General Question

nikipedia's avatar

How do you stop your bike in the rain?

Asked by nikipedia (27327 points ) December 7th, 2009

Today was the first day since I bought my bike eight months ago that it has seriously rained. (I live in Southern California.) My brakes are reduced to literally about 5% of capacity. They were so useless on my ride to work this morning that I gave up and walked most of the way.

Is there a clever solution I’m not thinking of? Can I buy more rubbery brake pads that work better than the ones I have now? Is this even normal? Is there something horribly wrong with my brakes?

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12 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

They may need an adjustment. Take them to your local mechanic and have them looked at- the pads might be worn down (we replace ours every six months) or they may not be making good contact.

As a tip- when you’re approaching a stop grip your brakes a few times to help disperse water.

Pazza's avatar

You should be able to get brake pads that have a leather pad on them.
ang on, we are talkin push bike ere arn’t we?

jaytkay's avatar

Does it have shiny steel rims? They are horrible in the rain.

There is a huge friction difference between steel (shiny) rims and alloy (dull).

Also, most riders I know recommend Kool Stop brake pads. Harris Cyclery has a great web page comparing options.
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/brakeshoes.html

Fred931's avatar

Maybe as a temporary rainy-day fix, try to find a way to make the brakes or a rubbery object come into contact with the rubber of the tires. It might be a good idea if you can find something that would work and also if you used this technique SPARINGLY. If this concept can even be manipulated correctly in the first place, don’t be showing off to your friends by doing a sliding stop on a perfectly dry day with the gadgetry on.

I also take no responsibility for any damage caused by this suggestion (including hair damage) and will not get in my car and drive all the way from Alabama to pick you up and take you to work.

Val123's avatar

what @gemiwing said…just like when you run a car through deep water, the water gets between the brakes and the brake pads and you….lose your brakes! You need to ride them to get the water out. So, if it happens again, every so often “ride” your bike brakes to slough the water out.

jaytkay's avatar

Reading my previous answer, I wanted to emphasize – steel rims are not merely worse than alloy. They are 95% worse like you describe. Shocking and “this can’t be real” worse.

If you have steel rims, brake pads and adjustments will not help in the rain.

If cost is an issue, you can get a Craigslist bike for less than $100 and swap out the wheels.

Fred931's avatar

Our high school’s machine shop students would actually be glad to help and are able to donate about 10,000 disassembled 12”-26” wheels to your front porch… via FedEx. Yeah right, like we were gonna drive up there. Oh, and good luck finding bearings for any of the wheels!

wildpotato's avatar

I pump the brakes, much like I would in a car. If I am on hills or have to do a sudden stop, I try to lay my tire out sideways, but this is dangerous and I only do it if I am desperate and figure I will crash anyway. Occasionally it works. More often I skin my elbow to the bone – stopping in the rain is a bitch no matter what you do.

Val123's avatar

I meant to say….steel rims could be a real problem too….GA @jaytkay

@wildpotato I did that my first time EVER snow skiing, FIRST TIME EVER down a slope. Got to the bottom and it was either lay all the $#!+ sideways or plow into the ski rack….I looked like a freakin’ pro, I did! Snow flying from under my skis, me still standing when it all cleared, about a foot from the rack….oh I miss the days when my body would do what I commanded, even when I had no idea what I had just commanded it to do!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@wildpotato: Your car doesn’t have anti-lock brakes?

stevenb's avatar

I like disc brakes on my pedal bike. My other bike has a front disc an a rear set of “v” brakes. If your bike doesn’t have v brakes, you may be able to but them and have them put on. Honestly though, you could almost buy a new bike with great brakes for less than you could upgrade your old one. Keep us informed. Good luck! Ps, disc brakes are almost completely unaffected by water, mud, etc.

stratman37's avatar

Hit a telephone pole.

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