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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 01-07-12, 03:50 PM   #1
Myosmith
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Frozen brake

Just had my first winter cycling scare. The weather here has been unseasonably beautiful and today was no exception with temps right around freezing. The roads are wet and I don't have fenders so there was a lot of spray onto my brakes. No problem cruising around town, then I went out on the highway for a few miles. When I came back into town, I hadn't used the brakes for a while and when I came to the first intersection, which was all slushy ice, neither brake worked. To avoid cross traffic I tried a right turn but my back wheel started to slide. I was still on the brake lever and something gave and the rear brake engaged. I ended up putting a foot down and spun 180 degrees ending up facing toward traffic just short of the driving lane. I'm going with Divine Intervention as the only thing that kept me upright and out of traffic, but the first lady to pass me must have thought me a loon as she glared at me and shook her head.

With the back brake working adequately, I rolled home cautiously and put the bike up on the stand in the warmer shop to thaw out. Frozen slush on the brakes appears to have been the culprit as everything works fine now and has been dried and lubed.
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Old 01-07-12, 03:52 PM   #2
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usually the rims get a glazing of ice and the brake pads just slide right over this layer.
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Old 01-07-12, 04:20 PM   #3
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If the lever did not move at all and then snapped free it was probably your cables frozen, if the lever moved but you had no braking power it was probably ice on the rims. It is never a bad plan to "test" your brakes before coming to an intersection in temps right around freezing, especially if you had not used the brakes in a while.
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Old 01-07-12, 04:24 PM   #4
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to fix frozen cables, bring it inside to let the ice in the housing melt. Then shoot some WD-40 onto the cables and inside the cable housing and work it around. The WD-40 will displace all the water inside the cable housings and add a thin lubrication, which is plenty for cables to not freeze into place.
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Old 01-07-12, 08:03 PM   #5
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It is never a bad plan to "test" your brakes before coming to an intersection in temps right around freezing, especially if you had not used the brakes in a while.
Funny, that's exactly what I was thinking as I was sliding toward that silver Toyota Camry.

Brakes did not want to move, so I'm thinking water got into the cable near the brake end where the slush had built up. The back brake popped loose first but stuck again locking the rear wheel until I played with it a little. The front brake was pretty solid until it sat in the shop a while and a shot it with some cable lube. Bike is coming into the heated utility area of the basement tomorrow and will get cleaned and lubed before going out again. I've thought about building a fixie out of an old MTB frame to use as a winter bike so that there are no derailleurs or cassette to ice up and even if the front brake freezes, I'll have some ability to slow the bike. The only thing holding me back is that I've heard fixies can be tricky in slippery conditions and I've never ridden one even on dry pavement.
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Old 01-07-12, 09:38 PM   #6
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I've had this happen to me, but only with one brake ( luckily ). Now as AEO suggested, I use a bit of WD40 when its below freezing, and when on the ride, will cycle my brakes fairly regularly as a precaution.
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Old 01-09-12, 10:02 AM   #7
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Fenders and disc brakes.
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Old 01-09-12, 10:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AEO View Post
to fix frozen cables, bring it inside to let the ice in the housing melt. Then shoot some WD-40 onto the cables and inside the cable housing and work it around. The WD-40 will displace all the water inside the cable housings and add a thin lubrication, which is plenty for cables to not freeze into place.
Strange, someone suggesting a proper use of wd-40
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Old 01-09-12, 11:05 AM   #9
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Strange, someone suggesting a proper use of wd-40
oddly enough, this is the only spot where you should use WD-40 on a bike.
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Old 01-09-12, 11:19 AM   #10
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Old 01-10-12, 09:19 AM   #11
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I picked up a set of wire brushes and use it to wipe of snow, ice, and whatever else might be stuck to the bike before I lock it up at work.
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Old 01-12-12, 02:38 PM   #12
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how about a frozen cassette?

Today the temps changed from 36 to 26 with slushy rain/snow stuff coming down in about an hour, and about 3 miles from home I couldn't change gears. I had to stop and using my left hand I tried getting all the ice that built up around the cassette out but couldn't. The watery/slushy stuff just momentarily froze especially as the wind was picking up.

I made it back home in the low, hill-climbing gear. Anything higher, and the chain kept coming off of one cog onto the adjacent one and back and forth.

A spray bottle of RainX in my backpack for next time this happens? I do have fenders and disk brakes.
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Old 01-24-12, 10:40 AM   #13
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Any external mechanism can freeze up - derailleurs, cables, brakes, exposed IGH shift/cable attachment mechanisms...

