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brake pads wearing out very fast

Old 12-29-09, 03:13 PM
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brake pads wearing out very fast

Do steel rims cause brake pads to wear out faster than aluminium ones? I have an old Raleigh with steel rims, and it's worn away half of the brake pads in a week of riding. I haven't had the bike long, and I don't have much experience with steel rims, but it seems to be going through the pads pretty quickly. Is that normal with steel rims?

Thanks
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Old 12-29-09, 03:26 PM
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I suspect it's probably more he pads than the rims, unless there's rust on the brake surface which definitely will eat up pads. At replacement time look into higher quality shoes from either KoolStop (USA made) or JagWire
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Old 12-29-09, 03:48 PM
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Here comes the obligitory warning about steel rims: they give poor stopping when dry and dreadful stopping when wet. Better brake shoes will make terrible braking performance into just a bad performance.
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Old 12-29-09, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Here comes the obligitory warning about steel rims: they give poor stopping when dry and dreadful stopping when wet. Better brake shoes will make terrible braking performance into just a bad performance.
Not to mention they are generally ridiculously heavy. I'm no weight weenie, but I find them entirely unpleasant to ride.

As for brake pad wear, it's possible you got some grit on your rim and it ate away the pad. Happened to me earlier this year on a lakeshore path ride. Got sand all over the rim, somehow, and the pad was basically gone.
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Old 12-29-09, 06:21 PM
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To add to all the above info, steel rims get hot faster and stay hot longer then aluminum, which means the more you use your brakes the hotter the steel rim will get vs AL; thus the added heat will shorten the life of brake pads.
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Old 12-29-09, 09:17 PM
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Regardless of the material of your rims, Kool Stop salmon brake-pads will improve your braking by leaps and bounds than most others. Seeing you are in England, you might find equivalent performance from SwissStop pads for less money. Check about.

Cheap pads that come stock on bikes do tend to disintegrate in short order. If a Kool Stop or SS does that - you don't have steel OR alloy rims - someone rolled an angry crocodile into a circle and shoved spokes into him. ~~~*<
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Old 12-29-09, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by freako View Post
To add to all the above info, steel rims get hot faster and stay hot longer then aluminum, which means the more you use your brakes the hotter the steel rim will get vs AL; thus the added heat will shorten the life of brake pads.
I doubt he's doing alpine descents on steel rims.
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Old 12-30-09, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by operator View Post
I doubt he's doing alpine descents on steel rims.
Certainly not more than once.
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Old 12-30-09, 09:10 AM
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They're not the style of rim with a textured braking surface by any chance?
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Old 12-30-09, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by operator View Post
I doubt he's doing alpine descents on steel rims.
I tell you what, you do one stop from 30mph on flat road at a hard brake and immediately upon stopping please, please place your fingers firmly on the braking surface of the rim and tell me how hot it felt, then do that 4 times in succession. Whatever heat you felt magnify that by about 4 times for steel which will magnify even far greater with each following stop because steel won't dissipate the heat like aluminum.
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Old 12-30-09, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by freako View Post
I tell you what, you do one stop from 30mph on flat road at a hard brake and immediately upon stopping please, please place your fingers firmly on the braking surface of the rim and tell me how hot it felt, then do that 4 times in succession. Whatever heat you felt magnify that by about 4 times for steel which will magnify even far greater with each following stop because steel won't dissipate the heat like aluminum.
Would they get red hot?
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Old 12-30-09, 09:46 PM
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LOL.

Reckon the smoke from your pads would be ample warning, if the tyre hadn't already blown off...
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Old 12-30-09, 10:14 PM
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I met a nut (good one) who came into Oregon by way of a very long descent on a highway who name/number I have forgotten. He had been drafting a tractor-trailer doing 65mph - according to friends of his who was following this crazy. And the bike he was on was a tricked-out BMX-type bike with a coaster-brake! Once he finally was able to fully stop, his friends stopped their car and walked over, looked at the bike, and their jaws dropped. His bottom-bracket and rear hub were glowing cherry-red. There was steam. His only regret was that he didn't get some eggs first to fry.

I was surprised, when he told me this (he was a local bike celebrity and daredevil), that his rear wheel didn't blow out. Or melt. He had alloy rims on it.
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Old 12-30-09, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by freako View Post
I tell you what, you do one stop from 30mph on flat road at a hard brake and immediately upon stopping please, please place your fingers firmly on the braking surface of the rim and tell me how hot it felt, then do that 4 times in succession. Whatever heat you felt magnify that by about 4 times for steel which will magnify even far greater with each following stop because steel won't dissipate the heat like aluminum.
Yeah I typically ride in that fashion. 30mph to 0 stops repeatedly, over and over again just to prove a forum post.
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Old 12-30-09, 10:31 PM
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I'm not surprised his rim was cool enough; the heat travelling along the spokes would have cooled to nothing due to their surface area to mass ratio and his speed through the air...

I am pretty damn surprised at the red-hotness, though... that's a hell of a tale.
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Old 12-30-09, 11:13 PM
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No the rims don't get red hot, nor do the pads smoke, however the rims can get hot enough that after repeat braking the pads get softer then normal. It's the softening the pad that makes it wear out faster. They use to make pads specifically for steel rims, these pads were a harder material then the ones made for AL for two reasons: 1) the harder (steel) pad would make the AL rim wear out faster; and 2) the harder (steel) pad would not soften thus last longer. These pads designed to used on steel rims are no longer available, thus the only pads you can get today are designed for AL which is softer and will wear out faster. Thus you need to find a pad that won't wear out as fast by going with a longer pad vs the normal short pad; these often must be curved to match the rim; a larger pad does not give more friction but wears more slowly.

And if you knew anything at all about how rim brakes work then you would realize that rim brakes heat the rim because the brake functions by converting kinetic energy into thermal energy thus causing heat. The more weight the rim brake has to stop the more heat is being created.
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Old 12-31-09, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by freako View Post
And if you knew anything at all about how rim brakes work then you would realize that rim brakes heat the rim because the brake functions by converting kinetic energy into thermal energy thus causing heat. The more weight the rim brake has to stop the more heat is being created.
No. rim brakes function because they provide friction.
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Old 12-31-09, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by freako View Post
I tell you what, you do one stop from 30mph on flat road at a hard brake and immediately upon stopping please, please place your fingers firmly on the braking surface of the rim and tell me how hot it felt, then do that 4 times in succession. Whatever heat you felt magnify that by about 4 times for steel which will magnify even far greater with each following stop because steel won't dissipate the heat like aluminum.
1. How is heat generated in a bicycle braking system?

2. What determines the total amount of heat generated?

3. Are you saying that steel rims and the same pads will generate more total BTUs from a 30mph stop with the same weight rider than alloy rims?

4. and you can measure this with what amount of accuracy with your hands?

5. do you know what the specific-heat of aluminium and steel is?

6. do you know what the thermal-conductivity values are for aluminium versus steel?
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Old 12-31-09, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by operator View Post
No. rim brakes function because they provide friction.
Right. And by the law of conservation of energy, the work done by the brake pads (in the form of friction) to dissipate the kinetic energy must produce some other kind of energy. This is largely thermal. The rim is heated to some degree.

Last edited by tadawdy; 12-31-09 at 01:51 AM.
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