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john4789 12-30-13 09:33 PM

Rim Brakes - Work Inside, Not Outside in the Cold
My wife bought a new Trek 7.1 FX this spring and commuted on it most days through the fall. She had noted the brakes not working properly during one of her last rides. Today was her first day back commuting so I was sure to tune the brakes up this weekend. The rims were cleaned thoroughly, pads were checked for wear/cleaned/aligned, and cables tightened so that the brakes are fully engaged with levers 1/2 inch from the handlebars - everything I am aware I should be doing.

The brakes work well when the bike is warm and inside in the basement - they felt like you could endo with them if you tried. However, once we left for our 5deg F commute in the morning the brakes had very little power, requiring 20ft plus to stop!:eek: I inspected them on the street and the pads were engaging the rims (I thought it could be frozen cables preventing contact, but that does not appear to be the issue). So, could this be an issue of cheap pads not working in the cold? How could the performance be so different from warm to cold? All I could read from the pads on the bike is that they are "Tektro Aluminum".

Has anyone experienced the same issue? What troubleshooting tips would you recommend for this situation?

Wanderer 12-30-13 09:39 PM

Kool Stop salmon pads will resolve that. Make sure there is no oil or wax on any parts that come in contact.

fietsbob 12-30-13 09:47 PM

And anticipate your stops , it takes a while to dry Rims before Braking friction starts.

Myself on ice I like my Drum brakes , better than I would disc brakes on the same slick road.

Rim brakes , you just may have to do the best you can..

the performance sounds like you may want to rely on the rear, more, if the front feels too abrubpt ..

chriskmurray 12-30-13 11:06 PM

Since you cleaned everything well and sounds like you adjusted it well, chances are it is simply the brake pad material is not as grippy in very cold weather. As long as the lever still feel smooth when you grab them it is almost certainly the case. I would do as suggested above and try out some Kool Stop Salmon pads.

cyccommute 12-31-13 07:49 AM


Originally Posted by Wanderer (Post 16369227)
Kool Stop salmon pads will resolve that. Make sure there is no oil or wax on any parts that come in contact.

Wrong pads. Salmon pads have a harder durometer than other pads. Elastomers get harder with lower temperature which is the cause of john4789's problem. If he goes to a softer pad, it will remain softer at cold temperatures. Koolstop Dual compound pads have a softer front half with a salmon rear. I find them to work a bit better than just the salmon pads.

fietsbob 12-31-13 04:27 PM

my new KS salmons are softer than the Black Fibrax pads replaced by them .

another YMMV .. rubber hardens over time.

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