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  1. #1
    Sweetened with Splenda
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    Winter brake effectiveness - steel wheels vs aluminum?

    My winter bike is a department-store MTB. I've put some better-quality canti brakes on it, but am still running the stock chromed-steel rims. In your opinion, how much improvement in braking would I get out of switching to aluminum / alloy rims, especially in wet conditions? It's gonna be a slushy winter...

    Thanks!

    -chris

  2. #2
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    You're taking your life in your hands every time you go out with those steel wheels. In the wet, you might as well have no brakes at all.

    But since new wheels will cost more than the bike is worth, you might as well buy new wheels with a decent bike attached to them.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

  3. #3
    Sweetened with Splenda
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Clark
    But since new wheels will cost more than the bike is worth, you might as well buy new wheels with a decent bike attached to them.
    Thanks, Rich - that's good advice that I probably won't take A new wheelset will be portable to whatever bike I get next, and for the winter, all I need is something reasonably solid that I don't mind feeding to the road salt - and this Kmart Special will fit the bill nicely, at least on those (hopefully few) days where conditions are such that I can't take my road bike!

  4. #4
    JRA...
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    If you have a throw-away bike mentality, why not buy a dept. store bike with alloy wheels? Probably won't cost much more than a replacement wheelset.

  5. #5
    Elitist Jackass Smoothie104's Avatar
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    When i first read this, I thought it was a joke.... HAHAHA!! Dude, you need to get rid of those chrome wheels, you're gonna get killed.

  6. #6
    Sweetened with Splenda
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    Sounds like a pretty unanimous opinion!

    Thanks, all!

  7. #7
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    When those steel rims freeze up from the water, just lower your seatpost enough so that you can reach the ground with your feet to stop...ala Flintstone style!

    Either that or make one of those old 1900's foot brakes that puts pressure on the tire and not the rim.

    Jay

  8. #8
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    I remember the excitement of steel rims in the rain....

    it's not a nostalgia thing.

    Alloy rims are so much better for reliable braking in the wet - this is a serious safety issue. Of course, how you spend your money is up to you

    Cheers,

    Ed
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Al rim wheels are so cheap, there is no excuse for riding steel. My old mid-range sports bike had steel, I still ride it occasionally but its nowhere near as safe. Even really low-end junk MTB come with Al rims.

  10. #10
    Sweetened with Splenda
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Al rim wheels are so cheap, there is no excuse for riding steel. My old mid-range sports bike had steel, I still ride it occasionally but its nowhere near as safe. Even really low-end junk MTB come with Al rims.
    Yep, very likely true This bike is one I came across for next-to-free ($5 at a stoop sale) but I think I may give it away and replace it with something slightly more modern (but still disposable) for the winter... I just can't justify exposing my "good" bike to the elements all winter!

    Anyway, thanks everyone for your help! I'm still new enough at this to have very little experience in bad weather... thanks for setting me straight!

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    Maybe you can find someone that can hit those chrome wheels with a sandblaster. It will add an abrasive surface for your brakes to grab unto

    BTW,nothing wrong with a department store or beater bike,especially when combined with salvation army clothing.

    Regards.

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