how good ARE my brakes in the rain? what can i expect?

a little brag after having laid off for nearly a year 'cuz of low back/sciatica probs... i'm starting to get my legs back... been building my distance and finally, finally, got a 15 mile ride today... i'm aiming for 20 a day like before with an occaisional splurge of a 50 once in a while...

takes a lot longer for an old guy like me to get my legs back... but they're coming on...

IBCNU!
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Old 06-10-09, 11:15 AM   #2
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Without knowing what kind of brakes you have, and what brake-pads you're using, I can't read your mind from here. Photos would be a big help.
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Old 06-10-09, 11:21 AM   #3
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To be honest- I do not have a problem braking in the wet. Once I have got the rims dry and I suppose a bit warm- I would say that there is a negligible difference in braking. I only have one bike with the alternative brakes that supposedly are better- but that bike is the Tandem and it needs them.

I do keep my bikes in good condition and that does mean that the wheel rims and brake blocks are always good but being in the UK I am used to wet weather riding. We may lack grip through the tyres on wet roads- but at least I still have good brakes
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Old 06-10-09, 11:23 AM   #4
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Brakes on steel rims are useless in the wet, but not many bikes have been built with those rims in the past 25 yrs. Most brakes have reduced performance in the wet, KoolStop pink ones are formulated for good rain performance but they wear faster.
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Old 06-10-09, 01:07 PM   #5
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On a typical rim brake, I expect it to take twice as long to stop in the wet as in the dry.However, it's not like they don't work, they just work less well.

Some people have claimed that their Koolstop Salmon pads work as well in the rain as they do in the dry. I do not have any personal experience to say if this is true or not, though I'm thinking of giving it a shot when my current brakes wear out.
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Old 06-10-09, 09:06 PM   #6
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Without knowing what kind of brakes you have, and what brake-pads you're using, I can't read your mind from here. Photos would be a big help.
This is true.

------

If you're shopping for a new bike and can consider anything, then disk brakes are probably the best; their grabbing power changes very little between being dry and being wet,,,,but they're hardly necessary. Good rims & rim-pads can come very close to the stopping power of cable-operated disks, and the "rim" brakes will still weigh less (if you care about the weight difference).
~
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Old 06-10-09, 09:06 PM   #7
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Brakes on steel rims are useless in the wet, but not many bikes have been built with those rims in the past 25 yrs. Most brakes have reduced performance in the wet, KoolStop pink ones are formulated for good rain performance but they wear faster.
I was going to point this out--as Andrew said, few bikes have steel rims these days, but if you do, they're really crap in the wet. If you're not sure, stick a magnet on them.
With alloy rims, a good aftermarket pad such as KoolStop or Matthauser will improve things enough that you can probably ride comfortably. Just allow a few extra feet to stop.
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Old 06-10-09, 09:14 PM   #8
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I've noticed that the Cantis on my 90's mtb/rain bike work really well in wet and dry. much better than the v-brakes on my flat-bar road bike. I have some type of kool-stop pads on the front, and cheapo pads on the rear.

maybe that's why they use cantis on CX bikes? (why do they use cantis?)
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Old 06-10-09, 09:43 PM   #9
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I the Swiss Stop green pads on my front brakes. Rode them in the rain on Saturday and all was fine. Just be a bit more cautious than usual.
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Old 06-10-09, 11:00 PM   #10
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Be aware that even with good pads on alloy rims, your tires only have about a third of the grip on the road that they do in the dry. That will be your limiting factor.
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Old 06-11-09, 09:00 AM   #11
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koolstop salmon brake pads still take longer to grab in the wet.

In a heavy rain, rolling thru standing water, there's a few seconds where you will be reefing on the levers and the bike isn't slowing much, then the pads will begin to grab.

if you've got an old three speed with single pivot brakes and steel rims it will seem like you start to go faster when applying the brakes.
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Old 06-11-09, 09:26 AM   #12
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I the Swiss Stop green pads on my front brakes. Rode them in the rain on Saturday and all was fine. Just be a bit more cautious than usual.
The Kool Stop green brake-pads are designed for ceramic-coated rims. They are much harder than the salmon-pads. If you have ceramic-rims on your bike, get the greenies. Other than that, I wouldn't suggest them on simple alloy-rims.

I have ceramic Mavic Open Pro rims on one of my bikes. I use the SwissStop greens. Cut's way down on the noise - compared to salmon - and stop you in any weather just fine.
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Old 06-12-09, 01:01 PM   #13
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My daily commuter has discs and 2" Marathon Supremes. On normal blacktop,I actually don't notice a difference.

FYI,brakes are useless without traction. Good tires are just as important as good brakes.
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Old 06-12-09, 01:11 PM   #14
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Both my primary bikes brakes work great in the rain, Campy centaur with stock pads and Shimano Ultegra with stock pads. Rain is a non factor to the brakes on my bikes, tire traction is a factor.
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Old 06-12-09, 10:15 PM   #15
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not as good as they are when dry...
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Old 06-12-09, 10:49 PM   #16
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It's not just the water that bugs me, it's also the road silt and sludge that gets under the pads and f's with the rim. I much prefer discs for wet weather riding, even after the rain's passed and I know that I'll find some stagnant puddles along my route.
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Old 06-13-09, 01:49 AM   #17
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If you are somewhere that rains all the time - look into ceramic rims. That's pretty much what they are designed for. Along with those weirdo green brake-pads. Read up on them. Then see if they make sense to you and your location.
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Old 06-13-09, 09:33 AM   #18
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Brakes work fine in the rain. But it takes a moment for them to "grab" because they need to dry off the rim before they get a good grip on it. The thing to do is to just slow down early as you approach stop signs and traffic lights.

I am assuming that you are using wheels with alloy rims. The old steel rims felt liked they were greased when they were wet and it was downright scary riding them in the rain.
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Old 06-13-09, 12:36 PM   #19
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I used to ride in the rain all the time, And found that the best brake setup for rain (And to eliminate squeal) was to very lightly twist the caliper arms so the leading edge (rear edge) of the pad hit the rim first. That squeegees the water and crud off the rim before it gets under the pad, so they stop better, and it reduces the scratches on the rim.

Ken.
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Old 06-13-09, 10:45 PM   #20
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My advice in rain: slow down! For me, this take care of all the issues. And careful on the turns, too.
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