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Extreme cold weather brakes

Old 02-11-08, 09:08 AM
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Porten2
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Extreme cold weather brakes

Does anyone know how to make brakes work in extreme cold? This morning it was -2F and I have to squeeze as hard as I can to stop, and that barely works! It can be hair raising to approach an intersection and I'm not sure if I will stop on time. Are there special pads that will grip when it's this cold?
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Old 02-11-08, 09:22 AM
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Lube your cables in the casings with a lightweight/cold weather grease if it is the cables sticking.

Replace the pads with new, better ones if those are the problem.

I rode in at -10F this morning with new pads, and they worked great. The old stock ones were ok down to -15F, but they were worn out.

The pads I bought were $15 for a pair.
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Old 02-11-08, 09:29 AM
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Discs; they don't seem to care about temperature, and wet just makes them noisy.

Are you running koolstop pads? I wonder if they make extra soft ones for cold weather.
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Old 02-11-08, 09:52 AM
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Hydraulic disc brakes. Sintered pads.

I don't think that's the answer you were looking for.
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Old 02-11-08, 09:59 AM
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fixed gear ftw.

seriously, i know this isn't the most fixed-friendly forum on the ol' internet, but that direct-drive really makes slowing and stopping on slippery turf way easier and even improves your ability to gain traction. fixed plus handbrakes makes for maximum stopping ability.
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Old 02-11-08, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
...disc brakes...
+3

cable or hydraulic
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Old 02-11-08, 10:02 AM
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It was 16 degrees when I left this morning, my brakes (canti's) ground on the rims like bricks until they warmed up. I think the pad material simply gets cold and brittle in this weather, that said, I've ridden in temps as low as -1 degree and the brakes still worked. I would recommend riding them periodically to warm them up prior to really needing them (like on my descent into the parking garage, it's a steep hill followed by a sharp left).
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Old 02-11-08, 10:29 AM
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Based on my experience with cable-actuated disc brakes, I'd definitely lean towards hydraulics. Why? No cables to get wet and freeze up.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by jeff-o View Post
Based on my experience with cable-actuated disc brakes, I'd definitely lean towards hydraulics. Why? No cables to get wet and freeze up.
Hm. Hasn't been a problem for me. The front brake is all I really need, and there's all of about 14 inches of cable there. Even if it were full of ice (which I don't know how that would happen) I think I could pull hard enough to break it loose (not that I would have left the garage with the brakes not working anyway).

I actually went with cable actuated discs because of stories of hydraulics not working in the cold; one drop of water in the system, freeze, and no brakes.

I recently saw some hydraulic rim brakes though, and that looks sweet for rears.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jeff-o View Post
Based on my experience with cable-actuated disc brakes, I'd definitely lean towards hydraulics. Why? No cables to get wet and freeze up.
I'm running mechanical disc brakes for the first time this winter, and I am 100% sold. To prevent excessive moisture from getting in, I am using full-length brake cable housing for both front and rear, with inline barrel adjusters to take up the slack from cable stretch. I have no problems with sticking whatsoever, and I haven't done anything to it since I installed everything in the fall, other than adjusting the cable tension twice. Our temperature range has been from -30C to +20C during that time, with everything from mini dust storms to major snowfall and lots of salt on the roads. I'm going to put Avid BB7s on my wife's bike over the summer so she has better stopping power next winter.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:51 AM
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Well, I should add that these brakes are on my recumbent trike. The brakes are mounted such that the cable housing openings are pointed upwards on both the lever and caliper ends, making it much easier for water to get in. I seal the ends with grease, but one wet ride and it washes away.

Mechanical disc brakes would probably be fine on a regular bike...
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Old 02-11-08, 11:52 AM
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I don't seem to have a problem using V-brakes in any temperature (I'm riding in -20C to -40C [-4F to -40F]). I just shot some lubricant in the cable housings in November and that was it. Also I "warm" the rims and brake pads by gently letting them rub during the first block of my ride... they work perfectly after that for the rest of my commute, though I do have to stop about every kilometer.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Discs; they don't seem to care about temperature, and wet just makes them noisy.
+1

I've ridden in temps of -32c with no problems.
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Old 02-11-08, 12:18 PM
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I've only used the stock cantilever breaks on my 12 year old MTB and I've never had problems due to cold and I've ridden in temps well below 0 F.

Along with colder weather, road conditions usually aren't that great this time of year so I don't expect instant stops, - my wheels would just lock up.

Is this a road bike and did the release accidentally get flipped? It sounds like that's what you're describing. Maybe something happened to the brakes and the cold is just a coincidence.
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Old 02-11-08, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by pinkrobe View Post
I'm running mechanical disc brakes for the first time this winter, and I am 100% sold. To prevent excessive moisture from getting in, I am using full-length brake cable housing for both front and rear, with inline barrel adjusters to take up the slack from cable stretch. I have no problems with sticking whatsoever, and I haven't done anything to it since I installed everything in the fall, other than adjusting the cable tension twice. Our temperature range has been from -30C to +20C during that time, with everything from mini dust storms to major snowfall and lots of salt on the roads. I'm going to put Avid BB7s on my wife's bike over the summer so she has better stopping power next winter.
Im also running mechanical disk brakes for the first time in my life in the last few weeks. It just caused an interesting crash this morning, but thats primarily because I was just so used to having canti brakes in the front. Apparently, you can make a front wheel equipped with an Ice Spiker slide along the ground with disk brakes quite easily, which is hazardous to your health.

That said, that was inexperience, not the brakes. The brakes work *very* well. But, so did the linear brakes on my old fuji. They were kool stop.
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Old 02-11-08, 01:36 PM
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Ah yes, I recall the ABS-like properties of cantilever brakes quite well. V-brakes don't really have that feature, although I sometimes get the feeling that when I first grab the brakes I'm actually speeding up. It's a weird sensation, and I can only assume that it's because I'm expecting to slow down rapidly, but I don't, so my brain is all, WTF? This is the point where I grab a handul of lever and lock up one or both wheels.

Disc brakes FTW.
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Old 02-11-08, 01:42 PM
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My bike is a flat bar road with linear pull brakes. The brakes pads are contacting the rims, they just don't grab. Just 2 months ago I replaced the pads, and they already look worn. They are fine when it is around 15F. I'm going to try riding the brakes for a block to see if that helps.
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