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Ineffective wet brakes!

TeuchterTeuchter Posts: 102
edited August 2007 in Commuting chat
Had a bit of a scare this morning. Today was the first time I've ridden my new bike in heavy rain (this week's been unseasonally dry in Glasgow!). I was expecting longer braking distances but on the approach to a set of lights on a slight downhill, the brakes were practically ineffective!

I cut up the inside of the van that was stopped there (brakes still fully on) and seeing there was no traffic from the side road controlled by the traffic lights, continued through to jump the red light (sorry!) at a little over walking pace. The other option seeming to be to dismount and drag my feet along the ground in an attempt to stop - which I imagine could have been messy though better than catching a car in the leg!

My ride continued much more cautiously after that until the rain stopped and the brakes returned to their normal, quite effective selves.

Now, my bike is 2nd hand and quite old - a late 80s Falcon road bike. It has steel wheels with dimples on the rim (I presume to aid braking) and though the pads are very little worn and effective in the dry, they're probably quite old too. Would new pads, maybe in some more modern compound help wet braking? If so what should I go for?


  • BentMikeyBentMikey Posts: 4,895
    Steel rims, eeeek! I remember how bad the braking was too.
  • TotalnewbieTotalnewbie Posts: 932
    Oh my, you have my sympathy.

    I am currently riding an 80s Peugeot with steel rims. Got a bit of a shock the first time I rode it in the rain, it was 'feet down' time!

    I ordered 'raincheater' brake blocks specially for steel rims (they have a kind of leathery bit on them that is supposed to provide more friction, I think) from Cycles UK (the only place that stocked them) and they took ages to arrive but came the other day and I just fitted them.

    They say it will rain tonight so if I get wet on the way home I will let you know if they are any good! I suspect they probably don't do much but it was worth a try, they were not expensive.
  • Hairy JockHairy Jock Posts: 558
    I remember brakes like that they were an real nightmare. Possibly new block might help also made sure they are properly adjusted see Sheldon Brown for details. You might also consider up grading to more modern Direct Pull "V-Brakes" which give much better braking performance. A good local bike shop can give you advice on this.
    Best advice I ever got was "better get a bike then"
    Cycle commuting since 1994. Blog with cycle bits.
    Also with the old C+ crowd at Cycle Chat.
  • JustRidecpJustRidecp Posts: 302
    I hear that one of the best wet weather brakes you can buy are kool stop salmon pads. Quite hard to get hold of though. Wiggle never have any in stock :(
    Real Ultimate Power

    "If I weren't a professional cyclist, I'd be a porn star" - Super Mario
  • georgeegeorgee Posts: 537
    have just switched to Salmon pads, much better, get some, but also bin the wheels for a cheap set of modern ones (£70 for both).
  • TotalnewbieTotalnewbie Posts: 932
    I don't want to spend much more money on this bike cos I'm waiting for work to introduce cycle 2 work scheme, and I also have hub gears so that complicates it a bit more. Am just putting up with it for now really. And being very careful!
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,127
    does steel rims make that much of a difference...never knew

    that could be why my crappy halfrauds wheels are dangerously censored , will have to update wheels anyway soon though so....
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • TeuchterTeuchter Posts: 102
    Okay, it looks like replacement wheels will be in order at some point.

    In the meantime I'm interested in the salmon pads or raincheater pads mentioned - especially the raincheaters as they seem to be designed specifically for this issue.

    Be interested to know how you get on with them, Totalnewbie.
  • TotalnewbieTotalnewbie Posts: 932
    Well if it keeps tipping it down like it is currently, we'll be finding out!

    Fingers crossed eh.
  • Just to update, I finally tested these in the wet today.

    Verdict: don't bother, they make very little difference. Put it this way: I look forward to the day I get my new bike with alu rims!
  • I put bog standard Ultegra pads on my 1984 Raleigh tourer with steel rims, and they do make a big (and cheap) difference to wet braking performance, they seem to heat up faster than the old pads that used to be on the bike.

    I have used them in the wet and dry for about 200km of short journeys (1-10km) now and can't see a negative effect on my rims from using these pads, as my LBS warned me that wear would increase dramatically and I could experience gouging of the rims - as if I put ceramic blocks on alu rims. That seems to have been a sales ploy to try and get me to buy the "steel specific" pads for almost tripple the price :shock: :x

    Wet braking on Sir Walter is still a bit shoddy, but its nowhere near feet-down-oh-censored -I'm-never-going-to-stop that it used to be.
    Sweat saves blood.
    Erwin Rommel
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