On one somewhat cold ride years ago I had mud caked all over the drivetrain of my MTB and stupidly decided to dip it into a partially frozen over creek to clean it off... about 30 seconds later the rear mechanisms were encased in ice

For one winter I had a derailleur equipped mtb that I kept outside, and every morning I wold have to ride the first few miles in whatever gear I left it in the night before - usually a very slow climbing gear because I lived at the top of a hill. It would usually free itself up after a while, but not on the coldest (-30c) days.
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Old 01-24-12, 07:05 PM   #14
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The winter hasnt hit us very hard here yet in NE, but I have high hopes for my coaster brake mountain bike when the going gets icy. Lots of people talk about going fixed, which may work for some but I'm not sure it's my thing. You can find low end machine-built coaster brake wheelsets for very cheap online. I'm a big guy- we'll see how long it takes for my cheap alex x101 rims to taco, but there are sometimes sturdier steel options if you dont care about weight.
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Old 01-25-12, 11:14 AM   #15
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The winter hasnt hit us very hard here yet in NE, but I have high hopes for my coaster brake mountain bike when the going gets icy. Lots of people talk about going fixed, which may work for some but I'm not sure it's my thing. You can find low end machine-built coaster brake wheelsets for very cheap online. I'm a big guy- we'll see how long it takes for my cheap alex x101 rims to taco, but there are sometimes sturdier steel options if you dont care about weight.
Ironically, steel rims are generally less sturdy than aluminum ones. THe only advantage of steel rims is that they are cheap as dirt.
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Old 01-25-12, 12:20 PM   #16
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Ironically, steel rims are generally less sturdy than aluminum ones. THe only advantage of steel rims is that they are cheap as dirt.
I like them because you can whack, bang, crimp, and force them back into place if they get bent or dented pretty bad. Which isnt something I'm going to do with aluminum. Either way cost is the major factor, though the aforementioned aluminum rimmed wheelset was cheap as dirt to begin with...
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Old 01-30-12, 07:21 AM   #17
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I like them because you can whack, bang, crimp, and force them back into place if they get bent or dented pretty bad. Which isnt something I'm going to do with aluminum. Either way cost is the major factor, though the aforementioned aluminum rimmed wheelset was cheap as dirt to begin with...
You can fix them, which comes in handy because they will be damaged by many incidents that would barely affect an aluminum rim.

(Not that I think steel rims are evil - I have ridden with them plenty, but only when the bike I am riding came with it and I haven't had a reason to replace them yet.)
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Old 01-25-13, 09:20 AM   #18
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to fix frozen cables, bring it inside to let the ice in the housing melt. Then shoot some WD-40 onto the cables and inside the cable housing and work it around. The WD-40 will displace all the water inside the cable housings and add a thin lubrication, which is plenty for cables to not freeze into place.
I loathe that.... **it. Gummy later on.. attracts dirt and dust like a magnet. Might.. be a decent salad dressing I guess.

ANYONE ever shoot something like carb cleaner.. or something similar into the lines?

My old winter bike has never frozen.. 2nd winter now and near 3000 miles. New one.. new cables... PITA.
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Old 01-25-13, 11:52 AM   #19
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Any external mechanism can freeze up - derailleurs, cables, brakes, exposed IGH shift/cable attachment mechanisms...

On one somewhat cold ride years ago I had mud caked all over the drivetrain of my MTB and stupidly decided to dip it into a partially frozen over creek to clean it off... about 30 seconds later the rear mechanisms were encased in ice

For one winter I had a derailleur equipped mtb that I kept outside, and every morning I wold have to ride the first few miles in whatever gear I left it in the night before - usually a very slow climbing gear because I lived at the top of a hill. It would usually free itself up after a while, but not on the coldest (-30c) days.
My MTB has to be parked outside at work. Out of habbit I leave it in a easy gear in case it freezes up during the day. It happened once when forcasted snow turned into freezing rain which froze the derailleur solid. It did thaw up after 10-15 minutes of riding though.
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Old 01-25-13, 12:08 PM   #20
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Also +1 on disk brakes.

After a couple episodes of icy rims last winter I had my front wheel replaced and a disk brake installed.

What a difference did that make. The brakes always work. Sometimes they squeal a bit but they still work.
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Old 01-26-13, 10:21 AM   #21
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Ditto!
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Fenders and disc brakes.
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Old 01-26-13, 10:46 AM   #22
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Also +1 on disk brakes.

After a couple episodes of icy rims last winter I had my front wheel replaced and a disk brake installed.

What a difference did that make. The brakes always work. Sometimes they squeal a bit but they still work.
HOW.. is the cable via a disc brake less likely to get condensation and freeze?
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Old 01-27-13, 10:26 AM   #23
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The only thing holding me back is that I've heard fixies can be tricky in slippery conditions and I've never ridden one even on dry pavement.
Whoever told you that fixies are not good for snow/ice is full of **** .. I ride FG a lot and my experience has been that it's excellent for winter riding and especially for snow/ice.
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Old 01-27-13, 10:31 AM   #24
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HOW.. is the cable via a disc brake less likely to get condensation and freeze?
I use cable discs and I always keep the cables lubed, very importand especially during cold wintery weather. Hydro discs are sealed against the elements so no lubing or maintenance needed.
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Old 01-27-13, 11:58 AM   #25
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Whoever told you that fixies are not good for snow/ice is full of **** .. I ride FG a lot and my experience has been that it's excellent for winter riding and especially for snow/ice.
+1 I'll second that regarding FG being excellent in winter!!! I have an excellent Nokian-shod, aluminum Fisher Opie that is setup as a true "ice bike", but when the roads are not too icy my FG is my first choice.

And also endorse the use of disc brakes, hydraulic preferred but cable-operated too are far superior to v-brakes or cantilevers, and I am still laughing over the suggestion to use WD-40, because other than "polishing" the matte black finish on my bikes black components, this is the only place I use WD on any of my bikes as well.
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