BRAKING IN THE RAIN
If you’ve braved the rain and gone for a ride you’ve noticed that stopping can be tricky when it’s wet. You need more stopping time to come to a full rest. Decreased traction and the performance of rubber brake pads on metal rims are just a few of the obstacles you can overcome to stay safe on the road.
Change How You Brake
Slow down gradually. In wet weather, it takes longer to slow down or come to a complete stop. Start braking well before you would in dry conditions, especially when approaching a corner. This will keep you from slamming on the brakes too late, and it’ll give you enough time to slow to a safe speed.
Drag both brakes lightly on the rim when you come to a stop. This will help to clear excess water off the surface of the rim. Remember to give yourself more time and space.
Don’t brake on painted lines or smooth metal surfaces such as sewer caps, grates or rails as they are slick when wet.
Change Your Brakes
Replace old brake cables. You probably won’t realize it when it’s dry, but in wet conditions, you’ll notice that old cables make your brakes significantly less responsive. This can be a scary feeling when you’re headed down a steep descent, and it can make you lose control of your bike.
You can upgrade your wet weather braking system by installing Disc Brakes, if your bike is compatible. Disc brakes can be more reliable long term in wet weather and for longer rides such as touring.
However, a properly adjusted set of modern V-brakes can deliver a similar level of raw braking power to a cable disc brake, given regular care and attention.
Traditional rim brakes are still the most affordable and easy to maintain and replace, Disc brakes are more expensive to purchase and can be more expensive to maintain, but offer a great proposition for those looking to stop with little effort in the rain (or otherwise).
Change Your Pads
Wet rims degrade brake pads faster because the rain attracts grit to the rim which grinds down the pads like sandpaper. Always make sure you’ve got plenty of rubber left before you begin your ride.
Gauging the thickness of your pads is made easy as most pads have lines cut down the middle of the pads. If the lines are gone it’s a good indication that need to be replaced. If it is an older bike that has not been ridden in a while check to make sure that the pads are not cracked and brittle. Old pads will be slick, stiff and dangerous in the rain. Pay attention to how close your brake levers come to your handlebars when braking. If the levers are almost touching your brakes need to be tightened so they have more breaking power.
Left: Old brittle pads in need of replacing Right: Kool-Stops
If you ride in wet conditions often, you might want to consider purchasing pads specifically for wet riding. Mike loves all wet weather pads made by Kool-Stop, such as Thin Lines. Checking the safe functioning of brakes is an important part of our $30 Safety Tune, which also includes nuts and bolts check, chain lubing, and adjustment of gears and wheels. Drop by your bike for service anytime, no appointment needed! Ride safe!